ICANN Meeting In Marrakesh: More Hiccups On Way To IANA Transition 08/03/2016 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The 55th meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Marrakesh this week is expected to finalise the last proposal necessary for the transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a set of core functions necessary for the running of the internet. The ICANN meeting in Marrakesh is taking place from 7-11 March. So far overseen by the United States National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a reformed ICANN will assume oversight of the IANA registries for domain names, IP addresses and protocol parameters. But some governments are still unsatisfied with the role assigned to them in the reformed ICANN. And some alarm bells went off in a Monday morning session over ICANN staff proposals to not fully separate the IANA function from ICANN. There are high expectations that the six chartering organisations of ICANN will pass the final proposal on enhancing ICANN accountability during the ICANN meeting in Marrakesh. “We expect the Board to transmit the final proposal to us this week,” NTIA head Larry Strickling said at a high-level meeting of over 100 governments gathered at Marrakesh yesterday. Calling the IANA transition the “largest multi-stakeholder process ever undertaken,” he described the next steps: “Once we receive the transition proposal, we will review it, hopefully within 90 days.” Congress also will review the transition package “as well as our evaluation” of the planned reform, Strickling added. The US official also reiterated the conditions originally set out by his administration for the transfers: it must preserve stability, answer to the needs of a global user base and maintain the openness of the internet. In the first place, Strickling said, “we will not accept a transition proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government led or intergovernmental organization solution.” Governments’ Role in the Multi-stakeholder Reign The very issue of the role of governments in the “empowered” ICANN community resulted in considerable discussions in the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN over the weekend. Led by Argentina, a group of 16 countries in a minority statement rejected the obligation for the GAC to pass its “advice” – recommendations for ICANN policies – by consent without objection. The group complained that the threshold for rejecting that advice by the Board has been lowered from two-thirds to 60 percent in the course of the preparation of the ICANN accountability reform. They called a strict exclusion of the GAC from community challenges against Board decisions for cases that are about Board implementations of GAC advice “unacceptable.” The so-called carve-out was a reaction by the cross-constituency group on enhancing ICANN accountability to warnings that governments could get “two bites of the apple,” as opposed to other stakeholders. David Martinon, French ambassador for cyberdiplomacy, said during the high-level meeting that France was disappointed, along with other countries, because in its opinion “states are marginalised within the ICANN system because the reform proposal imposes upon them their rules for decision making.” Together with Argentina and Brazil, France clearly expressed its opposition to the carve-out and consensus obligation. The latter “can lead to a paralysis of the GAC,” said Brazil’s Ambassador Benedicto Fonseca Filho. At the same time, Fonseca rejected warnings about government capture. “We are not proposing a situation in which governments will have full power or the capacity to block or to veto anything,” he said. In fact, Fonseca, as well as most of the minority signatory states, clearly underlined commitment to the multi-stakeholder model. Less so the Russian Vice Minister of Telecom and Mass Communication, Rashid Ismailov. He questioned the idea that stronger government influence would present a “threat to democratic internet governance.” Sharply criticising the transition proposal, Ismailov said it appeared that ICANN would remain a US corporation and the functions of the NTIA would just be resolved within the ICANN procedures, and be totally laid on US ground. “We hope that will be a temporary situation,” he said, adding concerns about “internal contradictions” in the US, pointing to recent letters from Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz. Going Ahead with No Government Consensus? Interestingly, other governments who previously had criticised the multi-stakeholder model, for example India and China, did not join the minority statement. India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Pradad in fact explained that India had embraced the multi-stakeholder model. The signatories of the minority statement on the accountability proposals for the reformed ICANN are: Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, France, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Uruguay and Venezuela. While it is technically possible to send the IANA proposal to Strickling’s office without all five stakeholder groups agreeing to it, it would be a “real shame,” said outgoing CEO Fadi Chehadé. “It is not a showstopper, but it would be a missed opportunity to show that we work together,” he said. Chehadé, who will step down at the end of this meeting and received standing ovations during his last ICANN opening session, said there is now doubt in his mind that the proposal will be approved this week. Ninety government delegations had expressed support, he said. The GAC has around 140 members, and there is now the minority statement. The British Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industry Ed Vaizey countering the harsh Russian comments during the high-level meeting said, the community process to prepare for the transition is “99 percent ready.” Three of the six chartering organisations have already given the green light for the proposal: the ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) and the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC). More discussions will take place in the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO), the Country Code TLD Supporting Organization (CCNSO) and, perhaps most controversially, in the GAC. Community Surprised over Plans Another source of potential hiccups for the transition seem to be the first implementation plans presented by ICANN Vice President Akram Atallah and ICANN staff Monday morning. As employees of a company with less than 50 employees could lose some labour rights available to those of the large ICANN organisation under US law, ICANN staff proposes to keep the IANA employees at ICANN. Avri Doria, an academic and long-time ICANN participant heavily involved in the group developing the proposal for the IANA stewardship transition finalised last year, expressed surprise at the implementation proposals. That group had intended a “much more separate post-IANA transition body,” she said yesterday. “Not fully separated, but certainly not defined as just a function within ICANN.” While the temporary CEO acknowledged that the staff would go back over the implementation proposals which have yet to be published, several community members supported Doria’s call to stick to the proposals as passed by the community. 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