ICANN can’t: independent review finds group potentially discriminatory
Fri 5 Aug 2016
An independent review panel has found that ICANN, the private organization approved by the U.S. government to take administrative control of the internet by October 2016, failed to provide fair review of applications and to review staff actions once a complaint had been submitted.
ICANN, a non-profit founded to coordinate internet identifiers working under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, was the subject of a complaint by Dot Registry. The panel found that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and in particular its Board Governance Committee (BCG) had failed to ensure staff compliance with principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination.
It also noted that the BGC’s cavalier disregard for the original complaint, and refusal to investigate the actions of its employees, constituted breaking the ICANN bylaws.
ICANN requested that the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) act as a Community Priority Panel, reviewing and scoring community-based applications as a consultant to ICANN. Dot Registry, whose requests were denied three times by EIU for ICANN, first requested that the Board Governance Committee (BGC) review its applications.
When the BGC refused, Dot Registry requested an independent review of the denial, alleging that EIU engaged in unjustified discrimination (disparate treatment) and non-transparent conduct.
ICANN did not respond to Dot Registry’s expert testimony, which showed that several requirements for proving community status were applied to them, and not to other applicants. Dot Registry was asked to show that they acted and associated as a community, and that they had no function other than representing the community – requirements that were not made of other applicants.
One of ICANN’s arguments to the independent review panel was that the EIU acted independently – this was found to be untrue, as the EIU worked under close supervision by ICANN employees.
As the BGC refused to review Dot Registry’s initial complaint, and ensure that its employees and contractors were acting in non-discriminatory fashion, it was found to have violated a basic responsibility in overseeing the organization.
With a complete handover of the internet’s administrative function from the U.S. government to ICANN, the review panel findings cast heavy doubts on ICANN’s competence to manage without oversight.