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ICANN Commits to Transparency, auDA Despises It

In the ongoing debacle at auDA, it’s hard not to notice what happens in other organisations, even in the domain name industry.

This week ICANN published the results of their “ICANN59 participant survey, and the technical, demographic, and attendance statistics. There are two reports – the Community Feedback report and the By the Numbers report. These reports summarise our findings from ICANN's second Public Forum Meeting of the new meeting strategy. These reports are part of ICANN's commitment to transparency.”

Note that last word. TRANSPARENCY.

OK, in years gone by transparency and accountability weren’t words that leapt into your mind when you thought of ICANN. But over the years with a lot of pushing from the community it learned it was much better to upfront than to hide.

Move over to Australia, and the .au policy and regulatory body defy logic when it comes to transparency and accountability. AuDA in the days prior to March 2016, when then CEO Chris Disspain was unceremoniously booted out in a bit of a boardroom coup that also saw long serving Chair Tony Staley booted a few months later, was consistently good with transparency and accountability. Meeting minutes were published, minutes and goings on for panels reviewing auDA policies were published, historical records were published and annual reports were published.

But in the months following the boardroom coup, new CEO Cameron Boardman and new Chair Stuart Benjamin oversaw the deletion of these historical documents and vowed they’d never return. But a Freedom of Information request to the Freedom of Information Commissioner at the Department of Communication and the Arts organised by former board member Josh Rowe saw auDA forced to make available 115 documents, previously published on their website but deleted under the new management. Some of these have even returned to the auDA website. However going forward auDA has vowed to keep the documents secret, to continue to hide the goings on in the organisation.

This lack of accountability and transparency is one of the main reasons behind a member revolt against the auDA Chair with a motion to be voted on Monday 31 July at a Special General Meeting. Many auDA members are disgusted at the current auDA leadership. Registrars are worried, some even privately disgusted as well.

* Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a supplier to auDA for 14 years and is now a supplier to AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.