US Government Opposes ITU Veto Of ICANN Board Decisions

The US government is opposed to proposals for the International Telecommunications Union to have a veto over ICANN board decisions, said Larry Strickling at the welcome ceremony for the ICANN Silicon Valley-San Francisco meeting on Monday.”The United States is most assuredly opposed to establishing a governance structure for the Internet that would be managed and controlled by nation states,” said Strickling, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, in one of several suggestions in his address at the ceremony.”Such a structure could lead to the imposition of heavy-handed and economically misguided regulation and the loss of flexibility the current system allows today, all of which would jeopardise the growth and innovation we have enjoyed these past years.”But nonetheless, ICANN needs to do more to engage governments in the multistakeholder process by providing them a meaningful opportunity to participate and be heard inside of ICANN.”Strickling also spoke of the new gTLD programme and said that he was pleased with the progress that has been made between the GAC and ICANN in recent weeks, but that GAC advice should not come at the end of a policy development process.”I am quite pleased with the apparent progress made in the last few weeks as a result of the first really meaningful exchanges between the board and the GAC to understand and evaluate GAC advice on the new global top-level domain program, but as the review team pointed out in its recommendations, this is a two-way street.”The GAC needs to have the discipline in its process to offer consensus advice to the board, but when it does so, the board really needs to listen and engage with the GAC.”A weakness of the current model is that the ICANN bylaws and practices seem to envision that GAC advice often comes at the end of the policy development process. That should not be the case.”In his third suggestion that followed “from the recommendation of the review team” Strickling said “that the board clarify the distinction between issues subject to ICANN’s policy development process and those within the executive functions of the staff and the board.”As ICANN decision-making continues to grow more fractious, the board needs to evaluate the impact that its process of making decisions is having on the development of bottom-up policy within the organisation.”Increasingly, the board finds itself forced to pick winners and losers because the policy development process is not yielding true consensus-based policymaking.”This is not healthy for the organisation.”Strickling believes “there are two steps the board should take.””First, the board needs to insist upon the development of consensus before a matter reaches the board. And when the policy development process delivers a truly consensus process, the board needs to refrain from substituting its own judgment.”Second, when consensus has not been reached, the board needs to push back to ensure that the parties have exhausted all possible efforts to reach consensus before the board imposes its own judgment in a given matter.”If one group — in this case, the ICANN board — attempts to pick winners and losers, the multistakeholder model is undermined. Choosing between competing interests, rather than insisting on consensus, is destructive of the multistakeholder process because it devalues this incentive for everyone to work together.”A full text and audio transcript of the Welcome Ceremony, also including speeches by Vint Cerf, Ira Magaziner, Andrew McLaughlin, Peter Dengate Thrush and Rod Beckstrom is available from