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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
August 24, 2009
(202) 289-8928
ICANN & Internet Governance Transcript Available
PFF Releases Transcript of Spring Event

WASHINGTON D.C. - As the Internet has become the backbone of our Digital Age economy, the issue of "Internet governance" has grown in importance. What's next for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit corporation responsible for coordinating administration of the domain name system? This topic was discussed at "ICANN & Internet Governance: How Did We Get Here & Where Are We Heading?" a Congressional Seminar hosted by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. PFF has just released a transcript of the event.

At event, panel of former and current ICANN board members and experts addresses three overarching topics involving the organization: ICANN's mission, its governance structure, and the proposal for new generic Top-Level Domain names (gTLDs).  These issues were discussed in the context of the organization's past, present and future.  The discussion was moderated by Michael Palage, PFF Adjunct Fellow and former ICANN board member. 

David Johnson, Visiting Professor of Law at the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, addressed ICANN’s origins and its mission, explaining that the intent was to create a new globally effective regime to govern the domain name space.  He stated it was based "on the theory that if they did, the government could defer to them the way it defers to all kinds of private groups and standard-setting bodies in associations and companies, for the matter, when the govern their own affairs in a successful way that does not create undue harm for others."

Milton Mueller, Professor and Director of the Convergence Center at Syracuse University and author of the definitive book Ruling the Root, addressed concerns about ICANN’s raised by its structural evolution, stating, "we need to stop playing games with ICANN.  Either it's a free-standing innovative form of global governance or it's just a U.S. Government contract.  If it's the former, if it's going to be free of the U.S., we need to get serious about the international legal framework within which it operates. We have to set a firm date for its liberation.  We need to talk about accountability to the general public and not just to the latest special interest groups that make noise."

Mike Roberts, Internet Technology Policy Consultant and the first President and CEO of ICANN, also discussed accountability concerns under the U.S Department of Commerce's Joint Project Agreement, currently set to expire in September.  Roberts stated that the Department of Commerce, with its notice of inquiry released last April, "is kind of bringing this to the cusp of the dilemma where we have to either cede those quasi [governmental functions] back to the government, or some coalition of governments, which is more likely, or to find a way to put more legal strength, if you will, in ICANN whereby a sense of accountability strengthened."

Paul Twomey, who served as President and CEO of ICANN till June 2009, discussed recent critiques of the organization's new generic top-level domains (gTLD) proposal.  "Many of the issues that were raised in the policy development process have re-emerged again in this consultation process," Twomey explained.  "We are looking to a process of that sort of consultation and them coming up with solutions."

Both the event transcript and an audio recording can be found on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation