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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
August 26, 2009
(202) 289-8928
Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Framework for ICANN
More Time Is Needed to Develop Accountability Framework

WASHINGTON D.C. - Over the next month, the ICANN Board will consider its options for ensuring that some framework is in place to ensure ICANN's accountability to the global Internet community after the approaching expiration of its Memorandum of Understanding and Joint Project Agreement (MOU/JPA) with the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Adjunct Fellow Michael Palage and Senior Fellow Berin Szoka analyze these options in "Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Framework for ICANN," released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation.

In the paper, Palage and Szoka urge the Board to allow the time necessary for the development of a permanent accountability framework in consultation with the global Internet community, as required by ICANN's Bylaws.  The authors caution the ICANN Board against rubber-stamping a recent proposal to essentially make the MoU/JPA a permanent instrument as inadequate to ensure ICANN's long-term accountability.  The alternative, simply ending ICANN's relationship with the U.S. Government, would raise serious legal questions concerning ICANN's ability to collect fees from registrars and registries and the transfer of property rights underlying the domain name system.

The authors conclude by calling on ICANN's new CEO Rod Rod Beckstrom to exercise the kind of leadership he advocated in his 2005 book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, which explains the advantages of decentralized managerial "nervous systems" ("starfish") over top-down hierarchies ("spiders").  "Instead of focusing on 'spider'-esque permanent instruments with a single government, Beckstrom and the ICANN Board should focus on more 'starfish'-like solutions that both continue the USG's stewardship role and involve more governments that want to participate in the unique private-public partnership known as ICANN—without compromising ICANN's guiding principles and commitment to private sector leadership," the authors conclude. "Only this outcome will ensure the long-term viability of ICANN as a global trustee of the Internet's unique identifiers."

"Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Frame for ICANN" is available 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