[bestbits] Civil Society Letter on IANA Transition

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Mon May 30 09:54:42 EDT 2016

On Monday 30 May 2016 06:07 PM, John Curran wrote:
> The meaning of the term “community” often varies based on the context in 
> which it is used.  

Thanks Curran, lets then speak about the meaning of the term "community"
in the specific context of the current process of IANA transition, or,
how NTIA (US gov) calls it, 'transition of key Internet name domain
functions". As per NTIA's announcement
, these functions were to be transferred to "the global multistakeholder


> The phrase “ICANN community” is often used to refer to all of those
> parties that
> participate in the various aspects of DNS policy development.  It is
> sometimes 
> used to mean all those participating in the ICANN processes of any
> type, e.g. 
> ICANN overall governance processes. 

Agreed, John. Andrew Sullivan, chair of IAB, used this term with similar
meaning in his recent testimony to the US congress on the transition.
But then, this you would agree is not what can be called as "global
multistakeholder community" of NTIA's announcement. Andrew also agrees
that the "empowered community" to which the oversight powers over ICANN
are being transitioned is this same "ICANN community" as more or less
you describe. To quote his testimony, "......depends on the newly
empowered community. We already know what that community is like,
because it comprises the very same structures that ICANN has relied upon
for many years.”

It is therefore evident that oversight power has been transitioned to
the "ICANN community" and not as asked for by NTIA to the "global
multistakeholder community". Do you see this as a problem?  I see a big
political problem - a really big one. What US gov asked for and promised
has not at all been done - something quite different has been done.

This is the kind of politically expedient slipping between different
meanings of 'community' that we find problematic, and has become an
endemic feature of the 'ICANN model', and is the subject of this
discussion thread.

Not only has the oversight power been transitioned to this narrow "ICANN
community" but it is also the same one that came up with the proposal
for such a transition (within the often expressed and unexpressed
commandments by the US gov and ICANN board, who have mostly spoken the
same things).

What I am trying to understand is, where is the "global multistakeholder
community" here, which was supposed to exercise the new oversight? (If
you are now going to establish a representative relationship between the
two communities that would be interesting, and we should discuss it.)

Not that the concerned people dont understand that there is a world
outside the narrow ICANN community, the global public whose interests
are implicated. But that public is not invoked when decision making
processes are working - as mentioned, the transition proposal was
developed by the "ICANN community" itself (anyone arguing against
this?). But when political rhetoric is to be employed to claim political
legitimacy, see how the language twists (the below is from the same
testimony of IAB chief)

    "Finally, it would undermine the multistakeholder processes that
    have been a foundation of the Internet’s success, by telling the
    global Internet community that its historic, worldwide consensus
    around this proposal is meaningless."

And of course everyone know that "global multistakeholder community",
which is the original term used by NTIA in the original announcement, is
something else altogether. Below again from the same testimony.

    "A consensus this broad will be frustrated and fragile when faced
    with delay, and such a delay would represent an attack on the global
    multistakeholder community." 

Wow! When required for political rhetoric, the "global MS community " is
back! It has just temporarily gone missing when real decisions were
being taken.


> Thus confusion in meaning is inevitable 
> given that the DNS community is not organized distinctly from ICANN,
> as opposed
> some defect inherent in the term “community”...
> /John
> Disclaimers:  my thoughts alone - do not impinge on the good
> reputation any 
> other person or organization by misattribution of these inchoate musings…
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