[governance] Wolfgang's optimism revised

Milton Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Wed Dec 21 17:55:09 EST 2005

Here is my (revisionist) analysis of Wolfgang's optimistic points. Basically, all of ICANN's behavior is explained by concessions to people it perceives as having power.

>>> Wolfgang Kleinw├Ąchter 
>* the board listened carefully to the interventions with regard 
>ot the .com agreement. It did not ignore the criitical remarks 
>but started a new discussion process;

True, it was more active soliciting comment. But it knows that its ultimate legitimacy is at stake. It will listen and it will do little. The real test of movement on this issue is whether ICANN abandons the settlement and works bottom up on the policy issues (renewal expectancy, rate regulation) via the GNSO, or whether it relies on a modified top-down negotiation among U.S. DoC, VeriSign, and ICANN. I am 100% certain that it will do the latter. This means that the reall;y important policy issues don't get done by the GNSO.

>* the board is seeking a new relationship with the GAC, listening 
>to the advice in a new way, even risking litigation in the US with 
>regard to .xxx case (it is another question wherther this is good 
>or bad);

Of course it is seeking a new relationship with the GAC. It was just seriously assaulted for two years by governments and intergovernmental organizations that want to have power over Internet public policy. 

>* the board is listening to the voice of the ccTLDs. The adopted 
>changes of the bylaws are substantial and reflect the positions of
> DENIC, NOMINET and others which so far, remained outside the

Major ccTLD registries, especially DENIC and Nominet, have massive wealth and ergo power. Of course it must adjust to their wishes, it has no choice. 

>* the board wants to overcome the frustrating situation with the 
>GNSO. It remains to be seen whether the evaluation will be 
>another attempt to get justification for more of the same or 
>whether it will have some consequences;

ICANN will rearrange deck chairs on the sinking ship GNSO but it will not and cannot face squarely the rather obvious problem with it, namely that 1) the basic constituency structure is biased and 2) on any important issues there will be a lack of agreement among the constituencies. The "consensus-based" "bottom up" policy making model does not work when policy alternatives have serious distributional consequences. That is why the status quo created in 1999 remains frozen in place - GNSO is incapable of making any serious change. To deal with this, ICANN would have to reassess the whole concept of "industry self-regulation." It won't. Instead, it will try to tweak the constituencies processes. 

>* the board has finally accepted the full authority of the NRO 
>over the IP address space and policy development in this area;

It has no alternative. The NRO has the addresses, it doesn't. 

>* the board is trying to bring the IANA service in line with the 
>needs of the registries which would go beyond the former 
>approach  (reduce the waiting time and everything is okay) 
>and include also QOS ;

The ball is really in the court of the USG - will it bid out the IANA function or not? Even the threat of that is enough to make ICANN jump. 

>* the board takes ALAC more seriously. The adoption of the 
>revised bylaw para with regard to the accreditation of ALS could 
>be interpreted as a signal and it is now up to the ALAC to ask 
>for more.  
Huh? Is this the same Wolfgang who pointed out, in a message a few hours later, how the current ALAC structure is failing and no one seems to care? 

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