AW: [governance] Burr & Cade: proposal for introducing multi-lateral oversight of the root

Parminder parminder at
Sun Jul 23 02:43:42 EDT 2006

The B & C proposal addresses the most contentious and patently unsustainable
issue of how US government could sit over the exclusive control over a
global infrastructure. 

This issue, in itself is very important. However, it is important to note
that whatever alternative structure is proposed here is 'allowed' to
intervene only on the grounds of promoting 'technical stability and security
of Internet'.  (though once a structure comes to possess the power of
authorization, as with the US gov at present, it may tend to use it for all
political purposes. Though in this case, since ICANN has other legal
obligations and relationships with US government, one wonders if US gov will
still be able to adjudicate on whether the exercise of power by the proposed
new structure was within its mandate or not, especially in regard to
political oversight related to issues which clearly are not about technical

It is also to be considered whether it is the case that; oversight in
respect of maintaining technical stability and security of the Internet is
the only kind of 'political' oversight of ICANN that is valid? Are there not
any other public policy interests that have an interface with ICANN
functions? Does ICANN not conduct many other functions that have political
implications? If so, what the process for its political oversight in terms
of these issues?

Having no ostensible political oversight does not make ICANN functions
apolitical. In default it only serves dominant interests - mostly pro-big
business and pro-US (with all the US based governmental and private sector
institutional as well as personal nexus with the present IG dispensation).

The B & C proposal seems to be directed more at taking an irritant out of
the way with the basic purpose of strengthening the status quo, rather than
a serious attempt at looking at the issue of political oversight of ICANN.
However, tactically, as a first step out of the present situation, the
proposal may have some merit. In the long run, there is no way out of
committing to a more sustained international engagement, culminating into a
multistakeholder framework convention kind of a process, for governance of
the Internet. 


Parminder Jeet Singh

\IT for Change, Bangalore
Bridging Development Realities and Technological Possibilities 

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