ICANN running the global internet? It's gonna be OK, it's gonna be OK, US Congress told

IANA power transfer questioned during Washington DC hearing


And that leads to ICANN's biggest weakness: accountability.

ICANN continues to tell itself that despite the repeated and blunt assessments of its community, it is an accountable organization.

Chehade told the hearing: "I recently met with one of the leading authorities on governance in the US and he told me that ICANN was more accountable than 95 per cent of US corporations. My response was that that was not enough."

He continued: "ICANN is very, very accountable – but we are looking to further improve it."

This is the same line that ICANN has been spinning for over a decade – during which time there have been no less than seven full reviews into its accountability, each time because the internet community was unhappy with implementation of the changes recommended in the previous review.

The truth is that ICANN's staff and Board retain complete control of final decisions. Safe in the knowledge that they can never be overruled or forced to change a decision, an internal culture has developed where the broader ICANN community is treated with increasing disdain if it questions a course of action.

What this should look like

True accountability would mean that if concerns are raised, ICANN the corporation is obliged to take them increasingly seriously. What happens in reality is the opposite: as ICANN is questioned, it introduces more and more procedural barriers as a way to avoid looking at the situation.

The "accountability mechanisms" that the organization introduced in the last significant review of its accountability have been shown to be largely worthless through actual use, with even ICANN's Board recently decrying the fact that its "independent review panel" is unable to do its job thanks to highly restrictive rules written and revised by ICANN's legal department.

In an article last year, we boiled down ICANN's accountability problems to a single question: can it be forced to agree to oversight of its decisions? After a year's worth of work, ICANN corporate continues to fight furiously to prevent that question being answered in the affirmative.

Chehade highlighted a range of proposed changes to the organization's accountability, including the firing of Board members, the creation of "fundamental bylaws," and improving the discredited "appeals mechanisms." But he, the staff, and the ICANN Board continue to attack any proposal that would introduce actual oversight.

Chehade provided Congress with the current language ICANN is using to undermine efforts to that end. "It is important not to unintentionally introduce things that could destabilize what we have been working on for the past 16 years," he said in response to a question about what had actually been proposed.

That battle will continue at a meeting in Paris next week when the working group on accountability will look at revising its proposal in the light of public comment – not least from Larry Strickling.


As to when all this will wrap up, it was proposed at ICANN's recent meeting in Buenos Aires that the whole thing could be wrapped up by the end of July 2016 – nine months later than originally planned.

However, it might take even longer than that, and a letter sent from the chairs of the working groups to the US government last week noted: "Our assessment is based on best case scenarios and this timeline could slip if further adjustments to the proposal should be needed in order to find consensus within our group. It may therefore be prudent to anticipate that CCWG-Accountability might need additional time, perhaps until September 2016."

The NTIA will now be looking at whether to extend the current IANA contract by either nine months or a year. The hard truth is that even with Congress currently looking favorably on the transition, if it extends beyond September 2016 it might never happen at all.

The US presidential elections will take place on 6 November 2016 and there is no reason to believe that the 45th president of the United States will want to hand over US government control of the IANA contract. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021