We were always going to release it, maybe
Meanwhile, ICANN's staff has responded to widespread community criticism that it redacted the IRP final report to remove all mentions of its own failure to act neutrally and fairly: by arguing that it did nothing wrong.
There is no mention of the fact that ICANN admitted it has drafted a letter that it then handed it to a third party who submitted it back to ICANN as evidence that the application should proceed.
Instead, ICANN refers only to the "confidentiality agreement" that it and DCA has entered, implying that DCA is responsible for ICANN's letter-writing being uncovered.
When it provided evidence to the independent review, ICANN submitted as "confidential" the embarrassing and damning revelation that it had actually assisted the competing .africa bid by drafting the necessary support letter after a previous effort had fallen short.
Incredibly, ICANN is indignant that this evidence that it repeatedly broke its own bylaws has been revealed, even though it was repeatedly referenced in the IRP final report.
ICANN staff unilaterally decided to redact that information before the report was posted, and did not tell even its own board that it had made those redactions rather than the panel.
"I had assumed that the panel had redacted information that was provided to them under confidentiality provisions," wrote ICANN board member Bruce Tonkin, in response to community questions. "I have since learnt it was redacted as part of the staff process for posting."
Without a hint of irony, ICANN staff argues that it was its "transparency obligations" that forced it to redact the report:
ICANN is complying with the terms of that confidentiality agreement. In addition, because our transparency obligations dictated that we post the Declaration as quickly as possible (which we did the next day following receipt), all non-public information provided by either party under the confidentiality agreement was initially redacted by ICANN’s Counsel so that ICANN could publish it.
With the unredacted version of the report now published on The Reg, and its contents widely disseminated, ICANN's staff now claim that it was intending to review its redactions all along:
ICANN’s counsel immediately began diligently reviewing all ICANN materials exchanged in the proceeding to ensure that we publicly share as much information as we can as quickly as possible. ICANN will post a revised Declaration and transcript reflecting the removed redactions. We have requested that information previously marked as confidential from DCA and other parties who are impacted be released publicly to complete the public record. Those parties impacted are not obligated to make those documents public. At the conclusion of that process, ICANN will again publish a further revised Declaration and transcript.
This process has no precedent.
ICANN has been criticized for many years for heavily redacting both board materials and information that is formally requested through its documentary information disclosure policy.
Its heavy-handed approach resulted in a formal recommendation in October 2014 from an independent team looking at ICANN's transparency (the Accountability and Transparency Review Team, or ATRT). That team said ICANN needed to overhaul its policy and significantly reduce the redaction of its own documents.
A previous ATRT in 2012 had also warned about the over-redaction of information, but did not make a formal recommendation.
To date, that recommendation has not been implemented, despite the ICANN board having formally approved its implementation. It is still listed as "in progress" by ICANN staff nearly a year later. There is also no case that we are aware of where ICANN has published information that it had previously redacted.
Even so, ICANN's staff claim to have already been in the process of reviewing its redactions. Notably though it still has not committed to publish the IRP report in full, stating: "As noted above, we are evaluating the confidential treatment of this information in this matter, and may release some, or all, such information currently redacted."
In short: ICANN believes it has done no wrong. Despite all the evidence otherwise. ®