Here, near the shore of Santa Monica, we see ICANN in its natural habitat – doing nothing

Bods agreeing on little at crucial meeting

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The highlights

Here's all that has happened of consequence in the first four hours.

The independent lawyers have outlined in their very measured way the fact that the "single member" model that the group has spent a year devising remains the best model for doing what the group wants to do.

Attempts to pick holes in this effort, most by ICANN Board member Chris Disspain, have been knocked down repeatedly, but the questions still come.

Put simply, the single member model enables the internet community to overrule the Board on specific things if it feels it is going down the wrong path. The Board keeps trying to paint this as the community taking over; the community keeps arguing that it's not.

The Board knows it isn't, but doesn't want to lose any power. The community knows its power would be limited, but fantasizes about wiping smug grins off faces.

It's not healthy.

One of the lawyers raised the fundamental question at the heart of it all, addressing the Board: "Do you trust the members with respect to those narrow powers? Do you trust them to do what's best for the corporation?"

The answer is no. And that is why even the Board members that dislike the aggressive stance some of their colleagues are taking are not speaking up. The fact is that the internet community is very, very poorly represented in the small ICANN community.

The ICANN Board members can't help but feel that the people that would decide to overrule them would be the very same people that stood for their Board seat but didn't get enough votes to win. The way things are currently structured, they are probably right.

The Board confirms the community's distrust of it by dismissing their points, playing games, and being less than honest in what it really thinks. The formal responses that come out appear to show an arrogant, unlistening, and stubborn group biding their time.

Meanwhile, the community has repeatedly confirmed the Board's fears by putting forward plans that would almost certainly put the working groups' members in the position of doing the Board's job.

The first version of the IANA transition plan even had the audacity to replace the US government itself with a small group of ICANN insiders.

The fact is that very few honest conversations are being had. And the meeting structure is reinforcing that rather than helping people to speak freely and openly without fear of recourse.

At the back of the room, the man who will actually decide whether this whole thing goes through – US Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling – is doing his best to look inscrutable. But he already knows what he has to do: find the people that can make the deal and talk to them in the corridor. This meeting is going nowhere. ®


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