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Revolving Door Analysis: IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group

Posted by Lakshmi Venkataraman at Dec 10, 2014 10:55 AM |
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The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group (ICG) is the body that will accept and coordinate different proposals for IANA transition. It will make the global Internet community's final proposal for transition to the NTIA. Lakshmi Venkataraman finds that a majority of the ICG's membership have had longstanding affiliations with I-star organisations. What will this mean for IANA transition?

 

Following the NTIA’s announcement of its decision to not renew the IANA Functions contract, ICANN instituted a process in search of an alternative oversight mechanism. The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG), comprising 30 individuals, is the body set up to accept and coordinate proposals for IANA transition, and after this, to make a final proposal to the NTIA. ICANN claims that the ICG comprises individuals representing 13 different communities and the interests of different stakeholders (direct and indirect), including those of governments, technical community and non-commercial users.

The communities represented in the ICG are as follows:

  • ALAC – At-Large Advisory Committee to ICANN
  • ASO – Policy making body of ICANN w.r.t. IP addresses
  • ccNSO – Policy making body of ICANN w.r.t. ccTLDs
  • GNSO – Makes recommendations on gTLDs to the ICANN Board
  • IAB – Deals with technical and engineering aspects of the ISOC
  • IETF – Deals with the development of standards under the ISOC
  • NRO – Policy Advisor to ICANN w.r.t. IP addresses
  • SSAC – Advisory body of ICANN, w.r.t. security of naming systems
  • RSSAC – Advisory body of ICANN, w.r.t. operation, security and integrity of the Internet’s Root Server System

 

Now, the ICG has been set up to devise and present to the NTIA, an IANA transition proposal that incorporates views and concerns of diverse stakeholders of the global Internet community. The composition of the ICG is, for this purpose, an indicator of the nature of proposals that may find final favour.

At CIS, we examined the affiliations of ICG members with this in mind. Our assumptions are two-fold: (1) greater the diversity in ICG membership, greater the chance of diverse views being heard and represented, including those departing from the status quo; (2) conversely, if the ICG members have histories of affiliations to existing centres of power in global Internet governance (say, the I* organisations), chances of status quo being maintained are greater.

Our findings are presented in tabular format below:

(X – Unknown number of years spent in the organization)

I-star Organisation

________________

Name of person

ICANNIETF IAB W3C ISOC AfriNICARIN APNICLACNICRIPE-NCC
Patrik Faltstrom 3 X X - 3 - - - - -
Paul Wilson X - - - X - - 16 - -
Lynn St. Amour - - 13 - 16 - - - - -
Jari Arkko - 8 1 - - - - - - -
Keith Davidson 4 - - - 2 - - - - -
Demi Getschko 4 - - - 11 - - - - -
Russell Housley - 6 1.5 - - - - - - -
Xiaodong Lee 2 X - - - - - - - -
Elise Gerich 4 - X - - - - - - -
Hartmut Glaser 14 - - - - - - - 2 -
Wolf Ulrich Knobben 4 - - - X - - - - -
Russ Mundy X X - - - - - - - -
Kuo-Wei Wu 15 - - - - - - 11 - -
Narelle Clark - - - - 4 - - - - -
Daniel Karrenberg - - - - 6 - - - - -
Mohamed el Bashir 8 - - - - - - - - -
Martin Boyle X - - - - - - - - -
Keith Drazek 3 - - - - - - - - -
Jean Jacques Subrenat 7 - - - - - - - - -
James Bladel

- - - - - - - - -

(† - To serve on the GNSO Council from November 2015.)

As you will have noticed, 20 out of 30 ICG members (66.67%) have occupied positions in seemingly different organizations, but in actuality, these are organisations with very close links to each other. We see not 13, but 2 organizations that all the communities seem to be affiliated to, i.e., ICANN and ISOC. It seems all too ironic that the body that has been allocated the task of the IANA functions’ transition, in line with the ‘multi-stakeholder’ model, is itself representative of only 2 organizations.

A prodding into the histories of these 30 members from ‘varied’ backgrounds reveals that most of them have rotationally served in the I-Star organizations. A close reading of their bio-data (from their ICANN and LinkedIn pages) reveals our findings on the number of years several of the members of the IANA Stewardship Transition Cooperation Group, have spent at the I-Star organizations.

It is not rocket science to recognise the power the I* organisations have over Internet governance today. Indeed, ICANN tells us that the I* run the Internet. They are the leaders of the status quo.

But the IANA transition is anything but an affirmation of the status quo. Stakeholders and participants in IANA transition (in the CWG, CRISP and IETF) have raised serious concerns about the desirability of IANA continuing within ICANN, and about ICANN’s (inadequate) accountability and transparency. True, ICANN has instituted processes to enable discussion on these issues, and the ICG is part of the process. It is entrusted with the momentous task of shifting from the status quo of the IANA Functions contract to a new mechanism of oversight. Given its composition, an assumption that the ICG may have vested interests in maintaining status quo is not out-of-the-way. In fact, some members of the ICG have previously made statements to the effect that Internet is not broken, and it does not need fixing. This poses a real danger to the IANA transition process and the global Internet community must demand safeguards.


Lakshmi Venkataraman performed the revolving door analysis on the ICG. She is a IV year at NALSAR University of Law and an intern at CIS during December 2014. Geetha Hariharan assisted in writing this post.

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