Archived—Government of Canada Statement to the NTIA public meeting on the Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name and Addressing System, delivered by Bill Graham

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Government of Canada Statement to the NTIA public meeting on the Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet Domain Name and Addressing System, delivered by Bill Graham
(PDF, 29 KB, 2 pages)

July 26, 2006

Thank you for inviting me. Canada has prepared an input paper for the Notice of Inquiry, which will be provided for posting tomorrow, and I would encourage you to refer to it for a formal statement of our views.

The first thing that needs to be said is that Canada believes the 4 principles announced in the 1998 White Paper remain relevant, Although we see there is still room for improvement. And we do not doubt that ICANN and its community are open to making improvements.

We have concerns, particularly in the post-WSIS environment, that there are pressures on ICANN to do things it was not intended to do — to get into areas of policy that go beyond its technical role. In order to create the conditions for becoming fully private-sector, ICANN and its stakeholders need to take a very narrow view of its role. This is particularly so in areas of policy.

A second area where things could be improved is in the area of internationalization. We think it would be helpful if the US government could clarify what it means by "internationalization" in the current environment. Of course we saw Michael Gallagher's four principles last summer, for example, and particularly noted the one concerning the IANA function. To make internationalization a reality, we would welcome a statement that while the US government will retain authority over the IANA function, it will open up the process by which it exercises that authority.

For example, it could say that it will restrict exercise of this authority to situations where it is essential to preserve the technical stability and security of the DNS. It could then find a mechanism to involve other governments in the decision making. We think this would show commitment to internationalization, but it would also be a learning experience for other governments which would quickly learn how few occasions there are for exercising this limited authority.

In our paper, we refer to the suggestions put forward by Becky Burr and Marilyn Cade that move in this direction, which we think could be a starting point for discussion.

The third and most important area where we think there needs to be improvement before moving to a post-MOU environment is in ICANN's transparency and accountability. We think that at present there is a real shortfall here. To be quite specific, we think that it is time for ICANN to recognize that it is in many ways a quasi-judicial body, and that it must begin to behave that way.

That means that the ICANN Board needs to provide adequate minutes of all of its meetings.

And in the case of the most important decisions, particularly those involving policy considerations, formal processes need to be adopted:

  • There needs to be notice of what issues will be considered, and the timeframe
  • When a decision is made, a written document needs to be posted setting out the background and context for the issues, for example
  • There needs to be an acknowledgement and summary of the positions of interested parties
  • There needs to be an analysis of the issues,
  • There needs to be an explanation of the decision, and the reasons for it, and ultimately
  • There needs to be a mechanism for the Board to be held accountable by its community

We believe the time taken to make this information available on the website will be more than justified by the increase in transparency, of understanding and of trust. For ICANN to operate as a private entity, trust is perhaps the most vital element to its success.

In our paper, we talk quite a bit about the GAC, and what should be its role with regard to ICANN. I would be happy to talk about that in the discussion or afterwards. But in the interests of time, I would only want to say here that governments will want to continue being involved in ICANN, and we believe that involvement can be mutually beneficial.

However, we believe the letter "A" in the name of the GAC is vitally important. The GAC needs to improve its understanding and expectations of the advisory function, and to find ways to provide a range of advice in a timely fashion. By doing those two things, we can make our own contribution to the improved functioning of ICANN that can eventually lead to privatization.

Again thank you, and I look forward to our discussions.

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