Things you didn’t realize were on the ICANN site: Part 5

by Kieren McCarthy on May 26, 2009

There are two big issues that ICANN is constantly questioned about and judged by, and they are:

  • Security and stability
  • Accountability and Transparency

Last week, ICANN announced a whole security and stability plan [pdf] and opened up a public comment period on it. But that’s not what this blog post is about.

The thing that you didn’t realize was on the ICANN site (part 5) is actually the organization’s extensive response to the accountability and transparency question.

It is ICANN’s “Accountability and Transparency Frameworks and Principles” and they were approved well over a year ago by the Board, following no less than 16 months of community consultation (you can see the first public comment period back in October 2006 here).

This document was created in order to answer the simple question: how is ICANN held accountable and to whom? And the answer cames in three parts:

  1. Accountability in the Public Sphere
  2. Legal and Corporate accountability
  3. Accountability to the participating community

The document then gives a full rundown of the organization’s status, its legal obligations, its bylaws, its promises to the community, its principles, where all the information it produces can be found and pretty much everything you could want to know about transparency and accountability at ICANN.

The result, nearly 16 months later, has been much less discussion – and so, presumably, concern – about transparency and accountability and ICANN. But there are two reasons why it is worth flagging the frameworks and principles again (and most likely reminding a few of you of their existence).

For one, as new participants arrive and try to understand ICANN, sooner or later they arrive at an inevitable question: who is in charge of ICANN? And who holds it accountable to its decisions?

It’s not a simple answer because ICANN is not a traditional organization; it is as unique as the domain name system it coordinates. But if you read through the document you can see how ICANN has been structured and what the various systems are that have been put in place to make sure that it remains accountable to the wider Net community.

Improving Institutional Confidence

The second reason to review the frameworks and principles is because of the Improving Institutional Confidence (IIC) consultation that is going on at the moment and which aims to adjust or expand on what is there already so that people can feel comfortable with the conclusion of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) that ICANN has with the US government.

The IIC will have a special session in a month’s time in Sydney, and the JPA will conclude at the end of September. So it is worth reviewing where ICANN currently is, and think ahead to where it can and should be.

You can find the full Accountability and Transparency Frameworks and Principles online and can also download them as a pdf document. Enjoy.

Previous things you didn’t realize

Part 4: Community translation requests
Part 3: Scorecard
Part 2: IDN Glossary
Part 1: Virtual Bookshelf

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