Significant Changes in Third Proposal on Enhancements to ICANN Accountability

Written by Matthew Shears

The Cross Community Working Group on enhancing ICANN’s accountability (CCWG Accountability) has published its third set of accountability recommendations that are key component of the overall IANA transition.  The proposal is comprehensive and complex, and has substantively evolved from the 2nd version that was out for public comment at the end of the summer.  The new proposal is on a short 21 day public comment period to ensure sufficient time for the US Government interagency review and implementation of key organizational and governance changes prior to the anticipated transition in September 2016.  A set of overview slides on the proposal are available here.

The changes between the 2nd and 3rd proposals are significant and respond to many of the concerns raised during the prior public comment period. The changes between the 2nd and 3rd versions are highlighted in section 4 of each of the detailed Annexes to the proposal.

These changes include:

  • Stepping back from what were considered to be the overly broad statutory powers of a membership model to the more constrained but still important powers of a designator model;
  • Further elaborating the process for exercising community powers – the engage, escalate and enforce model;
  • Making more clear the thresholds for the exercising of the community powers;
  • Empowering the Supporting Organisations and Advisory Committees equally, such that the Government Advisory Committee is a decisional participant in the exercise of the community powers; and,
  • Securing agreement on human rights related language for the ICANN bylaws.

At the heart of the recommendations are the community powers to:

  1. Reject budget or strategy/operating plans;
  2. Reject changes to ICANN “standard” bylaws;
  3. Approve changes to “fundamental” bylaws and/or articles of incorporation;
  4. Remove individual ICANN Board Directors;
  5. Recall the entire ICANN Board;
  6. Initiate a binding Independent Review Process; and,
  7. Reject ICANN Board decisions relating to reviews of IANA functions, including the triggering of Post-Transition IANA separation.

While these have not changed since the 2nd proposal, the purpose and extent of these powers, as well as the process for exercising them, are outlined in far greater detail than previously (see Annex 4).

Unfortunately there is no quick way of reviewing the proposal given its complexity (which is to be expected given the substantive changes to ICANN’s accountability and governance that are foreseen).  This said, a thorough review of the 3rd proposal is critical given the importance of these accountability enhancements to the success of the IANA transition and the future of ICANN (the CCWG has expressed its view that it believes the proposal satisfies NTIA’s criteria in Annex 14.)  CDT will be commenting further on this proposal and encourages all interested parties to do likewise in this important final round of consultations.

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