Stephane Van Gelder is the current chair of the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization) council, one of ICANN’s major policy making bodies. Stéphane has seen the madness first hand for approximately the past year and a half and has had enough of ICANN’s craziness. In a blog post titled “ICANN Gets Crazy… Again!” published yesterday at CircleID he says “it’s time to fix ICANN’s pre-meeting verbal diarrhoea. Before it makes the organisation as a whole, and not just the corps of volunteers that make it work, retch in permanent disgust.”
The above are some strong words, don’t you think? But wait… There is a lot more! According to Stéphane, in the days or weeks ahead of its three-a-year international meetings, ICANN goes into hyper-drive. And this time around right before the Prague meeting (from the 24th to the 29th), the usual downpour has turned into a veritable deluge. He points out to yesterday (June 4th as an example.)
On that single day, ICANN has published the following eight documents:
- An independent report on ICANN Board conflicts of Interest (22 pages).
- An update to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) negotiations (10 documents, a total of 87 pages).
- A roadmap to the implementation of a new technical policy (SAC 051) on WHOIS (19 pages).
- A preliminary issues report on protecting International Governmental Organisations (IGOs) in the new gTLD program (55 pages).
- An update to the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook (338 pages).
- A request for community input on ICANN’s strategic plan from 2013 to 2016, which at minimum requires reading of the 17 page current strategic plan document covering 2012 to 2015.
- A report on the feasibility of a survey on WHOIS proxy and privacy (2 documents, a total of 158 pages).
- An initial report (yes, there’s more to come!) on a new policy for transferring domain names between registrars (61 pages).
Stephane goes on to say… “That’s at the very least 757 pages of stuff to read! Given those facts, any sane person can only have one reaction: that’s no way to run an organisation! Especially one tasked with overseeing the technical well being of the Internet!!”
Hello… Is Anybody Listening?
Stephane has been raising the alarm on these issues for a while now. His cries of “stop, please stop… no more, we can’t take anymore” have apparently fallen on deaf ears. In fact, it seems as the Prague meeting near, the trend is actually towards more and more documents being released, not less. According to Stéphane “This puts Internet policy at risk.”
He explains that ICANN works through volunteers. The 22 person GNSO council is made-up of people giving up their free time. Same goes for the board (although board members are eligible for a small compensation), the other policy making bodies and the “advisory committees” that also participate in the ICANN process.
All volunteers who have real jobs and live, and who will be tempted to just skim over just some of the documents that have recently been released in a flurry. Yet most, if not all of those documents are crucial to the policy decisions that ICANN makes. The result? Stéphane says: “Policies risk being drawn up by people who simply cannot process all the information that’s thrown at them in the few days before an ICANN meeting.”
Stéphane wrapped up his post by saying:
“Let’s face it, the fact that ICANN cannot get itself organised to have a steady feed of documents throughout the year, rather than a major rush of them in the two weeks before an ICANN meeting, doesn’t say much good about the organisation that’s supposed to make sure the Internet’s addressing and naming systems are a-ok. It’s time to fix ICANN’s pre-meeting verbal diarrhoea. Before it makes the organisation as a whole, and not just the corps of volunteers that make it work, retch in permanent disgust.”
About the GNSO
According to the official Generic Names Supporting Organization website, the GNSO helps coordinate generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) but not country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). The GNSO makes policy recommendations to the ICANN Board of Directors. If the Board approves them, the policies are implemented. The GNSO’s policy development process lasts, on average, 404 days.