ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board

Dave Fadi 230No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. The two new board members are both Americans, Sarah Deutsch & Avri Doria. Almost all the board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy. I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues. 

China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board. The same for Russia. That’s been true for at least 10 years. Avri’s a friend and I respect Deutsch, but ICANN continues to exclude over half the Internet users. (Picture is Fadi on the right and me on the left. Thanks, Joly.)

In particular, CEO Fadi ChehadĂ© in 2014 promised “a seat at the table” to Chinese Premier Li. 

In response, Fadi said, “China has made clear announcements that they are now supporting ICANN.” He noted the U.S. control at the time made a Chinese board member impossible. I have a transcript below and the video has been preserved. ICANN welched.

Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over the nominal control to a “global,” multi-stakeholder organization that had a board with similar positions as the U.S. government. Senator Rubio, Donald Trump, Mike Reilly and others objected “The U.S. must keep control.” 

Larry couldn’t say publicly that the deck was stacked. The whole purpose of the move was to convince people a representative organization was taking over. The board is self-perpetuating. It could be a generation before it is representative. 

“The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world,” I have been saying since 2012. 

Here’s the transcript. Thanks to Joly MacFie of ISOC NY for recording this. 

From an event in the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The earlier part of the meeting was about the .nyc domain. Fadi said this about China.

“Our danger really was that the Chinese were going to announce they will have their own Internet and run away with their own root and leave us kind of a second Internet. That was the biggest danger we were facing. (Audience question) What would happen if they did? (Fadi continued) If they did, and it’s a good point, if the Chinese separated their Internet I think the Internet as we know it – as a single platform to share ideas, to share commerce, with a minimum of barriers, with a minimum friction – inevitably if they separate the root we will have friction between the networks. They’ll put rules, they’ll connect walls.

To get into their Internet you need “x”. To get out of their Internet you need “y.” That’s not the Internet we want. We want an Internet that is open as Tim Berners-Lee would say. That information and ideas and commerce flows through it. I think it very important to know that that danger largely is behind us. I just came from China yesterday and China has made clear announcements that they are now supporting ICANN, [inaudible] ICANN. They are legitimizing the root of ICANN, legitimizing that we want one single Internet. That’s extremely powerful and notable this year. (Borough President Gail Brewer said) Congratulations. (Fadi continues) Yes, it is a huge, huge step forward for us.

Now, we are watching, we are not naive about the importance of this event and the importance of what it means. So in [inaudible] this week I was there with the CEO of, from New York here, Thomson-Reuters, the CEO of Linkedin, the CEO of Qualcomm and many others. We went to meet with Premier ?Li and Premier ?Li asserted and confirmed again that China is for one global Internet. Now, they had never said this before London. One global Internet. One Internet, One world. [inaudible name] said.

Now, the Chinese of course expect “One Internet, one world” means they have a seat at the table. That seat at the table was impossible so long as ICANN is, still today or will continue to be, under contract to the U.S. government. It just wasn’t [partially inaudible. Possibly congruent.] We could just not tell the Chinese you have an equal seat at the table in one global Internet but sorry to inform you the root is really under contract to the U.S. government. It just wasn’t going to go. I think this is pretty obvious at a basic level. Now, getting it all done is complicated and here we are.”


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