Why ICANN failed Milton Mueller Associate Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies Internet Governance • Governance definition: – the exploitation of technical bottlenecks or access to technical resources to regulate socio-economic conduct. – E.g., broadcasting • ICANN is in the business of governance, not technical coordination – dispute resolution policy and famous marks – imposing a business model on domain name registration – WG discussions – Sovereignty claims to TLDs ICANN’s Pre-history • Internet Architecture Board (IAB) 1990; Internet Society (ISOC), 1992 • IANA’s attempt to privatize itself, 1995-6 – 150 new gTLDs, $2000 + 2% of revenues • The IAHC and the gTLD-MoU – – – – ISOC-IANA, WIPO, ITU, new registrars shared registry model cartel-ized top-level domain space links domain name assignment to trademark protection The White Paper and ICANN • White Paper abdicates direct government action • Behind-the-scenes agreement with US Govt, Europeans, IBM, WIPO, and ISOC-IANA on governance agenda – essentially the same as gTLD-MoU • Initial Board gives complete control of ICANN to gTLD-MoU faction Conclusions The rhetoric of “industry self-regulation” was a mask that allowed a specific coalition of actors, led by the Internet Society, IBM, and a small number of European allies, to take over the administration of the Internet. Administration concentrated exclusively on ecommerce and ignored implications of handing governance power to an unaccountable private entity Conclusions ICANN’s initial board was controlled by a single faction with a specific governance agenda that did not command consensus. The determination of that faction to implement its agenda as quickly as possible fatally undermined the new corporation’s ability to: function as a vehicle for consensual “self-regulation” develop durable, trusted processes Difficult questions for the future • Can ICANN be fixed or should we start over? • How much globalization is appropriate?