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NetChoice comment on the Public Interest Test

  • To: <affrev-draft-processes@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: NetChoice comment on the Public Interest Test
  • From: Steve DelBianco <sdelbianco@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 08:07:54 -0500

Comment on discussion draft for Affirmation Reviews
By Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice
*ICANN's new Public Interest Imperative*
The Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) adds a new imperative: ICANN decisions
must now meet a 'public interest' test.  Public interest is part of AoC
commitments 3 and 4, and is an explicit criteria in the Accountability
Review. Accordingly, ICANN staff featured 'public interest' in the draft
terms of reference for the Accountability review.
But neither the Affirmation nor the discussion draft has proposed what
'public interest' means for ICANN. Should we just let review panelists (and
their consultants) set their own definitions of 'public interest'? I hope
not.  The broader ICANN community should define the public interest test for
ICANN decisions.
*Recommended definition of 'Public Interest' for ICANN*
First, I believe that the 'public' part of public interest is concerned more
with users and registrants than with contracted parties and others who are
deeply involved at ICANN. Commitment 4 of the AoC makes this point in
calling upon ICANN to analyze and publish the 'effects of its decisions on
the public'.
Second, I believe that the public interest in ICANN decisions is somewhat
broader than just a secure and stable DNS. Namely, users and registrants
want ICANN to make sure the DNS delivers two essential and measurable
qualities: *Availability* and *Integrity*
Availability of the DNS is critical for global users who increasingly rely
on the Internet for information, communications, and commerce. Domain name
resolutions need to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from
anywhere on the globe. Availability also means being able to use any
language and any script for both generic and country-code domains and email
Availability can also apply to domain names sought by registrants: will
domains in new gTLDs be available to the public, or will they be captured by
insiders?  That kind of availability should also be part of the public
interest test for ICANN decisions.

Integrity of the DNS is vital to businesses and end-users of the Internet.
Businesses rely upon the integrity of domain name registration to ensure
that their brands are not misrepresented or misappropriated. E-commerce and
Internet financial transactions absolutely require integrity in resolution
of domain names and secure delivery of encrypted data.
Internet users depend upon the integrity of domain name services to provide
accurate and authentic results when they look up a website or send an email.
Integrity is undermined by deceptive practices such as redirecting users to
fraudulent websites or providing false information about the true owner of a
web domain.
It's true that ICANN decisions alone cannot directly address much of what
undermines DNS integrity today. But ICANN can promote integrity by making
policy and enforcing rules that require contract parties to meet industry
security standards.
For these reasons, I believe that Availability and Integrity are necessary
elements in the public interest test that will be applied to ICANN decisions
in the upcoming Accountability Review.
I encourage further community discussion on the concept of public interest
in Affirmation reviews. This term is too important to leave undefined or let
a few reviewers define it to fit their own agenda.
If we allow 'public interest' to mean anything and everything, it will end
up meaning nothing at all.
Steve DelBianco
Executive Director
http://www.NetChoice.org and http://blog.netchoice.org

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