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Improving ICANN's accountability [comments of Shawn Gunnarson]

  • To: "atrt-questions-2010@xxxxxxxxx" <atrt-questions-2010@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Improving ICANN's accountability [comments of Shawn Gunnarson]
  • From: Marc Salvatierra <marc.salvatierra@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 00:39:20 -0700

Comments on "Questions to the Community on Accountability and Transparency 
within ICANN" public comment period.

Submitted by ICANN Staff on behalf of Shawn Gunnarson


Improving ICANN's accountability

Members of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team should be 
complimented for their efforts to gauge the opinions of ICANN constituents 
regarding the organization's performance in terms of accountability and 
transparency.  They have raised important questions that deserve wide and 
thorough debate.  Attached is a white paper that I hereby submit in response to 
the call for public comment.  Below is a summary of the arguments made in that 
The DNS White Paper established the principles of stability, competition, and 
private-sector-led DNS management as the gold standard for DNS governance.  
ICANN is struggling to achieve that standard, however, and a dramatic change in 
direction may need to be considered.
ICANN's weak accountability, transparency, and legitimacy are depriving it of 
the institutional confidence it needs.  Solving this problem without harming 
ICANN's capacity to act effectively has proven to be a daunting challenge.  In 
the attached white paper, entitled "A Fresh Start for ICANN," I propose a 
different set of solutions from those tried in the past.  For ICANN to 
exemplify the principles set forth in the DNS White Paper, its corporate 
structure should be redesigned to ensure accountability.  That new structure 
and ICANN's fundamental commitments should be reduced to a written charter and 
presented to a representative body of ICANN constituents for ratification.
Key provisions of the charter should include:

*         Limit ICANN's authority to the narrow mission of performing the 
technical management and coordination of the Internet DNS.  ICANN's powers need 
to be held within the narrow technical purposes for which it was created to 
prevent mission creep, where ICANN tries to resolve matters over which it has 
no authority.

*         Put ICANN's core obligations from the Affirmation of Commitments into 
the Charter, to give those obligations greater permanency.  Require ICANN to 
maintain the security and stability of the Internet DNS without qualification 
or trade-off.

*         Enumerate and check the powers of the board of directors.  Board 
decisions need to be subject to reversal, not merely reconsideration.  Board 
members should be bound by the charter and the (revised) bylaws and removable 
if unfaithful to them.

*         Remove the president as an ex officio member of the board of 
directors.  Make him independent of the board, instead, with power to veto 
decisions that are manifestly inconsistent with the charter and bylaws.

*         Create corporate members of record, place directors under fiduciary 
duties to those members, and authorize the members as a body to remove any 
director found to have violated the charter or bylaws.

*         Restrain ICANN's budget growth to 10% per year and its net 
uncommitted assets to the total annual budget of four years before.  Require 
excess revenues to be redistributed for infrastructure and security 
improvements, WHOIS and contract compliance, and remote meeting facilities and 
a travel allowance for participation in ICANN's meetings and proceedings by 
ICANN constituents from developing countries.

*         Establish a Board of Review with authority to adjudicate disputed 
decisions of the board of directors and to reverse them if repugnant to the 
charter or bylaws.

*         Make bylaws subject to amendment by a 2/3 vote of the board of 
directors and the charter subject to amendment by a 2/3 vote of all members of 

Thank you for taking these views into consideration.


R. Shawn Gunnarson
Kirton & McConkie

Attachment: ICANN-White Paper-Shawn-Gunnarson.pdf
Description: ICANN-White Paper-Shawn-Gunnarson.pdf

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