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View on ICANN from the outside

  • To: atrt-questions-2010 <atrt-questions-2010@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: View on ICANN from the outside
  • From: Jaser Elmorsy <jaser@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2010 06:26:13 +0100

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

my name is Jaser Elmorsy. I am a software developer and entrepreneur working
in Europe and the Arabic-speaking world, and I appreciate this opportunity
to present an outsider’s impression of ICANN’s accountability and

As a relative newcomer to the ICANN process, I have little insight into how
ICANN has changed over the years, or what it has done to become more or less
accountable, but I believe my perspective as a newcomer and outsider to the
process may offer a worthwhile insight as to how ICANN communicates with
Internet users seeking to participate in its processes.

I attended my first ICANN meeting in Paris nearly two years ago to express
my interest and concerns regarding Arabic-language Internet domains. As CEO
of a company that does business in Egypt and elsewhere in the
Arabic-speaking world, the creation of Arabic-language domains represented a
golden opportunity. I was concerned however, by the plan to introduce
sovereign “country-code” domains in advance of more accessible “generic”
domains. My company has a .net address and looked forward to having the
opportunity to register in an Arabic-language version of .net. At the public
meeting in Paris, and again in Cairo, I urged ICANN to offer Arabic language
generic names at the same time as they offered Arabic language country-code
names. Such a policy would allow companies like mine to expand our
international presence without doing business with a number of diverse, and
sometimes-restrictive government regimes.

At those meetings, I was assured that the country-code names would not
actually be introduced ahead of the generic names, but only approved in an
expedited process. Clearly that assurance was incorrect, as several
sovereign Arabic nations have introduced internationalized names, while
their generic counterparts remain nowhere in sight.

My brief experience with ICANN, while frustrating, has taught me a couple of
things. First, ICANN remains incredibly complex and intimidating to
newcomers. Some of this is to be expected, as ICANN is a large entity with a
lengthy history and a complex set of tasks, but for an organization that is
supposed to be operated by and for the global Internet community, the ICANN
“club” is a very difficult one to enter. Second, it is very hard for an
individual member of the community to know whether his comments to the
organization have been heard, and even harder to learn whether any action
has been taken. After attending three ICANN meetings in two years, I’m
beginning to get the sense that I’m shouting into a dark hole. Finally, it
is not at all clear to me how an individual member of the community like
myself with limited time and resources, holds the organization accountable
for upholding its promises and assurances.

If ICANN’s goal is to reach global legitimacy, it must do a better job of
serving the needs of users like me, who get involved with the process in an
effort to make a difference. To do that it must do a better job of letting
us know how we can participate in the process, and when we do participate,
showing us that our participation matters.

Jaser Elmorsy
CEO, BlueBridge Technologies
Cairo, Egypt

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