Comment on ICANN FY 2010 Budget Priorities
My comment is not directly related to the details of the proposed budget, but rather to more programmatic considerations regarding the allocation of effort to different programs within ICANN. Perhaps it should have been submitted at a different time and in a different place. On the other hand, since the budget represents a proposed precise allocation of funds to ICANN's various activities, I believe that my comment can be appropriately submitted here.
I refer specifically to the allocation of effort between those aspects of ICANN that support the security and stability of the Internet versus those activities that support the function of soft regulation of the domain name industry. Specifically, I believe that ICANN is neglecting, on a relative basis, security and stability issues.
My concern arises from two sessions at previous ICANN meetings during which the consultants who were responsible for the SSAC review made presentations.
During the first session, prior to the consultants starting their work, I asked the question of ICANN staff and volunteers whether their current budget was adequate to address the security and stability issues that they faced. The response was that they could quite usefully expend three times their current budget if they were to do a thorough job regarding the challenges they faced. I suggested that the reviewers should take such an opinion seriously.
During the the second session, the SSAC consultants summarized the major points of their findings and recommendations. (The written report was still in draft.) They expressed some difficulty deciding what recommendations to make regarding the budget for SSAC and related activities; one reason expressed was that it was difficult to know when security issues would arise and how resource consumptive it would be to deal with the totality of such issues. They apparently did not take into account the above concern regarding insufficient budget.
If we think about what makes the Internet successful in terms of the public interest, security and stability are paramount. An insecure or an unstable Internet will be avoided, and many of the benefits that the current Internet provides will likely be lost. On the other hand, with a robust introduction of IDNs, the Internet will have enough top-level domain names to support continued robust growth for quite a few years.
ICANN operates to serve the users of the Internet in the pubic interest. I argue that the public interest is best served if ICANN provides as many resources to their security and stability activity as are claimed to be needed, based upon ICANN's stated responsibilities in the area. Based upon the information exchanged in the two sessions described above, i believe that this is not the case at present, and I would urge sufficient reallocation of budget to fully meet security and stability challenges. The best predictors of the level of resources needed to do this are the ICANN staff, SSAC members and volunteers who are doing this job, and they should be consulted, listened to, and given the resources to do their job as well as they can, without any significant budgetary limitations.