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Proposed Change in ICANN Bylaws Regarding the GAC

  • To: comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Proposed Change in ICANN Bylaws Regarding the GAC
  • From: "Savage, John" <john_savage@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2014 09:24:34 -0400

Dear Sirs/Madams,

I am writing to express my opposition to addition of the following sentence
to the last paragraph of ARTICLE XI, Section 2.1, Specific Advisory
Committees, item k. of the ICANN Bylaws.

A final decision by the ICANN Board to not follow the advice of the
Governmental Advisory Committee must be supported by a by a (sic)
two-thirds vote of all members of the Board that are eligible to vote on
the matter.

This addition has two serious problems.

1. The requirement for a two-thirds vote of the Board to reject "advice"
from the GAC would bring ICANN dangerously close to being an
intergovernmental organization. This would dramatically change the
character of ICANN and should not be done without lengthy consultation.

If ICANN is to have a more substantial kind of government oversight, which
I believe would enhance its legitimacy, serious and lengthy public
discussion must first occur. Attention must also be given to the type of
oversight that it be would prudent to grant to governments. As with ICAO,
government representatives should not be dictating technical decisions.
They might be in the position to accept or reject technical recommendations
but not to propose technical changes. Governments should be constrained by
rules that ensure the secure and stable operation of the DNS. It is
desirable that governments engage in dispute resolution and information
sharing to reduce threats to DNS.

2. The word "advice" is used in the current and proposed ICANN Bylaws and
the GAC Operating Principles to refer to correspondence from the GAC to the
ICANN Board. However, the term is not defined explicitly and the GAC
Operating Principles do not say explicitly that "advice" for the Board must
be determined by the GAC using its method for making decisions. Thus, in
principle the GAC Chair can offer advice to the Board without approval.
Even if this view is contested by the ICANN Board, the GAC Operating
Principles say that the GAC can revise its Operating principles at any
time. These facts could result in destabilizing the DNS.

Unfortunately, the handling of the proposed change in the ICANN Bylaws has
had the effect of greatly diminishing confidence in the ICANN Board at a
critical time in the history of the Internet.

John E. Savage
An Wang Professor of Computer Science
Brown University

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