[At-Large] - Price caps - was: The Case for Regulatory Capture at ICANN | Review Signal Blog

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Jul 1 16:41:50 UTC 2019

On Sun, 30 Jun 2019 at 04:20, Roberto Gaetano <roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com>

> Given the entrenchment of social darwinism -- well-expressed by Karl --
> deep inside ICANN's culture, I have serious concerns about its willingness
> -- let alone ability -- to yield to even the middle ground you suggest. If
> that is the case, is even seeking a middle ground worth the effort?
> And the alternative is?

I don't know. There seems little more that we can do from the side of
moderation to convince the status quo to yield anything. That's one of the
reasons I have withdrawn from deep participation in ICANN, after a a long
time trying I have concluded that the task looks futile. To me it appears
that the Internet will do what it does best, rerouting around obstacles,
including the obstacle called ICANN. A a result, there is an increasing
trend to go beyond "memorable" domain names. (As Jonathan knows, I wanted
that issue to be front-and-centre in CCT investigations.) One could even
make a reasonable case that Google and Facebook would not be so dominant in
the Internet now had domain names had been usefully deployed. But it's too
late to reboot that.

In fact, IMO things have become worse not better. The IANA transition
eliminated ICANN's last shred of external accountability, leaving control
in an "empowered" (100%-pure Doublespeak) community that makes the Board
only really accountable to those inside the bubble. It's no surprise that
voices against ALAC have risen as the level of industry entitlement grows,
seemingly without limit. See threads elsewhere about a new gTLD expansion
round coming, clearly desired by nobody but the domain industry, but coming
nonetheless.  IMO, ALAC is utterly powerless to affect change, especially
given its lack of focus. This is why I concentrate my current participation
here on focusing ALAC to understand and advance end-user needs exclusively;
it's our best shot at remaining relevant.

In the end, only some kind of external stimulus will prod ICANN to change
course. Unprotected by treaty, I believe that eventually ICANN will
encounter ever-more hostility at the ITU, by individual states or blocs of
states. Or perhaps there will be some event or action, a scandal that
publicly exposes the culture of corruption and/or lack of
public-mindedness. Eventually ICANN's arrogance will push even neutral
players to determine that a change is in order, that even the feared
multilateralism can't be worse than what exists now. What I don't know is
whether ICANN's "Entitled Community" (which is the proper name for it) will
see the threat in time enough to change, or whether it will remain
oblivious and/or defiant right until catastrophic change. I have a genuine
concern about the potential damage to the technical components of ICANN
which generally work well, that would come with an overhaul of the
trade/political components.

This may be an unsatisfying answer, but it's the best that I can conclude.

- Evan
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