Fixing ICANN: Step 1
How can ICANN get back in shape? To start with,
it can rewrite its mantra/mission statement in easy-to-understand
language and develop transparent measures to monitor the group’s
On its Web site,
the organization tells us this: “ICANN coordinates these unique
identifiers across the world … dedicated to keeping the Internet
secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops
policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.”
The statement says nothing about appropriate and
measurable accountability, a crucial topic. Worse, the statement
is gibberish. What aspects of the identifiers/addresses does the
organization coordinate? And what does keeping the Internet secure
mean? Secure from phishing, from spam, from cyberwars?
Come to think of it, what does a “stable” Internet
mean? Apple Inc., for example, has designed the iPad to be used
in unstable positions to enhance the game-playing experience. Probably
the most stable system would be zero addresses! As for “interoperable,”
I give up. Whatever it means, how do you measure it?
Is the coordination of addresses the only responsibility
ICANN should have? A number of industry observers and experts have
suggested that the group has already established a de facto influence
over the Internet beyond address coordination. I have argued that
that has created the trademark mess. Organizations grow over
time, as do their product lines and responsibilities. Rejecting
an expanded scope for ICANN is like saying that Apple should never
have developed iTunes, iPod, or iPhone because they aren’t computers.
Fix the gibberish, decide on the mission’s scope,
and set up some way of measuring success, of gauging whether or
not the group is getting results or needs to adjust its performance.
Then ICANN can start making itself useful.