Federation of I-Governance
While somewhat rough around the edges, ICANN's PDP is an effective way to distill community feedback into policy. It enables representatives to leverage a pure Consultation based model in order to obtain granular visibility into complex issues for decision-making, such that insight from those closest to the issues may be captured for analysis and action. However, effective decision-making is only half of the equation for good governance. The other half is Accountability.
Accountability is not a property intrinsic to any given organizational structure. It is a system property that is manufactured by the creation of interaction rules around interdependencies between multiple organizations. For accountability to be effective, distinct organizations must be vested with distinct powers and have a mutual need for survival. The Founding Fathers of the United States recognized this in the way that they structured the US government into executive, judicial, and legislative branches and similarly in purposing the House and the Senate. While the desire to build systemic accountability into governance is not unique to the United States, it is the tradition upon which the US was founded.
If we look closely, we may see that this is exactly how the United States has been governing its role as Steward of the Internet. If we look even closer, it will become apparent that this is exactly what the United States is asking from the World today. Beyond containing the threat of moderation of the root zone as a mechanism for oversight, the NTIA's historic role in stewardship of the Internet has been to contract both the IANA functions and the Root Zone Management functions. Further, over the course of the Internet's unprecedented evolution into a global utility, and with the advent of technologies such as DNSSEC, the US government realized that an implicit mechanism to moderate the root zone was unnecessary for oversight and counterproductive to the security, stability, and freedom of the Internet.
Viewed in the context of the actual role of the NTIA, the United States assertion that it will "not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution" leaves the door open just enough to allow for a proposal that reflects accountability and resiliency measures similar to Its own principles of governance. That is- one Organization, operating through multistakeholder Consultation, contracted to provide the IANA functions; and another Organization, operating through multistakeholder Consultation, contracted to provide the Root Zone Management functions, notwithstanding inter-government participation and representation.
It is important to empathize with the US position on the transition of Internet governance. They are, to this invention, as Parents to a Child. They realize that the child has become a young adult yearning to venture into, explore and experience the world on their own accord. Yet they fear that the child has not yet acquired the wisdom to implement the structures in life that regulate behavior and foster self-restraint. More likely than not, they would even prefer a graduated transition facilitated by the acceptance and fulfillment of responsibilities. In such a case, it may be possible to allay such concerns by modulating the issuance of Contracts and/or Memoranda of Understanding in such a way as to graduate processes from the stewardship of the US government, until a single MoU or reciprocal Contracts exist between the organizations chosen by the global community.
ICANN is uniquely positioned to continue to fulfill the role of the IANA functions contractor. Its Consultation based methods for steering decision-making are outstanding models to map to another Organization, uniquely positioned to represent the world in providing Root Zone Management functions, and structurally independent from the functional elements comprising names, numbers, protocols and parameters. Hence, an opportunity exists for global stakeholders behind initiatives such as the IGF, WSIS, and WCIT to implement and present similarly viable, regular, transparent, accessible and sustainable Consultation based methods that enhance current workshops, coalitions and forums while enabling them to coordinate the RZM functions, within an internal institution such as a DNSA, much like ICANN coordinates the IANA functions.
A successful transition to a dual organization system, enabled by both industry and government, and steered through effective public consultation, will yield a host of opportunities within a framework for accountability. These may include designation of certain ccTLDs as "government use" for expedited delegation, separation of interests for interface with UDRP, federation of root server operators, elevation of dialogue between the IAB and the broader technical community, as well as the establishment of cross functional working groups and boards able to agilely address issues related to the global Internet infrastructure. While it is possible to redefine the IANA and RZM functions within each organization in an attempt to diversify control, given the aforementioned context and the interdependency between the two critical functions, the relative advantage to be had by diversification would be outweighed by the benefits of existing functional expertise and modularization.