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Whois reform: ICANN says let's run more tests

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Rader's gambit - a PDP by any other name...

Ross Rader of Tucows, in his last meeting on the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) council, wasn't going to take it anymore.

The GNSO council has the power to vote its approval of new policies and to recommend changes to the full ICANN Board, nothing more, but Rader had submitted a motion to eliminate the Whois database requirements from the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) if the council would not approve either one of two other motions submitted to the board: one, which would have replaced the current system with the Operational Point of Contact (OPOC) proposal, thereby allowing natural persons to substitute another contact entity for privacy purposes; and a second proposal, pushed by the IPC which, in classic ICANN fashion, would have extended the status quo indefinitely under the guise of more impact studies on the current system and proposed changes.

Rader's move was a feint, designed to force the hand of the other council members, who clearly were not going to support abandoning the current system altogether. Rader had also submitted an amendment to the IPC proposal, trying to narrow the focus of the studies to the truly contentious issues to force the process along.

We can dream, can't we?

After the OPOC proposal had already been junked, the usual intransigent opposing interests set about hijacking Rader's amendment to narrow the proposal by adding language that expanded the parameters of the amendment almost to the original scope of the initial motion - for all intents and purposes gutting the amendment. A semantic spat about "lawful" versus "appropriate" access to information dragged on long enough almost to kill the entire meeting, which would have left the council with no policy at all, until the IPC finally blinked and prevented the session from degenerating into complete farce.

Rader almost walked out in protest, and tried to pull his amendment, before relenting on procedural grounds and demanding that his opinions on this procedural clusterf*ck at least be read into the record.

In short, we have been left with something suspiciously similar to a PDP.

ICANN chugs on

Who's reponsible for this mess?

ICANN has at times gained notoriety for itself by debating important issues into oblivion. It's not entirely ICANN's fault, inasmuch as its internal institutions rest on the principle of bottom up consensus - an arduous process that rarely lends itself to efficient and nimble decision-making.

Something has to give, however. Forever extending the status quo is itself a policy decision, and ICANN needs to find a way to break this internal logjam.

Clearly, more compromise and a bit more direction are in order. ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

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