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US withdraws IANA RFP, ‘no suitable responses’

ICANN manages to lose a one-horse race

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The Internet’s rent-seeking domain name toll-collector ICANN is red-faced following the cancellation of an IANA (Internet Assigned Names and Numbers) RFP from the Department of Commerce.

The RFP (request for proposals) cancellation, reported on CircleID, happened because, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, “we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community”.

The cancellation means that not even ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), whose 14-year-old self-serving monopoly experience operating the Internet’s naming system has been refined over 14 years, could meet the RFP’s requirements. The RFP will now be re-run, with ICANN’s contract extended for six months during the process.

Some of those requirements, according to the NTIA’s notice issued on March 10, included “the separation of policymaking from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local company laws, and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community”.

ICANN has been under growing criticism over key policy decisions; in particular, the processes that make both the .xxx domain and the creation of gTLD “brand” domains look like nothing more than protection rackets designed to extract cash from brand owners either fearful of having their brands polluted by smut-peddlers or squatted by bigger companies.

In entirely coincidental news, the day after the RFP debacle emerged, ICANN announced that it is “seeking expressions of interest for a review of its accountability mechanisms”. It wants to create a committee of “independent experts” to review both its Reconsideration Process and its Independent Review Process. ®

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