NTIA Head David Redl Pokes into Donuts Recent Hiring of ICANN’s GDD Chief Attalah

Could this be a conflict of interest scenario?, ICANN recently lost its first president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division Akram Attalah to Donuts to assume the role of CEO. He joined former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade who resigned from his post in March 2016 and joined ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm which has an undisclosed stake in Donuts.

This might have caused jitters in the internet community but was perhaps not surprising. The sudden resignation of Akram caught the attention of David Redl, the chief U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration, who suggested ther should be a cooling off period for ICANN employees to maintain ethics.

In his prepared comments, Redl stated:

While the community has greatly improved ICANN’s accountability through the IANA stewardship transition process, there are still improvements to be made.

As one example, we need safeguards to ensure that ICANN staff and leadership are not only grounded ethically in their professional actions at ICANN, but also in their actions when they seek career opportunities outside of ICANN.

One potential fix could be “cooling off periods” for ICANN employees that accept employment with companies involved in ICANN activities and programs. This is an ethical way to ensure that conflicts of interest or appearances of unethical behavior are minimized.

ICANN has long had many instances that may translate to conflict of interest cases and given its role to ensure the transparency and resiliency of the internet, the current high ranking staff move might open a policy development process to create rules of engagement to protect ICANN from perceived institutional image damage

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