ICANN CEO: NetMundial is an “Extracurricular Activity”!

Fadi Chehadé with President Rousseff and Dr. Hamadoun Touré
Fadi Chehadé with President Rousseff and Dr. Hamadoun Touré

The ICANN CEO has finally clarified ICANN’s position on the NETMundial Initiative.

Giving his answer in one of the ICANN meetings during the Singapore 52 meeting, he put to rest the mounting questions over the relationships between ICANN, WEF, NETMundial and other partnerships formed during the formative stages of the Initiative.

The NETMundial took center stage in the past year of 2014 almost creating a notion that it was ICANN’s own main initiative.   Its news almost overwhelmed the serious new gTLD processes that have several names being delegated while others remain in accountability mechanisms.

Such clarifications that “ICANN involvement in the world economic forum and in NetMundial are not in any way related to our core activities” is a surprising welcome and a shift in presentation especially in 2015 when the focus is shifting more towards the IANA Transition.

No more NETMundial meetings and …”The IGF is here to stay”!

The IGF’s mandate and position has again been given a boost of confidence.  With the future o the NETMundial not quite determined, the IGF seems to have a stamp of confidence. Last year there were worries that the NetMudial would replace the IGF Forum.

Fadi Chehade said that

NETmundial will not do any more meetings like Sao Paulo.  It is not a meeting forum.  It is a place, a place where people will come after having discussed things. I hope, at the IGF and maybe agree to coalesce and stock building, policy models, solutions, and other things that people can voluntarily consume.  NETmundial is not a binding body in any way.  it is simply a platform, a place to work…”

Fadi also emphasized “there is a sense sometimes that the NETmundial platform replaces the internet governance forum or competes with it… let me be superbly clear that these are completely complementary activities..” this response comes immediately after news of the European Parliament IGF resolution.

European Union (EU) Resolution on IGF

On 9th February 2015, The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the UN General Assembly to renew the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), while strengthening its resources and the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. The Parliament resolution is available here. The list of amendments is here. The IGF‘s future will also be on the agenda for UN General Assembly next autumn, after a UN high level meeting on WSIS+10. The resolution initiated by seven Parliament party groups members described the IGF as a process that offers

“a positive and concrete context for the shaping of the internet’s future on the basis of a multi-stakeholder approach.”

You would think the African Union as a wanna-be player at ICANN would have supported such a resolution, but representatives of African Union are still playing a quid pro quo with ICANN on its .africa TLD, so it has decided not to stir the Boat of any ICANN initiative.

The $200,000 NETMundial Budget

It is reported on various online sources that there was a $200K allocation for the NMI.  That “ICANN CEO Chehade told the conference call [MP3] between the organizers of the “NetMundial Initiative” and business organization that each of the three organizers was putting in US$200,000 each for the first year of the initiative – $600,000 in total. Questions  have been asked for the rationale on that spending. Where is the NETmundial finally going to, time will tell.

Steve DelBianco  in his article NETmundial Initiative Lacks Backing, and ICANN Should Not Lead  writes

“A fledgling attempt to create a new global Internet governance clearinghouse has run into trouble as leading business and civil organizations said they are not yet prepared to participate in the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) championed by ICANN President Fadi Chehade.” He continues that “When you have so many global stakeholders addressing such complex Internet issues, a single point of focus can become the single point of failure”.

Public money on “extracurricular activity”?

The ICANN CEO in his response during the ICANN Board and GAC meeting mentioned above, admitted the NetMundi has nothing to do with ICANN’s core functions.  Then why would ICANN spend public money or allocate any effort to the wished of the CEO’s “Extra-Curricular Activity”.  That is The $64,000 question, and one that requires investigation on ICANN’s business practices.

What is ICANN’s core function?

So what are ICANN’s core functions…A quick search online reveals that ICANN

is a nonprofit organization that is responsible for the coordination of maintenance and methodology of several databases of unique identifiers related to the namespaces of the Internet, and ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.”

Pending issues with New gTLD program:

Therefore ICANN should strive to build its future plans around this core functions, and especially strengthen its own accountability measures and the new gTLD program.  There are so far eleven (11 ) IRPs filed under the new gTLD program, and the famous .africa taking the lead!

You can listen to the ICANN BOARD/GAC session here: