ICANN Chair Steve Crocker Dance Recital with .ZA, South Africa

Dr. Steve Crocker is the Co-Founder and CEO of Shinkuro, Inc., the current Chair and former Vice-Chair of the ICANN Board, an Internet pioneer, an early leader of ISOC and the IETF, and the creator of the RFC document series. He continues to speak about, and participate in, the development of the Internet through Industry conferences and meetings

Much of his work has been good except for the impeding conflict of interest that has affected some of his activities directly, for instance the most land mark decision affected by his COI.  He was among the Seven ICANN directors have new gTLD conflicts.  Such issues have obviously affected a clear line in his duties, and though he has been chair for a while now its clear that his COI in relation to the new gTLD’s will continue to variously affect his decisions.

He is also the principal man at ICANN advising the new entrant and CEO Fadi Chehade who still has got quite a long way to go.  Under Dr. Crocker’s eye, some of the land mark announcements from ICANN include the promotion of a one sided Africa agenda working group to which he is a signatory saying We the undersigned are leading members of the African Internet technical and policy community; we wish to express our unreserved support to ICANN in its challenges in the transformation and global reach.”  This means that his support in Africa is continuously becoming a friendship affair that is bound to tilt the .africa view and playing ground with definite bias.

A recent email I read on the African mail-list in defense of his COI unveiled more clarity into his possible action and almost confirmed my speculations in that Crocker being instrumental in setting up internet for the .za TLD long ago along with his colleague in the board George Sadowsky, who is also in the new gTLD decision making council.

The selection of the new Vice Presidents for Stakeholder Engagement, Pierre Dandjinou announced as Part of ICANN’s Global Expansion also tells of an increasing influence .  This will be viewed as a league of friends as much as Africa stakeholders like DCA had advised ICANN of how not to select individuals who would be picked to replace Ms. Anne-Rachel Inne, the longtime Manager of Regional Relations for Africa at ICANN, whose open bias and influence with the AfriNic grouping and its monopolies Afri*, who has placed her at her job at ICANN, was prevalent in the African community and a disservice to ICANN’s agenda for Africa, which was nonexistence in her tenure anyway.

Another incident worth noting is the ICANN 47th meeting that has been approved by the Board of Directors under the leadership of the ICANN Chair Dr. Crocker to be hosted in Durban, South Africa, between 14-19 July 2013.  Surprisingly,  the GAC Communique to ICANN in Toronto revealed that the Government of South Africa was not aware of the meeting neither did they approve it, saying “The GAC noted that the South African government was not consulted with regards to the planned ICANN meeting in Durban, South Africa in July 2013”.  This is perhaps one of the most tell tale signs of his influence and unconditional support considering the current developments in the internet and one would be not mistaken if they read this issue with a .africa goggles.

This may have been seen as the sheer effect of intense lobbying by Vika Mpisane the General Manager of the .za Domain Name Authority, as exhibited in his comment on Circle ID on Jun 23, 2012 “ Yes, Andy, ICANN didn’t care much about Africa during its new gTLD awareness campaign. I can say that boldly because when I offered ICANN an opportunity to come speak to businesses in South Africa on new gTLDs, all I got was silence!”

Another issue that may ground matters is Dr. Crockers relation to shikuro, which Crocker has previously revealed that new gTLD applicant and registry services provider Afilias has an investment in Shinkuro.  Afilias has previously been touted to have interest in the .africa having an agreement in place with Afilias for technical support of the sTLD,  in the model of .asia which is seen as similar to the .africa scenario. Recently also Affilias interest has been on DNSSec in Africa.

Sedari through ARI registry services however, beat Afilias to its game and supplied software and consulting services to Uniforum, an applicant to the .africa gTLD,  which now looks to be the main back-end model for the registry proposal that has been fronted by Uniforum,  though all the details have not been put forward.

The most recent bias expressed under his leadership pertaining to the .africa gTLD that carried the signature of Crocker was regarding how AUC and its member state can be able to determine the outcome of the .africa gTLD through objections via ICANN GAC.

Business deals and prospects cut across to show how officials may be willing to play out and support cronies in the hope for a nexus in the future perhaps post ICANN.  But even as these activities are being played, what remains forever at stake is the transparency and effortless development that Africa needs, all this could properly fall in place without undue influence.

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