ICANN Conflicted Board Members made decisions on .africa

DotConnectAfrica has received a GAC consensus advice on .africa through the ICANN GAC. The GAC early warnings which lead to a GAC advice has already been criticized for corruption and nepotism. This current one was also marred with irregularities and inconsistencies that have made GAC lose its credibility in the eyes of many internet governance participants and observers.

DotConnectAfrica has survived all objections so far including the Independent Objector which objects on Community grounds and Public Interest.   Mike Silber is one of Board directors who DCA has filed Conflict of Interest along with Chris Disspain relating to .africa while the initial letter did nothing and the consecutive one dismissed by ICANN Ombudsman as “Currently , they have not discussed dotafrica and I do not see any COI, he hinted future possibilities saying “which the Board will carefully consider in terms of the existing policy about conflict, when the issue arises. I consider this should continue to be a matter for consideration in gTLD decision making by the Board.” Says the Ombudsman’s report

Somehow DCA’s persistence has also created the awareness in which both Members of the ICANN BODs have updated their Statements Of Interests thereafter.    Now that day the ICANN ombudsman recommended has come and gone.

According to the guidebook: Anyone who has received a GAC advice has 21 days to respond by writing to the ICANN board and DCA has responded with its usual polemic of why it should not be objected and why its application should go on (DCA’s PR) So far I have not seen any report of Mike Silber and or Chris Disspain recuse themselves on .africa, however my sources tell me that Chris Disspain during the Beijing meeting was loud in telling the AU official (who was shouting to get his point across that AU has supported Uniforum and that they have 60 percent of the endorsement according to the guidebook), that ICANN would have to follow the rule book and so the evaluation must continue.

Rather so, for anyone who has been following the .africa story, recent reports and communications with ICANN evidences the claim by the AU official to be questionable,  and that Uniforum does not in fact have individual African endorsements.   It simply has used the the letters of support given by African governments to support the AU position on .africa to file its application, and also purportedly the questionable  endorsement it obtained on behalf of the community TLD from the AU, and instead applied as a standard which has been the bone of DCA’s contention, calling Uniforum’s application blatantly fraudulent.

Contrary to Mr. Disspain however whose conflict of interest was considered nowhere near to Mike Silber, who was a former Uniforum Director and seen as too close to the applicant,  sources tell me however, Mike Silber is still angry on DotConnectAfrica ‘s filing of its conflict of interest against him, and seen even near screaming at DotConnectAfrica ‘s President in Addis Ababa ICANN Africa Strategy meeting on the same issue,  in front of a crowd gathering to make his point. My sources also confirmed that he tried to explain why would he recuse himself when he knows the .africa issue would not come to the Board and DotConnectAfrica simply do not understand the conflict of interest process at ICANN and that either applicant can be rejected before.

He alluded to the fact that he should not be stopped to serve on the gTLD’s committee when the perceived conflict is only on one application, which seem ridiculous as many Board members at ICANN have recused themselves over similar situations. According to ICANN conflict of interest rules, if a board member is found conflicted, they could not be getting into a discussion on any other application.

However Mike was over heard saying in front of many that DotConnectAfrica has put me in this angry position,  I may not even want to recuse myself or be in a position to even work against DotConnectAfrica. Despite his very angry stature towards DotConnectAfrica, one would not clearly understand if Mike Silber was trying to assist ICANN which is running out of un-conflicted Board members to serve on the new gTLD committee or trying to assist his friends at Uniforum.

In any case the perception is,  he is having his cake and eating it too.  He was also heard pestering some other DotConnectAfrica advisors at the Beijing meeting on the same issue of his COI.   One wonders why he is going to such effort to know why it is clear he is conflicted.  He also reportedly said the same that if .africa comes to his table he will decide at that point what to do, so obviously he has decided to stay. In other words Mike’s ego seem to tell him that DotConnectAfrica cannot tell me what to do, I rather do it myself.  However from his angry posturing against DotConnectAfrica, there is nothing to salvage, between the two.

Finally I can see why DotConnectAfrica would be worried on matters of the Board decision that involved Mike Silber.   He is almost the only one who have not resigned despite glaring Conflict of Interest issues going by biographies belonging to ICANN’s board of directors.  DotConnectAfrica has questioned his integrity as they were conveying the message  that he should step down, while others also expressed the same on an African ICANN mailing list.

The link here disclosed the Official response from DotConnectAfrica to Mike Silber”.    Last week’s decision against DotConnectAfrica application by ICANN New gTLD Committee Board members  to stop the application from moving forward tells the story of how Mike Silber would have voted and  his potential hands into it.


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