IWA Joined Global Call for ICANN Accountability

Göran Marby

CEO and President

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

CC:

Steve Crocker

Chairman of the Board of Directors

ICANN

Karen Mulberry

Director, Strategic Initiatives

ICANN

Dear Mr. Marby,

We are writing to you as organizations and individuals working on global transparency issues. We work with a range of actors, including governments, inter-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, private corporations and civil society organizations, to design and implement transparency policies.

We believe that, as the body responsible for critical functions of the global Internet, ICANN’s legitimacy is predicated on accountability, both to its stakeholders and to the public at large. This, in turn, requires robust transparency so that anyone who is interested can obtain accurate, timely and complete information about ICANN’s activities. ICANN’s accountability mechanisms are hollow without robust policies for providing information about the context underlying critical Internet governance debates.

We welcome the Cross-Community Working Group process which is currently taking place to improve ICANN’s transparency policies, particularly the Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP). Long experience shows that a robust requesting system is the only way to ensure that the public is able to obtain an unvarnished picture of an organisation’s operations. Although the DIDP has many positive aspects, we note that it also has significant problems when assessed against international standards. These include overly broad exceptions, many of which do not include any requirement for harm. As a result, the current DIDP allows for information to be withheld even where staff find that its disclosure would be completely harmless. The current phrasing of the public interest override is also problematical, insofar at it allows for withholding information whenever staff feels an interest against disclosure should prevail, effectively extending significantly the list of defined exceptions. There is no reason why all of the interests which need to be protected against disclosure cannot be clearly and comprehensively enumerated within the DIDP, as is done within national access to information laws. There is also a significant need to clarify and improve the procedures for receiving and processing requests, including by establishing binding timelines for response, and to strengthen information management, including through a duty to document.

We are pleased to note that these issues are addressed by the present CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 2 draft Recommendations. Indeed, these Recommendations, if implemented, would transform ICANN into a global model for transparency and openness. We would like to express our support for the draft Recommendations, and would urge that ICANN move to implement them speedily once the consultation process has been completed.

Yours sincerely,

Organisations

  1. Access Info Europe, Spain
  2. Affinity Group of National Associations, Global
  3. Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Uganda
  4. ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
  5. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
  6. Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada
  7. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Pakistan
  8. Centro de Capacitación y promoción de la Democracia, El Salvador
  9. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India
  10. Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile (CNSC-TOGO), Togo
  11. Foro Permanente de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil (FPOSC), Honduras
  12. Freedom Forum, Nepal
  13. Ghana Association of Private Voluntary Organisations in Development, Ghana
  14. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, Georgia
  15. Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Afghanistan
  16. Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network, Myanmar
  17. Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa
  18. OpenMedia, Canada
  19. Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia (Redlad), the Americas
  20. Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia, Canada
  21. Tajikistan National NGO Association, Tajikistan
  22. Vouliwatch, Greece

 

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