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Strange but familiar in Dublin

21 Oct 2015

We’re both at ICANN 54 in Dublin, and of course a big topic is the IANA transition.

At this meeting most of the focus is on ICANN accountability changes. Those are important for us because the IANA stewardship transition plan for the names community depends on those accountability changes. People want to make sure that ICANN (the organization) complies with the community’s will. Since we think that’s what it means to be a bottom-up organization, it seems like a natural reform to us and one the ICANN community deserves.

There are disagreements about the specific ways to do this, and people also recognize the risk of accidentally creating new issues when making a change. The amount of progress we’ve seen during the meeting is impressive, however. The feelings here are at once familiar and strange — the exact ways people hammer out consensus in ICANN are not the way we do things in the IETF, but seeing hard positions start to converge is for sure something we understand. One thing we’re noticing is people embracing practical power that rests with the community rather than mere legal enforcement by courts. We think that’s positive for three reasons. First, it hands the power directly to the people who need it instead of giving them indirect means to achieve it. Second, it seems to represent lower risk to IANA: lengthy legal proceedings would be bad operationally. Finally, this mode of operation has always worked for the IETF.

We care about the overall stability of Internet systems and organizations, but a current big interest in this is due to the IANA transition. If the different operational communities can’t together make this transition happen, we’ll have to face bad options. We will lose some of the confidence people have in the Internet community. The transition was part of the promise at the foundation of ICANN, and the promise has come due.

We really appreciate the hard work people are doing on these accountability changes. We are very happy with the progress that has already been made this week. The key to completing this process is to focus on the practical ways to put the appropriate and sufficient power in the community hands.

(This post represents our personal opinions.)

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