ICANN 43 CEO Causes Tizzy Over Ethics and Conflict of Interest

ICANN outgoing CEO Rod Beckstrom has his Board in a tizzy & the domain name industry’s undies in a wad over his Opening Remarks at ICANN 43. It wasn’t Beckstrom’s remarks on gTLD strategy and the globalization of domain names. Beckstram didn’t shake up ICANN 43 with an update on the IDN Variant Issues Project nor the updates on fighting eCrime, DNSSEC, or IPv6.

What has the ICANN members and the domain name industry so upset is that Beckstrom publicly slammed the ICANN Board and members for its well known ‘perceived’ ethics and conflict of interest issues.

When I first caught wind of this late last week I was pretty surprised. But after reading a couple of articles online I figured I better find his speech and judge it for myself. So I will offer them here, just in reverse order, followed by why it matters to higher education.

Rod Beckstrom Opening Speech ICANN 43

I think almost any CIO or infrastructure manager should be interested in this speech if only for the increased awareness of the wide ranging implications for domain names and Internet security and the growing questions of new TLD’s.

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom begins with remarks on gTLD strategy, IDN variants, and the domain registrar role in fighting eCrime versus protecting privacy and free speech.

You should have noticed the abrupt right turn to tackle the issues of openness, transparancy and diversity in ICANN governance and operation. Specifically as it relates to the Board and the known and perceived conflicts of interests and ethics issues which arise from the number of domain registration industry representatives in the organization.

Now that you have digested Beckstrom’s remarks, here are two articles that capture the essence of the impression he made at ICANN 43.

Higher Education Take

If you have read my recent post EDUCAUSE Should be More Adult on XXX Domains then you might guess where this is going.

I tend to think that EDUCAUSE might have a conflict of interest in being the EDU registrant, domain administrator, and a principal in the EDU governance policy. My position on this matter is more reflective of the other EDUCAUSE interests in serving higher education than the domain related duties.

Just as Beckstrom points out, the registrars like EDUCAUSE along with ICANN should have as their primary focus the interest of the Internet’s users and serving the public good. Which for me means the public good relative to the Internet which also requires diversity and a global perspective.

Higher education has more to consider than simply my questions on EDUCAUSE or the more narrow issue of XXX domains which Beckstrom also touched on.

World IPv6 Launch Day is not that far away and should have every institution considering its own plans for making the switch.

For DNSSEC I would echo the EDUCAUSE position that this is a great opportunity for higher education to show leadership on advanced Internet uses. If you don’t have a plan in place already EDUCAUSE DNSSEC resources are a good place to start.

I suppose if I were to offer my bottom line on this it would be that higher education CIO’s and IT leaders ought to take a more active interest in Internet governance and how the interests of the community at large are represented.

Again, for me that means not taking a protectionist stance on the EDU domain or expecting less of higher education CIO’s than from CIO’s in industry.

It also means that perhaps one of you might seek a nomination to serve as an ICANN Board member as I am sure many of you meet the criteria described by Beckstrom.

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2 Responses to ICANN 43 CEO Causes Tizzy Over Ethics and Conflict of Interest

  1. will says:

    mate do you have a twitter?

  2. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    You can find me at @thehigheredcio

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