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ICANN heading to Geneva after all?

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2014, 16:44:03 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN could wind up being based in Geneva as a result of the current post-Snowden internet governance discussions, according to a report in a Swiss newspaper.

Le Temps, citing several anonymous ICANN sources, reported today that an HQ move from Los Angeles to Geneva was a “very likely scenario”.

That’s as an alternative to allowing its functions to be taken over by the International Telecommunications Union, the paper reported.

It’s not the first time a move to Geneva has been touted.

Back in September, DI rubbished — and ICANN denied — claims that the organization had already put the wheels in motion for a move to Switzerland.

It still appears to be unlikely in the short term, and for the same reason: ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments with the US Department of Commerce requires it to remain a US non-profit corporation.

But the AoC is now open for discussion again.

Barely a month after the Geneva move was first raised as a possibility, Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread US spying on internet users had led to the Montevideo Declaration, in which ICANN spoke of the need for further “internationalization” of ICANN.

Later last October, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade called America’s unique role in ICANN’s oversight “just not sustainable“.

Coming this April, governments, standards bodies, industry and others are set to meet in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for early-stage discussions that may eventually lead to the US cutting ICANN loose.

If ICANN does leave the US, Geneva does seem like the most plausible venue for its headquarters. It already has a small office there and has obtained international non-profit status for its local subsidiary.

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Comments (10)

  1. Bret Fausett says:

    “It’s not the first time a move to Geneva has been touted.” I think the first time was an April’s Fool joke on my blog.

  2. Frank Schilling says:

    I’d like to propose Grand Cayman as an alternate.

  3. zack says:

    I hear Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, and the BVI are nice as well

  4. John Berard says:

    It is ironic that as ICANN seeks to be more a global resource it is venue-shopping for a supportive national regime.

  5. Actually, they can’t move to Geneva, the Swiss voted to restrict foreign immigration…

  6. James says:

    Great. With those banking laws, now we’ll never see an itemized budget.

  7. Philip Corwin says:

    IF ICANN wants to abrogate the AOC and move to Geneva they can do so and accept the consequences. But it can’t take the IANA contract that is the entire basis for its authority with it to Switzerland.

    Indeed, it is arguable that the contract is property of the US government and that its transfer cannot just be agreed to by DOC/NTIA but requires authorizing legislation to be enacted by Congress. Check out http://www.gao.gov/assets/90/89949.pdf — DOC has long been on record that it is a complex legal issue requiring substantial inquiry. And whatever opinion DOC may have, Congress may have a different view.

    So good luck getting that bill passed.

  8. John Berryhill says:

    “Barely a month after the Geneva move was first raised as a possibility, Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread US spying on internet users had led to the Montevideo Declaration, in which ICANN spoke of the need for further “internationalization” of ICANN.”

    Key word there being “after”. Using the Snowden “revelations” as having been a motivation for raising that possibility doesn’t wash.

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