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Iran rep reported to ICANN Ombudsman, again

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2017, 08:39:56 (UTC), Domain Policy

Iran’s Governmental Advisory Committee representative has found himself reported to ICANN’s Ombudsman for alleged bad behavior for the second time in just a few months.

Outspoken GACer Kavouss Arasteh was referred to Ombudsman Herb Waye by consultant John Laprise, according to posts on mailing lists and social media.

Both men serve on an ICANN volunteer working group that is looking at matters related to the jurisdiction in which ICANN operates.

The group’s discussions have recently become extremely fractious, largely due to a series of combative emails and teleconference interventions from Arasteh.

Laprise eventually said on the list that Arasteh was being a “bad actor”, adding that “his tone, manner, and insinuations are detrimental and indeed hostile to the process.”

He later said on Facebook that he had reported the matter to the Ombudsman.

The spat centered on an August 1 teleconference in which members of the so-called WS2-Jurisdiction working group heard a briefing from ICANN lawyers on the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees international trade sanctions in the US.

As well as enforcing sanctions against countries including Iran, OFAC maintains a list of people and organizations, many of them Iranian, that American companies are forbidden from doing business with.

It impacts ICANN because the organization in its normal course of business is often obliged to deal with ccTLD registries in sanctioned nations, for which it needs to apply for OFAC licenses.

Arasteh initially complained multiple times that the meeting had been rescheduled for August 1 — apparently with his initial consent — which is a national holiday in his home nation of Switzerland.

He also fought for ICANN lawyers to be asked to provide, at very short notice, a written briefing paper on OFAC, answering the group’s questions, prior to the teleconference taking place.

On neither issue did he receive support from fellow volunteers, something for which he seemed to blame group chair Greg Shatan, an intellectual property lawyer.

Arasteh’s criticisms of an increasingly weary Shatan sometimes seemed to border on conspiracy theory. All other working group members who publicly expressed an opinion said Shatan was doing a fine job herding this particular set of cats.

During the teleconference itself, Arasteh ate up the first five or six minutes of allotted time with a rambling, barely comprehensible complaint about the format of the meeting, compelling Shatan to eventually ask for his mic to be cut off.

In emails over the next 48 hours, the GAC rep continued his tirade against what he perceives as Shatan’s bias against him and called again for ICANN legal to provide a formal set of written answers to questions.

Some fellow group members believe Arasteh’s defensive and confrontational approach is merely a clash of cultures between his usual style of government diplomacy and the staid, tediously polite style of ICANN working group interactions.

Others are less charitable.

Still, the question of whether the latest WG friction has infringed any of ICANN’s “Expected Standards of Behavior” now appears to be in the hands of the Ombudsman.

Arasteh was also reported to Waye back in May, when he accused the chairs of a different ICANN working group of trying to exclude governmental voices from new gTLD policy-making by scheduling teleconferences at times he found inconvenient.

Waye subsequently reported that the complaint had been resolved between the parties.

In June, he said he was proactively monitoring a third working group mailing list after receiving allegations of harassment. That was unrelated to Iran.

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Comments (5)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Does ITU publish transcripts or recordings of their sessions ? People that have dealt with him in that environment said it would make for an interesting reading/listening.

  2. James Bladel says:

    I have only casually been following this issue in CCWG-ACCT WS2, and I’m sure Greg and I could find a half dozen topics on which we disagree. That said, I’ve always found him to be fair, professional, and dedicated to upholding the integrity of the multi-stakeholder process.

    • James Gannon says:

      Agreed, Greg and I are often on opposite ends of topics, but if there is anyone who over the course of the last 3 years of CCWG-ACCT has shown his ability to be professional and able to both moderate and come to compromise it has been Greg. Any accusations that he is biased or only willing to push a single viewpoint are very out of line with my experiences.

      I also think that Kavouss usually has the right ideas in mind, but struggles with ICANNs processes and culture, however so do many others and the onus is on people to adapt to our working methods and ways of interactions.

  3. I see a culture/language problem here. I ‘ve been listening to him from Paris during an online ICANN conference and one should also understand that it is much more difficult to follow up with ICANN when you communicate in a different language than English.

    I have a client from Iran and had to adapt to the way he works. I see absolutely no problem with working with Iran and this article should not give a bad image of this country.

    Just for the note: did you know that certain domain names, from certain registries only, cannot be registered by people from Iran because of American sanctions?
    This should change.

    And also…did you know that there is a lot of money in Iran?

    🙂

  4. Wait for it: insincere apology incoming in 3…2…1…

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