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NTIA calls for ICANN to “walk the walk”

Kevin Murphy, May 17, 2011, 19:04:31 (UTC), Domain Policy

A US National Telecommunications and Information Administration official today said ICANN needs to prove it can “walk the walk” when it comes to accountability and transparency.

Speaking on a panel at the inaugural Nominet .uk Policy Forum here in London today, NTIA associate administrator Fiona Alexander said it was time for ICANN to “up its game”

On a panel about regulatory systems for the internet, Alexander reiterated US support for the ICANN model, but said that ICANN board too often acts without the consensus of its stakeholders.

Quoting from speeches made by her boss, assistant secretary Larry Strickling, she said the US supports the December recommendations of ICANN’s Accountability and Transparency Review Team.

“The ICANN board has until June to implement these recommendations,” she said.

It wasn’t clear whether that was a slip of the tongue, or an indication that the NTIA plans to hold ICANN’s feet to the fire over its implementation timetable.

The Affirmation of Commitments calls for ICANN to “take action” on the ATRT report by June 30, but ICANN is planning a longer-term roll-out

It has some good reasons for tardiness. Adopting the ATRT-recommended changes to its relationship with the Governmental Advisory Committee, for example, will require more bandwidth than ICANN and the GAC have to offer before the June deadline.

“Governments are only going to want to get more involved, not less,” Alexander said.

The Obama administration has a lot of political capital tied up in the idea of “multistakeholderism” – it’s a model it proposes for other fora – but its would-be poster child, ICANN, has a habit of frequently looking more like a red-headed poster step-child.

“It’s time to up your game,” Alexander said of ICANN, “because this really is the model that we need to work.”

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