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ICANN to kill auction fund bylaws change

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2024, 15:33:43 (UTC), Domain Policy

A controversial proposed amendment to ICANN’s bylaws is set to be killed off after the community flexed its muscles over the board of directors.

The amendment, which sought to give ICANN a switch to turn off its accountability mechanisms under certain circumstances, is now likely to be replaced by one that limits accountability only when it comes to ICANN’s $220 million Grant Program.

News of the board’s change of heart came during a Monday call between the GNSO Council and the two GNSO appointees on the board.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the bylaw that was put together and circulated is not going to pass the Empowered Community,” board member Becky Burr told the Council “So we need to go back and and revisit that.”

The community had wanted an amendment that makes the Independent Review Process and Request for Reconsideration mechanisms unavailable to organizations applying for grants and those that oppose them, to avoid splurging money on lawyers rather than good causes, but the board had floated text that would have made it easier to turn these mechanisms off in future scenarios too.

ICANN’s amendment was supported by the At-Large Advisory Committee, but every other community group, in a rare example of across-the-aisles agreement, reckoned it was overly broad and risked weakening ICANN’s accountability.

The board’s decision to revert to what the community originally wanted appears to be a reluctant one. Burr said that the IRP needs to be looked at in future because the way the bylaws are written now invites over-use.

“As they are currently written, a disappointed bidder, an engineering firm in response to an RFP, could use those, could bring an IRP,” she said. “At some point we’re going to have to look at this more holistically.”

The were also calls from the Council to take a look at the RfR process, or at least how RfRs are handled by ICANN’s legal team. RfRs are too often seen as an adversarial exercise where ICANN lawyers are simply try to “win” against the requester rather than solve the problem at hand, they said. This has led to a situation where dozens of RfRs have been filed over the year, almost all of which are dismissed.

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