Why ICANN's CEO abstained on dot-xxx vote

In a classic case of 'Beware of the Leopard' by ICANN, its CEO has explained why he abstained in the controversial vote to approve dot-xxx last month.

At the Board meeting itself on Friday 18 March, where a number of Board members gave long and eloquent explanations, Beckstrom said simply: "I just note that I will submit written remarks for the record on my abstention. Thank you."

Two weeks later, when no explanation had appeared, community member Mike Palage was pressed into writing a post on CircleID that asked for it, as well as the missing Annual Report and information about the Singapore meeting in June.

Fast-forward a week and eagle-eyed Kevin Murphy notices that under the fifth point in a newly published preliminary report of the Board meeting there is a small link to a PDF of Board statements.

And at the bottom of that PDF, 12 pages down, lo and behold, is Beckstrom's explanation for why he abstained. It was this:

This was an extremely difficult decision. There were extensive discussions and debate by the Board on this matter.

As expressed in Brussels last June when this issue also came to another related vote, while I accept the contribution to ICANN's accountability and transparency provided by the existence and the use of the independent panel review process, I nonetheless remain concerned about the determination by two of the three panelists that the ICANN board should not use business judgment in the conduct of its affairs. I recognize that the Board did not adopt this finding of those panelists, and that the Board affirmed its application of business judgment to this decision within the rationale for this decision.

In my view as CEO, it is important to reassert that the Board must be able to use business judgment in order to protect the global public interest in the coordination of the root of the Internet and the domain name system…

In addition, I note the concerns of the GAC, which while not expressed as a clear decision, was nonetheless directional.


So, to recap in parallel with the Hitchhiker's Guide:

  • Not actually telling anybody - Preliminary report posted without notice
  • Display department in cellar - Report published on the Board report page, found by going About > Board (click graphic) > Board meetings
  • Flashlight - Scroll down to March meeting
  • No stairs - Click on Preliminary report
  • Bottom of locked cabinet - Note the one highlighted word "here" and click on it to download and open a PDF file.
  • Disused toilet - Scroll past the 11 pages of public Board member comments made on the day
  • Beware of the Leopard - the explanation given disagrees with an IRP decision (no link provided) by misrepresenting the panel's conclusion about the use of 'business judgment' in deciding whether ICANN has broken its own rules.

Again, thanks to DomainIncite for locating the most recent piece of ICANN transparency.


Now all that's needed is to find out where the other pieces of missing information are:

  1. The staff implementation report for ATRT recommendations (due to be published for public comment)
  2. ICANN staff/CEO answer to Nigel Roberts' question about whether ICANN is obliged to follow Human Rights legislation
  3. A document sent from the GAC to the Board in March about IP rights in the GAC Scorecard
  4. The GAC response, due 25 March i.e. three weeks ago, to the Board over the GAC Scorecard and related issues
  5. The provision of benchmarks promised in response to Roelof Meijer's question about staff compensation.

There may be more of course.

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prelim-transcript-voting-statements-18mar11-en.pdf98.23 KB