Twomey talks turkey

I’ve just got off the phone with Paul [tag]Twomey[/tag] after the two days of ICANN Senate hearings and just a week before the MoU that he has been working on for three years comes up.

He seems, well, satisfied.

“I think it went reasonably well,” he summarised. But then I remember he also said it has gone “pretty well” when ICANN unexpectedly survived the WSIS process intact, so I will take that to mean: “I am very happy.”

He diplomatically suggested that there was an “educational aspect” to the Senate meeting held “every few years” – which is certainly true as some of the Senators and Congressmen were appallingly badly informed.

But this is the big thing. Asked if he honestly saw ICANN at the end of the MoU – which he has started calling a “partnership agreement” – becoming an autonomous body i.e. with no overall governmental oversight, whether from the US, UN or anyone else – he was definitive: “Yes.”

He suggested that John Kneuer was not happy with the report that went round the world which claimed that US Ambassador David Gross has said the US government would not let go of ICANN. Instead Kneuer had made it clear, Twomey said, that it was going to transition the DNS to private sector management.

Can Twomey see governments only involvement as being in the GAC? “Yes.”

Unfortunately, he refused to explain why ICANN was going to do about the accountability/transparency issue although he assured me that “in the next couple of months” the Board was going to produce a “set of principles” that would adjust the whole situation.

It will be interesting to see what they are, as they have been alluded to several times in conversations I’ve had with Board members Joi Ito, Veni Markovski and (ex-member) Mike Palage. They appear to be serious but the proof is, of course, in the pudding.

What will the MoU insist ICANN does to be set free? Well, Twomey says forming agreements with the RIRs and the root server operators is the final stumbling block – which, now the ccTLDs are clambering on board, is true. That will be an interesting set of discussions in the next 12 months.

And the price for being given autonomy? The Whois. The DoC packed both Senate meetings with people that talked about nothing but the Whois. Personally I think the answer is startingly obvious – you just apply the same rules as exist in the real world with telephone numbers and addresses, by allowing individuals to chose to become ex-directory if they want, but make the whole list available to law enforcement.

And that’s it. In two years (Twomey swears the MoU is still being argued over and no one knows how long it will last), the plan is that ICANN finally becomes the organisation envisaged eight long years ago.

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