ICANN reflections on the evolution of the multistakeholder model in the context of the IANA stewardship transition

5 Dec 2016 12:00h - 13:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

Ms Theresa Swinehart, Senior Vice President, Multistakeholder Strategy and Strategic Initiatives, ICANN, started the session by explaining how the multistakeholder model worked in the context of the IANA transition and how it is a case study and example for work in other areas. Adding to this comment, Mr Göran Marby, ICANN President and CEO, stressed the need for the community to stay active and prevent the process from being hijacked by special interests.

Mr Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA, US Department of Commerce, praised the entire process as a remarkable achievement by the multistakeholder community. He acknowledged the role played by the US government in sustaining and facilitating the process. He then criticised some countries for using the multistakeholder model just as a consultation platform and restricting the role of stakeholders and their functioning.

Mr William Hudson, Senior Advisor for International Policy at Google, reiterated Google’s commitment to the multistakeholder process and pointed out the challenges the business community faces in terms of allocating resources and time for participating in the multistakeholder process. Dr Alejandro Pisanty, Internet Society,  Mexico, stressed the need for more research in the area of political science and international relations theory to study the multistakeholder model for a better understanding. He pointed out that the failure of the NETmundial Initiative was due to its timeline-driven, top-down approach that lacked trust and legitimacy. Adding to the conversation, Mr Olivier Crepin-Leblond, Chair of European At-Large Organisation (EURALO) at ICANN, highlighted the conflict that exists between multilateral and multistakeholder governance models and how governments of certain countries are imposing the multilateral process.

Ms Lisa Fuhr, Director-General of the European Telecommunications Network Operators‘ Association (ETNO) stressed the need for outreach and the proactive role that the community needs to play in involving people from all around the world.

The panel identified key issues such as accountability, transparency, legitimacy, trust, inclusive participation, and having clearly defined roles for enhancing the multistakeholder process.

On the idea of extending the multistakeholder model to other contentious areas like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, the panel had mixed opinions. Participants in general agreed on the need for a more nuanced, innovative approach to addressing such emerging issues.

Mr Steve Crocker, Chair, ICANN Board of Directors, made the concluding remarks and invited the community to reflect and get involved in the process.

by Krishna Kumar, Internet Society India – Chennai Chapter