Governments, Privatization, and "Privatization": ICANN and the GAC by Jonathan Weinberg
Posted in: Research at 03/01/2012 17:10
What kind of organization, then, is ICANN? It is in form a private body, a California-based § 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.5 Yet when it comes to ICANN, the usual lines between what is private and what is public have always been blurred. In this Essay, I will address the relationship between ICANN and national governments, and how that relationship has changed over time. I'll discuss the changing nature of ICANN's relationship with the U.S. government, as well as the evolution of other national governments' policy-making role within ICANN.
The U.S. government was deeply involved with ICANN at the time of its formation; other world governments played a much smaller role. Those governments' functional role remained narrow even after ICANN's reinvention in 2002 gave them a greater formal say. In recent years, though, the United States has channeled most of its interaction with ICANN into a multilateral forum -- ICANN's Government Advisory Committee (GAC), with representatives from a wide range of national governments -- and the GAC has been increasingly involved in ICANN processes. But in part by virtue of an institutional structure carried over from the organization's formation, when it was thought that world governments should have little formal role in a "privatized" ICANN, the relationship today between ICANN and national governments is incoherent and problematic.
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