On Wednesday a Senate subcommittee held hearings on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Earlier in the week, Sen. Conrad Burns had been sounding like Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. Reuters said he "called for the United States to exert more direct control if ICANN did not clean up its act," and the AP reported that Burns "threatened legislation linking its future to a complete reorganization."
Wired turned in a balanced summary of the hearing, quoting both dissident ICANN director Karl Auerbach and nondissident president M. Stuart Lynn. Both had testified at the hearing. A General Accounting Office auditor, Peter Guerrero, reminded the subcommittee that ICANN still does not have full authority over Net naming functions because it has not fulfilled its mandate under its contract with the Commerce Department. Guerrero recommended that Commerce tighten its oversight role, and according to ICANNWatch's Michael Froomkin, the senators more or less agreed.
As usual, the ICANN watchers outside the mainstream press provided perspective and depth. Michael Froomkin's blow-by-blow of the hearing included his take on which witnesses were most effective. In his ICANN Blog, Bret Fausett praised GAO auditor Guerrero's "objective and measured tone." And for the truly addicted ICANN watcher, Fausett provided links to MP3 and RealVideo records of the Senate hearings. Not exactly John Ford, we know.
The most insightful commentary in a traditional medium came from University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, writing in Canada's Globe and Mail. Geist provided a robust summary of ICANN's history and opined that the path to reform that ICANN has outlined "heads toward the end of a self-regulated Internet." So who's gonna clean up this one-horse town of an agency? - Keith Dawson
Gov't pushes ICANN to clean up its act (Reuters)
Feds examine ICANN officials (AP)
Senators Weigh ICANN's Future
Senator Undecided On ICANN Reform
ICANN Hearing Reactions
ICANN Blog: Senate ICANN Oversight Hearing
ICANN Blog: The GAO's Constructive Contribution
Public's role in Net governance threatened (Globe and Mail)
Limited Progress on Privatization Project Makes Outcome Uncertain (GAO report)
Karl Auerbach's testimony