It is almost unbelievable that ICANN and FIFA can be found in one sentence, but the news of FIFA sweeping scandals have only of late come to sharp universal focus.
The similarity may be so strong that internet governance industry veterans have gone ahead to draw spilling parallels of the two organizations. ICANN also wants to be split from the US government oversight under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) an agency of the United States Department of Commerce.
Here are some of the comments from the recent CircleID commentary by Ms. Sophia Bekele a former member of the ICANN Council of the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization).
Why FIFA is reminding us of ICANN!
About three (3) months ago, Fadi Chehade was a Panel Witness at the United States Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on ‘Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance‘ that was convened on February 25, 2015 to look into aspects of the IANA Transition, and assess the level of preparedness of the NTIA and ICANN regarding the Transition. At that hearing, the Honorable Senator John Thune, Committee Chairman, had been more concerned about ICANN’s accountability and continuing government oversight in a Post-IANA Transition regime when he commented that:
“Some worry that, in the absence of U.S. involvement in the IANA functions, ICANN may be subject to capture by authoritarian regimes, and these are valid concerns.”
“But I also worry that, in the absence of the contract with the U.S government, ICANN could become an organization like FIFA — the international soccer organization that is flush with cash, unresponsive to those it supposedly serves, and accountable to no one.” (See Chairman Thune’s Majority Statement)
These statements unmistakably convey the notion that senior members of the United States Government have been seriously concerned about FIFA’s (‘Fédération Internationale de Football Association’) lack of accountability.
FIFA mistakes should not be repeated at ICANN — without anyone to oversight, it will!
The entire world became scandalized by the misconduct of FIFA executives simply because FIFA was not regulated by any over-sighting authority in the first place. The same mistake should not be allowed in the case of ICANN that is now being given the responsibility for the Post-IANA Transition regime by the U.S. NTIA. As Attorney-General Loretta E. Lynch said when announcing the FIFA indictment, “FIFA was too powerful to go unchecked”. Similarly, I believe that a Post-Transition IANA regime that will create an all-powerful ICANN will be too dominant to go absolutely unchecked.
The last U.S. House Sub-Committee on Communications and Technology hearing on ‘Stakeholder Perspectives on the IANA Transition‘ that was convened on May 13, 2015 did not invite the ICANN and NTIA leaders to attend as Panel Witnesses. Does this in any way suggest that the NTIA and ICANN no longer enjoy the complete trust of the U.S. Congress who now wanted to hear only from other stakeholders?