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New Conflict of interest case as ICANN’s Chief Strategy Officer Kurt Pritz quits

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The new gTLD program that was launched early this year has been an ambitious part of a plan to increase the number of TLD’s. The current gTLD’s are slightly above twenty. The process was initiated at Singapore in June 2011 at the ICANN 41 meeting. This was one of the most interesting announcements and was seen as a victorious moment for the Organization that manages your DNS.

Kurt Pritz Image Source: article.wn.com

The new gTLD program though has passed its preliminary process where applications have already been revealed and currently undergoing initial evaluation comes at a time when ICANN is experiencing a Top management transition. This comes after the introduction of the new CEO and president Mr. Chehade who replaced Mr. Beckstrom. Mr. Chehade was unveiled in the ICANN Prague meeting and subsequently took the realm in the ICANN Toronto meeting.

The incoming of Fade definitely came with several land mark changes with some positions and offices being reshuffled. Some of these changes were meant to increase the muscle power of the new gTLD wing.  Some of the changes affected high level staff like Mr. Kurt Pritz whi was been appointed to take on direct oversight of the entire New Generic Top-level Domain Program in an interim capacity.  Mr. Pritz also took over the responsibilities of Michael Salazar the immediate former new gTLD Program Director  who then resigned.

The reasons of Mr. Salazar’s resignation is probably due to the failed Digital Archery which was rejected and heavily condemned. ICANN is not new to such disappointing tasks, apart from the Digital Archery, the new gTLD portal TAS had also experienced major hitches that caused its suspension for over a month, some online videos even took a swipe at the program.

Since the failure of the Digital Archery to commence as a means to batch or meter the applications to proceed towards implementation at a rate of 1,000 new gTLDs per year, ICANN announced a new format in Toronto with the recently resigned Kurt Pritz taking the floor to eloquently explain how the program would be used.

In a surprise letter  dated 15 November 2012 to the ICANN community, the new ICANN CEO Fade says “Regretfully, I have accepted the resignation of Kurt Pritz, who has served most recently as ICANN’s Chief Strategy Officer. It’s unclear the circumstances that necessitated the action but it further explain Kurt has submitted his resignation because of a recently identified conflict of interest, which he immediately communicated to ICANN.

Pritz who was previously the senior vice president for stakeholder relations was elevated to the newly created C-level position when Chehade joined ICANN in October.  It’s unclear what type of Conflict of interest it was, but it comes as a revelation that ICANN has to really deal sternly with the rising and previous cases of Conflict of interest that is rampant at the multistakeholder organization.

Do we also now anticipate the Lottery for prioritization drawing to be  fair or Pritz’s COI has really to do with a gTLD client?  ICANN needs to come out indeed and clarify.

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James Barnley

I’m the editor of the DomainingAfrica. I write about internet and social media, focusing mainly on Domains. As a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll get a lot of information on Domain Issues, ICANN, new gtld’s, Mobile technology and social media.

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