[AfrICANN-discuss] Breaking News: DotConnectAfrica Trust WinsResounding Victory against ICANN in IRP Accountability

Dr Yassin Mshana ymshana2003 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 17 17:50:20 UTC 2015

Interesting to see how things are and have been.

Shall we wait for 'another version' of the 'Big Story'?  I think not...
Best is to.let ICANN say something about this to its global stakeholders as
part of PR and Transparency.


On 17 Jul 2015 16:43, "Mwendwa Kivuva" <Kivuva at transworldafrica.com> wrote:

> Interesting read
> *Unredacted: ICANN's hidden role in fierce battle over .Africa rights*
> *Damning review was censored – but we've seen the full report*
> 15 Jul 2015 at 14:02, Kieren McCarthy
> <http://www.theregister.co.uk/Author/2886>
> Domain-name overseer ICANN's pivotal role in a controversial fight over
> .africa is today revealed in full for the first time.
> An independent review
> <https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/dca-v-icann-2013-12-11-en> into
> the .africa saga, which was two years in the making, concluded that ICANN
> had broken its own bylaws: the organization had failed to properly
> investigate claims made by one of the two applicants battling for the
> rights to own the top-level domain.
> But before the 63-page final report [PDF
> <https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-declaration-09jul15-en.pdf>]
> was published last week, repeated references to ICANN's own involvement in
> favor of one of the applicants were systematically removed by the
> organization itself.
> The report contains no less than 39 redactions, many pulling out entire
> paragraphs of text. *The Register* has obtained a non-redacted version of
> the report [PDF
> <https://regmedia.co.uk/2015/07/16/icann-dca-irp-final.pdf>], and we can
> say that most of those redactions concern the fact that ICANN's head of
> operations, Dai-Trang Nguyen, drafted a letter that was then used by ICANN
> to advance a competing .africa bid.
> There were two applications for .africa. The first came from
> DotConnectAfrica (DCA), which originally received support from the African
> Union Commission (AUC), Africa's equivalent of the European Commission.
> Subsequently, however, the AUC decided it wanted to be in control of the
> .africa internet space, and so rescinded its support for DCA and ran its
> own process to find a company to run the top-level domain. DCA refused to
> participate in that process, and applied through ICANN's processes for the
> rights to the dot-word itself. As a result, it ended up in conflict with
> the company that the AUC eventually chose: South Africa's ZACR.
> In an effort to push its choice, and eliminate the DCA bid from ICANN's
> process, the AUC then carried out an extensive lobbying campaign, including
> lodging formal objections to the DCA bid. In response to that campaign,
> ICANN rejected DCA's application. And DCA appealed the decision.
> More than two years later, an independent review of ICANN's rejection
> decision found that ICANN did not properly investigate DCA's claims and so
> had acted unfairly.
> However, what the report also revealed – and which ICANN then removed
> before publishing – was that ICANN's staff had assisted the AUC and its
> competing bid.
> *Questions raised*
> An early letter to ICANN from the African Union Commission (AUC) in
> support of its own candidate to run dot-africa did not fulfill ICANN's
> criteria, was not in the correct format, and sparked a "clarifying
> question" from the third party that ICANN tasked with checking that the bid
> had the requisite support.
> In response, the AUC privately asked ICANN staff for help, and no less
> than ICANN's head of operations obliged, drafting a new letter that,
> unsurprisingly, fulfilled all the necessary criteria.
> That ICANN-drafted letter, duly signed by the AUC, was then used as the
> key piece of evidence to show that ZACR had sufficient support for its bid,
> and just a week later ICANN signed a contract with ZACR to run .africa.
> Essentially, ICANN drafted a letter in support of ZACR, gave it to the
> AUC, and the AUC submitted the letter back to ICANN as evidence that ZACR
> should run dot-africa.
> *Not exactly Switzerland*
> This process in which ICANN engineered approval of a particular
> application, and so undermined its own requirement to act "neutrally and
> objectively with integrity and fairness," was repeatedly referenced in the
> independent report.
> In one redacted section, ICANN admits it wrote the letter, but argued that
> it "did not violate any policy in drafting a template letter at the AUC
> request." Later on it said that there was "absolutely nothing wrong with
> ICANN staff assisting the AUC."
> However, ICANN's failure to act neutrally may put the entire ZACR
> application at risk.
> ICANN also redacted mention of a number of other related accusations: for
> example, ICANN allegedly told InterConnect – which was, along with other
> consultants, scrutinizing dot-word applications – to take the ICANN-drafted
> AUC letter as evidence that all African governments fully supported ZACR
> for the dot-africa job.
> If true, it is another clear violation of the organization's neutrality.
> *Broader problems*
> While the redactions made by ICANN have highlighted its own culpability,
> the fact that ICANN staff intervened in favor of one applicant forms just
> one part of the reasoning in the decision against ICANN by the independent
> review panel.
> The report spends most of its time digging into the rejection of the DCA
> bid by ICANN, which sparked the review in the first place.
> Overall, the panel found that since DCA "was never given any notice or an
> opportunity... to make its position known or defend its own interests," and
> that "both the actions and inactions of the Board with respect to the
> application of DCA Trust relating to the .AFRICA gTLD were not procedures
> designed to insure the fairness required... and are therefore inconsistent
> with the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of ICANN."
> DCA's claim to have been unfairly treated was rejected repeatedly by ICANN
> – first by the ICANN's Board Governance Committee and then by its New gTLD
> Program Committee (NGPC), which feature many of the same members.
> In both cases, the board failed to dig into DCA's claims. It did not, for
> example, ask ICANN's head of operations about the support letter drafted
> for the AUC, nor did it ask ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)
> why it had formally opposed DCA's bid.
> During the course of the independent review, ICANN staff also tried
> repeatedly to limit what the panel was allowed to review or do, even going
> so far as to try toprevent its key witnesses from being questioned
> <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/28/internet_bylaws_dot_africa/>,
> claiming the panel did not have the right to do so.
> In subsequent questioning with the chairwoman of the GAC, Heather Dryden,
> the review panelists were amazed to discover that the GAC did not provide
> any rationale for its decision to reject the DCA bid, even though it
> explicitly listed the three criteria that it would need to meet to justify
> such a rejection.
> And despite the fact that the decision was formally questioned through its
> own appeal processes, ICANN's board did not ask the GAC for a rationale
> either: it simply took its statement at face value and rejected the bid.
> *Other accusations*
> Within the report are a wealth of other accusations from DCA over
> collusion between ICANN's staff and AUC representatives. Since the panel's
> overall decision was that ICANN must reevaluate DCA's bid, it steers clear
> of making any judgment about those accusations ("the panel does not find it
> necessary to determine who was right, to what extent and for what reasons").
> However, while DCA has been widely mocked within the DNS industry – one
> industry blogger even running the headline "DotConnectAfrica still barking
> mad after IRP win" after the review found in DCA's favor – the fact remains
> that ICANN has redacted the formal report of an independent panel, and many
> questions remain unanswered.
> When asked about the redactions, ICANN's vice president of global
> communications Duncan Burns said:
> >
> > Redacted portions are those that reference the info provided during the
> proceeding that was marked as confidential by one of the parties. The
> parties have an obligation to maintain that confidentiality. [They] are
> consistent with the redactions found in the parties' briefs that are posted
> on the website.
>  This saga is just one more sign that ICANN, as a body, continues to make
> a mockery of efforts to introduce accountability into its decision-making. ®
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