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

waudo siganga emailsignet at mailcan.com
Fri Jul 17 19:03:26 UTC 2015

Thanks for the info Kivuva. I remember in May last year there was
Independent Review Process panel that ordered ICANN not to delegate
.africa gTLD because of, among other issues, failing to implement proper
accountability mechanisms. ICANN was ordered by the IRP Panel to not
delegate ZA Central Registry’s .africa gTLD until it heard an appeal by
failed rival bidder DotConnectAfrica. But around the same time, circa 13
May 2014, ICANN signed the contract.

Intriguing stuff.

On Fri, Jul 17, 2015, at 06:40 PM, Mwendwa Kivuva 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[1]

> 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[2] 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[3]] 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[4]], 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 the .africa internet space, and so rescinded its support for DCA and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[5], 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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  1. http://www.theregister.co.uk/Author/2886
  2. https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/dca-v-icann-2013-12-11-en
  3. https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-declaration-09jul15-en.pdf
  4. https://regmedia.co.uk/2015/07/16/icann-dca-irp-final.pdf
  5. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/28/internet_bylaws_dot_africa/
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