The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was conceptualized in 1997 during an effort by the US Government to create a “private, non-profit corporation […] to assume responsibility for the technical management of the Internet Domain Name and IP addressing systems.”
Occasionally, the very characteristics that define ICANN’s model act as opposing forces and result in policy decisions that are not fully supported by the global Internet community. They argue that ICANN’s organizational structure inhibits its ability to fully meet its commitments to transparency and public participation. Thus, in the September 30, 2009 Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) agreement, ICANN established new grounds to review its obligations with regard to transparency, accountability, and public participation every three years.
Using an Information Law perspective, this paper examines the findings of this most recent review, with particular focus on the role of transparency deficits on the perceived legitimacy of ICANN’s decision-making processes. From this perspective the acceptance of ICANN’s decisions could be improved by increasing the transparency of the decision making of its Board of Directors and the visibility, accessibility, and impact of its public participation processes.