A recent paper (reference below) has come to my attention which has an interesting, if perhaps dated (despite the fairly recent publication) study of transparency at ICANN. I comment because the writers fail to take into account, other than a superficial mention, the role of the Ombudsman. The multi-stakeholder model and the need for transparency in decision-making and the disclosure of documents, is balanced by the role of the ombudsman as set out in Article V of the ICANN bylaws. If at any time members of the ICANN community are concerned about decision-making, and concerned about disclosure of documents, then of course the remedy is to ask the ombudsman for assistance. The bylaws make it clear that the ombudsman is entitled to all documents which he or she requests. Over the years of the existence of the office, I am not aware of many such requests, but I have never had any problem with accessing any documents when I have asked. Regrettably the writers of this paper have not considered the function of my office, which is a pity. They conclude by saying –
“From an Information Law 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.”
And of course the Office of the Ombudsman, with access to information, and the ability to analyse any systemic issues where transparency needs improvement, is the mechanism for this purpose.
ICANN: Observations from an Information Law Perspective Urs Gasser Harvard University – Berkman Center for Internet & Society; University of St. Gallen Herbert Burkert University of St.Gallen, Research Center for Information Law Florent Thouvenin University of St. Gallen – Department of Law Caroline Nolan 2011 U. of St. Gallen Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2013-09 at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2196290