(27 August 2014)  –  ICANN is accepting public comment on a shockingly dangerous proposal to change to the organization’s bylaws in such a way that would essentially cede control of the organization’s board of directors to the group of governmental representatives known as the Government Advisory Committee (GAC).

The proposed bylaws change would mandate the organization’s adoption of GAC policy “advice” unless 2/3 of the organization’s non-conflicted board of directors vote against the government “advice”.  

The proposal is dangerous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the power it gives to authoritarian and non-democratic governments over global Internet policy via the ICANN board.  As I stated in the comment I submitted to the ICANN public comment forum 


“This draconian proposal to change ICANN’s bylaws would fundamentally transform ICANN away from being a “bottom-up” and “private-sector-led” organization and into a governmental regulatory agency by changing the GAC’s role from “advisory” into “primary decision maker” by essentially creating a “governmental veto” on all key organizational decisions.  This would mark a truly significant change in the overall power structure at ICANN that would dramatically empower national governments (some democratic, some authoritarian) over the management of critical Internet resources at the expense of those who participate in the bottom-up policy development process.

This extreme proposal undermines any hope of a bottom-up process for policy development at ICANN and kills the incentive for volunteers to participate in ICANN since governments will be empowered to veto the bottom-up policy that was developed by years of hard work and painful compromises on the part of all stakeholders…” (Full Comment).

ICANN will only accept public comment on this bylaws change until 14 September 2014 (Reply comment until 6 October 2014) so the time to act is now.   Comments submitted are posted here.  Other note worthy comments submitted to the ICANN public comment forum thus far have come from Prof. Milton Mueller and Amr Elsadr of ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group.  Canadian cyberlaw expert Michael Geist initially warned about the dangers of ICANN adopting this radical bylaws change.
Please consider taking a moment to send a quick note to the forum (via the email address comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@icann.org) and express your concerns about this extreme proposal to give governments too much power over the Internet.  For the ICANN Board to empower non-democratic governments by adopting this bylaws change would be among the worst damage done to the health and growth of the free and open Internet since it was created. 
I hope you will stand up for Internet freedom by sending an email to ICANN to register your concerns before 14 September 2014.  Thank you.