Panel Assessing Whether ICANN’s US Jurisdiction Hurts Accountability, Domain Name Owners

Posted July 31, 2017

External Article: Washington Internet Daily

The Internet Governance Project blog, directed by Milton Mueller, professor in the Ivan Allen College School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, was quoted in the July 31, 2017, edition of the Washington Internet Daily on whether “U.S. foreign policy hampers internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from approving registries and accrediting registrars, and what impact jurisdiction has on delegation of country code top-level domain names (ccTLDs).” 

Farzanah Badiei, Executive Director of Internet Governance Project, was quoted in the same article.


The Internet Governance Project (IGP) highlighted these issues in April comments and a July 20 blog. It said as part of its foreign policy, the U.S. imposes sanctions on other countries that when applied to domain name registrars and registries “can hamper access to the domain name system by innocent users and busi­nesses.” The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) maintains a list of designated nationals U.S. persons can’t transact with, IGP said. Without a general license, even those not listed often can’t freely transact with U.S. persons but must get an OFAC license, it said. That involves a long process and ICANN doesn’t com­mit itself to applying for a license for registrars, it said.”

U.S. laws such as 1914’s Trading With the Enemy Act, the Cuban Assets Control Regulation and
Iranian Sanctions and Transaction Regulation govern many aspects of transactions between those countries and the U.S., IGP wrote. The U.S. also can enforce sanctions through executive orders that could affect domain name system (DNS) customers, it said: Use of executive orders can create uncertainty as presidential administrations change.

Asked whether the subgroup is likely to act given the few responses, IGP Executive Director Farzanah Badiei said: “We can take concrete actions and advocate for resolving the issues ... or at least express them and establish that they are valid issues that ordinary customers of DNS face.” Actions could include changing ICANN policies, clarifying complicated OFAC issues for DNS users and seeking a general OFAC license, said Badiei, a panel member. ICANN jurisdictional issues should be resolved through legal or policy solutions that come from within the organization, she said. Changing ICANN’s jurisdiction or making it an international body, as some prefer, “is not the answer.”

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