1. ICANN recognizes Palestine as a country.

    Some have argued that ICANN sees itself as a government, with the rights and privileges of a government.  I have strongly argued against this.  In the ICANN Board meeting of 5 August 2010, the Board made a pronouncement that has perhaps convinced me that I am wrong.  Among the decisions reportedly made by the ICANN Board in this meeting was the following:

    a.  Occupied Palestine Territory 

    Whereas, the Occupied Palestinian Territory is a country currently listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard.

    Whereas, فلسطين (“Falasteen”), encoded as “xn—ygbi2ammx”, is a string that has been deemed to appropriately represent the Occupied Palestinian Territory through the IDN Fast Track process.

    Whereas, ICANN has received a request for delegation of فلسطين. to the Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology of the Palestinian National Authority.

    Whereas, ICANN has reviewed the request, and has determined that the proposed delegation would be in the interests of the local and global Internet communities.

    RESOLVED (2010.08.05.14), the proposed delegation of the فلسطين. domain to the Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology is approved.

    While it is true that the ISO list is called the list of country names, it is not true that the list contains only country names, this fact is well known.  Had the motion indicated that the Palestinian Territory was on the ” ISO 3166-1 country list,” they might have avoided this declaration.  But instead they declared “is a country.”

    Additional Note: I was reminded that in the ICANN Board Resolution (2010.06.25.18) granting Taiwan a spot in the root, they referred to: “on behalf of a country or territory that is currently listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard”.  I guess when talking about Taiwan, ICANN recoginizes the need to be more careful in its language usage.  This is also makes it harder to beleive that the langauge use was just a mistake as some have argued.

    I have no issue with the board having followed the Fast Track process, created to support both territories and countries, where ISO 3166-1 listing + technical requirements means being added to the root. Well I have issues with the Fast Track process*, but they have nothing to do with xn—ygbi2ammx.  But to have the ICANN Board recognize them as a country as opposed to as a territory, which under International Law is what they still are,  is a bit bemusing, and perhaps goes some way to making the argument that some in ICANN have an elevated view of the organization’s importance and role in the world.

    * Issues with the Fast Track Process

    Just briefly my 2 main issues are:

    - It was instituted to satisfy the demands of various countries who insisted (i.e. give them to us or else) that they had a right to new ccTLDs before any new gTLDs were created in a process that took no account of a balance between the sovereign rights of Countries and the Individual, Consumer and Competition rights of the people in those countires.

    - It is not open for international multistakeholder public comment and review.  Instead is defines a standard that says that as long as it is not controversial inside the country and the government approves then non one else has a word to say.  It is difficult for me to understand in this case what it means for the ICANN Board to decide something is in the interests of the “global Internet communities”

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    I have not written a blog in a while because after being severely reprimanded for one of my last blags, I promised to not write anything negative about ICANN Staff without making the case internally first.  Dumb thing to agree to, especially since all of my complaints disappear into the ICANN time warp, but nevertheless, I have tried to argue those cases internally.  This one, however, is about the Board, it actions and the wording of its motions.