Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

There have been some severe allegations about foul play inside of ICANN with regards to the .travel sTLD allocation. Staff, counsel and the board have reviewed these allegations and I am convinced that these allegations are unfounded and have just voted in favor of .travel.

I have talked to several independent participants who are also puzzled by these allegations but I have asked them to dig around for more facts. I will report back if I find anything, but until there is some third party corroboration of these allegation, I would hope people would stop spreading this rumor as if it were fact. I understand that people don't like to give ICANN the benefit of the doubt, but these are quite severe allegations from a single source. Please be responsible.


You say that, "Staff, counsel and the board have reviewed these allegations" in my articles about ".travel" and questions and requests to ICANN. But no one on the staff, counsel, or board (except the ombudsman, and one message from Mr. Vint Cerf acknowledging receipt of one of my requests) has ever talked to me or sent me e-mail about these allegations.

You say that, "these are quite severe allegations from a single source". The only source I have *named* in my reports is Ms. Rosa Delgado of SITA, but I have never said that I relied on a single source.

I assume you are referring specifically to my allegation that the ".travel" sponsor is a front for IATA. There is a variety of evidence for this, as I have reported, including the IATA-TTPC "memorandum of understanding". This MOU is still secret, but its existence was revealed earlier this week with the posting of the Tralliance-TTPC agreement, "Appendix A" of the proposed ICANN-Tralliance agreement.

With respect to my specific report of Mr. Louis Touton's statement to Ms. Rosa Delgado of SITA that ".travel" was already promised to IATA -- which confirmed my earlier, and later, reports based on other sources -- I am curious: are you questioning my credibility or accuracy? Ms. Delgado's? Or Mr. Touton's?

I have also asserted that "ICANN and its constituent bodies" have not "operate[d] to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner", which I think is obvious, and which is the basis of my request for independent review.

Do you think it would not be feasible to post documents on the ICANN Web site? Not be feasible to allow observers, at their own expense, to audit meetings? Not be feasible to give notice of meetings, so that journalists could report the fact of the meeting and, even if the meeting were closed, interview participants afterwards?

Joi, I'm sure that these publications were just listing out these items in order to generate discussion and that if information were to come to light that the material isn't reliable, they'll post a note to that effect.


I appreciate your statement. I'm sure ICANN critics, myself included, would be much more comfortable with such assurances if there were more transparency. As it is, I'm inclined to believe you, but it is still nothing but an assertion backed by your reputation. ICANN is terrifically opaque, and until that changes, I don't believe the benefit of the doubt will lean in its direction.

Edward and Jamie, I recognize that there is a transparency issue in parts of ICANN process and we can and should do better in managing the process. That is something we need to work on and I will be the first to admit that.

I am reacting mostly to allegations that there was some sort of conspiracy or back room deals.

As I said above, I think I have enough information to believe that the board and staff made this decision about .travel without any lobbying or unfair pressure or influence. As for the myriad of more minor but important allegations against ICANN... I don't think it influences our decision on .travel, but I think that they must be investigated. I'll post more after we finish the investigation and go through the issues point by point. Some of the allegations are in the form of suggestions on how to make the process more transparent and I think we will discuss these issues in the context of new procedures for consensus, discussion and disclosure.

Thanks Shelley. You're right and this is interesting in the context of the last post where I posted a comment of the DHS issue without properly vetting the story as you pointed out.

Thank you, Joi, for your interest in improving the process. Right now, the most important issue is for ICANN to stay its action on .travel until the indpendent review panel can make a recommendation on my request for a stay.

You say that, "I think I have enough information to believe that the board and staff made this decision about .travel without any lobbying or unfair pressure or influence." That may be true, but I as a journalist and a stakeholder, and the public, do *not* have that information. The way to provide it, and to enable me to base my reports on first-hand observation or auditing of meetings, is to make the record public, as I have requested. Until then, none of us will know on what (secret) evidence you are basing your conclusion, or whether there is contrary evidence elsewhwere in the record.

I've posted a follow-up article to summarize and clarify my objections, and to clear up some misunderstandings.

Edward, than you for clarifying your points. I think I know have a better understanding of your issues and I promise to do more investigation and ask more questions.