Apr 282015


French IT minister Axelle Lemaire, a staunch critic of ICANN, is celebrating the creation of the United Nations’ agency for information and communication technologies: the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

“150 years ago, on May 17, 1865, this was one of the first international organisations to be created. France is a supporter of this organisation. For the last 150 years, it has helped businesses and governments understand and make the most of the increasingly rapid development of these communications technologies, from the telegraph to today’s mobile telephony.”

Attending the birthday celebrations, French minister for foreign trade Matthias Fekl commented: “The multilateral approach remains the most effective and legitimate way of addressing the issues of normalisation.”

“Every day, the ITU serves as a reminder that a multistakeholder approach which includes civil society, the private sector and governments is a must for the digital economy,” added Lemaire. “This is the way Internet Governance should also work.”

For ICANN, both minister’s comments can only be read as slights. To simplify, the multilateral approach is one where governments are the decision makers. Conversely, the multistakeholder approach gives everyone a voice but no-one enjoys a louder voice than any other party. This has been championed by ICANN since its inception in 1998.

Lemaire’s implication that instead, it is the ITU that serves as the best example of multistakeholderism at work will probably elicit a few gasps of disbelief from the ICANN community…