Accountability and Oversight of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Boston University
School of Law

Research Paper Series, Public Law & Legal Theory

Research Paper No. 02-15

by Tamar Frankel, Professor of Law Emerita, Boston University School of Law


Since its inception, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was criticized for lack of legitimacy, accountability and oversight. ICANN faces difficulties in financing its operations at least in part because of these criticisms. Pressures for legitimacy have arisen from internal and external sources. Internally, ICANN, like many organizations, needs to hold diverse interest groups together. These groups require proof that ICANN is implementing its objectives and that its management conforms to norms of managerial professionalism. External pressures for legitimacy flow from the sources of the organization’s financing, and occasionally from governments. The purpose of this Report is to evaluate and propose an approach and possible measures for rendering ICANN more accountable and subject to oversight.

The first part of this Report examines the current status of ICANN with respect to its legitimacy, accountability and oversight, and proposes guidelines to the appropriate mechanisms for its structure and activities. The second part of the Report provides a framework and outlines the critical parameters that define accountable governance structures and processes. This part examines the rationale for requiring accountability and oversight, and the tools, mechanisms and best and worst practices with regard to accountability and oversight practices in (self) regulatory and governance structures.

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