Double Standards in the Application of the ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior – Part 1

In a prior blog post, I documented how the ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior (ESOB) document is merely an aspirational statement, and not binding. As the ICANN Ombudsman Herb Waye has stated “it’s not a rule with sanction or penalty to it.

However, let’s pretend for a moment that it is binding. Has it been applied consistently and equally?

In September 2017, when I complained about false statements about me that had been posted to the RPM PDP mailing list by Kurt Pritz [you can read the entire email exchange with the co-chairs in the PDF], the co-chairs would not intervene, saying:

We consider our role as co-chairs to include intervening only when a Working Group member’s conduct amounts to dilatory or disruptive behavior, or otherwise contravenes the ICANN standards. We do not believe it is appropriate for us as co-chairs to intervene in disputes between members over facts or policy conclusions.

So, the co-chairs would not intervene when clearly false statements were made about me. Co-chair Kathy Kleiman said “You corrected that misstatement very well. I don’t think that anyone is confused.” That missed the point completely, that I shouldn’t have had to respond to such statements in the first place. It’s essentially giving permission to others to make clearly false statements about others without repercussions, as a debating tactic.

In the case of Mr. Shatan’s complaint of July 2018, though, the co-chairs permitted the complaint to proceed despite the fact that the complaint stems from policy disagreements and disputes about facts. There’s a double standard.

A fair process would have rules that are applied equally to everyone in the working group, not selectively to achieve different results when different people are involved. Without a uniform standard regarding which complaints are actionable and which complaints are ignored, the decisions run the risk of becoming arbitrary, conflicting, personality driven, and result-oriented.

The ESOB also mentions adherence to ICANN’s conflict of interest policies, which Mr. Pritz is known to have violated in the past. See articles from 2012 which document this here, here, and here.

ICANN has never disclosed the full details of those violations (despite ICANN claiming that it operates transparently). Yet, Mr. Pritz continues to participate in ICANN policy development via ICANN Working Groups, even chairing phase 1 of the EPDP on WHOIS.

This demonstrates again that a double-standard exists. If the ESOB is binding, it certainly has not been applied uniformly or equally.