Court grants Auerbach access to ICANN documents

A Los Angeles judge has issued a tentative decision that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) must disclose sensitive information about how it operates to its renegade board member Karl Auerbach. The victory for Auerbach came in an action he commenced in March by filing a petition in the Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking access to internal ICANN documents (see ICANN limits director's access to its financial records).

Auerbach's attorney, James Tyre, observed about the decision:

"No one needed to mention Enron or things like that, but that was clearly on the judge's mind. She said maybe directors ought to be nosing around for themselves and not just relying on what outsiders have to say."

ICANN issued a statement saying it "respectfully disagrees and will consider whether to appeal this decision upon review of the court's written judgment."

Auerbach is one of five at-large board members, but his term will come to an end following ICANN's meeting this month in Shanghai. Thus, his victory is primarily symbolic, since he will have little time to use the documents he finds to push for change. The symbolism is more significant, however, because ICANN is under siege on many fronts - including from Congress and the Department of Commerce - for its lack of transparency in governance (see ICANN passes toned-down Blueprint for Reform).

Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP, New York

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