Should ICANN regulate the attorney-client relationship? This is one of the scarier questions currently under discussion at the ICANN54 meeting this week in Dublin. Oddly enough, privacy advocates are pushing hard within the Privacy/Proxy Services Accreditation Issues working group (PPSAI) for ICANN to require attorneys who register domain names for their clients in the course of providing brand protection legal services to file an application with ICANN to become “accredited.”
Importantly, the PPSAI draft report sets forth a framework for disclosure of beneficial owner information that would require accredited attorneys to disclose their client identities under certain circumstances. Obviously, this opens up a plethora of issues, not the least of which is attorneys’ ethical duties to keep information about client matters confidential. In addition to the specific question of why anyone would think that this is a good idea, there is the larger question of what business ICANN has in inserting itself into the relationship between attorneys and clients.
The answers, of course, are that it’s a bad idea and that it is clearly outside the remit of ICANN’s mission of coordinating “…the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems.” We will keep you up to date on this issue and other important issues arising from the meeting in Dublin.