R. Shawn Gunnarson

R. Shawn Gunnarson

Attorney at Law, Kirton & McConkie
Joined on June 22, 2009
Total Post Views: 201,723


Mr. Gunnarson is a member of Kirton & McConkie’s Corporate and Taxation Section, which he joined in 2009. His practice includes information technology, telecommunications, government relations, constitutional law, and appellate litigation. From 2005 to 2009 he served as Senior Counsel to U.S. Senator Robert F. Bennett, advising him on issues regarding telecommunications, cyber security, Internet policy and governance, critical infrastructure protection, intellectual property, and constitutional law.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by R. Shawn Gunnarson on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Failing to Act on Accountability

More than a year has passed since the first organizational review team delivered its final report on ICANN's accountability and transparency. Disappointingly, ICANN has done precious little to act on a key recommendation in that report. Its failure to act threatens to damage ICANN's credibility, just as it enters one of the most critical periods in its history. more

Fair Notice and Applying for a New gTLD

Applying for a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) will be expensive and complex. ICANN's Applicant Guidebook comprises 350 pages of dense instructions, spelling out the procedures to apply for a gTLD and to comment or object to the gTLDs applied for by others. Hidden among the forest of criteria and procedures is a problem that, unless solved, could deny good faith applicants the fair notice they deserve. more

Modest Proposals for gTLD Profits

When does a non-profit organization become a profit-making one? This and similarly fundamental questions about ICANN's institutional character are raised by the high probability that the gTLD project will produce profits for ICANN. How much money those profits will amount to remains in question, but it is increasingly difficult for ICANN to say that there will be no profit at all. more

Integrating the GAC More Effectively

We all may have breathed a sigh of relief when the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Board concluded their eleventh-hour negotiations on new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) with some measure of success, but we can all agree that panicked policymaking is, at best, less than optimal. ICANN needs to integrate GAC input more effectively. The Final Report recently issued by the Joint Working Group (JWG) of the ICANN Board and the GAC contains several thoughtful and productive recommendations. more

ATRT and the Dog That Didn’t Bark

A favorite Sherlock Holmes story has the detective unraveling the mystery of a murdered horse trainer and the theft of a prized thoroughbred by concentrating on the fact that a dog didn't bark in the night when the horse was stolen. This silence implied for Holmes that it was no stranger who entered the stall. From this he deduced that it was the trainer himself who had removed the horse to fix a race for his profit and that the horse had killed the trainer when he tried to cripple it. ICANN 41 has been afflicted by a similarly curious silence. more

Minding the GAC and the Heckler’s Veto

ICANN meetings sometimes congeal around a single theme. In San Francisco the theme was captured on clever t-shirts bearing the iconic symbol of the London Underground with the words, "Mind the GAC." Here was a succinct and timely plea for the ICANN Board to pay serious attention to the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)'s concerns about new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), rather than to risk undermining the long-term viability of the multi-stakeholder model. more

Relinquishing IANA Would Be a Mistake for NTIA

In comments to the U.S. Government, ICANN sought to convince the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Address and Number Authority ("IANA") functions. At its heart, ICANN's presentation is a plea for NTIA to declare the privatization of DNS management finished. For several reasons, ICANN's plea should be refused. more

ICANN and the GAC - Lessons Learned Since Cartagena

Experience is the best teacher. In the interest of capturing lessons learned (and avoiding the repetition of hard experiences needlessly), it is worth highlighting what the interactions between the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) since Cartagena have taught. more

Concerns About ICANN’s Bylaws Shouldn’t Bog Down Board/GAC Discussions

The Brussels meeting between the ICANN Board of Directors and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) became contentious over what constitutes a "bylaws consultation," what that designation means, and whether future meetings between the parties should be labeled as such. At the risk of going over familiar ground, it may be useful to review what the bylaws say about ICANN's duty to consult with the GAC. more

The Costs of a Dysfunctional Relationship - Part 2

Part 1 described the impasse between the ICANN board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) over the introduction of new gTLDs. This part analyzes the conflicts and offers suggestions for beginning to resolve them. ... Some of these conflicts turn out to have clear answers. Approving the DAG before public comments could be considered violated ICANN's bylaws, but the board has unmistakable authority to reject the GAC's advice. more

The Costs of a Dysfunctional Relationship - Part 1

"The current Board-GAC relationship is dysfunctional and has been so for several years." Never has this line from the ATRT Report seemed so apt as now, when the ICANN board and the GAC are preparing to meet in Brussels. Part 1 of this blog will describe their impasse over the introduction of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). Part 2 will analyze that impasse and offer recommendations to begin resolving it. more

Tough Questions for ATRT

Public comments on the Proposed Recommendations published by the Accountability and Transparency Review Team ("ATRT") have now been submitted, and it is worth stepping back to evaluate ATRT's work in the context of ICANN's larger challenges. ATRT was constituted to carry out ICANN's commitments under the AoC. Yet at times ICANN acted as if ATRT were an adversary rather than a partner... more

New gTLDs and Their Hidden Costs: Part 2

In my last post I discussed some questions that remain about ICANN's generic Top-level Domain (gTLD) budget. Today I discuss the rights protections mechanisms as they currently appear. An economic study commissioned ICANN to analyze the new gTLD process recently concluded that "the biggest likely costs" of approving new gTLDs are "consumer confusion and trademark protection." more

New gTLDs and Their Hidden Costs: Part 1

New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) appear to be headed for introduction next year, finally. That's a good thing for many ICANN constituents who have been waiting for them to become available. Important questions persist about how new gTLDs will affect ICANN and its constituents, however, despite a lot of effort to resolve concerns. Pressing those questions should not be taken as criticism of the basic wisdom of making new gTLDs available to many constituents under many circumstances. But too much is at stake not to get it right. more

For ICANN, a New Path Toward an Old Goal

The DNS White Paper has stood the test of time remarkably well. More than a decade after it was published, its principles of stability, competition, and private-sector-led DNS management remain the gold standard for DNS governance. ICANN is struggling to achieve that standard, however, and a dramatic change in direction may need to be considered. more

ICANN’s Weak Accountability Remains a Problem

The JPA is dead, and in its place is the Affirmation of Commitments. Much debated, this change is anticipated to bring more global participation into ICANN's governance. Increased globalization may turn out to be beneficial for the Internet community, if it helps to shore up ICANN's institutional weaknesses. But the Affirmation leaves important questions unanswered... more

Getting a Handle on IDNs

Internationalized Domain Names or IDNs are back in the news. ICANN recently released a document entitled "Proposed Final Implementation for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process"... In a nutshell, ICANN has now offered a path toward authorizing the adoption of ccTLDs in many countries' native languages. This marks a welcome advance for millions of Internet users who do not speak English or who do not use another language covered by ASCII. But with this advance comes some concerns. more

When It Comes to gTLDs, Follow the Money (Part 2)

In my previous article I showed that ICANN expects to recover a lot of money from the first round of applications for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) -- $92.5 million, to be exact -- and that even that dramatic figure is probably substantially underestimated. For that reason, I argued that ICANN probably will recoup a windfall from the first round of gTLD applications and pointed out that ICANN's promise to consult with the Internet community before spending such a windfall is unsatisfactory because it has failed to say beforehand what surplus revenues might be spent for. more

When It Comes to gTLDs, Follow the Money (Part 1)

Introducing new generic Top-Level Domains represents, as ICANN says, "the biggest change in the Internet since its inception 40 years ago." Among the least understood aspects of this change is its potential to alter the economic power of ICANN as an institution. To see how that might happen, let's follow the money as it is expected to flow from the gTLD application process. ICANN expects to get a lot of money from gTLD applications: $92,500,000, to be exact. more

Extending the JPA is the Right Thing to Do

Internet governance is getting a thorough look under the hood, thanks to the National Telecommunication and Information Administration. NTIA recently concluded its public comment period under a Notice of Inquiry (NOI), which asked for public comments regarding the future of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between the Department of Commerce and ICANN. At its core, the NOI asks whether the White Paper's original vision of privatizing the technical coordination and management of the Internet is working. For reasons I will explain, it would be deeply unwise for NTIA to terminate the JPA just yet. more