March 26, 2006

ICANN, NASDAQ, and Frank Quattrone

A while back, NASDAQ, a private corporation, decided to no longer do business with a private individual, Frank Quattrone, because that individual refused to disclose certain information about his business practices.

According to today's news the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tossed out NASDAQ's decision to bar Frank Quattrone on the grounds that NASDAQ did not honor Quattrone's claim of Fifth Amendment privilege.

Assuming the accuracy of that news report, here's my question: NASDAQ is a private corporation.  The Fifth Amendment deals with a privilege not to testify against one's self in a criminal action brought by the US Federal government.  The Fifth Amendment does not apply to private actors.

If the decisions of NASDAQ, a private corporation, in non-criminal decisions over its own membership are constrained by the Fifth amendment, then might ICANN's decisions be similarly constrained?

I don't know about the relationship of NASDAQ to the US Government - but it is clear that ICANN is very much the step child, albeit an unacknowledged one, of the US Department of Commerce.  And it has been clear for years, and is becoming increasingly visible, that the US launders a goodly part of its internet policy through ICANN.

It would be interesting to learn from someone who knows the actual details and who might be able to cast some light on this.

Posted by karl at March 26, 2006 1:31 AM