Statements on the ICANN at Large
This is a place where key statements from participants in the discussions on the ALSC forum list and on the Forum here are posted for easy reference.
Statements are invited from anyone who wishes to be a thought-leader or run for any elections in the At Large.
My take on the new “plan” is this: It is a complete abandonment of any
pretense of public participation in ICANN. The ALSC effort, the NAIS
effort, the original work of the Membership Advisory Committee, and even
the original promises of public participation have all been rendered
into nothing more than vacuous emptyness.
We have to recognize that this proposal is neither reform nor
restructuring. It is the replacement of ICANN-I with ICANN-II.
(And I do wonder how the IRS will look at this change to an entity that
has received 501(c)(3) tax exempt status?)
As for how the plan was presented – I consider it to be an ambush.
Apparently the plan was reviewed with at least some members of the ALSC
(and some select board members) before it was dumped onto the assembled
board. It looks as if even the press conferences and releases were
arranged prior to the disclosure of the plan to the board.
As for the plan’s content – it is a byzantine arrangement that appears to
have two goals: money (“pay to play”) and insulation from public
The “nominating committee” will be nothing more than a council of
orthodoxy, permitting only those designated as true believers to enter
into the kingdom of ICANN.
The government appointed people will tend to be the most dispensible of
bureaucrats – the kind of person an organization tries to sluff off into
some “safe” corner where he or she can’t cause any harm – and because they
will be selected by groups of governments will tend to be the lowest
common denominator kind of person.
And if the proposal were honest in its belief that governments are
representative, then there would be no need in the plan to carve out
special positions for the same-old privileged groups and corporations and
interests who control ICANN today. If one really believed the
“governmental representation” kool-aid then one would have to accept
governments as representative of those interests as well.
I personally anticipate that this massive reorganization plan will cause
people to ask why the MoU with the Department of Commerce ought to go to
ICANN-II rather than to some other body. And that new body might be
something that is created more in keeping with the IFWP principles or it
might be an existing international body – one in with which governments
are already familiar – such as the ITU.
“ James Love February 25, 2002
(In London through Wed, +44.78.1560.7162, or international cell
“The Lynn proposal to restructure ICANN, which must have some support on the
ICANN board, is a dramatic and stark statement of the limited imagination
and vision of the present ICANN leadership. Most of the early criticism of
ICANN centered on problems relating to mission creep, and that it was too
much controlled by a small group of businesses, that either saw ICANN as a
mechanism to protect intellectual property rights or to stop new competition
and innovation in the allocation of domain names. The Lynn proposal to
restructure the board instead sees the problem as too much direct democracy
(the at large elections, which are eliminated), and to much emphasis on
consultation and consensus, the two things that have tended to reign in
ICANN’s more imperial ambitions.
“The proposed structure would appear to be an open invitation to transform
ICANN into a system of coercive control for the Internet, with a small
number of corporate entities and incumbent board members and staff in the
driving seat, in a “partnership” with governments. There is no discussion
by Lynn about how this new structure would address issues such as free
speech or other concerns that people have about centralized control of key
Internet assets, and no discussion of alternatives which would reduce the
power of the staff or ICANN itself.
“We think it is time to look at models for greater decentralization of
decision making, not more centralization, and the Lynn proposal is a mistake
with potentially enormous consequences for the Internet.
“If people are not happy with the present ICANN leadership, and if ICANN
can’t raise vast sums of money to expand its bureaucracy, it should not look
at every alternative only in terms of how it expands its coercive power and
fundraising ability. Rather, it should seek to reduce its ambitions and
find ways to limit the potential for mission creep on “governance” that take
ICANN beyond what should be a fairly simple and narrow job.
“The present at large elected board members on the ICANN board are
technically savvy and intent on limiting ICANN’s power. That the ICANN
staff and non-elected board members seek to eliminate these board members
is pretty plain evidence of where they want ICANN to go.
James Love, CPTech.org “
David Johnson and Susan Crawford on ICANN 2
NAIS (NGO and Academic ICANN Study)
ICANNs president, Stuart Lynn, recently concluded that ICANN is in need of significant reform. I doubt that there will be much debate on that point (except from those who rant that ICANN is beyond the help of reform). Instead, the debate on reform concerns the direction in which ICANN should be transformed. Lynns proposal, http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-24feb02.htm, contains many arguments that are basic logical fallacies; the reasons setting forth why reform is necessary do not support the conclusions establishing why ICANNs reform should take the form Lynn argues are necessary.
Even Lynns straw man argument that ICANN should be neither a purely private organization, nor a purely public organization misses the point of what ICANN is and what it should be. Yes, the Internet is too important to allow ICANN to operate without buy-in from relevant stake-holders, governmental bodies, and, most importantly, Internet users. Acknowledging that those points are correct, however, does not lead to the conclusion that ICANNs policy-making functions and its management of the Domain Name System is best carried out by an unaccountable board of trustees whose membership will be derived from ccTLD-owning national governments, multinational corporations (who often operate as if they had the clout or power of national governments), and a select few stake-holders. This type of reform seems exactly wrong-headed to me.
Indeed, Lynns working assumption that the important participants in ICANN should be:  infrastructure providers,  large business interests and organizations that use the Internet,  the technical community that support the Internet, and  national governments lay bare why his conclusions are flawed. Internet end-users, individual domain name holders, and small or localized groups or entities that use the Internet are not viewed as critically important to ICANN by its president. Yet, the life-blood of e-commerce depends upon the participation of each of these groups to purchase ISP services, register domain names, consent to the UDRP, and abide by ICANNs trademark policies under the threat of arbitration. For example, when ICANN decides to reassign the .org Top-level suffix that decision will not be limited to affecting only those at the top of Lynns list of important ICANN participants; it will affect all stake-holders, all interested Internet users, and, certainly, all of those who register in the .org TLD. I certainly agree that ICANN needs reform, but I am doubtful that Lynns proposal based upon the principle that will take ICANN in the right direction.