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Username: rcourtney
Date/Time: Fri, December 22, 2000 at 11:42 PM GMT
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Subject: Comments of CDT, Common Cause, PCMLP

Message:
 

 
        Below please find the comments of the Center for
Democracy
and Technology, Common Cause, and Oxford University's
Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy regarding the
ICANN Staff Proposal for At-Large Study Implementation.

Rob Courtney
Policy Analyst
Center for Democracy & Technology
1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202 637 9800
fax 202 637 0968
http://www.cdt.org/
rob@cdt.org

* * *

COMMENTS OF

THE CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND TECHNOLOGY,

COMMON CAUSE, AND

THE PROGRAMME IN COMPARATIVE MEDIA LAW AND POLICY
(OXFORD UNIVERSITY)

ON THE ICANN STAFF RECOMMENDATION ON AT-LARGE
STUDY IMPLEMENTATION


The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Common
Cause and the Programme in Comparative Media Law and
Policy (PCMLP - Oxford University) offer the following concerns
and comments on the ICANN Staff Recommendation on
At-Large study implementation.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK AND PRINCIPLES

We support the staff’s conception of a study that relies on
self-generated studies from within the ICANN and Internet
community in order to propose and explore different solutions to
the problems of ICANN. 

We support the creation of a formal Study Committee to
coordinate these outside studies and to help guide them toward
community consensus.

ICANN'S RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE STUDY EFFORT

A largely outsourced approach to the study cannot and should
not, however, absolve ICANN of important responsibilities it has
to the Internet community as a whole. ICANN’s founding
documents, public statements made by its officers, and its
agreements with the U.S. government all have committed ICANN
to meaningful representation of the Internet user community on
its board of directors.

We believe that ICANN’s requisite commitment to the concept of
public representation should guide the Staff Recommendation
and consequently, the implementation of the At-Large Study.

The Staff Recommendation on At-Large Study Implementation
reiterates this principle by acknowledging that "it has been
assumed from the time of ICANN’s creation that there must be
some mechanism for the Internet community as a whole to
provide input and accountability to ICANN – and to help to more
broadly legitimize the decisions and actions of ICANN."

CDT, Common Cause, and PCMLP strongly believe that the nine
Board seats currently reserved for At-Large Directors fulfill that
purpose, and are necessary to counterbalance the nine seats
held by the Supporting Organizations. In the past, we have
strongly opposed any effort that appeared to put at risk these
nine At-Large seats. It has been our consistent view that the
so-called  "Cairo compromise" contemplated a post-election
study of how best to select the At-Large directors, not whether to
have any At-Large directors at all. 

However, the board in Yokohama expanded the scope of the
study to review "whether the ICANN Board should include "At
Large" Directors[, and] if so, how many such Directors there
should be." We believe this expansion of the study was
unwarranted and unnecessarily opened up a question that
should by now be settled in favor of ICANN’s commitment to
have a strong public voice in its internal governance.

Accordingly, we urge the Board to keep ICANN’s organizational
commitment to public representation in mind – what the staff
paper calls the "logically inescapable" principle that "the Internet
community should have some appropriate input into ICANN
policy decisions" – while evaluating the Staff Recommendation
on the At-Large Study Implementation.

**We offer the following specific comments on the staff
proposal:**

1. THE STUDY COMMITTEE SHOULD SPEND SIGNIFICANT
EFFORT ON INTER-STUDY COORDINATION AND GENERAL
OUTREACH.

We strongly support the staff report’s recognition of the Study
Committee’s responsibility to "facilitate and encourage" studies
outside its own. Effective conduct of these studies, however, will
require a substantial effort at communication and coordination
on the part of the Study Committee. Study processes should be
diverse, but also transparent and open in their activities. We
hope, therefore, that the Board will provide the Study Committee
with more specific indications of its proper role, including:

- The establishment and maintenance, throughout the study
process, of a web-based forum for public input.

- A fully transparent and public Committee process, including
open meetings of the Committee with prior notice to the
Community, and public access to all studies, reports,
memoranda and other documents considered by or generated
by the Committee.

- The creation of a Study Committee web site, for
intercommunication and data sharing both among independent
study groups and between those study groups and the Study
Committee.

- The creation of electronic mailing lists, for updates on the study
process, intercommunication between its participants, and
discussion by the public.

- Several in-person meetings sponsored by the Study
Committee, in a geographically-diverse set of locations, to
conduct public outreach and solicit input.

- A substantial workshop, sponsored by the Study Committee,
about the study of the At Large directors, to take place in
conjunction with the ICANN Meeting in Melbourne.

- Development of suggested timelines for the conduct of
independent studies.

- A substantially open drafting process, with full justification of
any conclusions reached in the Committee’s final report to the
Board.

In addition, the Board should explicitly charge the Study
Committee with on- and off-line outreach, coordination, and
education, and should expect vigorous activity from the
Committee.

2. ICANN SHOULD GUARANTEE ADEQUATE RESOURCES TO
THE STUDY COMMITTEE.

Since the Study Committee will play a critical role in securing the
public’s long-term voice in ICANN, the Board should fully support
the Committee’s work. It cannot reasonably do so without
assuming responsibility for funding the Committee’s activity.
ICANN resources should be used to provide at least a
substantial part of the Study Committee’s operating expenses,
and the Board should direct staff to explore additional funding
sources.

Should ICANN fail to make funding a top priority, the Internet
community may perceive a lack of commitment to the study effort
and could prevent meaningful consensus from ever being
reached. Further, a lack of funding will likely cripple the
Committee’s ability to perform effectively the necessary
co-ordination tasks outlined above.

3. THE STUDY COMMITTEE SHOULD PROVIDE ELECTION
DATA SWIFTLY, WIDELY, AND IN A MANNER CONSISTENT
WITH PERSONAL PRIVACY.

The Study Committee should, consistent with ICANN’s
commitment to personal privacy of its members, take
responsibility for public provision of all data regarding the
At-Large Membership’s registration and voting processes. In
doing so, the Study Committee should consider available
methods of protecting individual privacy, such as withholding
election data that is personally identifiable and not critical to the
study effort (such as name and address), or transforming
election data that is personally identifiable but critical to studying
the election (such as IP address and member ID number), so
that personal identities are not disclosed.

4. IN ITS CONSIDERATION OF THE BOARD'S STRUCTURE,
THE STUDY COMMITTEE SHOULD EXPLORE THE LARGER
CONTEXT OF DECISION MAKING WITHIN ICANN.

The ICANN Bylaws call for the Study Committee to consider both
whether there should continue to be At Large directors and, if so,
how many. We believe that these questions about the Board’s
structure can be addressed only in the larger context of
considering the number of Directors from all of ICANN’s
constituencies.

Recommendations from the Study Committee about the
structure of the Board structure could well lack legitimacy unless
the overall questions of the Board’s composition are fairly
included within the study. Accordingly, if questions about the
existence and number of At Large directors are to be put into the
study agenda, we urge the Board to properly shape the mission
of the Study Committee by providing it with a sufficiently broad
mandate to study the overall composition of the Board as a
whole.

CDT, Common Cause and PCMLP appreciate this opportunity to
comment on the implementation of the At-Large study process.
We look forward to working with the Board to establish a
legitimate and effective study process.
     
     
     

 

Link: Center for Democracy & Technology