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Re: [alac] [Fwd: Re: [governance] RALOs without halos]

  • To: Bret Fausett <bfausett@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [alac] [Fwd: Re: [governance] RALOs without halos]
  • From: Annette Muehlberg <annette.muehlberg@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 18:40:23 +0100

All, after all these years of not building up RALOs, and still not having a concept on how end-users interests could be served best by ALAC, I am surprised by the public proposal of an EU-RALO structure with a *time limit* for discussion to the *15th of February!*

As new EU-ALAC member, I do not understand why my EU-fellow ALACs chose a way which does not even give us the time to contact other organisations and individuals who are not on ALAC- or IG-mailing-lists and discuss this proposal.

In ALAC, with all its new members, we were just discussing in a very concrete 
and productive way how to improve our working structures  and how to best 
organize At-Large and do outreach. One of us even volunteered to fully 
concentrate on that last issue and take responsibility that action is going to 
be taken. We wanted to have an open discussion on this on our new website which 
will be launched very soon and is supposed to be our central tool for 

Now a different website of an ALS is used to host this discussion. It is always good to get support by regional At-Large, but in this case it is something that matters to all, and we all wanted to have an exchange of opinion on RALO structure *before* we start (different) regional versions of RALOs - or agree to support other structures, which already came up in the discussion of the Internet Governance list.

We clearly pointed at the problem of attracting more Internet user groups, individuals and organisations to participate in ALAC and we all know it is not just a "problem of mediation" but a problem of an organisational structure within ICANN.

One of our deepest concerns is, that a RALO just looks as if it gives endusers 
interest a voice, but instead rather serves clubmanship (it is hard to find the 
right english word for it) and new forms of bureaucracy.

But I also know, it is always hard to come up with a first proposal and it certainly helps to have a fruitful discussion.

Therefore I would like to make the following remarks on that EU-RALO proposal:

I. The timeline does not help to get good results.

II. There is no definition of aims and principles. To say, the "mission ... will be that of constituting a channel for participation by the European individual Internet users into the activities of ICANN..." sounds strange in the age of global internet and even more concerning its very central corporation ICANN. Participation via email has no borders - except for language and access to technical infrastructure, which is a problem we have to face. So, individual user activists rather focus on special issues not on region, but to give endusers interest a voice and say in ICANN and help formulate these interests, regional aspects should be taken into account (eg. problem of many different languages, a different legal system in comparison to the US eg. concerning privacy,...)

It is good that it is planned to finish the exclusion of individuals and to 
have both: organizational as well as individual members.

IV. Does the structure of one representative per each organisation, one per every 34 individuals (with decreasing ratio as the number of individual member increases...) help to get people involved and participate in endusers/consumer rights issues? And if we go by the logic of numbers, how to deal with a really large organisation of e.g. 2,4 million members (my trade union ;-)) in comparison to organisations with a small amount of members? So to solve that problem, isn't direct participation the more effective and just way?

And why do we need representatives electing representatives? Why should an elected "Executive Council" elect a "Chair and a Vice-Chair"?

VI. Concerning funding: Yes, we do need money - for specific issues, eg. translations, workshops on internet consumer rights issues etc.

So, a little more, than what Bret wrote in his eMail, but still "light-weight and 
inexpensive". "At-Large structures... as a series designed to share infomation..." 
eMail is almost sufficient (and speaking the same language makes it easier).

I think a wiki on our website would help to get the issues sorted.


Bret Fausett wrote:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject:     Re: [governance] RALOs without halos
Date:     Mon, 23 Jan 2006 12:54:55 -0800
From:     Bret Fausett <fausett@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To:     governance@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
References:     <s3d43737.073@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Another way to think of the At Large structures -- ALS > RALO > ALAC -- is simply as a series of relationships designed to share information. The thought was to build on existing structures, and create loose relationships among them (a la Linked In or Friendster or Orkut), so that information from ICANN could be distributed quickly to people interested in receiving it, and then, so that information could be collected and forwarded to ICANN. The only real responsibility of the RALOs is to be a conduit for information and place people on the ALAC. There's absolutely no expectation that they spend money or travel. E-mail is sufficient. It was designed to be light-weight and inexpensive, and its power was to come not from any bylaw guarantee but from the power of its ideas and input. This model, a shell of the original At Large concept, is what the ICANN Board decided in Ghana, rejecting the proposals of its own blue-ribbon Bildt Committee and the independent NAIS.


Many of those working within the ALAC were involved in the various At Large Studies and once were deeply committed to ICANN's original idea of empowering Internet end-users and electing half of the Board. I don't think the belief that ICANN should have a stronger, more empowered At Large has been abandoned by any of us working within the ALAC. We are simply working within the limited structure given to us by ICANN. After Ghana, the only alternative was to abandon ICANN altogether or attack it from the outside.

I fully understand and appreciate the view that complete rejection of the ALAC concept might have been preferable as a symbol to ICANN of the At Large community's significant dissatisfaction with the Board's vote in Ghana. I also fully understand and appreciate the other view that it was better to work within the very limited role given to us by the Board than to leave ICANN without any At Large involvement at all. What I do *not* understand is why the people who want a more empowered At Large are directing their criticism at the members of the At Large Advisory Committee, as though we're apologists for ICANN's damnable actions in Ghana. When we want to achieve the same objective, but have differing views on how to best achieve it, we should see ourselves as allies, albeit working on different fronts.


Milton Mueller wrote:

The RALO structure created in ICANN's 2002 "reforms" is a joke. It asks people to invest huge amounts of time and energy to build organizations that have no power. It is predicated on the notion that hundreds of thousands of domain name registrants, to whom a domain name represents a $20/year investment, are going the spend the equivalent of $10,000-$100,000 a year on organizing, traveling and jawboning -- in order to elect people to Councils who elect people to another Council who participate in the process of selecting a minority of ICANN's Board members.

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