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RE: [bc-gnso] ICANN Eliminates Board Meetings at ICANN Meetings

  • To: Frederick Felman <Frederick.Felman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: RE: [bc-gnso] ICANN Eliminates Board Meetings at ICANN Meetings
  • From: Phil Corwin <psc@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 May 2012 15:17:14 +0000

Thanks Fred, much appreciated.

Kevin Murphy has just published a good piece on this at 
http://domainincite.com/icann-cancels-fridays-bad-for-transparency/  ---

... No Friday means no public meeting of the board of directors. 

While the move is being characterized as an effort to enhance the effectiveness 
of ICANN's board - a particular concern, frequently voiced, of chairman Steve 
Crocker - it's also a perplexing shift away from ICANN's core tenet of 
One of the effects could be to mask dissent on the board.
>From now on, it appears that all of ICANN's top-level decision-making will 
>happen in private...

That may well be true - time will tell - but let's look at what the ICANN 
community is almost certainly losing.
First, there will be no more transcripts of board meetings at all. 

Today, only the public meetings have published recordings and transcripts. 
Intersessional meetings are minuted, but not transcribed. If recordings are 
made, they are not published.
Killing off transcripts completely is a pretty obvious step backwards for an 
organization committed by its bylaws to "operate to the maximum extent feasible 
in an open and transparent manner".
Second, if there is dissent on the board, it will be essentially shielded from 
the community's view for some time after the fact...

With that in mind, it's clear that killing off the public board meetings could 
in no way be seen as a positive step for transparency at ICANN.
It's true that these meetings have for several years been pure theater, but it 
was theater with value.

Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
Virtualaw LLC
1155 F Street, NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004

Twitter: @VlawDC
"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey

-----Original Message-----
From: Frederick Felman [mailto:Frederick.Felman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2012 10:01 AM
To: Phil Corwin
Cc: Mike Roberts; Marilyn Cade; bc - GNSO list
Subject: Re: [bc-gnso] ICANN Eliminates Board Meetings at ICANN Meetings

I think you are spot on Phil. Especially considering the conflict of interest 
problems including contracted parties on the board.

Sent from my mobile +1(415)606-3733

(please excuse any content I might blame on apple's absurd and comical 
autocorrect  including but not limited to typos)

On May 1, 2012, at 5:44 PM, "Phil Corwin" 
<psc@xxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:psc@xxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:

Just posted this at the ICA website -


ICANN Board Meetings Should be Webcast Live

ICANN has just announced that, starting with the June meeting in Prague, the 
ICANN Board will no longer meet and cast votes on the final day of its three 
annual public meetings 
(http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-30apr12-en.htm). We 
think this is an ill-advised step backwards from ICANN's commitment to 
transparency and the accountability that accompanies it. We also believe that 
ICANN should have told "the community" it was considering this major change and 
asked for public comment before making such a decision.
Just because all the ICANN meetings we have attended since ICA's formation 
ended with a Board meeting doesn't mean that particular scheduling is 
sacrosanct. But we think it's very beneficial for the global Internet community 
that ICANN serves to be able to view its decision-making process - and that 
it's a big plus for ICANN's credibility and reputation to open that process to 
public view. Those of us who regularly attend ICANN meetings have some 
opportunity to mingle and converse with Board members. But that's quite 
different than being able to observe their group interaction, especially when 
there's a tough vote on a controversial issue. Last year, it was beneficial for 
all that the Board debate and vote on .XXX in San Francisco, and on launching 
the new gTLD program in Singapore, were done in the light of day and before a 
live audience. As Board members stated their positions on the vote before them 
they knew their arguments were being weighed not just by fellow Board members 
but by the public at large. The sharp open exchanges enhanced the legitimacy of 
the resulting vote.
We also think this decision is particularly ill-timed, given that ICANN has 
just embarked upon the most ambitious and risk-prone program in its history - 
the near-simultaneous launch of thousands of new gTLDs. Given that even the 
application period has been marred by the TAS shutdown, any Board action taken 
to deal with that glitch or any additional new gTLD problems or issues should 
be discussed in full public view.
ICANN's stated rationale for the decision to go opaque is "We believe that the 
removal of the Friday public Board meeting and its replacement with two Board 
community sessions will improve the effectiveness of both the Board and the 
staff and increase the time that the Board has to interact with the 
community.". We enjoy our interaction with the Board, but we don't see how 
voting in private increases the Board's effectiveness - and it certainly runs 
counter to ICANN's stated commitment to transparency.
Nowadays any public policy body that makes its decisions behind closed doors is 
going to be perceived as having something to hide. Here's a thought experiment: 
Controversial as they were, imagine if the Board votes on .XXX and new gTLDs 
had been made out of public view and announced after the fact. Would ICANN have 
been more or less effective today as a result?
In reacting to this news release it struck us that, just as we've taken it for 
granted that every ICANN meeting ends with an open Board session,  we've also 
accepted that the majority of Board meetings take place in private and are 
underreported. Indeed, the only Board meetings for which transcripts are ever 
released are those that have already taken place in public. All the rest are 
reported, tardily, only by dry minutes that convey very little of what actually 
took place (see http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/meetings).This is in stark 
contrast to every ICANN constituency and working group, which release mp3 audio 
recordings within hours after each meeting - so why should the transparency 
that permeates ICANN stop at the Boardroom door? In 2012, in the age of Web 
2.0, this does not strike us as acceptable - especially for the technical 
coordinator of the DNS charged with serving the global public interest.
There's a lot of U.S. DNA in the DNS. ICANN was created by the U.S. government 
and is a California non-profit corporation. Even though the U.S. has officially 
terminated direct oversight, the technical foundation for ICANN's DNS policy 
decisions is the IANA contract currently being re-considered by the U. S. 
Department of Commerce. Sessions of the U.S. House and Senate, and virtually 
every hearing and markup of every Congressional committee, are now Webcast in 
real time and then archived for future viewing.
ICANN should do no less. Every official ICANN Board meeting should be webcast 
in real time. When the Board is meeting telephonically then the Web audiocast 
should be available simultaneously. And all should be archived for future 
access and review. Only limited redactions should be made, such as when the 
Board is discussing internal personnel matters or when the proprietary and 
confidential information of a contracted party might be revealed, and then only 
if a rationale is provided. ICANN's continued authority ultimately rests upon 
the consent of the networked, and in 2012 the networked expect open access to 
information about vital decisions with broad repercussions. And, as Supreme 
Court Justice Louis Brandeis once observed, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
We still think that ICANN should reconsider its decision to end open physical 
Board meetings. But, regardless of whether it reverses course, all future Board 
meetings should be open virtually.
It's past time for the public body that manages the global DNS to start using 
the tools of Web 2.0 to achieve complete transparency of process and 
decision-making. The global Internet community that ICANN serves should expect 
nothing less.

Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
Virtualaw LLC
1155 F Street, NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004

Twitter: @VlawDC

"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey

From: owner-bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx<mailto:owner-bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx> 
[mailto:owner-bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Mike Roberts
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2012 3:53 PM
To: Marilyn Cade
Cc: bc - GNSO list
Subject: Re: [bc-gnso] ICANN Eliminates Board Meetings at ICANN Meetings

I agree with prior comments.

In the early days, Esther and I and the Board had an unwritten rule that we 
would not act on significant resolutions in a telephone meeting.  We didn't 
always meet that standard, but we tried.

Some other considerations:

- If the Board is saying that it is only going to have telephone meetings, then 
it is very bad practice, to say nothing of transparency, to attempt to engage 
in substantive discussion and debate over the telephone.

- if the Board is saying that it will meet face to face to do business, other 
than at scheduled ICANN meetings, then there is no reason for such meetings not 
to be public, at least to some reasonable extent.  We are not talking about 
renting Rockefeller Center.  And webcast as well.

- In an increasingly broadband world, there is no reason not to save some money 
by doing regional meetings, linked by real time video.

- the NomCom, and others, have been concerned about the exorbitant workload 
imposed on ICANN Directors.  By any corporate standard, the current demands 
have been and are unreasonable, and have the negative result that qualified 
people can not serve, regardless of whether there are Director fees on the 
table, or not.  The most talented people are already busy people, by definition.

- Mike

On May 1, 2012, at 3:40 AM, Marilyn Cade wrote:

I will write today to the Chairs of the Constituencies/SGs/SOs to ask them 
their views and concerns. Crocker mentioned it in his comments, but it WAS not 
consulted with the community in any way.

I do think it is a problem for actually fulfilling the transparency of ICANN; 
however, I would like to hear from other members on your thoughts.

It is expensive for business to spend 6-7 days, but the Board will be now 
lessening its interactions with the community.

In my view, at this time, a bad move.

From: psc@xxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:psc@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx<mailto:bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [bc-gnso] ICANN Eliminates Board Meetings at ICANN Meetings
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:59:26 +0000
In my opinion, a step backwards for transparency and accountability -- 

Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
Virtualaw LLC
1155 F Street, NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004

Twitter: @VlawDC

"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey

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