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GNSO and ICANN Improvements

  • To: <gnso-improvements-report-2008@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: GNSO and ICANN Improvements
  • From: "Dominik Filipp" <dominik.filipp@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 22:05:05 +0200

I have gone over many posts on several publicly accessible ICANN mailing
lists and other documents and have found several or more contributions
illuminating and explanatory in giving an insight of what is going on at
ICANN behind the scenes, provided we are able to read between the lines.
Nothing, what we have not known before but perhaps some details about
the technology of how craftily the public effort can be conducted and
In fact, the common argument being always presented is how staffers are
all keen on supporting all types of public interests. But only up to a
moment when the public interests start colliding with leading interests
of the financial and other sharks. When realizing what is at stake the
stuffers immediately back off. Then the second sort of arguments comes
into play, such as a given proposal is too strong, fundamental and which
'will not fly' as registrars and registries will not support it anyway,
and the like. As of this moment an ordinary user (naive user, volunteer)
is being persuaded that a weaker solution is also acceptable, not
perhaps that effective but still better than nothing. Along with ongoing
verbal assurance that the staffers also share sympathy for public
interests trying doing their best to achieve the most feasible solution,
the user might easily get into a false but optimistic assumption as to
have achieved something, not achieving anything real though.
What is worse is that the staffers are not even willing to present
prevailing views of the communities they represent once the views start
clashing with the leading interests. This is indeed an interesting
For example, the ALAC's updated domain tasting statement swiftly adopted
the draft motion logic without first discussing it properly with its
public audience. The question is why it acted this way, especially when
it had preferred and presented a stronger position in the first place
before. After all, it could have insisted on the stronger position.
Nothing dramatic would have happened. The ALAC has no voting power and
even if it had it is the BoD who makes final decisions.
The similar approach has also been adopted by several other
constituencies. Instead of clear presentation of prevailing views and
concerns of the constituency members and the underlying public audience,
the updated views swiftly adapted the actual view of the leading
interest. Such updated statements do not reflect previously preferred
constituency positions any longer but rather give in to the expectations
of the leading interests. As a result, the constituencies thus do not
act as self-confident sui juris bodies advocating the views they stand
for, which would be a solid basis for further deliberation and
consent-driven process based on seeking unifying arguments, but rather
quickly seek political consent managed among constituency
representatives; of course, driven by the leading interests they are
advised to pursue. This tendency is apparent in several places in the
Final Report on Domain Tasting when tracking the evolution of the
constituency statements. That is, over and over again politics instead
of deliberation.
An interesting question is why it is, in certain circumstances,
necessary to rush for unified statements at any price prior proper
deliberation on the modifications. This, at first glance weird logic,
starts making sense when we realize that a) the issue has to be approved
quickly by minimizing the possible undesired impact of public comments,
and b) the overall responsibility must be spread and crumbled among all
involved parties so that nobody could be accused of anything. Either
everyone or no one. As a practical consequence, those people are doing
nearly nothing productive for their communities in such cases. Yes,
there are cases when a progress is remarkable and reasonable motions are
being approved but only if they do not clash with the leading interests
or they are so apparent that simply cannot be ignored. A good example
again is domain tasting. The phenomenon was recognized yonks ago and has
been known and heavily reported for years as an abuse being constantly
committed on wide community. So it had to be opened. But there is also
the clash here as it is a profitable business of very high importance
for all interested parties. The first shot was the $0.20-for-all-deletes
motion. The same one I wrote a joke about more than a year ago. That
time it was a joke only, but this time it seemed to become reality. The
currently proposed final motion is unclear and ambiguous enough to allow
for continuing the game under the hood. And when the public outreach
fades out the practice can be guardedly reinstated.
I would therefore strongly recommend that all staffers look into the
ICANN Core Values again and carefully. Anyone who does not feel
comfortable with the Core Values should reconsider his or her stay
within the ICANN structures in order not to hinder active and competent
participants from fluent work on substantive ICANN issues.
I see just one important ICANN issue to address, to encourage the public
community to clearly and dauntlessly identify and face those staffers
who are exploiting the ICANN mission in order to privilege their own
private businesses, deals, and interests to the detriment of all others.
Namely, those who are just spoiling valuable effort presented by honest
and competent members of the ICANN community.

ICANN is an international organization representing all Internet users,
not a private business elite club of registrars and registries!

Dominik Filipp, a GNSO General Assembly list member

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