- To: iic-proposed-bylaws@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Comment
- From: Mike Roberts <mmr@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 19:52:03 -0700
Dear Board Members -
I urge you to put these proposed changes on hold while you reconsider
the changing context of ICANN's relationship with the U.S.
government, other governments, and other interested parties.
At best, these proposals are incrementally better than existing
provisions of the bylaws related to accountability. The problem is
not that they make the present unsatisfactory situation worse, but
that they do not make it sufficiently better to attract support from
your major constituents.
During 1999-2001, the Initial Board and I and staff legal counsel
wrestled at great length with the accountability issue. Without going
into details that are reflected in Board minutes and resolutions of
that period, let me say that the fundamental problem was the
disconnect between American (and other governmental) preferences for
electoral democracy, and the practical difficulties of implementing
any legitimate form of elected representation for ICANN in
cyberspace. Our one effort to do so, the at large election of 2000,
decisively demonstrated the ability of governments and large
organizations to capture an electronic election for the ICANN Board.
Subsequently, several generations of the Board have attempted to
erect an accountability fabric that would satisfy your critics. This
has not worked, and I doubt that the latest effort will either.
"Accountability" is a bigger issue for ICANN with the U.S. government
and with other constituencies now than it was five or ten years ago.
It has been clear for some time that the best long term solution is
for there to be a treaty relationship created to deal with Internet
governance in the broad sense, of which ICANN would be a part.
Treaties have been the mechanism for dealing with difficult issues of
international relations for centuries, and a suitable arrangement can
be found if approached with intelligence, commitment and good will.
However, it is obvious that no set of the major players is prepared
to undertake the design of an
Internet Governance treaty at this time.
If the status quo is untenable, and a long term solution is not
available, what options does the Board have?
For the last ten years, the U.S. Government has provided
accountability for ICANN through the oversight provided by its
contracts with you. No one is terribly satisfied with that
arrangement, particularly since NTIA has reneged so many times on its
promise to terminate those ties. However, as the recent U.S.
Congressional hearing demonstrated, a continuation of USG oversight
is viewed as the minimum necessary to satisfy demands for
It is in the Board's interest, on behalf of the entire ICANN
community, to negotiate a new oversight arrangement that includes
more than the U.S. Government. How much broader than one country the
arrangement needs to be is a matter for your CEO and other advisors
to recommend. I believe that your energies would be much better
directed to this effort than to a Bylaw revision process that many
regard as irrelevant to the main issues associated with
With best regards,
- Mike Roberts
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