Scott and Jerry:
Many thanks to CDT and Common Cause
for (as always) a thoughtful set of comments! On the merits, I find a lot to
agree with here, and some helpful new ideas. On some of the larger atmospheric
points (which don't have a lot of practical consequence), I find myself in substantial
disagreement with your premises.
>2. The underlying goal of this election
to provide representation to the Internet user
>community “at large” –
must be kept foremost in
>mind when setting the election procedures. Many
>key constituency groups already have representation
>on the ICANN board
through the “supporting organization”
>seats. It is important that the
>procedures for this election be dedicated to ensuring
it achieves its goal of providing a voice to the
>general Internet user community.
As more fully elaborated below, I think that this statement reflects an erroneous
conception. The At Large membership and election processes are intended to
ensure that the ICANN Board is reflective of and accountable to a general body of
Internet users, not limited by any kind of segregation from the other branches of
the ICANN tree.
The ICANN structure is *not* designed to segregate some
Internet users into the SOs, and others into the At Large membership. Everyone
who is involved in the ICANN process through the Supporting Organizations is an Internet
user. As you point out, of course, there are many other Internet users who
are not involved in the SOs (though I hope more of them will get involved).
The SOs are specialized advisory bodies. Each is open to any interested
individual. In the case of the DNSO, an interested individual can join a constituency,
or a working group, or participate in the general assembly. In the case of
the ASO, an interested individual can participate in the open policy forums (online
or at periodic meetings) of one (or more) of the regional Internet registries.
In the case of the PSO, an interested individual can participate in the IETF or another
standards development organization. A really interested individual with lots
of free time might decide to participate in all three SOs, and to be an At Large
member as well.
In other words, there are no hard lines separating the At Large
membership from the rest of the ICANN structure. Ideally, all participants
in the ICANN SOs will sign up to be At Large members, and many At Large members will
choose to participate in the SOs.
This is an important point, because some of your
comments appear to proceed from a mistaken starting point: that the At Large
membership is supposed to elect individuals whose views are somehow ideologically
distinct or contrary to those of the directors currently on the Board. The
SO-selected Directors come from a wide diversity of backgrounds (academic, technical,
business, etc.), and all of them are Internet users. As Directors of ICANN,
they are all obligated to support the corporation's basic mission: to preserve
the stable operation (and evolution) of the Internet's DNS and IP address systems.
(I.e., the parts of the Internet that require central coordination to ensure the
assignment of unique values and parameters, such as domain names, IP address numbers,
and protocol and port numbers).
Put another way, there is no rationally tenable
distinction that can be drawn between those involved in the SOs and "Internet users."
The point of the At Large membership is to allow a large group of interested individuals
to choose Directors on a regional basis. The result should reflect a degree
of representation and accountability. Above all, we hope to see excellent Directors
dedicated to advancing ICANN's basic mission of stability for the Internet.
SELF-NOMINATION SHOULD BEGIN EARLIER
>IN ORDER TO CREATE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
>FOR ALL CANDIDATES.
This concern is well-stated, but seems misplaced
to me. I think it greatly exaggerates any potential advantages for the NomCom
nominees. Given that the process will rely on web-based campaigning through
the ICANN website, all candidates will begin to campaign on the same day. Indeed,
during the self-nomination process, the candidates for self-nomination will have
all the focus. Any advantage to the NomCom nominees from being announced early
will be more than offset by the exclusive attention paid to self-nomination candidates
during the month of the self-nomination phase.
>2. IN SELECTING
NOMINEES, THE NOMINATIONS
>COMMITTEE SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE SPECIAL
OF THE AT-LARGE MEMBERSHIP. For the reasons
>stated above, we strongly urge the
>Committee to select as nominees individuals who
>not only have
the interest and energy to fulfill
>the duties of a board member, but also those
>can best serve the role of At-Large board members.
>As we have
noted above, the other major defined
>Internet constituency groups already have
>representation built into the structure of the
>board through the supporting
>point of these At-Large seats is to represent the
non-commercial user community. It is
>imperative that this goal remain
foremost in the
>mind of the Committee as it selects its nominees.
where I find myself in strongest disagreement with you. In my view, this recommendation
proceeds from a seriously flawed understanding of the ICANN structure.
Board is not a representative body, in the sense that it attempts to reflect in mathematically
accurate proportions the specific special interest groups of the world's Internet
communities. The world's various Internet communities are far too diverse to
ever be represented by 19 individuals.
Moreover, ICANN has a specific mission:
to preserve the stability of the Internet's DNS and IP addressing systems, while
privatizing and internationalizing the related policymaking functions. ICANN
is not a government, nor is it a democracy. It's a technical coordinating body
with a specific, limited mandate; as such, it seeks excellent Directors that
together broadly reflect the functional and geographic diversity of the global Internet
community. Taken together, the At Large membership and the Supporting Organizations
(each of which is structured differently, with different areas of Internet expertise
in mind) provide a broadly distributed mechanism for selecting Directors. No
one region can dominate; likewise, no one special interest can dominate.
The resulting directors should, of course, be independent from special interest
ties and should come from diverse backgrounds and regions, have diverse views, and
have a diverse set of experiences and communities to draw on. Everyone involved
with the Board is an "Internet user," to the degree that that term has any meaning.
However appealing it may be to portray the At Large Membership as a kind of ideological
counterweight to the technical, academic, business, non-commercial and other communities
that are involved in the Supporting Organizations, it's not accurate and it misses
the point that everyone in this process is an Internet user with (we hope) an interest
in the stable operation of the DNS and IP addressing systems.
More to the point,
the At Large membership is not intended to be limited to "non-commercial" users.
In this context, "non-commercial" would be an incoherent and untenable limitation.
No one should be disqualified from membership or nomination simply because she works
for a commercial enterprise. Rather, we hope that all kinds of Internet users
will be At Large members: everyone from those who own small businesses to those
who work for large companies; teachers and students; those who build
Internet infrastructure and those who recently figured out how to post a web page.
The distinction between "commercial" and "non-commercial" interests may make sense
in the old industrial economy, but I have yet to be pursuaded that the distinction
is meaningful for the Internet's technical coordination issues. Indeed, a quick
look at the SO-selected Directors shows that about half work directly in "non-commercial"
settings, and most devote extensive time to non-commercial organizations besides
The At Large membership should be an open vehicle for broad global representation
and accountability, not for the special privileging of "commercial", "non-commercial",
or any other interests.
>3. THE NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE SHOULD BE
>TO SELECT SEVERAL CANDIDATES FOR EACH BOARD SEAT.
I agree with this.
You might want to send a note specifically to the NomCom (email@example.com).
SELF-NOMINATION SHOULD BE MADE EASIER AND
>REQUIRE A LOWER THRESHOLD OF SUPPORT.
In general, I'm persuaded that a lower threshold is a good idea. I think
the point about August being a big vacation month is a good one too, though I don't
think much can be done about it. The regions are of *very* different sizes
(members-wise), so I favor the use of a fixed percentage, rather than absolute numbers.
I think 1-2% is too low.
>5. MEMBERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO SUPPORT MORE THAN
>ONE CANDIDATE FOR SELF-NOMINATION.
This is a well-stated point, as usual.
But I'm not persuaded. I think that the point of the self-nomination process
is to allow candidates with appreciable support open access to the ballot.
Given that voters will (ultimately) be able to elect only candidate, it seems perfectly
rational to me to limit them to support the one candidate they like best for nomination.
>6. ICANN MUST DO MORE TO ENSURE CANDIDATE
>ACCESS TO THE VOTING
These all seem like sensible ideas. I'll pass them along to
the Election Committee, which is responsible for making recommendations in these