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all stakeholders are equal...but some stakeholders are more equal than others

  • To: "'comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@xxxxxxxxx'" <comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: all stakeholders are equal...but some stakeholders are more equal than others
  • From: Milton L Mueller <mueller@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:09:34 +0000

It's impossible not to think of Orwell's famous phrase from Animal Farm when 
reading this proposal.

This bylaw change gives GAC precisely the wrong kinds of incentives. The ATRT 
recommendations (and virtually everyone else familiar with ICANN's process and 
aware of the dysfunctional relationship between GAC's shadow-policy making 
process and the real bottom up process) have been urging GAC to get more 
involved with and integrated into the policy development process. But this 
resolution pushes them in the opposite direction. It tells GAC that they don't 
have to consult or integrate their policy ideas with any other stakeholder 
groups. Their pronouncements will be given a special status regardless of how 
little make an effort to listen to and reach agreement with other groups. As 
this happens, other stakeholders will learn that the real place to influence 
policy is to lobby the GAC. The GNSO's policy development process in particular 
will atrophy.

By proposing this ill-advised change, ICANN is corroding multistakeholder 
governance at its very foundations.  If this passes, ICANN can stop presenting 
itself as an alternative to Internet governance via governmental and 
inter-governmental processes. It will have privileged governments to such a 
degree that virtually any arbitrary, untimely, ill-considered pronouncement 
that makes its way through the GAC will take on the status of a global rule for 
the Internet's DNS unless 2/3 of ICANN's generally spineless board can be 
mobilized to stop it.

What we are seeing here is, as some of us predicted, the long-term 
transformation of GAC into an intergovernmental organization with control over 
the internet. The problem is that the GAC is _worse_ than ITU because it has 
none of the procedural safeguards and limitations on its authority (such as the 
right of a state not to ratify a treaty) that governments have.

Milton L Mueller
Laura J and L. Douglas Meredith Professor
Syracuse University School of Information Studies

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