[ALAC] A few suggestions for At-Large to work on (was: Re: ALAC : quelques réflexions.)

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Thu Jan 27 16:41:31 UTC 2011

Dear Jean-Jacques,

thank you for your kind message which you sent me, agreeing that my
responses could be public.

First and foremost, I wanted to welcome you and other newly selected
representatives to the ALAC.

Two days ago was the first ALAC call which I Chaired and I realise that
this was a first for you and several other people. In fact, we were
meant to have an ALAC call for new members prior to this call, but
timetable issues, including the end of year holiday break, precluded
that. If you do feel that we need such a call, or if others here, feel
that this is needed, we could arrange one. You just have to ask for it.

I am pleased to have received a set of questions from you because I
realise that for many of us having been around At-Large for a while, we
take many things for granted, whether they are acronyms, current work,
working groups, processes etc.

For this reason, I'll try to be as complete as possible, in responding.
However, seasoned members of the ALAC might know more than me about some
history/subject/process, so they're very welcome to add to my answers.

Many of my comments below reflect only my feelings about where At-Large
should go. But as the Chair - the driver - of this Advisory Committee, I
am not the Navigator. Ultimately, it will be for At-Large members, that
is the At-Large Structures and the Internet Users out there, to decide
where we're going.

Your input is very valuable, and that's why I wanted to respond in
public. I hope that others will chime in too.

On 26/01/2011 14:12, Jean-Jacques Subrenat wrote :
> /As a new year begins, it is useful for ALAC, as for other components
> of ICANN, to reflect on the challenges facing the organization. This
> can help determine the areas in which ALAC can add value to the
> overall credibility and performance of ICANN, while pursuing the
> objectives of the At-Large community worldwide. /
> /
> /
> /_Some challenges facing ICANN_/
> /
> /
> /1) Evolving from a pioneer group to a world-wide operation with
> global responsibilities/
> /- Pioneering is in its DNA, hence there is still some ambiguity in
> the respective roles of Board and Staff/
> /- Board overload must make way for a more selective, value-added
> approach of Board performance and oversight/
> /- rules of internal governance (e.g. designation of committee members
> and chairs) must now be brought to the same level of high expectations
> as apply to external governance (accountability, transparency)/
> /2) Striking a better balance between sources of revenue and the
> public interest/
> /- a large part of the growing budget (2010-11, ca. 100m US$) still
> comes from fees paid by the domain name industry, whereas.../
> /- ... at the same time, there is a greater awareness of the needs of
> the common Internet user/
> /- the notion of "the public interest" (put forward by the "Enhancing
> institutional confidence" recommendations and now enshrined in the
> AoC) is gaining general acceptance/
> /- therefore, there is a need for a more diverse financing of the
> ICANN budget (revenue from new gTLDs ?)/
> /3) Building on the AoC/
> /- the AoC remains an undertaking between ICANN and one sovereign
> state. How can this be enlarged to a more representative and truly
> international system?/
> /- the AoC recognizes the need for a clearer role for public authority
> in matters of public policy: will the GAC rise to the challenge?/
> /4) Some daunting tasks/
> /- transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6/
> /- new gTLDs, knowing that there is widespread demand, but at the same
> time some large businesses and trademarks are lobbying to at least
> retard their launch/
> /- positioning ICANN in the most appropriate manner in the
> constellation of entities dealing with the Internet (IGF, ITU, G20...)/
> /
> /

I am in complete agreement with you. I have said publicly that At-Large
has cranked itself one notch up since the At-Large Summit in Mexico City
and is currently cranking itself another notch up tanks to the At-Large
improvements process, a direct result of the At-Large Review which you
were part of. For me in At-Large, there is only one way forward, and
that's to be motivated to make our ALAC-RALO-ALS structure as useful as
possible for ICANN to successfully meet those challenges. We are here to

This means not being scared of pointing out when things are not right.
This also means using mildly strong language when we are being ignored.

I am very happy to read your list, because ALAC has been pointing all of
the above for a long time. Was it listened to in the past? Nope.
Yet, this is the sort of language I hear from individuals, ALSes, our
local communities and Internet users worldwide. Do you understand how
frustrating an experience this has been for many of our members?

We are now seeing a hint of a change in attitude from the Board and
Staff. All we can hope is that, whilst we'll continue our work to the
best of our ability, in acting in the best interests of the Internet
user, this paradigm shift will continue.

> /_In the context of these challenges, how can ALAC add value?_/
> /1) Preliminary remark: ALAC has come a long way in a short time,
> especially over the last 2 or 3 years/
> /- its first-ever Summit was held successfully in Mexico City/
> /- ALAC has progressed enormously in formulating and presenting advice
> on policy issues, and this progress has been recognized by the Board/
> /- the ALAC Review report recommended, and the Board approved, the
> nomination by the At-Large structures of a candidate to be seated on
> the Board as a voting member/

Yes, this was an improvement - but I *need* to emphasize that the
independent report in the At-Large Review made recommendations for TWO
candidates to be seated on the Board as a voting member. The context in
which the Board accepted for only ONE candidate to be seated was, in my
opinion, deplorable, and I therefore would re-iterate that our goal is
to ultimately have TWO candidates seated on the Board. For this, I admit
that At-Large needs to prove itself to be able of excellent output, and
I think that it is already achieving this today. Since it takes two to
tango, for this to happen, the Board and other constituencies will need
to shift their view of At-Large and shed their old prejudices - which,
might I add, have *no place* in tomorrow's ICANN.

> /2) Focus on a few areas where ALAC's contribution adds real value/
> /- currently, ALAC addresses a wide range of subjects. But in some
> instances, its advice is just one among many, without any special value/
> /- Would ALAC's contribution be more meaningful if focused on a few
> items, meaningful to ICANN and commensurate with the purpose of ALAC
> (e.g. a thorough analysis of the the transition from IPv4 to IPv6)?/

ALAC advice does focus on a few items. The process is bottom-up, with
all forthcoming policy issues under consideration by At-Large being
recorded on an extremely useful Google Spreadsheet document accessible
by everyone:

This is then reviewed at ALAC meetings, with Carlton, the ALAC ExCom
Rapporteur, finding out from the RALOs and ALAC members which policy
issues should ALAC comment on. As you will notice, this is shown under
the Tab "Public-Comment".
The next tab, "PAD", shown the progress on each of the policy advice
which ALAC has decided to pursue.
Dev Anand Teelucksingh does much of the maintaining of this fantastic
tool, along with ICANN At-Large staff.

I suggest that you and other newly appointed ALAC members take some time
to study the various tables in this document.
I certainly did when I wanted to find out: "Where are we now?"

As far as concentrating on specific subjects which may fall outside the
ICANN consultation process, these may be developed under the At-Large WG
table. For example, issues of IPv4-IPv6 transition/cohabitation used to
be part of a standalone group but this has not been concentrated into a
TECH Technical Issues working group.

It is my wish to see those working groups thrive because it is only
through having this ready-to-act multiple communities of experts that
At-Large could be very responsive. Developing the working groups to
their full potential is therefore work in progress and you are very
welcome to (1) take part, and indeed (2) propose yourself as the lead on
some subjects.

> /- The "international dimension" of ICANN is one where ALAC has, more
> than others, something to say. What does ALAC think should be the
> components of a true internationalization of ICANN?/

It is indeed a long term goal of At-Large to help ICANN continue its
internationalization. You will have noticed that the recent ALAC
statement about ICANN's Strategic plan emphasizes this, as have every
previous document that was released by the ALAC.

I refer you to the At-Large Summit statement in 2009, part of it
originating from Working Group 2 which made recommendations on page 10
of this document:

I believe that ALAC's stance has not changed, but I also believe that
ICANN as a whole has not made enough use of the document which emerged
from the At Large Summit. With the new CEO, management teams and Board,
I wonder whether anyone in ICANN even knows that this valuable work was

Perhaps now is it time to expand on this, in one of the standing working
groups. In fact, one of the recommendations of the Summit was that this
work shall continue.

> /3) Aggregate and communicate/
> /- on issues which are of prime importance to its world-wide
> community, ALAC should strive for shared positions with SOs and other
> ACs (e.g. on IDNs), preferably in the form of joint statements/

I am 100% for cross-constituency work. It is my utmost convictions that
one of the primary failures of the new gTLD process leading to delays
was to address the issues in a silo-like fashion. Board members, I have
been told, spent their time in ICANN meetings going from conference room
to conference room, being subject to a "groundhog day"-like repeat of
the same information,  the same questions, the same subjects being
discussed, and each constituency and/or advisory committee telling them
a different point of view. Why not get the communities to speak to each
other and once and for all, come up with some solutions rather than
creating headaches for Board members? That's what we want!
Unfortunately, reality being what it is, this is not an opinion shared
by everybody outside of At-Large. It is my belief that we should not
change our stance because our proposals are ready for the future of
ICANN NG. (ICANN Next Generation)

> /- if and when a response from the Board or Staff is tardy or
> incomplete, ALAC should be more assertive in demanding a response, and
> making it known/

As far as a lack of response from the Board or staff - we have noticed a
marked improvement in this area. Yes, the response in the past has
sometimes been dreadful. Personnel changes at Board and Staff level
appear to be erasing obstructions. We should monitor future responses
carefully and hope that this improvement continues. But at the same
time, Jean-Jacques, I think everybody agrees that we do not want to
appear as a constantly nagging child. I know ALAC is not, but this
ill-minded perception remains. In my personal opinion, it is ICANN as a
whole which should now mature culturally. Why does it always have to be
the US Dept. of Commerce which should remind ICANN that?

> /- if the evolving requirements of the ALAC community come up against
> obstacles (e.g. ICANN By-laws), these should be addressed, including
> if necessary by proposing a change to the By-laws/

Yes - this is actually going on too!
The At Large improvements working teams are working very hard on that,
as a follow-up to the At Large Review.

Work Team A (
) has been working on this and you are encouraged to join it. in fact,
you are encouraged to join any of the work teams. They are all reaching
the last straight, with the finishing line in sight, but a final push is
required to conclude most of the work by the San Francisco meeting.

> /- the potential of ALAC to analyze and formulate the requirements of
> the world community of Internet users, can be enhanced (outreach,
> communication)/
> /
> /
> //
> /
> /

Other Work Teams are also addressing this already.
In addition, there has been a great deal of progress with ICANN's
relevant department in establishing a communications plan for outreach
and inreach. Scott Pinzon (Director of Marketing and Outreach at ICANN)
has worked with members of the ALAC on developing material for outreach
and inreach and there appears to be very positive sustained support from
ICANN to do this. We'll have PodCasts, a Web site, and much content will
be created in the next few months. One of the ideas is to have a couple
of At Large Structures being able to showcase themselves on the Web
sites every month. Another one is to have non-technical commentaries
published. The possibilities are endless. Perhaps someone else (Heidi?
Scott himself?) could fill-in as to what opportunities are open to us
now. This is a very exciting time because we are being given wings to fly.

Jean-Jacques, this is meant as a starting point for you and other
At-Large members. I welcome comments and input from everyone into this
thread. More can be done, but this can only be done through your input
and participation.

Warmest regards,


Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond, PhD

More information about the ALAC mailing list