[ALAC] Fwd: ALAC Response to recent letters regarding At-LargeReview

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Tue May 29 03:39:54 UTC 2018

>From what is now a convenient and safe distance I want to express my
appreciation, sympathy and solidarity to Alan and the others who have been
dealing with the review.

The whole review process -- I was involved in previous iterations but not
at all this one -- is by its nature self-defeating. Rather than encourage
self-reflection and improvements from within from the people who know most
intimately what works and what doesn't, it blesses ignorance while inviting
everyone with a grudge to take a swing. And obviously some have.

In the case of the CPH, At-Large -- despite our struggles to be accounted
for in ICANN high-level objectives -- has been one of the sole voices
within ICANN challenging the capture of ICANN by the compact of domain
buyers and sellers. We have uniquely doubted the bedrock of ICANN
expansionism that everyone on earth is just a registrant that hasn't made
up their mind "which TLD?". Long before it became a catchphrase, we were on
the ground floor to witness the consumer-hostile excesses of
"permissionless innovation". And we tried to push back, warning ICANN that
industry abuse of the DNS would just hasten the rise of the search engine.

Our often having opposing views to industry fed a belief common to many
(based on conversations and observation too numerous to count)  that the
industry is subsidising ALAC to oppose them -- in our first-class champagne
junkets to ICANN meetings masquerading as policy work. To them At-Large
comprises ICANN's welfare recipients, and no indignity or cost-cutting is
too extreme. How DARE we oppose their march to put a domain in every corner
regardless of need, or express concern at adding more gTLDs while old ones
are failing, or worry at bad rules enforcement leading to real harm.

The NCSG shares the travel jealousy but its core animus has a different
source. ICANN is uniquely a realm of international governance in which what
is broadly known as "civil society" does not have monopoly claim on the
public interest. Here it has to contend with ALAC and the GAC (which from
what I recall the NCSG hates even worse than us). Again, we run into "how
dare you" scenarios when we sometimes agree with governments, or actually
stop to ponder a balance between privacy and accountability for misuse.
(For instance, what is the contribution of ICANN policy to the global
phenomenon of 'fake news'?)

In both cases there is a broad sense of "who the hell are *THEY* to fulfil
ICANN's so-called public interest mandate?" Neither NCSG nor the CPH wants
us here at all; they'd be happy with the diminished opposition and the
travel slots re-allotted to those for whom governance is a career. The damn
bylaws don't allow ICANN to eliminate us, so the next best thing is to
render us even less effective and waste more volunteer time on process.

So this is their shot, couched in ICANN-speak. At very least, waste our
precious human resources and distract us. Burn out people just a little

I'm not sure I have an answer but there's no doubt where the question comes
from. Maybe my experience is dated and things aren't the same since I've
pulled back. but nothing I have seen or heard on the mailing lists or
elsewhere has indicated any change. The very existence of -- and process
taken by -- these two interventions suggests that it's still the same old

I'd be far more concerned about all this if I wasn't convinced that ICANN's
decline is well underway, the only questions left are 'how fast' and 'what
will replace it'. No change in At-Large will make its "we tried to tell
you" message any more palatable.

Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
@evanleibovitch or @el56
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