[EURO-Discuss] Regional advice on France at Large application needed

JFC Morfin jefsey at jefsey.com
Thu May 1 20:50:01 EDT 2008

At 10:12 30/04/2008, Roberto Gaetano wrote:
>Please find below the questions asked by Wolf in plain text.
>I hope it helps.

Thank you, Roberto.

NB. france at large members are copied separately since the france at large 
working language is French, some French summaries are added.

Dear Wolf,

Let me first clear up something, I can fully understand as to why one 
cannot understand something. However, I do not think it to be 
reasonable to start a conflict in inventing and broadly publishing 
answers instead of asking questions. This has created some unrest 
among france at large for no reason at all.

I am working on a document relating france at large's history and 
positions for our press folder. It will be translated in English. 
Therefore, I will only explain what is necessary for you to fully 
understand what you ask for.  I will try to give all the detail you 
need. Do not hesitate to ask for more. The france at large structure is 
"innovative". But it is also 30 years proven through a score of other 
projects and 7.5 years old, performant and stable, and very commonly 
copied in the Internet governance.

A. Some preliminary

We have already met this same attitude several times at ICANN and 
IETF. The last time was when the Intlnet organization (see below) was 
denied to join its proper NCUC constituency. Opposition was lead by 
Danny Younger with the same absurdities. I was very gentle with them 
and provided without result a great many explanations.

We made it clear that we wanted also to participate in the WG-IDN. 
This was opposed by some for strategic reasons and interests. We 
called upon Franck Fowlie, but eventually dropped the issue when we 
won in ISO against their wish to "internationalize" ISO 3166 to 
control the IDNccTLDs and IANA.

This is why we sent the france at large application during an ICANN 
meeting, while informing my opponents. There is no interest in 
sneaking in if we really want to work together. It has not been 
difficult to learn from him that the Staff is under pressure on this 
file. Nick said he spent 10 times more time on it than usual, but did 
not explain why. Nor said I was wrong.

B. In this post I wear two caps

(1) general secretary of the france at large association. As such my 
role is purely administrative and neutral.

(2) Interim Chair of the france at large @large General Assembly which 
is to france at large what the GNSO/GA is to ICANN, except that 
france at large's purpose in life is to support the GA (like ISOC is to 
the IETF). In such capacity my role is to express the rough or 
multi-consual positions of the GA Members as they result from more 
than seven years of debates, considerations of the positions and 
researches of our centers of expertise, and common actions.

C. Intlnet

I created Intlnet (as the SIAT [Secrétariat International pour les 
Applications de la Télématique]) in August 1978. The mission was to 
serve as the secretary of the international network operators 
(monopolies, ISPs, and private nets) consensus in the best interest 
of the people's relational spaces. The job was the same as the GNSO, 
a fully open ccNSO and the ASO. It permited me (as Tymnet 
International services manager) to get them into the same room (ISIS 
Club, twice a year) to discuss the International digital network 
while some where in legal or commercial competition.

The administrative formula I used was based upon my experience of the 
French Navy distributed and mobile international network , voluntary 
flexiblity of the French non-profit association law, and my small 
business international development independent consultancy. It legally coupled

- on one side a formal light secretariat [a few hours a month, 
outside of meetings], acting as a common information center and a 
foreign expertise repository, with no budget and assuming ancillary 
tasks, legal responsibilities, information management, coordination etc.
- on the other side an unformal assembly of monopoly, public 
operator, private nets, private entrepreneurs and individual informed 
users and of their commonly catalyzed and assisted projects. It 
worked well for years, proved to be extremely effective, legaly 
robust, at low cost.

It dramatically helped the emergence of the international network 
(http://intlnet.org/intlhist.htm - the world network the day the 
Internet was born).

Staying equally adequate, this administrative formula survived the 
various changes in the Intlnet further points of influence, 
priorities, tactics and Membership. It is the kind of structure 
adopted by the UN, ISO, IETF, ISOC, ICANN, WSIS, IGF, civil society, 
etc. with the today increasingly accepted rule that, in the end, what 
counts are the ideas, pertinence, practical tests and consensus, and 
not the number, powers, vaporware texts and votes. IETF is pretty 
strict on this.

D. france at large

As we did many times in many areas of the world digital ecosystem 
(and keep doing it), we applied in 2000 this formula to the specific 
support of the French @large community, together with most of the 
French @large candidates for the ICANN BoD election.

For one year, we were quite visible, contributing and accepted; but 
we observed that ICANN did not want to play the things along the 
international diversified network ecology and its initial 
commitments. It wanted to play them, along the US interests and 
culture, moreover after 9/11, and along 

We expected and welcomed it because this was logic and necessary for 
the network stability. This is because it was more credible a 
scenario than the USA giving away the Internet. We adapted. Intlnet 
kept supporting societal and technical projects and issues, concerns 
and actions engaged by "Internet co-owners" (as we translate 
"@large") with a global vision in mind. france at large did the same for 
its France oriented constituents.

E. ICANN dropped interest in @large

We progressively dropped our direct interest in ICANN's bureaucracy 
while they dropped their interest in @large, blocked Esther Dyson and 
Pindar Wong, maintained the "BoD squatters" in place, dropped 
interest in Joop Teemstra's IDNO, etc. We also chose to drop 
visibility not to confuse the projects we helped to engage in many 
areas, such as:

- the French side of the Intlnet "dot-root" community test-bed (as 
per ICANN ICP-3) on the DNS evolution (http://dot-root.com).

- AFRAC, to work on a France's digital protection experimentation and 
the building of a French referential system as a national level MDRS 
(Multilingual Distributed Referential System), a distributed enhanced 
IANA for the Multilingual Semantic Internet (http://afrac.org).

- icannatlarge.org that Vittorio knows rather well. We eventually 
registered in France the ATLARGE non-profit organization (after so 
many years of debates) ... and it failed.

- cooperation with the MINC (Multilingual Internet Names Consortium) 
led us to create Eurolinc, for France and Europe. It turned being too 
"French Government first" to our liking. It was quite influent at the 
WSIS. (http://eurolinc.org, now http://eurolinc.eu)

- @large oriented watch and project (PERFIDES) considerations in 
RFIDs and nanoization fields (http://perfida.org). They are a part of 
the future france at large flag project known as the "fridge screen" for 
the housewife and family global e-control.

- support of the French language requirements in the Internet 
technology. This lead to an heavy load mail-combat at the IETF (RFC 
4646) to defend languages and cultures, interests of non-anglo-saxon 
publishing industries, and IANA independence against the 
Unicode/Google lobby, and the creation of the MLTF (http://mltf.org) 
as one of its centers of expertise.

- etc.

This drained most of our remaining initial members and called on high 
level experts through AFRAC and the through the creation of MLTF. 
Each time you have to engage in a new fight you shift the focus, 
quickly "losing" the interest of some of your Members; but only 
slowly "gaining" new interests.

F. Some of the engaged actions and meetings ahead

When Sebastien Bachollet suceeded in getting ICANN to Paris, we 
decided it was a good opportunity to bring some of our experience to 
ICANN in an appropriate manner, in order to help its best transition. 
We, therefore, revived the external shell of france at large [i.e. 
publishing its GA list] and still are in this process.

1) we initiated the World Internet Week de Paris concept, gathering 
other events in the same week, applied as an ALS. (http://wiw.de-paris.info).

2) In order to help we had protected several domain names and made 
the future IGF-FR site available to the French Internet Community. 
Due to the lack of reaction of ISOC France (currently submitted to a 
"Denial of Thinking" by some activists), we engaged a roadmap to 
create an independent structure (AFGI - you can see a flow chart of 
AFGI at http://fr-fgi.fr/status.htp) copied on ours. We will probably 
continue for a few weeks to foster that way the emergent French 
Internet Governance Forum. As a result, we established a growing 
IGF-FR 700 people distribution list. We hope the AFGI will be fully 
transferred by the end of June.. We consider a comparable move for 
the http://euro-IGF.eu project, but I think we should discuss it first.

3) We plan two expert meetings on multilinguistics (Multilinguistica 
2008) and ethitechics (Ethitechnica 2008) in June.

4) we cooperate to the Multilinc project (http://multilinc.org) where 
we serve as a mailing list for the emergence of French CULTLD 
(Cultural, Lingustic and/or Regional TLDs) projects.

5) the same we co-sponsor the Intertest (http://intertest.org) 
project and contribute to its French/Ebglish parallel writting of its 
IETF Draft.

6) we pushed our members and ISOC France members to join the IETF 
WG:IDNABIS to be able to help them as far as French language related 
issues are concerned. We understand that others linguistic community 
plan to copy us.

> > Let me try it again:

This is the first time I am asked something clear!.

> > We do not really understand the type,
> > character and functioning of your organisation France at Large.

france at large is exactly as it is defined by its "statuts"

Legally it is a neutral, independent, non-profit organization with a 
maximum 11 coopted voluteers as Secretary Members. It includes a 
Treasurer, but at this stage it has no bank account. This NGO fully 
abides by the French laws on non-profit organizations, which are 
probably the most thoroughly worked out in the world. They in turn 
permit a great deal of innovative flexibility in the "statuts" (acts 
of incorporation and by-laws) to adapt to new situations.

These 11 individual Secretary Members make the secretariat 
membership, nomination committee, general assembly, and Board. under 
the name of "Secretariat". The functioning is democratic. Until there 
are 7 members, the Chair has more autonomy on a daily basis.

There is no limit concerning the @large Members who form the General 
Assembly the job of which is to debate and concert. Not to decide, 
but to help each Member to decide for his own system. This is what 
IGF understood a distributed society need (we call it polycracy).

This separates the legal responsibility, financial mantters, 
operational management from the political aspects that belong to the 
General Assembly. It helps the sponsoring, catalyzing, and 
coordination of R&D and of projects because @large members bear no 
legal, financial, poltical, and responsibility. Only ethical 
obligations to the @large community and to the public. The 
association does not maintain mailing list archives for legal 
responsibility protection (third party archives have been registered 
by Members.

This is equivalent to Joe Sims' no-member/non-profit ICANN 
construction in a French legal context where the ICANN solution is 
banned as undemocratic (historic declaration as of August 4, 1789 
which began the French Revolution).

> > Is it a member organisation of/for individuals interested in
> > the cause or Internet users?

It is a three layer member organisation that is interested in the 
cause of the Internet co-owners through the provision of an 
operational and neutral professional support structure:

- first layer organizes and supports an open @large "general 
assembly" mailing list

- second layer is an independent well supported mailing list where 
everyone should (but not obligatorily) be French or a Resident [in 
order to be able to possibly gain public sponsoring]. The list is not 
subject to ID verification.

- third layer : is an interaction with the non-registered @large and 
general public in :

- calling on external expertise as an editor or a catalyst to comply 
with the motions of the General Assembly.
- providing information and ancillary services to the "General 
Assembly" mailing list.
- providing information and ongoing representation to the general 
public on behalf of the general assembly.

>How can individuals participate in France at Large?

@large individuals can:

(1) be coopted as one of the 11 voluntary members. This is usually 
performed through an "engagement period". The law allows NGOs to 
remain incorporated with two Members. We currently have 3 members, 
and 2 "fiancés", some for a long period of time. This is really just 
a matter of paperwork and personal practicalities. 11 is for 
manageable stability and help people understand that action is with 
the GA not with the secretariat. There are not many voluntaries. 
Should there be more, we have the authority to adapt in minutes (one 
e-mail vote and a letter to the Prefecture Associations Bureau).

(2) freely join our mailing list as "@large" Members. We currently 
have 24 of them because we want to firstly understand how we stand 
with ICANN and IETF. We also want to build on the 
<http://wiw.de-paris.info/>http://wiw.de-paris.info and the French 
IGF publicity. We engaged in them for that purpose.

(3) freely join our centers of expertise and work on analysis, 
studies, documents.

(4) share in organising projects or events with the support of Secretariat.

NB. in French law, organisations are named "personne légales" and 
must be documented as such. Not mentionning them means that only 
individual ("Personnes physiques") are considered. There is no 
sub-representation right being documented (this right would permit an 
organisation to be represented by different persons).

> > Besides your mailing list, are there other
> > possibilities for participation, such as meetings, General
> > Assemblies?

The mailing list is our permanent general assembly online. This is 
not an administrative body of france at large as clearly indicated in 
"Statuts", but as General Assembly activity as in GNSO/GA.

We developed the French Internet Governance Forum in order to enlarge 
its possible audience to the whole of the French information society. 
In this we closely cooperate with the French ISOC Chapter. We are 
careful at helping them to make a difference between a French rooted 
project such as ours and the other existing, or proposed, ones, and 
the Network (US) rooted ISOC. There is complementarity and no over-lap.

>Do individual members have voting rights at the GA?

Everyone is an individual member. In the france at large structure the 
legal general assembly is named the "secretariat" to avoid confusion 
with its "deliverable" which is a supported open mailing list, 
wearing the name of "General Assembly" for the "@large" Members.of 
this "GA".To properly understand what 
<mailto:france at large>france at large is, you just have to understand 
that its "GA" is of the same nature as the  GNSO/GA.

> > Can they be elected to the Board or other constituencies
> > of France at Large?

The "Secretary Members" of france at large are the Membersip, the 
Nominating Committee, the Board and the "Secretariat" (i.e. the 
ordinary/extraordinary assembly). Please refer to the "Statuts". The 
"@large Members" form the "@large General Assembly".

> > Who decides in France at Large -- the General Assembly, the Board or 
> the Secretariat - or what is the "legislative" and what the "executive" part?

You do not use the "Status" wording.

- the General Secretary, the Editor and the Treasurer are the Bureau 
and the executive.
- the "secretariat" is the Secretaries Membership, the Board and the 
general ordinary/extraordinary assembly. It is the legislative.
- the General Assembly of @large Members is neither "executive" nor 
"legislative", it is "concertative" and supported (like ISOC supports 
the IETF).

Up to now the GA is rough/multi-consensual. This means that the 
decisions concerning the functionning of the GA is managed as is the 
IETF. The positions are multiconsensually documented, this means that 
if there is not a unique consensus, the different positions are 
documented in parallel by consensus of their supporters and 
interoperability is discussed and reported.

Up to now the small size of the GA made it uncessary to go any 
further than to go by a netiquette copied from IETF, former IDNO and 
common sense netiquette. As explained we plan to detail things more 
(probably based upon the analysis carried at the DNSO/WG-Review and 
for IDNO by-laws) once we have a new Chair and advanced on the SAIG 
working tool.

>What is the proportion between members and secretariat?

Everyone is member.
There are four colleges of Members (cf. "Statuts").
- the Secretary Members. There are three of them plus 2 joining and 
we are looking for one or two to manage our site and wiki.
- the @large Members. They are the people subscribed to the "GA's 
Listegenerale". There are 23 of them.
- the Expert Members, they are members of center of expertise, people 
cooperating to project or event organisation. There are around 20 of them.

>Does secretariat mean employed staff?

Secretariat means the Secretary Members college forming the 
legislative of the association.

france at large's job in life is to legally, adminstrativelly, and 
technogically support an open informal GA, so that this GA is free to 
debate, motion, organize, etc. and ask france at large to support what 
they need, incuding to ordinarily represent them with press and other 
entities. The GA is the brain, and france at large is the body. Both 
layers are total liberty to legally update their bylaws in a few days 
to adapt to new situations.

The way that the GA organizes itself is its own business and to be 
documented in the france at large Reglement Interieur (by-laws). The GA, 
which I temporarily chair for practical reasons, has not expressed 
such a need as of yet. We will work on that as soonas the ALAC 
affiliation is completed weI suspected the ICANN attitude and did not 
want to run into the risk of an anti-ALAC lobby).

Also, we agree, from the experience acquired throughout the Internet 
Community (IDNO, icannatlarge.org, GNSO WG-Review, and sublists, 
etc.) that the moderation and chairmanship of a mailing list should 
be facilitated by an ad-hoc software system, which is equal and 
neutral to everyone. We jointly work with people from different NGOs 
on the specifications of such a system (SAIG). This should result in 
a DIC (Document d'Internet Commun) before year's end. Its basic 
architecture was documented last year in an ISOC project (to obtain 
an impartial competent review) that was technically approved.

The 'secretariat' means voluntary staff. The "business work" is 
delegated to specialized organizations related to Intlnet or not. For 
example, world at wide is a tiny five year old Intlnet foundation 
specializing in Internet Governance support and protection through 
hosting and domain name investment : they provide the domain names 
and the hosting we use. The publishing will be carried out by a new 
non-profit that can use and pay students, named Epistole.

Everyone has their own job.

> > Another "real" question is financing and funding of
> > France at Large: Are you funded by membership fees only?

We are organised to have no expenses and no funding.

Experience shows that looking for and attending to money costs more 
than the resulting return.
We go by the practical rule that non-profit associations should never 
do anything the Chairs will not be able to pay from their own pocket.

This has some limitations, but no money related obligations.

> > Do you
> > have other sources of income such as donations, sponsors
> > etc.?

This is certainly permitted. Please cf. the "Statuts".
The reason why we need at least three persons is that the Treasurer 
and Chair must legally be a different person to obtain public subsidies.

However, we prefer to gain practical support (free meeting room, 
hosting, etc.) to remain independent. We consider ourselves a public service.

>As far as I understood, you have several secretariat
> > members - are they volunteers or employed by France at Large?

There is no money, no employees, and a maximum of 11 volunteers to 
support a limitless, fully open, etc. mailing list as a non-legally 
responsible "GA" wherein no one has to produce anything other than 
ideas (no ID required) - voting authentication will be treated in a 
different way though the SAIG (on a contribution basis - we do not 
look for king, president and votes, we look for multiconsesus).

Every knowledgeable and motivated individual can join or create one 
of our CX (Center of Expertise).

> > (Compared with other ALSes, a professional secretariat needs
> > considerable income what can hardly be covered by membership
> > fees only).

Professional only means manned by professionnals, and not by paid amateurs.

> > This are the questions I noted when I read your application
> > and the Due Diligence form. And, as I said, I couldn't
> > understand the type, character and functioning of your
> > organisation - and would be pleased to learn more about it!

As a general comment, our efficacity rules go by the Gospel:

- Mark 2, 18-22 - we deal with new things where the mistake is to 
address them with old ideas and structures.
- Matthew 10, 9 - we need no money, etc.
- Mark 9,30-37 - we want to be the leader.

This system works and survives rather well.

> > For the rest of your interesting remarks regarding ICANN,
> > Internet business and governance, standardisation, diversity,
> > multi-linguism, WSIS/SMSI etc. I am looking forward to a
> > discussion with you, Jefrey, hopefully at the next
> > opportunity in Paris.
> >
> > I still hope that we can find a solution together, without
> > too much noise and confrontation - but for our common cause:
> > the interest of the Internet users.

Certainly. However, you have to understand how hurting this fud/fuss 
was perceived. Moreover, it was all done in public. I, therefore, had 
to calm things here, and to bark a little bit to ensure that some 
people do not bite back.

All of this is a good example to help Roberto understand why f2f 
meetings are of great importance.
Where are you located? Any chance for you to come to Geneva on May 
13? I do not know yet whether I will go there myself; as all of this, 
of course, costs a lot (please remember that we have no budget :-).

All the best.

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