[At-Large] ITU versus ICANN

Carlton Samuels carlton.samuels at gmail.com
Tue Oct 12 20:43:01 UTC 2010

Um, more of the same......there is an aggrieved group left without spoils to
which it thinks itself entitled.  Powers contesting for control, that is all
that this is.  And always to the detriment of less powerful interests, like
our civil society groups!

The rules remain the same; those who pay the piper usually calls the tune
and if you would wish to understand influence, then follow the money.
 Subject to correction, we can all agree that commercial interests influence
our governments and institutions perhaps more than is healthy for all of us.
 But so long as money is and remains the mother's milk of politics, this is
horses for courses. Case in point: I'm in California at the minute. It's
just weeks before the US mid-term elections and the dueling political ads
make the case 'in your face'.  Multimillionaires are spending huge sums of
their own money to get a chance to direct public affairs.  Again, in your
face.   Culture and historical antecedents aside,  the very elements recur
everywhere governments are raised.

That the ITU - a treaty organisation - is discomfited by ICANN's role in
Internet Governance is also not new.  Recall some comments by Secretary
General Toure at an ICANN meeting - probably Egypt? - getting similar play
as those by the Russian Minister.

That there are some governments that are yet uncomfortable with what they
consider the USG's suzerainty of the Internet - thru ICANN - is also not
new.  AoC may have relieved the discomfort for some but there are others
that are as anxious as they've been before and since. This breaks in several
ways.  The EU, at one point, floated the idea of an enlarged group of
overseers, what I originally termed a 'rump of the economic G20', with a
place at the table offered to India, Brazil and China.  The rationale didn't
even rise to the level of being 'artful'; rather naked old-fashioned power
bloc politics, US vs. THEM!

All that has happened at Guadalajara is that the Russians, the odd man and
still out, are stoking the discontent and seeking advantage by soliciting
partners for the cause.   It is a variant of the same plaint: "Am I not a
christian and a prince?"


Carlton A Samuels
Mobile: 876-818-1799
Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround

On Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM, Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org> wrote:

> There has been quite a bit of news lately regarding noises made about ICANN
> at the recent meeting of the International Telecom Union (ITU).
> One proposal from Russian-speaking countries has gone so far as to call for
> scrapping the GAC, and have ITU give itself veto power over all ICANN board
> decisions. Even a compromise would essentially undermine the finality of
> any
> ICANN Board policy.
> I want to call your attention to a very thoughtful article in
> CircleID<
> http://www.circleid.com/posts/on_the_need_to_separate_the_telecom_business_agenda_from_government_policy/
> >written
> by ALAC's own Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, as well as the comments by
> former Board member Karl Auerbach to another CircleID
> piece<http://www.circleid.com/posts/20101004_plutocrats_and_the_internet/
> >written
> by Gregory Francis.
> I am very interested in hearing the views of others here on this topic. In
> some ways it seems that ICANN has practically begged for such intervention,
> through a history of opacity and an agenda driven by business and
> self-aggrandised senior staff rather than the public interest. Our own
> difficulty within At-Large to advance policy -- seen most recently through
> Board pushback on two important cross-community initiatives -- offers
> plenty
> of evidence of that.
> Then again, I have serious doubts that the ITU's oversight will be any
> better for the public interest, but rather just assert the worst of all
> levels of government control.
> Does ICANN At-Large have any role in this debate? Can we help save ICANN
> from such capture? Should we welcome it? Should we care?
> I welcome any comment that will help guide my own approach to this,
> including (especially!) from Karl and Sivas.
> - Evan
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