[At-Large] FW: Our choice for the ICANN Board

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Sat Nov 27 16:16:06 UTC 2010

hi Sivas,

On 27 November 2010 09:44, Sivasubramanian M <isolatedn at gmail.com> wrote:

*As more and more at Large leadership positions are filled by people from
> > the business constituency, It is becoming very important for ALAC and at
> > Large to preserve at Large as a user's constituency to TRULY balance the
> > business stakeholder group. Any leadership position within ALAC and at
> Large
> > should be occupied by persons with ample concern for the end user.*

I must say that I'm perplexed by the nature of this question, and I take it
personally even though I am not a candidate for Director.

My own record within At-Large is now fairly well known. I don't think that I
have ever promoted an agenda that goes against user interests.

Yet I am also a 50% partner in "Webwrote", a startup company making ebooks
and related services. That is a business and I am most certainly intending
to operate it on a for-profit basis. And since 1985 I have owned and
operated my own IT consultancy.

Do these activities make me a "business interest"? How has my involvement in
multiple for-profit companies adversely affected my approach to ICANN
policy, such as my extensive involvement in the Morality and Public Order
issue, the WG creating policy on support for applicants in developing
economies, etc.?

I must strongly object to the inference that "business", in and of itself,
is a dirty word and I take offense that merely being in business taints
one's approach to ICANN's effect on end-users of the Internet. The fact is
that far more adult Internet end-users run and/or work for businesses than
non-profits. If At-Large did not have participants actively involved in
businesses we would not reflect the reality of the end-user public for whom
we claim to speak.

The core business interest within ICANN that we need to confront and address
is that of companies that have (and want to have) contractual relationships
with ICANN who use that relationship as their business -- Registrars,
registries and their resellers. Part of my own personal agenda in ALAC is to
stop having ICANN operate as a trade association for these vested interests.
It is an abomination that such vested interests control -- by design -- half
of GNSO, ICANN's primary policy-creation vehicle. On one hand, they are in
contractual arrangements with ICANN, on the other, they have substantial
control over ICANN policy, therefore affecting the way the contracts with
them are done. This is a core injustice that needs addressing.

To me VI stands for "vested interests", and is an internal issue between
them. I'm less concerned about cross-ownership than I am about the effect on
end-users. which can (and should) be regulated regardless of who owns who.
To that extent I supported the free-trade model, that has ICANN meddling as
little as possible in that aspect so it can focus its oversight on the
end-result to users.

*My impression of your participation in the Post Expiry Domain Name working
> > group and the Vertical Integration working group is that you [Alan]  are
> soft on the
> > Domain Industry and muted and weak on the real issues of concerns to
> users.

I disagree strongly. Both Alan and Sébastien have solid credentials in
advancing user interests. One could easily argue that the entire movement
within ICANN to stop "domain tasting" was in large part thanks to Alan's
personal initiative and his understanding of how to move that initiative
through the ICANN processes. Indeed that constituted the first time ever
that an At-Large initiated policy initiative was adopted by ICANN. And now
PEDNR, another of Alan's policy initiatives, is following the same path.

> > If elected to represent at Large to take the only available seat for at
> > Large representation in the Board, wouldn't you be equally soft on
> broader
> > issues of greater importance? You have a rich experience and an
> impressive
> > background, but wouldn't it be apt for you seek to be elected to the
> > Board as a Business nominee rather than as a user's nominee? *

"Soft" is in the eye of the beholder. IMO that approach indicates a wisdom
that that we won't get everything that we want immediately in huge chunks,
and will need to advance our agenda within ICANN in measured, incremental

The Voltaire quote, *"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" -- *the perfect being
the enemy of the good -- would seem to apply here. Whoever is in the
Director will at times have to be more diplomat than advocate. Remember,
it's just one seat in 15, and our goal is to affect policy rather than just
"take stands" that are ignored.

> The Business of Business is to do business. A representative from Business
> is fully entitled to argue for policies favorable to the survival and growth
> of business. But a balance will prevail only if the users have their own
> representative whose interests are fully aligned to the users.

See above. "Business" is how I feed and shelter my family so I can do all
this fun ICANN volunteerism -- and I am as much an end-user as anyone here.
My business, like that of most of the world's business, has nothing to do
with the creation or selling of Internet domains. The business interests
that matter in an ICANN context are those that deal with ICANN vested
interests -- registrars, registries, resellers and those who are waiting in
line to join those constituencies.

To that extent, I would happily argue that, within the ICANN context,
Internet end-user interests are more aligned with those of Coca Cola than
with the smallest registrar's agent.

How many relationships does Alan have with existing registries, registrars,
or TLD applicants? None that I'm aware of. *THAT* is perhaps more reasonable
yardstick than simply referring to "business" as something bad -- or against
user interests -- in and of itself.

- Evan

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