[At-Large] ICANN oversight

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Sat Oct 10 19:28:32 UTC 2015

On 10/10/15 9:49 AM, Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond wrote:
> Whistleblower process, yes absolutely.
> Over-ruling by an unaccountable party, no.
> Government intimidation is one thing. Corporate intimidation is a 
> reality we also need to watch out for.
It is right an proper that a public-benefit/non-profit corporation, such 
as ICANN, fear oversight by those for whose benefit it claims to exist.

Oversight ought range from simple inquiry into corporate actions to the 
ultimate sanction of dismantling and replacement of the organization 
being overseen.  The choice of level and method of oversight ought to be 
solely in the discretion of those exercising that oversight.

ICANN was established for one purpose - to assure the technical 
stability of the upper tiers of DNS.  ICANN was not established to be a 
regulator of trademarks.  Nor was it established to impose a tithe on 
domain name purchases.  Nor was it established to ensconce companies 
with perpetual sources of revenue with monopoly prices.

The one great stride of improving DNS stability came when the root 
server operators deployed replica servers using "anycast" routing. Those 
operators did that despite ICANN; ICANN had nothing to do with it.

ICANN has become an ever-heavier, ever expanding regulatory body, 
reaping rich regulatory fees from applicants; it has become a source of 
trademark law; it has endowed Verisign and others with permanent streams 
of income based on fiat fees that ICANN has never examined or audited.

There are many reasons why those for whose benefit ICANN was created 
could feel that ICANN has failed in its essential purpose and has, 
instead, become a court of self-interested courtiers who dandy about in 
their worldwide array of offices and attend the traveling Versailles of 
ICANN meetings, doing little but ever ramifying the "ICANN Book of 
Byzantine Procedures".

ICANN, like any public benefit corporation, does deserve to be subject 
to derivative legal actions.  Such actions are an effective tool of 
oversight and accountability; it is not the bogyman that ICANN makes it 
out to be.  ICANN does deserve to have a body of people (people, not 
corporations) - and more than just one - who have the power and 
authority to force certain actions upon ICANN. The California rules in 
this regard serve as an example - see ICANN's own listing of those 

People like to laugh at the United Stated Congress as a body that has 
become little more than a cauldron of fighting interests, not unlike 
ICANN.  Yet at least those of us for whose benefit that Congress exists 
do have the ultimate power of electing our representatives and repairing 
the institution.  But when it comes to ICANN those of us - all of us - 
who form the community of internet users have no similar power to pull 
hard on the reins of oversight and mandate that the body, ICANN, that is 
intended to serve us, change.

Olivier, you fear the cost of attorneys.  That is a reasonable fear.  I 
can attest to that from my own personal legal fight to exercise but one 
exceptionally clear power of a sitting ICANN board member.   But it is a 
fear that has been inflated because ICANN has ever operated by rules 
that it makes up rather than by following well worn paths of corporate 
responsibility.  Were ICANN to follow, for example, the California rules 
of membership organizations (rules that are not really all that 
different than what is found elsewhere), costs would be constrained 
because the rules have been tested and refined over years of practice.  
The law firm that created the ICANN proposal, that incorporated ICANN, 
that has remained one of ICANN's greatest creditors over the years, and 
which derives a large revenue stream from ICANN, and has a history of 
choosing the more expensive road, has no incentive to stop spreading 
fear and uncertainty among ICANN board members or executive staff. And 
as I have repeatedly found thought the years, even recently, many on 
ICANN's board and executive staff do not have the personal experience or 
training necessary to question or rebut that so-called "advice".


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://atlarge-lists.icann.org/pipermail/at-large/attachments/20151010/b5fefcbf/attachment.html>

More information about the At-Large mailing list