[At-Large] ICANN oversight

McTim dogwallah at gmail.com
Sun Oct 11 13:26:05 UTC 2015

Hi Parminder,

I would disagree that the GNSO is captured by the Domain Services entities.

here is the makeup of the GNSO Council;


While there are equal numbers of councilors from Contracted parties and
non-commercial parties (and more biz/IP/ISP folks as well), this does not
mean "capture".

In my experience as a member of a Contracted Parties House, these folks are
interested in the public interest as well as their own groups interests.

In short, i don't see "capture" as being applicable.

On Sun, Oct 11, 2015 at 3:57 AM, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net>

> Thanks to all who have engaged with this discussion.
> I will try and pull together my response in a single email.
> I see two kinds of responses. One, from what I understand are people who
> seem to be close to leadership positions in ALAC, which centre on the
> argument that a membership model as currently proposed by the CCWG is
> likely to (further?) put ICANN processes in control of powerful commercial
> interests, especially of the DN industry. The second set of responses are
> from those who are relatively on the periphery of the ALAC power structure,
> or at least seem to like to identify themselves as so. The main proposition
> here is: they are outraged but feel helpless, and have sort of given up. In
> any case, for them, the matter may not be of that great an importance.
> Before I respond to these two kinds of responses, which appear rather
> opposed to one another and strange to be coming from the same group which
> fact itself suggests some level of dysfunctionality of the group, I may
> summarily observe that one thing that is common to the two is that they
> both represent a rather problematic abdication of responsibility by a group
> that is officially the representative of the users and the 'real Internet
> community' in the ICANN system. If one is abdicating, one should do it
> properly by declaring so and vacating the space. This abdication however
> proceeds without vacating the space. And for people and groups to both keep
> occupying the 'representative spaces' and abdicating responsibility at the
> same time is a double whammy that I find very worrisome. More about that
> later, but let me first respond separately to the two kinds of arguments.
> First about the argument that a membership based model as currently
> proposed is such that it will lead to capture of ICANN processes by DN
> industry related commercial interests. Very interesting! And I wholly agree
> with the spirit behind it.... But my question to Olivier and Alan, and
> others who support thier contention, is simple and straightforward; how do
> you then accept the fact that the most important policy work - as the most
> political pubic function -  that ICANN does, which is GTLD related policy
> development, is done by the same group which you now say is captured by
> commercial interests. I havent ever heard you opposing that fundamental
> pillar of ICANN - but please do correct me if I am wrong. (In fact, the
> biggest screw up under the influence of commercial interests that the GNSO
> ever did which was about allowing 'closed generics' which was never
> appropriately opposed by ALAC.)
> Can you please explain how are you fine with the same group (commercial
> interests captured, as per you, and I agree) can undertake domain name
> policy development, but it is not ok for that group, in association with
> ALAC and GAC (two groups which, whatever their other faults, certainly
> serve to balance against commercial interests), to undertake oversight over
> the board, which is supposed to be a role that gets activated only in
> exceptional circumstances, and by design is supposed to just keep people
> with executive power on their toes rather than be acting often. Preferably,
> they never need to act, as US did not, I mean mostly, which does not mean
> that the oversight hang was not there, and not doing its work.
> Making the question shorter to be clear: How are you ok with commercial
> capture of a/the policy making function in iCANN, but not of the same
> groups (esp GNSO) associating with others in an oversight role?
> In any case, if indeed you do think the Board needs oversight, and it
> should be by a group that is as closely representative as possible of the
> global public or the Internet community, rather than commercial interest
> dominated, lets first agree on these principles. Do we agree? And then from
> there arrive at what we want, and what the ALAC should seek. Since a
> membership based model is so much more public (and thus closer to ownership
> by the internet community - I mean the real one) than a board-centric
> corporate model, we should certainly be asking for a membership based
> structure, but seek a different way of populating that membership. Let ALAC
> develop a position on that, and it is indeed the responsibility of the
> people in ALAC's leadership positions to guide ALAC towards such a
> position. Representing those who are outside the relevant power
> configuration, in this case ordinary Internet users, is almost a sacred
> responsibility, and it does not get fulfilled by opposing proposals that
> cause at least some dispersal of power citing obscure, unsubstantiated,
> reasons, which simply do not square.
> I myself want a membership structure for ICANN oversight that goes towards
> new innovations that can include ordinary Internet users in some way, as
> much as practically possible. The ALAC structure if properly developed seem
> the best candidate for it. Lets be bold and propose what we want to
> propose, rather than getting caught in power shenanigans. I am ready to
> work with you on this. Let the ALAC community assert itself. It may look
> powerless but that is because it has made itself so... It is in my view the
> most powerful part of ICANN if we really look towards and connect to where
> its power and legitimacy comes from - the people, rather than getting
> bogging down in high power games, and manipulative handling of those who
> exercise power, and repeatedly keep expressing powerlessness... And if not
> upto this challenge, vacate the space, say ALAC is structurally not working
> - ALAC cannot keep giving the ICANN system the legitimacy that it professes
> vis a vis the global Internet community.
> This already brings me to my reply to the other kind of responses that my
> provocation evoked - of helplessness, desperation and dis-interest. But
> dear sirs, you are ocuppying the ALAC space and providing the ICANN system
> its most important source of legitimacy. You have the power, you just do
> not exercise it. Do you think civil society groups fighting climate
> injustice, trade and intellectual property injustice, disability and gender
> injustice, and so on, have a less challanging job than yours. But I never
> hear them say things that I hear from you - we have given up, and even, now
> mostly see it all as a some kind of entertainment. This last is almost
> blasphemous to say - you are in this on the behalf of the most powerless in
> the world, and the work that you are abdicating involves power dis-balances
> and the opportunity to correct them.
> Lastly, those who most surprisingly claim that these issues are simply not
> important enough should then tell others why do they spend time on this
> area at all... By default they are legitimising a system, why then they are
> doing it. Let people do work they think is important, and they can usefully
> contribute to, and leave the space of representation of the interests of
> ordinary Internet users in global Internet governance regimes to those who
> consider work in this area as important from a public interest point of
> view, and are ready to take up the needed struggle.
> No personal offence to anyone please, I am making an entirely general
> political argument, for reasons that I consider important enough to devote
> some of my time to pursing them.
> parminder
> On Sunday 11 October 2015 04:17 AM, Alan Greenberg wrote:
> Parminder,
> I have been otherwise occupied most of today, and so others have already
> replied and given a number of perspectives.
> Although I am the ALAC Chair, what follows is being said purely on my own
> behalf.
> At-Large has been far from aloof in this debate. You are correct that we
> have not contributed hundreds of posts to the mailing list over the last
> few days, but I think that speaks more to our self-control than anything
> else. We have been very clear in our formal comments, and we have been very
> active in the sub-groups refining the CCWG proposal.
> You are also correct that we have not been among the "firebrands" who have
> been advocating more radical community control over the ICANN Board. This
> is not accidental, and there are several reasons for this.
> 1. The position we have taken is not that of a single person. There has
> been a large and active At-Large community involved. The positions we have
> arrived at have been hotly debated and refined over the months. This does
> not necessarily make them better than some other position, but I feel
> strongly that they do represent the vast majority of those in our community
> who have chosen to be involved in this process.
> 2. It is easy to identify specific cases where ICANN Boards have made what
> I believe to be poor decisions. In at lease some cases, they have later
> agreed that perhaps some other path should have been followed, so this is
> clearly a learning process. The Board can also be cited for being less
> diverse and representative of the entire world or Internet users than it
> might be. But from my perspective, thanks partly to the good work of recent
> Nominating Committees, it is far more diverse that some of the constituent
> bodies of ICANN. And it is the ONLY body in ICANN that is charged with
> protecting the core mission and values of ICANN as documented in its
> Bylaws. As such many of us in At-Large feel that it SHOULD have the
> ultimate decision on many issues, weighing the perspectives of the various
> other stakeholders within ICANN. It is an essential component that adds
> balance to the multistakeholder model.
> 3. If you look at the people and groups that have been advocating for
> complete community control over the Board, it is illuminating. The vast
> majority of those voices are from the US and, in one form or another,
> represent powerful commercial stakeholders who have much at stake related
> in the Internet Domain Name System. Is it any surprise that they want power
> and control. That does not make them evil, and many of these people are
> colleagues and friends. But it is natural that they will strive to do what
> is best for their own communities. Within At-Large, we have regularly taken
> the position that, to paraphrase an old (mis)quote, what is best for
> General Motors is not necessarily best for Internet users.
> Alan
> At 10/10/2015 07:13 AM, parminder wrote:
> I cannot but note with considerable surprise and disappoinment that when
> everyone with any thing ever to do with ICANN is currently hotly
> debating the issue of the stand off between the ICANN board and CCWG on
> ICANN accountability, ALAC remains so aloof from the issue.... When this
> should prima facie be the one part of the ICANN structure, as
> representing the peripheries, that should be most bothered by efforts at
> concentration of power, or of holding on it,  vis a vis the rights of
> the public.
> I have not been able to follow the process closely, but if I am right
> -and please correct me if I am not - even in the earlier discussions
> ALAC has been most lukewarm to any kind of structural changes that could
> indeed place an effective oversight of the 'community' over the ICANN
> board, when as said ALAC is the one group that should be most keen on
> institutionalising such checks over centralisation of power with the
> ICANN board. Can anyone explain me why it is so. It really intrigues me,
> and I am sure I am missing something here.
> Thanks, parminder
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