[At-Large] ICANN oversight

Alan Greenberg alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Sun Oct 11 16:01:38 UTC 2015

Parminder, I have only limited time and this will be brief, focussing 
on just a few of your points.

At 11/10/2015 03:57 AM, parminder wrote:

>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 find nothing wrong with multiple points of view within a group. In 
fact, it is rather healthy. If opposing views within a group were to 
be taken as dysfunctionality, then based on the mailing lists that I 
read, Civil Society is terminally dysfunctional and should be abandoned.

>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.

You are wrong on several counts. I did not claim that the GNSO or 
ICANN was captured. I said that ICANN (and by implication the GNSO) 
is subject to capture if care is not taken to have balancing 
processes and powers.

- The GNSO does not set policy. It recommends policy and the Board 
under the current Bylaws, is free to reject those recommendations, or 
to ask that the GNSO revise them. It has done so in the past.

- Certain groups do have a large say in GNSO recommendations, but it 
is also up to the other groups to balance them. Often, there is 
actually agreement that something is "broken" and needs to be fixed. 
Most GNSO PDPs actually have all parties working together to achieve 
a better environment (as hard as that may be for some to believe). At 
times, there are differences, and in those cases care needs to be 
taken. If in any given case, the policy process does not properly 
address the public interest, the Board is there as a backstop.

- The ALAC has regularly made statements that in cases where the 
public interest (in our view, since the term is VERY subjective) is 
at odds with the interests of the contracted parties, there is the 
POTENTIAL for skewed results. Our advice has been that we need to 
take action to increase active participation of those parties that 
are less well funded, to have the Board monitor policy outcomes to 
ensure that the results are balanced, and possibly one day, to 
re-organize the GNSO or ICANN to better ensure that we can balance all needs.

>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?

To repeat, you are saying that it is captures. I did not. And the 
GNSO has no power other than to recommend. Our position on 
accountability that maintaining this role is essential.

>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.

In my mind, the ALAC and At-Large is not powerless. I would not be 
investing so much of my time in it if I thought it was. Nor would I 
be putting in the effort if I thought no improvement was possible. It 
continues to evolve and a large part of my efforts as Chair is to 
increase both its effectiveness and credibility.

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