[At-Large] On a "consumer" agenda for ICANN

Dr. Alejandro Pisanty Baruch apisan at unam.mx
Mon Sep 5 05:13:55 UTC 2016


you say: "I feel the degree to which ICANN communities have focussed on  punishment in analyzing the accountability parts of the transition to be a misdirection in addressing answering processes and kind of pathologically weird." - truly refreshing to read. 

That approach certainly contributes very little to even being able to define a "consumer" agenda for ICANN. It focusses on what consumers - however defined - least care about. 

The unfeasibility of ICANN becoming the consumer rights agency for the Internet, or even for the full set of operations in the domain-name market, was tested and proven at least around 1999 (when ICANN was founded), around 2003 (when the present At Large scheme was devised and put into place) and later when ICANN found a way to enforce contractual compliance without going way out into extragalactic-space-scale mission creep. The new round of discussion is arriving very much at the same conclusion; where it is not, it is mostly going into that misssion-creep terrain.


Alejandro Pisanty

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Desde: at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org [at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] en nombre de Garth Graham [garth.graham at telus.net]
Enviado el: domingo, 04 de septiembre de 2016 10:14
Hasta: karl at cavebear.com
CC: ICANN At-Large list
Asunto: Re: [At-Large] On a "consumer" agenda for ICANN

> On Sep 2, 2016, at 5:05 PM, Karl Auerbach <karl at cavebear.com> wrote:
>> On 09/02/2016 11:12 AM, Garth Graham wrote:
>> "Accountability is the responsibility to answer for how you got done what you committed to do."
> I sense you mean something a bit stronger than your words suggest.
> For instance, I read your formulation as allowing a decision maker to simply say "Yes, I did it".

Yes, I slighted the description of the mechanisms for producing an impact or equity statement in the interests of not running on too long.  The more open and reciprocal the process of analysis the better.  But, in situations where the governing mind of the organization is revealed to be disguising its intentions, there is nothing stopping those most strongly impacted by the intended action from proposing their own.  The answering, of course, is about measuring who actually benefitted and who actually paid against the scale of what was intended as the outcome, not merely that action occurred.  It's a different lens for seeing the play of the political process of deciding.  Often, decision makers actually do not want to be fully informed of the consequences of their actions in advance.

In ICANN's case, the stand in for representing the benefits and/or costs to the individual Internet user of a decision would usually but not always be ALAC.

> In other words I think something more than being required to give an "answer" is sufficient for true accountability.
> At a minimum "accountability" ought to mean that those to whom the duty of accountability is owed have the power and ability to "throw the bums out" (i.e. to replace the decision makers who failed to do their duty).
> It also means the power to force the undertaking of remedial actions such as reversing the ill decision and repairing any damage caused.

I see that action on a failure to answer (to account) for the consequences of an action taken, falls outside the scope of accountability.  What the equity statement would do is anticipate a bit more deeply the consequences of deciding and acting before the fact.  It either modifies the equity of an intended action or highlights the fact that the beneficiaries of the intended action are quite a bit more narrow than the decision makers had revealed. Then when the answering does occur, it allows the statement of who would benefit and who would pay to stand as a scale of measurement of the truth of the answer.

I'm nowhere near being a lawyer. I'll leave to those who are the legal framework that governs what happens when the governing mind of an organization is seen by the answering process to have failed in reaching its intentions or in meeting its responsibilities.  But I feel the degree to which ICANN communities have focussed on  punishment in analyzing the accountability parts of the transition to be a misdirection in addressing answering processes and kind of pathologically weird.
> In normal corporate structures (and ICANN *is* a corporation, or, now, two) that is done through periodic elections of the board of directors (with those to whom the duty of accountability having the power to vote), by derivative actions (of which ICANN's law firm has a terrible fear), and by normal actions against the corporation, its directors, and sometimes its officers for violations of fiduciary and other duties.
> There are other forms of accountability.  For example, directors of IRS 501(c)(3) corporations (which includes ICANN) are subject to "intermediate sanctions" if there is an interaction between the corporation and a closely related party in which an undue benefit is conferred.  Yes, those are somewhat vague terms, but there is nothing vague in the means in which that accountability is imposed: through a 200% excise tax (yes, a tax - which is often not covered by corporate insurance) directly imposed on the personal assets of the directors as well as on the corporation itself.
>    --karl--

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