[At-Large] Say Whut!

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Dec 17 07:36:46 UTC 2018

On Sun, 16 Dec 2018 at 11:59, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:

> Does ALAC leadership really want to do so? Sorry for the cynicism, but it
> is not very useful to discuss and propose things when the opportune time
> for them has passed, in fact just passed, like the IANA transition
> process....
Not everyone on this thread speaks for ALAC leadership. In fact even those
who are don't likely speak here under any representative capacity, which is
fine with me.

So, let me ask this group this simple question: When some of us were
> fighting in the jurisdiction sub group to  just get ICANN immunity from US
> jurisdiction under US's own International Organisations Immunity Act, what
> was ALAC doing?
I certainly don't speak for ALAC, most days I can barely speak for myself.

One would think that ALAC, by mandate never being more than one-fifth North
American, has no special affinity to ICANN's being solely accountable to
the US government. Had the case been sufficiently made to it that immunity
was an issue about which to get passionate, you might have had some takers.
But I don't recall the issue being raised at length. Out of sight, out of

Can ALAC leadership, or at least those engaged in this current debate,
> explain why ALAC/they took no stand at that time, when many of us were
> fighting for it, and made to look like disruptionist extremists, for merely
> seeking that US gives ICANN immunity under its own law, as Red Cross has
> from Switzerland state?

I personally didn't participate much in the ICANN reformation, which was
IMO little more than an exercise in retrenching industry capture to the
increasing exclusion of governmental or other public accountability. The
"community" to which ICANN is now accountable is dominated by its
financially-vested interests, even more than when it was tethered to the
US. In that light,  I remain ambiguous on whether immunity is desirable:
for the Red Cross analogy to work for me, the ICRC would be governed by
health-tech, pharma and insurance companies, and I'm not so convinced that
immunity from governmental accountability would be desirable in that case

It remains still true that, without an international treaty behind it (the
Geneva Convention, in continuance of the analogy), there is nothing
compelling other states to respect or follow what ICANN does (thus the need
for its fretful "universal acceptance" campaigns).  It is only inertia and
goodwill and fear of chaos that keeps states invested in ICANN. That the
current ITU alternatives seem worse does not preclude some other model
coming forward; I had hoped that such innovation would be the main product
of the IGF, but ... no.

The problem with ALAC is, it simply does not understand what is it to
> represent the 'outsider' to an institutional structure... Which is what
> civil society formations do...
My experience with civil society does not match yours. Often in my
experience it is the home of self-appointed experts in what represents the
public good that within ICANN at least have proven no better founded than
ALAC's own educated guesses. Being consciously on the outside offers a
convenient shield of its own form of unaccountability, if we're lucky
backed up by academic research that exists serves as a form of confirmation
bias. In regard to ICANN, civil society is caught up in a different bubble,
but it's still a bubble nonetheless that also merely divines the public

> ALAC does it by first asserting that it is not civil society, but somehow
> represents 'individual users'
Do your homework. It's not ALAC that asserts this, it's ICANN bylaw 12.2(d).

To comment that ALAC is not outside ICANN but a part of it ... that it must
work within its confines ... that it performs specific objectives in
service to the Corporation ... is not to critique but state fact.

ALAC is not civil society and doesn't try to be. Indeed I had at times been
involved in instances in which ALAC's sense of the public interest -- based
on its communities' feedback -- coincided more with the positions of
governments (ie, the GAC) than with ICANN's own civil society presence (ie,
the NCUC). I don't even recall what the issues were any more, but I recall
the political entertainment that ensued. And I had the sense at the time
that civil society's representatives had no more of a basis for
righteousness or broad support than we did.

Most  of what I have attempted to do in this thread is to offer a path
through which ICANN can better achieve its mandate. I am neither trying to
change the mandate, nor to engage in wishful thinking about how or why ALAC
should operate outside that mandate. I can't speak for the intent of anyone
else's contribution.

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