[At-Large] ICANN75: Mandatory Funded Traveler Registration for Roberto Gaetano

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Jul 25 19:01:14 UTC 2022

Hi Marita,

> Does ICANN need us there, or not?
This 'box of questions'  has been laying open in plain sight for a very
long time. It's just that nobody seeks it until it becomes relevant -- like
now -- only for it to be forgotten again as time passes. Inertia is strong.

At my first ICANN meeting a former Board member took me aside and asked if
I was out of my mind. That person accused me of helping give oxygen to what
they considered a public relations facade (ALAC), a poor substitute for
public Board elections which had been eliminated because it was discovered
that the "wrong people" might get elected. (The circumstances surrounding
that chain of events can be much better explained by Karl than by me.)

I had originally scoffed at that former Board member, believing that ALAC
could be a true force for good within ICANN, so here I was. Well, during my
decade or so of intense service to both NARALO and ALAC I discovered that
box of questions. The answers I found led me to withdraw to my current
status of occasionally launching spitballs from the back of the virtual
meeting room.

I'll try to summarize my thoughts, which will be difficult because brevity
must reduce context. But in my observation ICANN hosts three very distinct
sets of volunteers, and its level of need/want for each of them varies

   1. The technical volunteers, those who fill the RSAC and SSAC and give
   other feedback on the actual operations of the DNS. They are cherished and
   ICANN cannot do without them. Whether they are treated accordingly is
   another matter.

   2. The self-interested volunteers. These folks are paid by their
   employers, or they might be self-employed, because things that ICANN does
   affects their profitability, clients' rights, desirability as a consultant,
   or some other regulatory-ish issue important to them. They tend to be
   self-supporting, and because of the nature of their work they are very
   well-versed on ICANN's culture and both its written and unwritten rules.
   ICANN may not like all of these parties but also cannot do without them,
   because they collectively make up the engine that provides both ICANN's
   revenue and its authority. CcTLDs are a special subset; ICANN doesn't
   *need* them but they've really good to have onboard as they may provide
   revenue and technical expertise.

   3. Everyone else: GAC, ALAC, the shreds of the GNSO that aren't
   self-interested, etc. ICANN does not want them; collectively they are a
   nuisance that gets in the way of what staff and the self-interested want to
   do. When they demand travel funding in order to engage in such disruption
   they also become an expense to be minimized. ICANN needs them only to the
   extent that they publicly legitimize the cult of multistakeholderism. ICANN
   indulges their little outreach and inclusion activities, and it lets them
   make adjustments to the detailed minutiae of policy, so long as they serve
   the cult, but  don't actually engage in anything that challenges the
   authority or direction of ICANN senior staff and the self-interested
   entities that finance them. If everyone in this group disappeared tomorrow,
   ICANN would take a credibility hit but functionally it wouldn't be
   disrupted at all; that can't be said of the two other volunteer groups.

The current iteration of impositions and restrictions on volunteers in that
third group is nothing new, ALAC and others have forever been treated as a
nuisance, forever having to beg for the ability to be treated with basic
dignity. Threat of withholding of (and restrictions on) funding has long
had a chilling effect on ALAC's ability to advance any grand user-focused
ideas that confront the Way Things Are. It could not be more clear that the
consequences are very much intended. And it's not just travel.
So ... Marita, welcome to the box. It's definitely not new, the questions
really haven't changed since I last saw them, and maybe not even since that
former Board member revealed them. But just be sure that you really want to
know the answers, many here don't.

- Evan
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