[NA-Discuss] RESENDING: letter to board on chair of nomcom/conflict of interest

Beau Brendler beaubrendler at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 12 17:58:56 UTC 2012


Several people have told me that the messages I sent out to NA-DISCUSS yesterday were blank. I don't know why that is, and it doesn't appear to have affected the messages I sent to the RAA list. So I hope this one gets through.



Greetings, NA.

As discussed in previous NA meetings, here is a draft of a communique I believe the region should send to the ICANN board regards conflict of interest concerns about Rob Hall serving as nomcom chair-elect (and, of course, chair). Please make suggestions as soon as you are able, I would like to discuss this at the Monday NA meeting and make it public while a number of us are here in Costa Rica. Maybe we can get a little press out of it.

Dear Members of the ICANN Board:

The North American Regional At-Large Organization writes to you with concern on the matter of Rob Hall's forthcoming appointment to chair-elect of ICANN's nominating committee.(1) It is the opinion of the North American region this appointment is not in the best public interest, and runs counter to the spirit of ICANN's Affirmation of Commitments, specifically point 3 and section 9.3. (2)

Mr. Hall is founder and CEO of Momentous, one of the Internet's largest registrars, with $30 million in annual revenues. (3) When Hall begins his term, he will join other industry executives such as Bruce Tonkin, vice president of the ICANN board, chair of the board governance committee and senior executive of Melbourne IT, a registrar, and Ram Mohan, board governance committee member and senior executive at Afilias, a registry that grew from a competition initiative among registrars, in the ICANN stratosphere of most powerful positions. (4, 5, 6)

Chairmanship of the nominating committee is one of the least accountable yet most influential positions in the ICANN leadership structure. We believe public credibility will be further strained by the appointment of yet another industry executive -- especially one who has spent millions of dollars creating a "front group" and purporting to sue Verisign in the public interest in 2005 (5) -- to a position of unchecked power. ICANN can ill afford another conflict-of-interest embarrassment so soon after the departure of ICANN board chair Peter Dengate-Thrush, who lobbied hard for launching gTLDs in a public-interest role, then left for an executive post at new gTLD consultant and registrar Minds + Machines faster than a revolving door can make a full turn.

The NA-RALO has raised concerns about Mr. Hall's conflict of interest in public arenas before, to be told he has made assurances he won't seek to unduly influence the process. (To our knowledge, such assurances have not been made public.) Frankly, they offer little comfort, given Mr. Hall's record of activism in the community when it promotes the interest of his company. On more than one occasion Mr. Hall has even browbeaten members of the at-large community who didn't agree with his opinions (one such incident was recorded on video here at glennmcknight.net).

We urge the ICANN board to acknowledge the current conflict-of-interest situation and respectfully ask Mr. Hall to resign his position from the chairmanship of the nominating committee.

Beau Brendler, chairman, NA-RALO

1. http://icannwiki.com/index.php/Rob_Hall
2. http://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/aoc/affirmation-of-commitments-30sep09-en.htm
3. op. cit. Hall profile.
4. http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/tonkin.htm
5. http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/mohan.htm
6. http://info.info/index.php?q=information/history-of-info
7. http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/06/05/07-16151.pdf

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