At-Large Representative for Canada and the United States on the
ICANN Board of Directors

Karl Auerbac
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Diary - June 4, 2001
(Stockholm)

This entry is being written on June 17, 2001 and is being revised and extended over a few subsequent days.

The ICANN Board met in Stockholm at a public meeting on June 4, 2001.

The Board also met informally, in private, the evening before the public meeting.  Matters were discussed.  This entry of my Decision Diary encompasses the meeting of that evening as well as the public meeting the next day.

With regard to that informal meeting -  I do not believe that ICANN's board should hold any private meetings.  I grudgingly recognize that they occur as a unfortunate relic from ICANN's past.  I do not believe that such meetings are consistent with ICANN's obligation, as expressed in Article III of its by-laws to "operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner".  However, until ICANN changes its procedures, I feel constrained to discuss only my own actions during that meeting.

Article III of ICANN's by-laws adds yet another obligation: that ICANN operate in a way that is "consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness."

Every one of these private Board gatherings, whether they be face-to-face or on the telephone, is attended by people who are not members of ICANN's Board of Directors.  These outsiders often participate in discussions and in board debates as if they were full Board members; the only thing they do not do is vote.  I am quite willing to accept the quiet attendance of certain executive officers of the corporation, most particularly the corporation's General Counsel.  However, I am not willing accept that certain people should have this highly privileged access while the public can not even quietly observe.  I consider this special privilege to be flatly contrary to ICANN's obligations to ensure fairness.

Given that I have mentioned ICANN's General Counsel - I am very pleased to find his interactions with me are very professional.  Although I may not always agree with him, I have come to appreciate his imaginative and constructive attitude and his willingness to work incredibly long hours.

In the days before the June 4 meeting, I had written two proposed resolutions:

However due to the rush of events (a rush that was exacerbated by the effects of jet lag) I was unable to complete the text of these resolutions in time so that they could be published on ICANN's web site for at least 48 hours.  Consequently these proposals, although they were informally discussed, were not placed on the agenda for the public meeting.  I agree with this - no item (even those I propose) should be considered until it has been available to the public for a reasonable period of time.

The preliminary report of the June 4 meeting may be found at http://www.icann.org/minutes/prelim-report-04jun01.htm

Prior Meeting Minutes

At the start of the June 4 meeting the Board was asked to approve the prior minutes.

Wow, did I blow that one - Yes, I voted for it.  And yes, I hadn't realized that there were no prior minutes.

All I can do is kick myself and repeat the mantra that I shall not vote in favor of anything until I review it, find it to be within the proper scope of ICANN role, and find it meritorious.

Approval of 2001-2002 Budget

I voted against the proposed budget.

I had several reasons to do so.

First of all, ICANN is growing far too big; the sum-of-the-parts of the budget reflects an entity that is bulging out of its seams.  A staff of 21 plus more than half a million dollars for additional professional services is simply too many people for the limited role that ICANN should be playing.

One must remember that under ICANN's structure, the SO's are to have major roles.  My observation is that ICANN is adding staff that is duplicative of the work that the SO's are supposed to do.  ICANN should not add staff to do work that is properly the job of the Supporting Organizations.

Second, I do not believe that ICANN is paying enough attention to economizing.  I have noted that ICANN's previous President is jetting around the world on ICANN business.  That strikes me as odd - and expensive.  Similarly, ICANN's senior staff does seem to show up, sometimes by two's and threes, at a lot of meetings around the world, even if only to give a short presentation.  And I have heard quiet, but persistent, rumbles that some of these the presentations were not particularly well technically grounded.  It seems that ICANN would be better served by fewer trips by fewer people.

Lest my comments reflect poorly on those who do not deserve it, let me add this: I have yet to meet a member of  ICANN's non-executive staff who is not a dedicated professional.  ICANN's Presidents, past and present, have done an excellent job hiring really good people.

Third, I will not vote for any funds to be paid for services rendered by people who lack the appropriate work permits or licenses.  Such payments, in my opinion, might endanger ICANN's tax exempt status under US Federal law and might also potentially result in the imposition of financial sanctions on Board members.  My inquiries indicate that ICANN's budgets, past and present, possibly include money for such unlicensed services.  I have asked that an independent expert be consulted to render advice, but I have seen no action in that regard.

Revision of Registrar Application and Accreditation Fees

I voted yes.  This was not something that I felt strongly for or against, but it seemed to be a sensible change at the time.

I realize now that once again this was a situation in which a proposed resolution was not been available long enough for me to read, digest, and to go to "the community" and ask whether it is a good resolution or a bad resolution.  I am beginning to realize that the exact text of a proposed resolution needs to be available at least three weeks prior to the board meeting.  (Two weeks would probably be sufficient were it not for the fact that the travel involved going to ICANN's meetings tends to destroy much of the week prior to the actual board meeting.)

Emerging Regional Internet Registries

I voted yes.

It's good to see something happening in the IP address arena.

It makes sense to me that there be new address registries, hence my vote in favor.

I do have some reservations:

Referral of .org Issues to DNSO

I voted yes.

When this resolution was initially brought up, it required that the future operator of .org be a non-profit entity.  I found that to be too restrictive and could easily be avoided by the creation of a shell non-profit to be the registry while the back-room operations were contracted to a low-cost for-profit.

Similarly, the initial resolution failed to give sufficient hope to those already in .org that they would be able to retain their registrations.

Both of these issues were revised  to my satisfaction.

I do, however, have substantial concerns with any concept of a "non-commercial" TLD space.  Enforcement of "non-commercial" rules could be exceedingly difficult.  The biggest difficulty would be to define who is "non-commercial" and what constitutes "non-commercial" activity - for example, would links to doubleclick.com transform non-commercial into commercial use?  What happens if one of these "non-commercials" raises revenue by selling its web access logs?  And how might someone's hobby - a new "yahoo" - migrate to commercial use without destroying the goodwill value it has built in its formative years?  But beyond enforcement, I do not see why ICANN should be in the business of divining what is commercial and what is not - in my opinion that is something that is far beyond from ICANN's proper role.

It's worth mentioning that this matter is being passed to the DNSO.  I trust that the DNSO will address the issue and respond with a well considered response that is accepted by the Internet community at large and particularly by those who presently have names within .org.

Process for Monitoring and Evaluation of New TLD Program

I voted yes.

Personally I do not believe that we are really engaging in a "test" of new TLDs.  To my mind what we are doing is on par with United Airlines running a "test" to determine whether airplanes are capable of carrying passengers.  We know the answer already, and the answer is that new TLDs do not destabilize the Internet.

But I'm willing to play along with the fantasy in order to help speed the day when ICANN blesses more new TLDs.


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Proposed Resolution Regarding the At-Large

Recognizing that a viable at-large body is based not on a single election but, rather, is the product of evolutionary processes occurring over an extended period of time;

Recognizing that a viable at-large body is most effectively created by internal, bottom-up growth;

Recognizing that these processes require the free exchange of ideas among at-large participants;

Recognizing that an at-large membership of more than 100,000 people was created, at considerable expense and effort, to elect several members to the ICANN Board of Directors during the year 2000 pursuant to Article II of the ICANN By-Laws;

Recognizing that under Article II of the ICANN By-Laws that the at-large membership still exists;

Recognizing that this existing at-large membership has significant value as a core from which a long-term viable at-large body may evolve;

The ICANN Board of Directors Resolves:

  1. ICANNís staff shall create a mailing list with the following characteristics:
    1. It shall be addressable as "at-large@icann.org"
    2. Membership on the list shall be open to any person who indicates a desire to be on the list. Any member may leave at any time.
    3. Any member of the list may post to the list subject to reasonable limitations on the number of postings that the member may make per day or week.
    4. Content of postings shall not be moderated or limited by ICANN staff except that staff may elide
      1. any posting that is clearly a solicitation for some purpose not related to the at-large, or
      2. any posting that is obscene or clearly defamatory, or
      3. any posting that is clearly excessively in size.
    5. The e-mail addresses of the membership of the list shall be available to all list members. However, anyone who obtains this list shall be required to consent to conditions obligating the recipient to use the list only for purposes related to ICANN or the at-large.
    6. List traffic shall be archived and such archive shall be accessible to any list member.
  2. ICANNís staff shall place a prominent link on ICANNís home page to a new web page to be entitled "At-Large Participation". This page shall contain at least the following materials:
    1. Instructions how one may join or quit the mailing list, how one may access the list archives, and how one may obtain the membership list.
  3. ICANNís staff shall send at least one e-mail to every person who indicated interest in participating in the election held in year 2000 pursuant to Article II of the ICANN By-laws inviting that person to participate in the at-large and giving the particulars of the mailing list and the web page described in this resolution.

Proposed Resolution Regarding a DNSO Constituency for Individuals Who Own Domain Names

Recognizing that individuals who have registered domain names have a significant stake in domain name policy;

Recognizing that the creation of new DNSO constituencies is subject to the requirements of Article VI, Section 3 of the ICANN By-Laws;

Recognizing that there is a long-standing community consensus for the formation of a constituency for individuals who have registered domain names;

Recognizing that there have been difficulties in the formation of a stable entity to act as the basis for such a constituency;

The ICANN Board of Directors Resolves:

  1. The ICANN Board of Directors declares its desire that there be formed a DNSO constituency for individuals who have registered domain names.
  2. That the ICANN Board of Directors requests that the Internet Community self-organize and create one or more detailed and concrete proposals for a DNSO constituency for individuals who have registered domain names.
    1. Such proposals shall be presented to ICANN before its year 2001 annual meeting.
    2. Such proposals shall describe at least the following:
      1. The proposed structure
      2. Sources of funding
      3. Criteria for membership
      4. Willingness to reconcile differences with others who have submitted proposals
  3. The ICANN Board of Directors expresses its intention to promptly consider such proposals and hopes that a constituency for individuals who have registered domain names may soon be formed.

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© 2001 Karl Auerbach, All Rights Reserved.
Updated: Friday, June 29, 2001 11:46:05 PM