[discuss] Problem statement P1

George Sadowsky george.sadowsky at gmail.com
Sun Jan 19 18:59:10 UTC 2014

Ok, I'm willing to be persuaded that we might be better off keeping the conversation together for awhile, as Milton suggests.  But I's like to see some solid evidence of it.

I propose an experiment.  Let's focus on a problem in Internet governance and see how far we can get to a discussion of alternative solutions, or partial solutions, while keeping the conversation truthful, accurate, respectful, positive, and inclusive.  Let's see how far we can get.

I propose starting with a problem statement, and as a first step, making sure that we have a good understanding and an agreement about what problem we are trying to solve.  Then I propose that we should start to flesh out some solutions, with positive and negative arguments for each.

I propose that we do this without any regard to who is providing input or from what sector(s) or stakeholder groups they affiliate themselves with.

Here's my initial draft of the problem statement, which I'll refer to as problem P1:

US Government involvement in IANA functions.

1. The Internet Assigned Names and Numbers Authority (IANA) has as one of its functions the vetting of changes in the Internet root zone file.  IANA is a part of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

2. ICANN has a zero-cost contract with the US government to execute this IANA function. In addition, the US government formally approves IANA's recommendations for changes in the root zone file before they are distributed to root zone operators and anycast servers.

3. Objections have been raised to US government involvement in this process on several grounds, including exclusivity and concerns of trust.  Objections have equally been raised to movement of the function to several international organizations.  

4. A solution is needed that meets several criteria: (1) protection of the root zone file from political or improper interference; (2) integrity, stability, continuity, security and robustness of operation; (3) widespread trust by Internet users in the organization executing this function and in its administrative mechanisms; and (4) agreement regarding accountability that is broadly perceived to be in the global public interest.   

5. At present, no such solution appears to exist. 

Next steps

I have deliberately not tried to be really precise in this formulation, in part because if it's a community problem, then the community should formulate it and agree upon the formulation.  I am sure that there are people on this list who can improve this statement in a number of ways.  There may be errors or misinterpretations in the above draft.  The language can be made more precise.  Some of the language might mislead readers to a misunderstanding of the situation. 

I admit to having bounded the problem.  Not included are the requirement that ICANN maintain its headquarters n the United States, and that ICANN, as a not-for-profit California corporation, is bound by the laws of both the state of California and the US government.  In my view,  problem P1 is a core issue that is separable from these issues.  Some may disagree.  That illustrates the importance of defining exactly what problem we are trying to solve.  I just note that problems that are capable of being decomposed into smaller relatively independent problems may be easier to solve by attacking the various pieces of the problem separately

I propose that we now improve this problem statement as much as possible, while still keeping it relatively short and clear.  I would define success for this part of the exercise as being able to create a problem statement that is generally understood and accepted, and forms a solid basis for an exploration of the solution space.  Then perhaps we can move to a delineation of some pieces of possible solutions.


On Jan 19, 2014, at 12:17 PM, Nick Ashton-Hart wrote:

> We'll have to agree to disagree I think.
> The reality? I'm really only skimming the odd message from people I know well now. The volume, and the amount of material that isn't relevant to me but which is interleaved throughout threads with subjects that don't match the content, means I just have to put my time to other uses.
> I know there are others who feel the same. So, you may find that this list becomes exactly the echo chamber you fear from splitting the convo up.
> On 19 Jan 2014, at 18:10, Milton L Mueller <mueller at syr.edu> wrote:
>> I feel your pain, Nick, but fragmenting these lists has its own problems, most of which are worse than dealing with high volume and cross-posting. 
>> First, people tend to gravitate to different lists according to their own political and stakeholder status, which means that the cross-community dialogue is severely attenuated. Second, each list develops its own political equilibrium and any attempt to bring the different views together involves a bunch of additional discourse and work which will duplicate - and often frustrate - the work done by the subgroups. I don't think the 1net list is suffienctly problematic to even begin to think about fragmenting it. Perhaps once we have a more well-established coordinating committee and modus operandi, then and only then we can consider delegating tasks to subgroups. 

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