[discuss] Who-and-where vs. what

Mike Roberts mmr at darwin.ptvy.ca.us
Wed Sep 3 21:34:23 UTC 2014

I agree with Andrew that the California corporation complaint deserves burial with “prejudice” as the lawyers say.

As for the the SO recourse, it suffers from the Pogo problem:  “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The Board is heavily populated with SO reps.  That’s your people up there, folks.  Sorry you put them there?  Not enough humming?

More generally, there is a tendency to refer to ICANN as a disembodied “it.”

When ICANN takes a policy position, it does so by a Board resolution, on which real people vote, in public, and after debate and discussion.  The rationale for the resolution and the vote are recorded in the Board minutes.   That is hardly disembodied.

It is also not true that a long time lapse is necessary for recourse.  If the issue is strongly contrary to community views, as in Andrew’s example, then a lawsuit identifying the (legal) error of the Board, and consequent violation of the California public benefit corporation statute, can be filed immediately.  

Setting aside errors of fact and of process, which the Board is likely to correct on its own volition, a major dispute probably has to be based on an allegation that the Board has violated its mission, as set forth in the Bylaws.  FYI, the text of that is below.  

It is certainly possible that the community might rise up in arms over a matter of major proportions.  Looking at the scope of activity in the global Internet, there is plenty of room for outrage.  More than the outrage occasioned by nudity.  To be fair to ICANN, however, the Board members are held to account for their actions related to the organization’s mission, not all the ills of the net.

- Mike

“less demonization, more humanization”


The mission of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems. In particular, ICANN:

1. Coordinates the allocation and assignment of the three sets of unique identifiers for the Internet, which are

a. Domain names (forming a system referred to as "DNS");

b. Internet protocol ("IP") addresses and autonomous system ("AS") numbers; and

c. Protocol port and parameter numbers.

2. Coordinates the operation and evolution of the DNS root name server system.

3. Coordinates policy development reasonably and appropriately related to these technical functions.



On Sep 3, 2014, at 5:21 AM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at anvilwalrusden.com> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> I'm sitting in an IGF session, "ICANN Globalization in an Evolving IG
> Ecosystem."  Someone said something that was specific to the ICANN
> accountability issues, but that I think is a theme that keeps
> reasserting itself in some of the discussions around governance.  This
> seemed the best list to use to make this observation.
> The remark that got up my nose was that there's still "an issue" with
> ICANN being incorporated in California.  I've heard this repeatedly,
> but I am not sure I think it's true.
> It seems to me that if people were completely satisfied with ICANN's
> actions, then nobody would care where it was incorporated.  Yes, there
> are some implications of US law that bother a lot of people, but in
> point of fact there needs to be some legal framework under which the
> corporation operates (or else it would be completely impossible to
> control it at all).  If people trusted ICANN to do the right thing
> even most of (never mind all of) the time, then California would be as
> good as anywhere to be incorporated.  By the same token, in the
> absence of such trust, I do not see any reason to suppose that any
> particular legal regime would help.
> This made me think of something I've noticed more than once in several
> of the discussions around ICANN and around the NTIA transition.  That
> is a concern about the who and where of an organization -- who makes
> it up? who's in charge? where is it located? where is the source of
> authority?  -- rather than the concern about what results the
> organization produces.  Implicit in this approach is the idea that, if
> the wrong people are in charge or the organization is located in the
> wrong place, that will produce the wrong outcomes; and coversely.  To
> me, however, the goal we ought to prefer is one in which the right
> outcomes can be produced _even if_ the people involved would like to
> do the wrong thing.  For instance, suppose that ICANN were arranged
> such that any Board decision could be overruled, and any member could
> be removed, by a majority vote of all the SOs (note: this is not
> originally my idea, and I'm using it just as a thought experiment).
> That would be a much greater check on action than the current
> naming-and-shaming answer we have today; for a bad decision today has
> considerable time (effectively, until the changeover of the board) to
> settle in and become established practice.  Under the hypothetical new
> regime, both bonehead and malicious decisions could be cut off quickly
> if they were truly outrageous.  _That's_ what we want, I think, and it
> may not need us to answer "who?" or "where?" in order to get the
> desired outcome.
> Best regards,
> A
> -- 
> Andrew Sullivan
> ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
> _______________________________________________
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at 1net.org
> http://1net-mail.1net.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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