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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    ICANN Staff and Structure Touton on whether charters matter
    posted by jon on Monday November 12 2001, @03:55PM

    Way back when, ICANN recognized a bunch of "constituencies" to populate the Names Council. Each had to have a charter, and ICANN took the charters seriously; it held up recognition of most of the constituencies until they amended their charters to include the provisions the ICANN staff and Board found appropriate. Adherence to the charter provisions was supposed to ensure that the "Widget Constituency" really did fully, fairly and transparently serve the international widget community, and wasn't just an unrepresentative set of companies illegitimately purporting to speak for widget folks worldwide.

    Bruce James recently filed a protest urging that the BC's election to the Names Council both of Marilyn Cade (of AT&T) and Grant Forsyth (of CLEAR) violated the BC's charter, which forbids Names Council membership by more than one person "working for or representing" any "identifiable business sector." Both AT&T and CLEAR are telecom companies that offer web hosting, Internet-based and e-business services to complement their telecom services. Ms. Cade and Mr. Forsyth answered that they did not work for the same business sector because, they said, their job responsibilities are different: although both of them are responsible for articulating their company's public-policy positions (that is, they're lobbyists), Ms. Cade is primarily concerned with the Internet and e-commerce, while Mr. Forsyth is CLEAR's Manager for Industry and Regulatory Affairs, responsible for all of its public policy positions. The constituency voted to accept that. Mr. James appealed to ICANN authority.

    Louis Touton has now denied the appeal. Did he decide that the BC was correct in its interpretation of the charter? Well, not exactly. Actually, he didn't say anything about what the charter means. Rather, he said, ICANN won't be enforcing charters. A claim that a constituency violated its own bylaws is, simply, irrelevant.

    Touton's decision resonates nicely with the notion that a "self-organizing" constituency should manage its own affairs -- and there is something unattractively top-down about ICANN staff telling constituencies who they can and can't choose for the NC. Yet the DNSO model, divvying up NC power among seven constituency groups, makes sense only if we can ensure that each constituency is in fact open and representative. The original understanding was that the charters were supposed to do that. If constituency charters are merely precatory, so that a constituency need not follow its own rules, that knocks out yet another prop supporting the notion that it made sense to distribute NC power among a grab-bag of arbitrarily selected "constituencies" in the first place.

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    Touton on whether charters matter | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 3 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: Touton on whether charters matter
    by dpf (dpf@ihug.co.nz) on Tuesday November 13 2001, @09:35PM (#3688)
    User #2770 Info | http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/
    It is good to have had clarification from ICANN as to what their stance is but disappointing that they refuse to take any responsibility at all for constituencies thay they personally approved.

    Jon has articulated well the lack of logic behind this decision. Now that it is official that ICANN will not interfere no matter how flagrantly constituencies break their own charters it will be interesting to observe how this may affect constituency behaviour.

    If one day we do get get an individual's constituency it will be great to be on the interim Executive because according to ICANN one could expel all other members of the constituency and appoint yourselves as Names Council members for life.

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