When bylaws were finally tendered by interim ICANN Chairman of the Board Esther Dyson, the NTIA was quick to express its concerns on many provisions, including the language pertaining to membership.
Ms. Dyson replied: "The "membership" issue has been perhaps the most widely debated issue in the discussions that have occurred since the White paper was issued last June. In fact, the October 2 bylaws provided that there would be four separate membership organizations: three specialized Supporting Organizations that would each elect three Directors, and an At large membership that would elect nine directors... Some remain concerned that the Initial Board could simple amend the bylaws and remove membership provisions that we have just described above. We commit this will not happen."
...Since its inception, ICANN management has plotted a path to deceive, and has made every attempt within its power to squirm out of its promise to the U.S. Government to seat nine At-Large Directors, seeking to thoroughly deny the prospect of full user participation in the technical and policy coordination activities of the Corporation. The latest attempt is enshrined in the recent commentary of M. Stuart Lynn...
The Final Report of the Committee at
http://www.atlargestudy.org/final_report.shtml pointed to an exhaustive trail of outreach including Public Forum activities and sixteen sessions with members of the broader Internet community. While almost 100% of the participants on the Public Forum espoused the view that ICANN should honor its commitment to the U.S. Government to seat at least nine At-Large Directors, the Committee somehow managed to point to a "consensus" to reduce At-Large Directors from nine to six. This "consensus" apparently was predicated on comments obtained in their sixteen outreach sessions that for some reason were never formally recorded, never documented, nor supported by any public record. In short, after having spent $450,000 to perform a critical study, the public is offered no evidence of anything coming close to approximating scholarship, and certainly no evidence of even rudimentary methodology...
The U.S. Government has been deceived. ICANN's MoU with the DoC stipulates that ICANN will "Collaborate on the design, development, and testing of appropriate membership mechanisms that foster accountability to and representation of the global and functional diversity of the Internet and its users, within the structure of private- sector DNS management organization". It appears that this commitment will now only be honored in the breach as ICANN-IANA completes its efforts that it started on day one of its establishment to deny any degree of meaningful representation to Internet users.
Mr. Lynn states: "Three years of effort have proven that a global online election of ICANN Board members by an entirely unknown and self-selected membership is not a workable solution to this problem." He further states: "For all these reasons, I have come to the conclusion that the concept of At Large membership elections from a self-selected pool of unknown voters is not just flawed, but fatally flawed, and that continued devotion of ICANN's very finite energy and resources down this path will very likely prevent the creation of an effective and viable institution."
What could be more fitting for ICANN Management than to pass off a successful election that produced a fine crop of At-large Directors as a monumental failure, and to lay all the blame for ICANN's woes at the feet of the yet unborn At-Large?
Mr. Lynn chooses to articulate the view that "On the operational side, ICANN has performed the IANA address allocation and protocol numbering functions efficiently." Nothing could be further from the truth. The Marina del Rey Communiqué of the ccTLD Support Organization (in formation) states:
- Several managers confirmed there remained problems with having change requests attended to in a timely fashion. This represents a potential security problem.
- European managers reported that IANA staff had confirmed to a meeting in Slovenia on 21/22 September that no re-delegations were going to occur without a contract between ICANN and the ccTLD, even if the re-delegation de facto already has been taken place.
- This appears to be in breach of the conditions under which IANA operates, and which ICANN has assumed. It may also be an abuse of monopoly.
- Managers noted with disappointment the statement unilaterally rejecting the ccTLD contract which was issued by the CEO, Stuart Lynn to the meeting. No reasons were provided.
- He said that ICANN will never sign a contract for services.
This heavy-handed approach was even questioned on three consecutive occasions by Director Blokzijl at the Marina del Rey session who asked: "Negotiations use service level and change approval to get contracts signed?!! Or IANA provides the best service possible to all?!" http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/icann/mdr2001/archive/scribe-bod-111501b.html
When an organization has to result to blackmail to impose its will upon a community of users, it is a clear sign that the organization is on the wrong path and that the current management team must be expelled as quickly as possible.
The failure is not in the consensus and consent process... if anything, it has been vindicated. All but two of the 243 ccTLDs have decided to forgo a contract with ICANN in favor of a service agreement thereby expressing the broadly-held consensus view of the world community that one should get what one pays for...
The approach taken Mr. Lynn and Staff is that only contracts will suffice to get the job done. Instead of functioning as an Internet coordinator, they intend to create a behemoth that through contractual mechanisms finally emerges as an Internet "regulator". This rapid movement to become a global Juggernaut that crushes all in its path may be the vision of ICANN insiders, but it is not the direction envisioned by the user community or by those that accorded ICANN the status as the entity charged with technical coordination of the DNS.
Early participants in the efforts to structure a coordinating entity included the Internet Address Registries. These registries have been criticized by Mr. Lynn because they still will not accede to finalizing contracts that " have been heavily negotiated over the last two years". As most view coordination activities in a different light than jackbooted attempts to impose authority, it is understandable that these registries seek to "opt out of ICANN policies with which they do not agree" and choose to reserve the right to take "the ultimate step of terminating the agreements". Equally clear is that as institutions they have the right to negotiate terms of payment to ICANN and to establish provisions regarding "the proportion of ICANN's funding requirements that the address registries will provide under those agreements".
While I respect what appears to be a sincere (though misguided) attempt by Mr. Lynn to propose a new way forward, I believe that he has fallen victim to the control-mentality malaise that infests the ICANN-IANA offices, and has been unduly influenced by "policy advisors" that should similarly have no further role in our organization. At this point in time, Mr. Lynn is no longer suited to lead the ICANN forward, and in my view should be dismissed along with several others on the ICANN Staff.