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The ICANN board and staff are currently considering major changes to the design of
ICANN. These changes were first proposed in President Stuart Lynn's February Report
(the "Lynn Proposal")  and are being elaborated by the ICANN Committee on
Evolution and Reform [3,4,5,6].
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) is the oldest non-profit, mass
membership organization working on social impacts of computer technology. CPSR's
Civil Society Democracy Project (CivSoc) has been an active participant in Internet
privatization since before the launch of ICANN. CivSoc offers the following comments
to ICANN on reform.
The Lynn Proposal would redefine US policy for Internet privatization. However,
such policy redefinition is outside the scope of ICANN's authority. Modification to the
terms of the 1998 Internet privatization should be made by the US Department of
Commerce (DoC), in consultation with other parties (including other governments.)
ICANN does exercise policy authority in DNS matters. While the appropriate
breadth of its policy-making power is an object of considerable debate, the fact that it
makes policy is no longer contested -- even by ICANN . This exercise of policy-making power creates the need for legitimacy.
ICANN has not fulfilled the conditions of the 1998 Internet privatization. In
particular, ICANN still lacks the required degree of user representation on its Board.
Industry control of the ICANN board has created a legitimacy deficit.
The main mechanism for legitimacy in ICANN has been the election of user
representatives to serve as At Large Directors. The Lynn proposal rejects this
mechanism. However, elections were successfully conducted in 2000. Moreover, the
use of elections to select At Large Directors has been explicitly endorsed by:
o the European Commission's Christopher Wilkinson 
o former ICANN Chair Esther Dyson 
o former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt 
o Carter Center official Charles Costello 
o Numerous academic studies [9, 10]
o Numerous public interest groups [11,12]
Problems with the At Large elections may have their source more in the opposition
of the ICANN staff than from the inherent difficulties of conducting elections. A good
faith effort to hold elections again would likely yield even better processes than in
The keyword for the Lynn Proposal is "effectiveness." By that is meant that
ICANN should significantly reduce its emphasis on procedural safeguards (legitimacy)
and be empowered to act in a more direct and unfettered manner. The Lynn Proposal
recommends that ICANN become a more centralized authority with reduced
accountability to outside entities and should be able to impose contracts on registries
and other parties and to call on national governments for enforcement. This call for
centralized authority with strong power of enforcement is a dramatic departure from
established Internet practices of decentralized management and voluntary cooperation.
The Lynn Proposal's inclusion of governments in ICANN seems as much
motivated by a need for assistance in enforcement as by a concern for the public
interest. Greater enforcement powers of ICANN policies by national governments
would be a dramatic departure from established Internet practices.
The ICANN Committee on Evolution and Reform has introduced the term "the
ICANN community" where the previous term of reference was "the Internet
community" . This manifests a significant narrowing of the vision of input and
accountability within ICANN.
The recently announced resignations of top ICANN staff raise the specter of a
sharp drop in organizational effectiveness . The combination of staff turnover and
major restructuring could introduce so much simultaneous change into ICANN that it
cannot function effectively. ICANN faces a near-term risk of destabilization.
The Department of Commerce faces a number of choices:
o DoC could allow ICANN to pursue it current course of redefining itself and
of redefining Internet privatization generally. That puts US policy-making
in the hands of the private groups on the ICANN board and leaves open the
risk of organizational destabilization.
o DoC could use the upcoming expiration of its ICANN agreements to
revise US policy on privatization. Revising the various the ICANN-related
agreements (be they MoUs, contracts, or procurements) would allow for an
appropriate policy-making process, i.e. a process under the authority of the
DoC. A revised Internet privatization policy might embody part or all of the
Lynn Proposal. Alternately, it might employ more market mechanisms (as
recommended by New.Net ) or might seek greater involvement by
international treaty organizations (as recommended by the International
Telecommunications Union ). In any case, the US government and not
ICANN would oversee the policy-making process.
o Alternately, the DoC could stay the course. DoC could reaffirm the
terms of the 1998 Internet privatization and require ICANN to implement
that policy. In particular, DoC could move ICANN to quickly implement At
Large elections, thereby settling a contentious issue that has consumed much
of the organization's attention. As noted above, this would be consistent
with recommendations of the European Commission's leading official in
this area and by ICANN's At Large Study Committee [7,8].
CPSR's CivSoc recommends that last option:
o DoC should stay the course. It should work closely with ICANN to fully
implement the original 1998 Internet privatization policy. That policy
addressed the inescapable need for legitimacy in ICANN with a mechanism
that proved workable in 2000: elections. By avoiding a major restructuring,
DoC also avoids the destabilizing combination of organizational change and
staff turnover. Finally, by staying with the original privatization policy,
DoC would uphold the Internet traditions of private, voluntary, and
o DoC should use all available means to gain ICANN's commitment to
implement the founding agreements of 1998.
o ICANN should cooperate with DoC in this process.
 This document is available online at
 Lynn, Stuart, "President's Report: ICANN - the Case for Reform," 24 February
 "Interim Report of the Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform," 29 April
2002. http://www.icann.org/committees/evol-reform/ report-29apr02.htm
 "Working Paper on ICANN Core Mission and Values," 6 May 2002.
 "Working Paper: The Policy Development Process," 7 May 2002.
 "Working Paper on the ICANN Structure and the Nominating Committee Process,"
9 May 2002.
 Wilkinson, Christopher, "Public Policy Issues in Internet Governance," On the
Internet, January/February 2002. [Written after the author reviewed the Lynn Proposal;
see note 4.]
 ICANN At Large Study Committee, "Final Report on ICANN At-Large
Membership," 5 November 2001.
 Klein, Hans, ed., "Global Democracy and the ICANN Elections", Special issue of
INFO-The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Vol. 3,
No. 4, August 2001. Contents are:
Stephen D. McDowell and Philip E. Steinberg, Florida State University,
"Non-state Governance and the Internet: Civil Society and the ICANN"
Renée Marlin-Bennett, American University, "ICANN and Democracy:
Contradictions and Possibilities"
Jonathan Weinberg, Wayne State University, "Geeks and Greeks"
Hans Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology, "The Feasibility of Global
Democracy: Understanding ICANN's At-large Election"
Myungkoo Kang, Seoul National University, Beyond Underdevelopment
of the Public Sphere: Democratizing Internet Governance in Asia"
Hans Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology, Editor's Introduction:
"Global Democracy and the ICANN Elections"
 Klein, Hans, "Online Social Movements and Internet Governance," Peace Review,
Vol. 13, No. 3, September 2001, 403-410.
 Center for Democracy and Technology and the Markle Foundation, "ICANN,
Legitimacy, and the Public Voice: Making Global Participation and Representation
Work," The NGO and Academic ICANN Study, 31 August 2001.
 CivSoc, "User Interest in ICANN is Broad and Deep," Cyber-Federalist No. 12, 14
 ICANN, "Lynn to Retire in 2003; McLaughlin to Go Half-Time," Press Release,
27 May 2002.
 New.Net, "A Proposal to Introduce Market-Based Principles into Domain Name
 Zhao, Houlin, "ITU-T and ICANN Reform," International Telecommunications
Union, 17 April 2002.