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    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    ICANN Staff and Structure An 'Audit' of Constitutency Representativeness
    posted by michael on Thursday September 26 2002, @02:12AM

    Michael Palage, the Chair of the Registrars' Constituency of the DNSO, has published for comment a draft one-man "audit" of the representativeness of the DNSO constituencies (copy hosted with author's permission). While there's things to quibble about in the details here (so if you care about ICANN's internal politics, you should read this and comment), and the measurement techniques are limited by the paucity of some of the data, I'd say Mr. Palage is asking the right sort of questions here. Implicit in this sort of project is the question of what should be done about constituencies that are not in fact open, transparent and/or representative. The Registrars are in a strong position to raise these questions, since (at least as far as this non-member can tell) under Mr. Palage's leadership they've scored pretty highly in those departments.

    Of course, the two other implicit questions here are: (1) what criteria should be applied to would-be constituencies -- especially how fair is it to raise the bar for them so much higher than the level achieved by some of the favored initial ICANN-capturers?; and (2) Should we care? ICANN's reforumulation of the constituencies is being handled in a top-down manner without much thought to representativeness. Most of what the DNSO now does, for example, will be shifted to a new group, one no more likely to give much weight to non-business interests than the current regime.

    Mr. Palage's paper doesn't address those issues. But if the fundamental structures are gerrymandered, it is hard to work up enthusiasm for the otherwise sensible project of asking whether the elements that make up that structure are working anywhere near as well as they should.

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  • "audit" of the representativeness of the DNSO constituencies
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    An 'Audit' of Constitutency Representativeness | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 5 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: An 'Audit' of Constitutency Representativeness
    by hfeld (hfeld@diespammers.sucks) on Thursday September 26 2002, @10:46AM (#9415)
    User #3384 Info | www.mediaaccess.org
    I believe that the basic premise of the Palage audit is flawed. It proceeds from a premise that for a consticuency to have value and be "representative," it must *contain* a substantial numerical representation and cross section of the effected community, not merely have the *potential* for any concerned member to join and participate equally.
    This fundamentally misconceives the only way in which the ICANN consticuency system can function.

    While I do not mean to cast aspersions on Michael Palage's efforts, I would observe that the flawin this report (detailed below) has the effect of maximizing the legitimacey of the Registrar consticuency and its most closely aligned consticuencies (gTLD and ccTLD registries), while deligitimizing the consticuencies with the least confluence of common interests (end-users).

    Under the assumptions of the audit, only three consticuencies that can be truly "representative" because the universe of entities is clearly identifiable, sophisticated, small enough to be organized, and with a sufficient vested interest in ICANN to ensure maximum participation by potential members. (1) gTLD registries; (2) gTLD Registrars; and (c) ccTLD registries.

    The rest of the consticuencies have issues of "representativeness" because they are open ended places for general alignments of interest. How many busniesses are in the business consticuency? How about IP organizations? Or ISPs? And, of course, the one consticuency that ALWAYS gets blasted for this, Non-coms.

    So this has the effect and appearance, bluntly, of an attempt by the registrars to push end users out. End users will never be "representative" by any of these criteria.

    The fallacy of this is immediately apparent, since the only other option is to simply eliminate the end user voice completely. In modern policy making, we rely on representation- individuals come together in groups and the groups advocate. In addition, in modern nation states, the government theoretically acts "in the public interest."

    But ICANN doesn't have a public interest mandate. It is explicitly a "consensus building body." That means that it derives its decisions based on "stakeholder participation." i.e., if you don't show up, you don't have a voice in the process and you can't complain later.

    This ignores the problem that, as a practical matter, it is simply flat out impossible for 99.99% of the people potentially effected by an ICANN decision to meaningfully participate.

    One alternative is to use the consticuencies as a proxy for the parties who should be there. By this logic, we look to see if the consticuency is representative in the sense that it appears to have the right collection of interests rather than numerical participation. This is hardly ideal, but the alternative is no voice for these interests at all.

    If these interests are dismissed, however, you will end up with a train wreck. This has already happened with other closed orgs,like the RIRs. Anyone remember when the RIRs decided they were going to outlaw multihoming IP addresses? Well, turned out LOTS of people who weren't included in those deliberation cared ALOT because they used this technique for a number of things that they thought were important and the insulated interests around the RIR table didn't.

    Happily for the RIRs, they pulled back pretty damned fast and have stuck to their knitting every since. But ICANN is on its way to making many such mistakes. If it moves without a public interest voice because those voices are deemed "not sufficiently representative," ICANN will find itself walking smack into a moving train without ever knowing what happened.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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