I have read with interest the two parts of the interview you gave to DEMYS which have been published recently. I congratulate you for being open and speaking publicly on how you see issues within ICANN.
You touched on a number of very important issues which I am hoping you will be comfortable to further elaborate on through the GA list to which this e-mail is cc'd. At the end of the day communication is one of our biggest issues in making ICANN work.
In Part One you said "As a Board we've come to the conclusion that we can do no more than to listen to all of the points of view that are put forward - even the ones that might seem more outrageous - we debate them, seek advice from outsiders and try to get an international, technical, legal and political perspective - and we make a decision and that's the way it is"
However to an outsider the Board appears to vote with the staff recommendation 99% of the time. The only occasion I can recall the Board did not is a minor issue of an IP rep on a Taskforce. On organisations I serve on I have never come across such a high incidence of acceptance of staff recommendations. Around 80 - 90% is more common. So does ICANN just have staff who are never wrong or can you understand why some may feel that the Board doesn't consider
other points of view enough?
In Part One you also mention you sit on the Board of CIRA which has three quarters of the Board elected by what is effectively an at large movement - individual Registrants. Why with your experience with CIRA do you not support at large elections for a portion of the ICANN Board when CIRA has shown they can work?
In Part Two you acknowledge that the styles of some of the ICANN negotiators with the ccTLDS diminished the chances of successful agreements. Why then are these negotiators still being used? They appear to have failed miserably.
You quote one anonymous ccTLD operator as saying they do not want ICANN to suceed. Do you believe this is a representative viewpoint of ccTLDs or do you believe the ccTLDs want ICANN to suceed but reject the non negotiable terms ICANN keeps placing down?
I absolutely agree with you that negotiation's key sucess is based on
understanding what is really important to the other party? What do you think is really important to the bulk of the ccTLD community? Would it help for them to state this?
You go on to say that ICANN has never intended to dictate to ccTLDs but with all respect this is not reflected in ICANN's actions. The proposed contracts give ICANN unlimited authority to dictate to ccTLDs. Joe Sims has said that open ccTLDs should be dictated to in the same way as gTLDs. ICANN has refused to change contact details for ccTLDs unless they sign a contract. Lately it has refused name server updates without zone file access. *Everything* about
ICANN's actions seem to have been about dictating to ccTLDs instead of working with them.
You touch on the point that some ccTLDs are operating independently of their Governments. I agree this is a concern but there is a redelegation process that can deal with this as we saw with .au. However the ccTLDs which are most active in the ccTLD constituency almost all have excellent relationships with their Goverments such as CENTR, InternetNZ, most of Asia etc.
You go on in Part II to say you can not think of a single time the Board has gone against a real consensus decision. I'm sorry but that beggars belief if you think that. The list is long. I am assuming you mean a consensus within a Supporting Organisation rather than a consensus amongst the Board and/or staff which would be a truism.
Off the top of my head I have the following decisions over-turned or amended which had met ICANN's definition of consensus within the DNSO.
- Rejection of changes to Verisign Contract
- Rejection of WLS
- .org redelegation policy and process
And the biggest one of all - the unanimous reccomendation of the $500,000 ALSC which wanted to retain at large board seats after major consultation.
There are several more also. In fact I can't recall many times when the Board has actually voted to support a DNSO consensus decision. Can you point to even three such occassions?
You again reject atlarge elections because you think 2,000 people voting in North America is not representative enough? How then is 20 people in a nominating committee any better? Seriously. What makes you think the current Board are suitable to handpick their sucessors when in the words of your own President and echoed by the US Government you have failed in almost all your targets of the last two years?
You go on to say you want a system where people like Carl Bildt can be
handpicked to sit on ICANN Board. I find this curious as your Board totally rejected the recommendations of his ALSC. The model of the current Board effectively handpicking its own sucessors is one used by very few organisations now a days. The most famous one is probably the International Olympic Committee. That has been a prime example of what can happen when you don't have accountability back to any wider membership. So my question is "What safeguards exist in ICANN now to deal with a "bad" Board?. In most organisations the members can sack the Board if it goes off the rails. In ICANN all power is vested in the Board.
I want ICANN to succeed but with all due respect if members of the Board seriously think that they have never made a single decision which goes against a consensus them ICANN is probably doomed. The US DOC has given a one year period in which ICANN has to achieve things rather than just talk about them. At present the ccTLDs, the IETF and the RIRs are all backing away. The staff seemed to have shown appalling judgement in managing relationshsips with them yet the Board continues to accept all staff recommendations.
Again I congratulate you on doing the interviews and giving us an insight into how the Board sees itself as working.