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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
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    .org | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 13 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: .org
    by Anonymous on Tuesday September 24 2002, @06:39AM (#9354)
    From the final staff report:

    * Conflict of Interest: Some detractors have suggested that the ICANN Board would have a conflict of interest in accepting the ISOC proposal, since many Directors are also members of ISOC. The Chair of the ICANN Board is a former director and chair of the board of ISOC; and the Vice-Chair of the ICANN Board is President of ISOC Mexico.

    The General Counsel's revised evaluation indicates that there is in fact no conflict of interest since no financial advantage whatsoever accrues to any member of the ICANN Board were the Board to approve this selection. There is no possibility of financial gain, a prerequisite for there to be any conflict of interest. Furthermore, the Chair of the ICANN Board is no longer a director of ISOC. There is also no legal or financial relationship between ISOC and ISOC Mexico other than ISOC Mexico is permitted to use the name "ISOC" in exchange for agreeing to abide by certain bylaws, and that ISOC may or may not provide speakers or similar services for certain ISOC Mexico meetings.

    In short, there is no conflict of interest because there is no financial interest, and thus there would be no basis in ICANN policy to deny the award to ISOC on this basis. For the same reason, there is no reason why any ICANN Director should recuse his or herself from a vote to approve ISOC, simply because he or she a member of ISOC. As noted in the General Counsel's report, ICANN's conflicts-of-interest policy does not prohibit Directors from voting on matters merely because those matters involve a philanthropic society which the Directors may philosophically support. Conflicts-of-interest principles are intended to prevent improper personal financial gain, not to negate the philosophies of ICANN's Directors. Directors are not expected to discard their philosophies and past experiences when they undertake their service at ICANN, but instead are expected to incorporate those philosophies and experiences in formulating well-reasoned decisions.

    Conflict of interest is not and has never been just about money.

    It is about the credibility of the decision-making process. Any perception of a conflict of interest is as damaging to the credibility of a public-interest organisation as any real conflict of interest could ever be.

    Obviously Louis and the ICANN board don't understand this fundamental concept of corporate governance.

    It really would be nice to just get a statement such as "we don't give a shit whether you people think there's a conflict of interest because we're giving it to ISOC anyway". At least that would be honest...

    BTW I am a member of ISOC but I really don't like the way this all smells.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: .org
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday September 24 2002, @01:44PM (#9370)
    User #2810 Info
    I do think Louis Touton is correct that this is not a conflict of interest as defined by ICANN's bylaws or other resolutions, but I don't think that that is Louis Touton's call to make. Doesn't ICANN have a Conflict of Interest committee? This is at least the second time that ICANN staff (and/or its General Counsel) have blithely ruled that there is no conflict of interest on a given matter. According to the bylaws, that is not the staff's, or the General Counsel's job (anyone want to take on the documenting of how often ICANN has breached its own bylaws? I know it would be a herculean task.).

    Not only is the proper party in a legal sense not looking into the possibility of ICANN conflict(s) of interest, those who are are themselves in a conflict of interest. Because the BoD has the power to hire and direct and fire the staff and General Counsel, the latter parties are beholden to the former for their continued employment, and for often considerable financial advantage, therefore they cannot be expected to act independently or in an unbiased manner.

    Meanwhile, whilst ISOC members (of which I also am one) cannot be expected to gain financially from ISOC getting .org, as the letter from ISOC to members posted elsewhere on these threads makes clear, ISOC will appoint the Board of PIR, probably from amongst its own members, and those individuals may be in a position to benefit financially. Thus one waits to see whether some ISOC members on the ICANN BoD have friends or associates who will benefit from the awarding of .org to ISOC. That still doesn't appear to be in violation of ICANN's COI policy, but, yeah, it smells, badly.

    And while I'm on the subject of PIR, why is the ICANN staff (and Gartner) falling all over themselves to name Afilias/ISOC/PIR as the best choice when PIR doesn't even exist yet? It has no Board, no members, no Bylaws, no staff, no telephone number, no address, not even an email address. Yet somehow they beat out all the other candidates apparently because they are an entirely undefined entity, therefore one can hardly find fault with them as the ICANN staff (and Gartner and others) have with the other applicants who didn't do a bait and switch.

    Let this be a(nother) lesson to potential applicants should ICANN ever again ask for tens of thousands of dollars per applicant (as in the new TLD rollout and the .org redelegation) for a chance at being chosen. Tell ICANN what they want to hear (or what looks plausible for public consumption if you know that you already have ICANN's, ear), and then do as you please, laughing all the way to the bank. If you don't already have the insider friends, or can't buy enough of them, there's no sense applying. You're throwing money down a very black hole. -g

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