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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
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    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, @11:46AM (#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 ]
    Re: An 'Audit' of Constitutency Representativeness
    by Anonymous on Thursday September 26 2002, @01:19PM (#9416)
    Hi Harold this is Palage. I do not believe I actually made any assumptions or conclusions. The first step that I undertook was to look at some of the raw data regarding how ICANN's current DNSO constituencies operate.

    I agree ICANN and its constituencies have along way to go but some constituencies I would submit have a much further longer way to go toward legitimacy than others.

    I agree 100% that it is hard to have one's voice heard unless they show up. But the registrars are actually working at improving remote participation. We just used a telephone bridge for our last meeting in Amsterdam, and we are experimenting with Kavi.com to increase participation on voting matters.

    I also totally agree that the current process is subject to capture by those individuals that just show up and why it is important to have some qualified people nominated to the Board that are outsiders.

    Thanks for the constructive comments, if I find time to write an article I will use this guidance to make it a peer-review worthy article.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: An 'Audit' of Constitutency Representativeness
    by susan on Saturday September 28 2002, @06:20AM (#9444)
    User #2750 Info

    I agree with Harold Feld that the premise of Michael Palage's work is flawed. Michael is talking about the "representativeness" of particular groups. But it doesn't really make sense to try to make "representativeness" a qualification for the constituencies. The world of "businesses" and "users" is a big one, and there's no chance that anyone (other than the sets of registries/registrars themselves) could claim to be numerically "representative" of their group.

    This is yet another argument for the appropriateness of the consensus idea -- ICANN's board can't claim to have the power to make rules itself (it isn't the FCC), and ICANN can't be a one-person-one-vote "democracy." So the consensus ideal offers a way to find out how stakeholders feel about proposed policies: listen to whoever shows up. If there's an affected group that's troubled about a proposed policy, it can "show up" and engage in logrolling and discussion, and the consensus notion says that group has to be listened to because it's likely that it is expressing widely-held views. Without a consensus system in place, this incentive to "show up" doesn't exist, because whoever shows up will be dismissed as not being representative enough.

    Consensus reflects democratic values (like making sure people's interests are taken into account in decision-making, and respecting local rules) without claiming to be statistically "representative." Consensus is a way to bring these values to bear in a context (a) in which we don't have national boundaries or censuses to define an electorate and (b) in which which there is no "sovereign" that has been given power to make rules.

    Susan Crawford (speaking only on behalf of myself)

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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