ICANN Director Karl Auerbach Makes Frank Reports to His Constitutents
Date: Thursday April 05 2001, @01:38PM
Topic: ICANN Meetings

North American At-Large ICANN Director Karl Auerbach has posted his personal meeting notes of the March 13, 2001 Melbourne meeting and April 2, 2001 secret telephone meeting.

It would be a real improvement in communication if every ICANN director were willing to write a few pages describing his (or, in one single case, her) thinking from time to time.

Key points from Auerbach's account of the March meeting:

  • Until shortly before the meeting, the Board was about as much in the dark about the agenda as the rest of us. And, "the first time I saw the text of these resolutions was when they appeared on the computer monitors before me during the meeting."
  • The Board continued its tradition of subverting its openness pledge by having private pre-meeting meetings to discuss the major issues. The secret pre-meeting meeting was held the day before, and attended only by the Board and two unnamed outsiders. [Reading between the lines, I'd say these were presumably Joe Sims and another lawyer from Jones, Day.-mf]
  • There are serious issues about the staff's relationship with the Board, and the extent to which it informs the Board of things it should know.
  • Auerbach says that if he knew then what he knows now he would not have voted for the conditional approval of the new TLD contracts.
Regarding the April meeting, Auerbach writes that he voted against the VeriSign deal for both procedural and substantive reasons. The procedure was flawed since the final agreements (modified one day earlier) lacked the approval of the DNSO:
"Whether one bases that feeling on the ICANN bylaws or on simply a matter of prudence, I feel that ICANN's "primary" body for DNS matters ought to have had a chance to weigh in on the matter. My feeling in this regard is tempered by the recognition that the DNSO, particularly the name council and the "constituencies", are not fully representative of the Internet community and that the DNSO has procedural infirmities that make it difficult for a Board member to feel comfortable that the DNSO's decisions are the result of a fully open and fair process."
Note that in his comments on the April meeting, Auerbach was even more scathing about the DNSO:
With regard to the DNSO, it is my perception that it is a body that is wracked with internal problems and structural biases. As such I have a difficult time giving credence to its actions. This makes it very difficult with regard to the fact that much as it is procedurally critical to delegate matters such as the VeriSign amendments to the DNSO, it is equally difficult to believe that the DNSO would be able to synthesize a decision that could be considered as having been fairly decided by all parts of the Internet community.

As an example of this lack of credibility of the DNSO, I am particularly concerned how the DNSO's Names Council eviscerated the proposals for structural reform of the DNSO that came out of the DNSO working group focused on those questions.

On the substance of the VeriSign agreements, Auerbach writes that he thought they were a net loss for the Internet community, although he admits "my thinking is colored by a feeling that VeriSign has more than adequately milked its original cost+fee contract, granted in 1993 for a term of five years."

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