Andy Mueller-Maguhn Rips Into the ALSC Report
Date: Friday September 07 2001, @12:14PM
Topic: Membership Issues

Andy Mueller-Maguhn, Europe's elected ICANN at-large Board member, sent out a "Position Paper on the Draft Final Report of the ALSC (August 2001)" to a number of mailing lists today. It doesn't pull any punches. We reprint the whole thing below. You can kinda get the flavor of it from this paragraph:

Being currently the at-large elected director at the board for the european users, I allow myself to call the result of the at large study committee (ALSC) specifically hiding individuals troubles (SHIT).
I imagine that the tone of this paper will cause lots of people to either dismiss it or seek to get others to dismiss it. That would be a mistake. It's important to understand when people are really angry about something. And a whole lot of people are really angry about this. For good reasons.

Here's the full text:

Position Paper on the Draft Final Report of the ALSC (August 2001)

Andy Mueller-Maguhn,
Montevideo, September 7th 2001

The draft report of the at-large study committee (ALSC) [1] shows a big gap between those people, who live in the internet and see the impact on ICANNīs policies (the so called at-large) and those people, who got the order from ICANN to think about the future setting of the board and its legitimation through the so called community (the visible people in the icann procedures).

Being currently the at-large elected director at the board for the european users, I allow myself to call the result of the at large study committee (ALSC) specifically hiding individuals troubles (SHIT).

To be very open, in my view this SHIT beeing presented by the ALSC, does not answer the question of legitimation of ICANN in any way. It does not even lead to the level of simulation of legitimation we have right now through the voting of five of the eighteen plus one directors of the board.

Watching the amount of papers, mails & discussions there is around ICANN, the ICANN board, and those wo try to follow all this, with this position paper I want to give you a brief overview over the main problems I have with the ALSCīs SHIT and some constructive ideas how those people who are effected by ICANNīs policy decissions should be able to participate in ICANNīs procedures.


Why the ALSC draft report is specifically hiding indivduals troubles (SHIT):

-> ICANNīs procedures, policy decissions and actings in the name space have a huge impact on every internet users communication space. If the policies are made from an understanding of the internet beeing a public space or a commercial environment mages a huge difference in many aspects. The long history of a parallel and peaceful existence between public and commercial communication spaces in the internet gets more and more destroyed by rules in the name of intellectual property [2] and trade mark, next to national governments legislation.

-> ICANN, obviously leaves the field of technical/administrative functions with acting in the field of intellectual property / trademark [3] and affects a missing balance between non commercial and commercial domain name holders, and users and those who have a registred trademark and those not.

-> the impact of this does not only lead to the fact, that non commercial domain name holders, or at least those users, who couldnīt afford a trade mark registration loose their domain when in dispute which someone who could afford the trade mark registration. the impact is also, that internet users more and more find themself in a commercial environment without alternatives like "" [4] cause the american trademark lawyers view, dominating in the icann processes, cannot imagine a legitimate use of trademark except by the trademark holder himself.

-> the idea of reducing the at-large community to those, who have a domain name, is not only ignoring the impact of the decissions, combined with the idea of paying a fee, as a condition, this is commercialising democracy. It canīt be, that those who donīt have a domain name or those, who donīt want one or canīt afford a domain name or any "at-large-tax" donīt have the chance to participate in the processes of icann, including the election of the at-large directors.

-> By writing "Create an at-large Membership" the ALSC ignores the fact, that there already *is* an at-large Membership, there is already thousands of at-large members of ICANN, individuals who showed interest to partipate in the processes of ICANN by the possibility given, the election of the first at-large directors in 2000. It is somehow sad, that the ALSC didnīt see this potential of people who showed up already. The current problem is of course, that the possibilities of participation are almost invisible if existent [5].

-> The idea of forming an ALSO is not wrong, but it somehow ignores the fact, that there is a difference between the interests of individual domain name holders and the at-large community, cause the impact of ICANNīs decision is much wider than the conditions for individual domain name holders. The frustration of individual domain name holders already reached a level that there is the claim for an individual domain name holders constituency (IDNO) [6] to have - together with the NCDNHC - the chance of a balance against Business Constituency, Intellectual Property Constituency etc.

-> So whatīs missing in the ALSC draft is the list of issues ICANN is responsible for and how to get to a balance of interest in this issues.


Watching ICANNīs impacts on the internet as a global communication space I think ICANN seriously has to watch its legitimation when deciding about the possibilities for the "at-large" - so for all internet users - to participate in the ICANN processes:

-> If ICANNīs becomes [7] a forum of registrars, registrys, trade mark and intellectual property lawyers it might well find policies, that make all of these parties happy, but this will mean ICANN sells the internet to those people, wo have an commercial interest in it. The impact for internet users and for the future of the global information society is a serious thread, the legitimation for such an act not existence.

-> ICANN cannot continue to ignore the impact to the users, the community, and the possiblities of the human beeings on this planet to use the internet for free communication. The frustration of the missing possibilities for internet users and NGOīs watching information society issues already reached a level that not only governments take this situation as a reason to take over the control over parts of the infrastructure (as happened in some ccTLDīs), it also reached a level where companies like start to make a business out of this frustration [8].

-> I think, the board of ICANN shouldnīt consist of people with direct commercial interests such as registrar/registry function. ICANN needs to be able to make decisions in the interest of the internet users and the global information space, the internet. There needs to be a balance between commercial and public use of this infrastructure and the board must be consistent of people who think about the impact of the decissions for the communication culture and space, not only on their own business.

-> The key question is not, how to handle a potential of 400 million internet users, or how to enshure that ICANN can verify the at-large members with technical means as describes in the ALSC draft. The key question is how ICANN manages to allow participation for those who show up and want to participate in the procedures of ICANN cause they see special issues they worry about. This is not only individuals, but also NGOīs who work on this issues.

-> At the end of the day, ICANN will have to ask itself, on what legitimation ICANNīs "output" is based on. ICANN must face responsibility not only to the so called "stakeholders" (registrys, registrars) but to those who are affected by the decisions on policies and the technical details of the assignment of names and numbers.


How shall this work out?

-> Half of the board (50%) must be voted through internet users

-> If ICANN decides to act in the field of intellectual property and trademarks, than it also has to act in the field of freedom of speech and public interests that are affected by this

-> Participation is not only a question of organisation, but also of the openness of the processes. So, ideas like charging a fee for beeing an "at-large member" or for participaing in the meetings should be overruled by the interest, to run open processes and possibilities for everyone to participate who wants.

-> The current imbalance is hard to break up, as long as some people get well paid and are funded enough to bring their lawyers into most of the meetings. Watching the fact, that not even ICANNīs lawyer Joe Sims doesnīt stay neutral in this game [9], the users community also needs more or less massive funding and contribution from lawyers to be able to be in the battlefield.

-> Same for the directors, my general idea for this problem would be, that those, who watch the impact of the policies on the communication space should be paid by those, who have commercial interests / businesses (just a question of the use of the existing contributions from registrars and registries)

-> There are some people in the current board which do see the problems of ICANN, watching the procedures getting more dependent and infiltrated by IP-lawyers and governments with their own interests, so the question of the future of the at-large is the key question what ICANN will be in the future.



[2] like the DMCA, see

[3] through and things like the IP-Constituency,

[4] Paul Garrin already runs this, but was not "selected" in the ICANN GTLD extension process of November 2000, see

[5] at some of the last board internal discussions i could at least get support for an "participation" page on the ICANN-Web, which Andrew McLaughlin now released in a first version at If you have more ideas for this, mail me or Andrew (


[7] depending on the time of the day and my level of cynicsism I could also say that ICANN *is* a forum of registrars, registrars and intellectual property lawyers. But there is some others as well ;)



This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Andy Mueller-Maguhn Rips Into the ALSC Report | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 5 comments | Search Discussion
Click this button to post a comment to this story
The options below will change how the comments display
Check box to change your default comment view
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
Re: Andy Mueller-Maguhn Rips Into the ALSC Report
by simon on Saturday September 08 2001, @04:12AM (#2285)
User #2982 Info |
You're right!nic.PRO will be back online soon with FREE sub-domains. Dowload the FREE plug-in at
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Andy Mueller-Maguhn Rips Into the ALSC Report
by simon on Monday September 10 2001, @08:05AM (#2327)
User #2982 Info |
Please translate it into German. ;-)nic.PRO will be back online soon with FREE sub-domains. Dowload the FREE plug-in at
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
  • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.

  • This article comes from ICANNWatch

    The URL for this story is: