At Large Study Committee report released
Date: Wednesday November 07 2001, @10:13AM
Topic: Membership Issues

There weren't a lot of surprises in the At Large Study Committee final report; it hewed remarkably closely to the draft the committee had issued for public comment back in August. That draft, as you remember, recommended that voting for At-Large Directors be limited to domain name holders paying a membership fee, and that the at-large membership should elect six directors, rather than nine. Here's a rundown on the changes in the committee's recommendations over the past 2 months:

* The draft had recommended that each domain name registration get a new contact, called the "At Large Membership contact," who would cast the ICANN election vote. The final report jettisoned that, stating that the voter should be the admin contact. This may have been an incomplete response to the concern that a corporation holding many domain names would be able to give each name a different membership contact, and thus cast large numbers of election votes. (Under the new proposal, a corporation wishing to do that has to give its various domain names different admin contacts.)

* The draft had indicated that registrars should collect the ICANN At-Large Membership fee, and remit it to a central collecting body. That suggestion has disappeared from the final report.

* The draft had justified its proposal that the At-Large get only six seats on the Board by asserting that the best foundation for consensus is by "organizing ICANN along functional lines of developers, providers and users," and giving the at-large membership the right to select the "user" third of the Board. The final report backed away hard from the idea that this functional division should be seen as relevant to ICANN's existing structure outside the At-Large, or could be used as support for changing the allocation of non-At-Large Board seats (beyond the need to increase the number of those seats from nine to twelve). The committee recognized that if one takes the three-way division seriously, it opens up a tremendous can of worms regarding ICANN structure generally. But if one doesn't take it seriously, on the other hand, what's the justification for six rather than some other number?

* The final report recognizes the existence of ccTLDs, as the draft did not: It suggests that ccTLD registrants should get to vote too, so long as "the ccTLD registry agrees to comply with the ALSO verification and marketing procedures."

* The draft had proposed six geographical regions, rather than five; it did that by dividing the Asia/Pacific region into an East Asia/Pacific region and a Central/West/South Asia region consisting almost entirely of Muslim countries (plus India and Israel). The final report defends that division, but states a fallback position: "if creation of a new region threatens to significantly delay At-Large implementation," an alternative would be to elect two Asia/Pacific directors from different countries.

* The final report supports a requirement, absent from the draft, that once the new structure is set up, "a supermajority [should] be required for changes to ICANN's bylaws affecting the At-Large structure."

* The final report suggests that maybe, someday, the committee might be able to think of an additional mechanism, other than domain-name ownership, that would allow individuals who can't afford domain names to vote in the At-Large electorate.

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