Open letter from Toshimaru Ogura
Date: Monday November 12 2001, @05:51AM
Topic: Membership Issues

mpawlo writes "Here is an interesting twist on the At large study committee report.

From: toshimaru ogura
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 17:45:19 +0900


Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey CA 90292-6601

Dear At Large Study Committee and ICANN board members,

Your organization recently issued a Final Report on ICANN At-Large Membership. When I read the report, I was very astonished to find that it quoted me in a way that completely ignored my actual opinions. Instead, the document used my comments to justify various voting restrictions. I am writing to tell you that I find this to be really unfair.
More inside..."

The portion of the report that particularly concerns me reads as follows:

"The ALSC is concerned by some evidence that the very low entrance barrier in last year's At-Large election may have resulted in a large enrollment of people who were not actively interested in ICANN, but who enrolled only because it was easy, or who were 'encouraged' to do so simply because of nationalistic competition.

"For example, Toshimaru Ogura, author of 'Japanese Experience about ICANN Election Campaign,' states, 'It was clear they disregarded the intent of ICANN's election, and that JIF [Japan Internet Forum] was set-up at the direction of MPT [Ministry of Postal and Telecommunications] to get a Japan (not Asia) Board Member. Private sector was involved in the JIF at the direction of the MPT. The private sector and the government are not separate in Japan; only excluding government is not enough. Several ISP's in Japan developed a campaign for ICANN elections. A special web page was created to promote Japanese votes. Several companies directed their employees to register. For example, according to an internal document from Hitachi Corp., it was assigned to produce 1500 registrations, and management assigned three registrations for each office and section, and required a registration report to meet quota.'

"Domain name ownership, cost and verification, and membership fees may help deter problems such as nationalistic competition and involvement of disinterested individuals, as well as the establishment of election rules and consequences for breaking the rules."

In fact, I am against further voting restrictions. But because of the way my comments were cited, your report may deceive people who do not know my background regarding ICANN At Large issues.

More specifically, in my view, ICANN should not place any further restrictions on its terms of membership, even if, during the last election, the Japanese government mobilized people who had little interest in the ICANN process. Rather, I propose that ICANN should resolve the issues posed by such top down election campaigning and do a better job educating Internet users. Also I strongly insist that global democracy is necessary for Internet governance and that all users should have the right to participate in this decision making process.

Unfortunately, ICANN and the ALSC have ignored these ideas and used only the portion of my comments that are in their favor.

So I would like you to answer the following questions.

1. Why did you cite my arguments without mentioning my main contentions?

2. What do you think about my assertion that more participatory processes (based on global democracy ideals) are necessary for the ICANN At Large membership structure? I am sending my formal suggestions to you once more (as an appendix to this letter). If you want to quote me, you should at least critique my ideas and explain why your more restrictive proposal is legitimate.

3. I fear that the people who read the portion of the ALSC report that quotes me may misinterpret my views. Therefore I fear other civil society groups may lose confidence in me. What do you think about this?

Best regards,

Toshimaru Ogura
NaST (NCDNHC member organization)
JCA-Net Board member (Japan)



Excerpt from Report for At Large Study Committee Outreach Meeting

Originally submitted June 5, 2001

3 How to avoid top-down/nationalistic election campaign?

3-1 Enough information

I think that given the enough information, most of the above issues will be disappeared. Therefore ICANN should give enough information for non-English speaking people. "Enough information" should include not only official ICANN announces and documents but also various opinions and discussion from all over the world. It seems very difficult to realize in short time. But ICANN should make effort for this as possible as they can. ICANN should not be a quitter.

3-2 Education

ICANN issues are not belong to technical specialists even if it contains "technical management" because another important mission of ICANN is "policy development" based on democracy and transparent procedure by various Internet communities including civil society groups. The policy making of ICANN should be possible by ordinary users who has not so much professional technical knowledge but should have a proper knowledge about what the democratic policy making of the Internet governance is and what the rights of users are. ICANN should educate the users from above point of view on whom democracy of the Internet governance is be based.

3-3 Important role of civil society

3-3-1 Civil society NGOs

I feel responsibility as an activist of NGOs in Japan for above top-down election issues in Japan because we could not take an action as enough as we could because of lack of our experiences about ICANN issues. I think we have to do a lot of things for promoting more democratic procedure in not only global but also local level. Activities of NGOs do not belong to ICANN directly, but they may be included into a kind of user communities. Internet users of civil society oriented NGOs can have a very important position for promoting above missions from outside of ICANN organization.

3-3-2 Outreach to individual users beyond professional NGOs

Population of the Internet users increases rapidly. The Internet does not belong to specialists of computer technology and communication any more. Though the role of NGOs is still very important, NGOs cannot catch up with rapid growth of the Internet. The scheme that NGOs as civil society representatives lobby to International organizations will become not so effective as before. On the other hand, individual users will become to have a responsibility for the Internet governance directly. ICANN At Large election in 2000 was very useful and important experiences for more direct participation based on individual users.

Therefore At Large election should be direct participation by individual users. Internet users will not need any assistance for policy making of the Internet in near future. The idea that any intermediate organization represents At Large members and At Large board members should be elected by the intermediate organization must be recognized completely as unclear, opaque and exclusive procedure for users. Each NGO as activists collective or specialists for technology and politics will become the civil society organization which has limited missions and interests. They may become not a legitimate representative for At Large members but just a navigator with various directions within the civil society.

3-4 Democratic procedure for the Internet governance in local organizations

Top-down campaign might end in failure if local Internet governance organization had a democratic body and civil society groups had more concerning the Internet governance issues in local level. ICANN issues are also applicable to local governance organization such as JPNIC. If so, we should approach democratization both of ICANN itself and local organization.

4 Conclusion

I know that there is an opinion that the At Large election should be restricted more in oder to avoid top-down/nationalistic election. I think this opinion does not stem from civil society groups, rather this is a kind of conspiracy pretending democracy. The necessary measures exist in the contrary direction. I believe we can promote more bottom-up and more civil society oriented At Large election process if ICANN has proper measures and were so minded. Individual users in the Internet including Japanese people are not absolutely stupid, rather the information system of ICANN makes individual users ignoramus. Therefore people should not accept the responsibility but the one who insists on more restricted election without any effort or the one who completely disregards the interest of global Internet community and intend to introduce national or business interest should take responsibility for top-down/nationalistic election process.

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