Heated At-Large debates?

From what you can read on the atlarge-discuss list, some heated debate may be going on concerning at-large structures. Currently, we have James Love making comments in a form which is considered unconstructive by Esther Dyson, which James can’t ac…

From what you can read on the atlarge-discuss list, some heated debate may be going on concerning at-large structures. Currently, we have James Love making comments in a form which is considered unconstructive by Esther Dyson, which James can’t accept, talking about “Borg pep talk”. I suppose there’s more going to come. The list archive’s index is here.

Verisign Annual Independent Neutrality Audit: No Statement on SomeCrucial Issues.

The Annual Independent Audit report posted today by ICANN notes two non-compliances (which may be considered minor), and makes no statement on requirements H.V.1, H.V.2, H.V.4, I.2 due to lack of historical records. These requirements refer to app…

The Annual Independent Audit report posted today by ICANN notes two non-compliances (which may be considered minor), and makes no statement on requirements H.V.1, H.V.2, H.V.4, I.2 due to lack of historical records. These requirements refer to appendices H and I of the registry agreement.

The requirements from appendix H: V. ACCESS TO THE REGISTRY FACILITY VGRS provides access to all VGRS customers through the following mechanisms and separates VGRS systems and information from systems and information of any affiliated registrar through these processes: 1. All registrars (including any registrar affiliated with VGRS) connect to the Shared Registration System Gateway via the Internet by utilizing the same maximum number of IP addresses and SSL certificate authentication. 2. All registrars have the same level of access to VGRS-generated data to reconcile their registration activities from VGRS Web and ftp servers. All registrars may perform basic automated registrar account management functions using the same registrar tool made available to all registrars by VGRS. […] 4. No registrar affiliated with VGRS will be given any access to the registry not available to any other registrar except with regard to information specific to their registrar.

The requirement from appendix I: 2. All registrars accredited by ICANN who are authorized to register domain names in the {.com,.org,.net} registry shall have equivalent access to Registry Services provided by VGRS.

ICANN and the Governments

GAC member Robert Shaw reports, in his weblog, that his committee colleagues were “extremely surprised” by the Blueprint for Reform. He also mentions that the board apparently plans to actually adopt a revised version of the blueprint in the end o…

GAC member Robert Shaw reports, in his weblog, that his committee colleagues were “extremely surprised” by the Blueprint for Reform. He also mentions that the board apparently plans to actually adopt a revised version of the blueprint in the end of this week, according to statements made by Alejandro Pisanty in a meeting with the GAC. Shaw doesn’t sound too amused that the board didn’t tell the GAC before.

On a (not obviously) similar front, there is a story worth reading up at ICANNwatch: Under the title Legitimacy and Effectiveness Through Consensus, David Johnson, Susan Crawford, and Becky Burr argue that “for a number of reasons, both practical and profound, we think that eliminating the consensus requirement is the wrong answer to solving ICANN’s legitimacy problem.” Instead, they suggest that “the Board should be more active in pushing the consensus policy process along”, by “appointing a facilitator who would be personally responsible for creating the written consensus policy report (and could be trusted to do an unbiased job)” within a tight deadline. The “facilitator” would work by gathering position papers, “facilitating consensus” (whatever that means), performing outrach to those “likely to be affected.” According to the authors, the process outlined can “force dissenting parties to articulate the reasons why they oppose a proposed policy”. It would then be the board’s job to check for “unjustifiable opposition”, and to possibly override some of the dissent observed. However, the board is not supposed to define the “public interest” by itself.

Of course, the document is more elaborate than what I can summarize in a couple of sentences here – you should really read it yourself. What makes this even more interesting is an anonymous comment, allegedly coming from Richard Hill (ITU-T). He writes: “Fascinating. While the details differ, the general principles and the outline of the working methods proposed by David, Susan, and Becky are remarkably similar to the working methods of ITU, and, for that matter, of all international treaty organizations and of many goverernments. […] In the case of the ITU (and I believe that the ITU is unique in this respect) the working methods have been agreed not just by 189 governments, but also by industry (the 650 ITU Sector Members). As noted elswhere, the ITU Sector Members include many (or even most) of the well-known players in the Internet, whether equipment manufacturers or service providers.”

Introducing the Bucharest Protocols

The DNSO GA’s alternate chairman, Alexander Svensson, has gone to Bucharest, and is attending the ICANN meetings there. He’s sending short reports of some of the events to the DNSO’s GA. I’m archiving these reports separately. An RSS feed pointing…

The DNSO GA’s alternate chairman, Alexander Svensson, has gone to Bucharest, and is attending the ICANN meetings there. He’s sending short reports of some of the events to the DNSO’s GA. I’m archiving these reports separately. An RSS feed pointing into this archive is also available.

Bret Fausett is, it seems, also tryig to cover as much as possible of the ICANN meetings in a special Blog.

“Moderating” the GA list?

The Evolution and Reform Committee’s blueprint for ICANN reform calls for a “moderated” GA. It’s not entirely clear what this means, but the objectives are laid out reasonably clear: The GNSO GA exists for the exchange of information and ideas, th…

The Evolution and Reform Committee’s blueprint for ICANN reform calls for a “moderated” GA. It’s not entirely clear what this means, but the objectives are laid out reasonably clear: The GNSO GA exists for the exchange of information and ideas, the discussion of particular issues, and as a resource for the creation under the direction of the GNSO Council of working groups, drafting committees, and task forces. The GNSO GA is not a forum for making decisions or recommendations, or taking formal positions. As such, the GNSO GA should take no votes, although working groups under the direction of the GNSO Council can provide advice as a group. To encourage informed discussion free from personal attacks and undue disruption, the GNSO GA shall only support moderated electronic discussion lists and forums (in which all interested individuals and groups can participate). Those interested in participating in unmoderated lists can do so in other fora, not under the auspices of the GNSO GA. While I agree with the part on votes, I’m not so sure about the approach to take for managing the list’s discussions. One possible approach I’d like to see tried is in this posting I sent to the GA list earlier today.

ICANN reform comments and recommendations

I’ve submitted some comments on the mission and core values working paper to ICANN’s Evolution & Reform committee: Quite a bit of what they are saying there just doesn’t make sense. If you try to make sense out of it, you quickly see that the actu…

I’ve submitted some comments on the mission and core values working paper to ICANN’s Evolution & Reform committee: Quite a bit of what they are saying there just doesn’t make sense. If you try to make sense out of it, you quickly see that the actual conflicts are hidden beyond rhetorics. Some more general comments are available here.

In related news, the Names Council has arrived at another iteration of its recommendations. I’m rather unhappy with some of these – in particular, I don’t believe that the recommendation to restrict GA membership to constituency members is a good idea. (Nor is the Nominating Committee approach for board member selection.)

Are votes the right kind of tool for substantial statements of the GA?

Thinking a bit more about some of the recent discussions on the GA mailing list, I arrive at the conclusion that a considerable part of the problems we are experiencing is caused by the use of an inappropriate tool: Votes like we are using them ri…

Thinking a bit more about some of the recent discussions on the GA mailing list, I arrive at the conclusion that a considerable part of the problems we are experiencing is caused by the use of an inappropriate tool: Votes like we are using them right now are _not_ the tool we _should_ be using in order to make declarations of the intent of the members of the GA.

More precisely, a vote is an instrument by which some well-defined body comes up with a collective decision. The accountability for the outcome of the vote is collective; individual members are not held accountable for their individual votes. For this reason, votes are held in secret. In particular, a vote deliberately withholds a considerable amount of information from the public.

It is also bad to arbitrarily add new members to the voting registry for a particular vote: Suddenly, the body making the decision is no longer well-defined; the result of the vote (“body x says y”) itself becomes ill-defined as a consequence.

Such votes are an appropriate tool when the GA actually acts as a homogeneous body, that is, when it elects a chairman or representatives to task forces, or when it votes on its internal procedures: Votes are appropriate whenever the question at hand is how the GA as a group of individuals can best organize its activities.

Votes are, however, not appropriate when GA statements are made on substance. There are several reasons for this.

Most importantly, the GA is _not_ acting as a homogeneous body when it comes to substantial topics: We are a mix of constituency members and interested individuals, of stakeholders and slashdotters. We may even want to take into account outside support for substantial statements (Jamie tried this; similarly, it may be interesting to shop for support for a uniform deletions policy or certain transfer policies at nsihorrorstories.com). What the resolutions discussed here are about is not a _decision_ within a homogeneous body, but a demonstration of support (and, possibly, objection!) from those who want to demonstrate that support (or objection).

For such a demonstration, the deliberate loss of information which is connected with the current voting mechanism is not desirable: An explicit list of supporters of a resolution makes a lot more sense than the apples-and-oranges statement that “the DNSO’s GA has voted for xyz”. In particular, it would include information on what members of different constituencies think – remember, the constituencies are what ultimately matters in the DNSO’s process. In fact, I’d even go a step further than just making the voting process transparent: Let’s get rid of the voting registry and the complex apparatus we are using altogether, as far as substantive resolutions are concerned (as opposed to questions of the internal organization of the GA).

So, here’s my suggestion for how to deal with future resolutions: Just do a simple, open poll via e-mail. Spread the call for signatories widely. Include the members of the GA voting registry with it. Just collect signatures.

To summarize, the process suggested has the following benefits over the current approach:

  • The resulting statement is well-defined.
  • The process is transparent and can be implemented with considerably less effort than the voting process; in particular, the safeguards necessary to ensure the integrity of a secret vote are not needed here.
  • The very concept of capture does not make any sense, since it is reasonably transparent who does and says what. In particular, there is no voting registry to be stuffed.

Comments?

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