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[ga] Why ALAC should be opposed

  • To: <ga@xxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [ga] Why ALAC should be opposed
  • From: "Richard Henderson" <richardhenderson@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 21:52:19 +0100
  • Cc: <DannyYounger@xxxxxx>
  • References: <1e1.d7e6ece.2c487838@cs.com>
  • Sender: owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Danny Younger this week asked (in another, livelier list, frequented by an
actual at large community):

From: <DannyYounger@xxxxxx>
> Does icannatlarge intend to take a position on the ALAC and its RALOs?

Further to my previous comments...

What is the credibility of a quango which is only answerable to *one*
government (USG) for the administration of a world resource which impacts on
*all* governments?

Why should people in other countries trust ICANN's policies, if it is only
answerable to the US?

What gives the US the right to be the ultimate overseer of the world's

And what is the credibility of ICANN when it has historically been vilified
for its opaque dealings, its perceived links with inside interests, its
crass lack of responsiveness, its abandonment at will of consensus, its
expulsion of the only democratically elected element in its Board Room?

And why should our own organisation (misnamed 'icannatlarge') offer any
legitimacy to this illegitimate quango, which has expelled our own
democratically elected representatives from its Board Room, and taken one of
them to court in a high-profile case which they lost?

ALAC is an invention of the ICANN Board, an internal construction, to try to
legitimise the illegitimate.

Until ICANN is accountable, not to DoC, but to a broad coalition of nations
and users... it has no credibility in the outside world (outside the US,
that is)... and little credibility inside the US either.

The goal of our organisation is to represent the interests of Internet Users
all over the world, not only to ICANN, but to the world press and the broad
communities where we variously live.

We are the opposition to ICANN. We are an alternative seat of power, once
the other countries challenge the US hegemony and assumption to a divine
oversight of 'our' internet.

ICANN is merely an internal US quango which is unlikely to last. It has a
self-interested and self-perpetuating Board, which is unresponsive and
unaccountable (except to its USG backers who keep it in place for their own

The clear majority of those members who responded to our Polls expressed
scepticism about ALAC, huge mistrust of Esther Dyson and Denise Michel, and
rejection of the RALOs initiative.

What we need (as has been expressed by our members) is not participation in
ICANN's own illusion (which merely gives it an appearance of legitimacy) but
vociferous opposition of that artificial, top-down irrelevance to the
democratic process.

What we need is the clear distanced construction of an alternative worldwide
structure, not ICANN's RALOs but an independent structure which gets on
regardless of ICANN and repudiates ICANN.

We represent not the US Government (like ICANN) but the actual internet
users of the whole world.

In this sense, it is folly to let ourselves be contained or defined by
ICANN's top-down structures, which everyone knows is just the same old ICANN
game of 'control'.

Danny, you ask what should be our relationship to ALAC and its RALOs.

There should be *no* relationship. Are we not capable of making ourselves
heard, independently of ICANN? If we sort of "merge" with the ICANN process,
our voice will just be marginalised in the usual ICANN game.

There is absolutely no reason why we should not promote a populist
alternative voice for the Internet... a voice which is not answerable to one
government (the US government) but answerable to the whole worldwide
community of internet users.

In the end, people around the world will get the message.

We should get on build our own worldwide movement, not help build up a USG
structure which will claim to represent everyone but which - in fact -
ignores even its own internal constituencies.

ICANN of course is appalled by this prospect of a free and independent
worldwide structure.

It hoped that it could crush independent voices by removing the elected At
Large from its Board. The last thing it wants is for the re-emergence of the
independent voices in a worldwide structure outside of its control,
challenging its control of the DNS.

That's exactly why it created ALAC, as a decoy.

And that's exactly why we should press on ahead with the creation of a
*clearly independent* worldwide structure which repudiates ALAC and the

Our voices will be heard more clearly if we are distinctive and outside
ICANN, building the *real* worldwide structure. Maybe not heard by the ICANN
Board, if it doesn't want to listen, but heard by the media, by governments,
by the internet community. Because, in the end, the debate is about whether
one quango in one country should be empowered to administer this worldwide
resource for the human race, and only be accountable to one (dominant)

That's the debate that has yet to break open in the public consciousness and
the media, and we should be positioning ourselves right now on the outside
of ICANN and (ideally) on the outside of the US, so we have a meaningful
identity and mission when the real issue becomes central.

The very first thing we should do is:

Abandon our name which makes us (and our mission) implicitly part of ICANN,
a kind of subsection of their empire.

That is laughable.

Our Mission needs to clearly define our goal of a worldwide structure of our
own, through which to truly and freely represent ordinary internet users.
The outmoded name should be the first thing to go!


Richard Henderson
The At Large / Worldwide Internet Users

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