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Re: [ga] A Call for Resignations

  • To: <ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [ga] A Call for Resignations
  • From: "Richard Henderson" <richardhenderson@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 03:23:49 -0000
  • Cc: <vb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Danny Younger" <dannyyounger@xxxxxxxxx>
  • References: <20050227204601.82604.qmail@web53505.mail.yahoo.com>
  • Sender: owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I have said all along that this At Large structure is ill-conceived and I endorse Danny's call for resignations because, quite simply, the ALAC has no mandate whatsoever from the At Large community of Internet Users who have had most interest and desire to participate in ICANN's mission.

ALAC was never asked for: it was imposed as part of the same process which disgracefully expelled the elected representatives of the At Large from the ICANN Board. ALAC was a face-saving exercise and an exercise in damage limitation. It was imposed top-down by the ICANN Board, without the invitation of the At Large community of Internet Users which was still actively in existence and posting hundreds of informed comments on a wide range of DNS issues.

ICANN set out to remove any voting power from its At Large "problem" (even though Internet Users form by far the numerically largest constituency with a natural interest in the DNS). It selected, "top down" and by "invitation" its own placemen on the Interim ALAC. And, in the biggest irony of all, it resolved to "lock out" individual users from participating on the ALAC in their capacity as... individual users. You could only partipate indirectly if you first joined an ICANN-approved structure and then got appointed to represent it, and then got a RALO created, and then just maybe got accepted onto the ALAC as a representative of a RALO... And then what? Then you might, if you were lucky, get to be a non-voting "observer" at ICANN Board meetings, as a sop to public opinion.

The outcome was all too predictable: since individual users were "locked out" of ALAC and were even more distantly "locked out" of any power within the ICANN structure, participation dwindled to a trickle and the ALAC forums became a graveyard and were reduced to one, and then ALAC started trying to patch together papers at short notice and this was done by just four or five people because there was no-one else left interested enough or believing in ALAC, and these people had to pretend that, somehow, they were "the voice" of individual Internet users.

And yet, they hed never been chosen by the At Large community. They had never been elected. They had no mandate. They were not representative. On the contrary, polls of the legacy At Large which had been drawn together at the time of the earlier elections showed that the very people who ended up on the ALAC were the people that this At Large community wanted least to represent them.

The short history of ALAC: The Board needed to save face. So it hired Denise Michel to create a new ICANN At Large which could be controlled and kept at arm's length from any real power and decision-making. Denise got back up from Esther in the early stages and Esther found herself representing North America simply because that's what ICANN wanted. Vittorio (who I have plenty of time for) made what I regard as the mistaken decision to jump aboard. It has primarily been Denise, Vittorio and Thomas driving the sinking ship since then. Just three people, unelected and unrepresentative, to claim to speak for the millions of individual Internet users. ICANN soon found that they were trying to roll an immovable boulder up a steep hill. trying to impose something that people had never asked for or wanted. So they roped in various chapters of ISOC, the Internet Society, which has close links with Vint and ICANN, to create the appearance of things happening. Only trouble was that... nothing much did happen. Because it was still just Denise, Vittorio and Thomas (with some input from two or three others). So they made a big push to create a RALO in Africa. Asking a few organisations to join. But individuals were still "locked out" of the processes.

What we have is an imposed and unrepresentative committee which has been used to try to legitimise the destruction of the real At Large of Individual Users. It is absolutely obvious that individuals will not participate actively again unless they feel that their membership and participation in the processes is genuine, and they can determine for themselves the shape and structure of their At Large and who they want to represent them.

Only then will ICANN begin to generate credible participation and have any kind of mandate to be representing the worldwide community of Internet Users. Even then, they will not be credible unless they agree to the restoration of voting and elected representatives on the ICANN Board. The so-called "reform" of Stuart Lynn made a disastrous error in expelling the At Large. In so doing, it lost ICANN its claim to be representative of the worldwide Internet comnmunity, and laid it open to criticisms and challenges from other entities, politicians and governmental groups who could say: "By what authority should ICANN make decisions for the rest of the world?"

The At Large community of worldwide Internet Users is ICANN's credibility and claim to a worldwide mandate.

ALAC has zero credibility.

Worse than that. It is seen through for what it is. Something that actually contributes to the demise and exclusion of the At Large.

On all these grounds ICANN should abandon the ALAC and re-instate a genuine and vibrant At Large community of active and participating members. The ALAC project has clearly failed to date. It was just never wanted by the people it pretended to represent.

Individuals want to decide for themselves, express for themselves, determine for themselves, discuss for themselves, and vote for themselves. They want a participation which is real and truly representative. The At Large is an exciting worldwide concept of peoples coming together with shared interest and commitment to a shared worldwide resource.

This resource belongs neither to ICANN, the Department of Commerce, the state of California, or the registrars and registries which earn money from the "DNS Supply Industry".

This resource belongs to all the individuals of the world who share on it, trade on it, communicate on it, learn on it, help others with it, build communities with it... all the individuals of the world who devote so much creativity and time to its development.

And yet these individuals - hundreds of millions of them - are LOCKED OUT by ICANN.

Yes, I agree that the whole At Large Advisory Committee should have the courage to resign and demand that ICANN truly recognises and empowers this greatest of all Internet constituencies.

Until they do resign, they only legitimise and prolong a structure and process that actually marginalises the worldwide community of Internet users.


Richard Henderson

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