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[Comment-Mac] MAC comments of Thomas Lowenhaupt
Comments on ICANN's proposed
"Principles of the At-large Membership"
May 21, 1999
By Thomas Lowenhaupt
I want the Internet's governance system to represent everyone the net has a
social or economic impact upon. That's a very large group.
I'm concerned enough about this to consider running for one of the 9
At-Large member positions to ICANN's Board of Directors. And, assuming ICANN
and the final "Principles of the At-large Membership" offer, at minimum, a
representative and open organization, I'm likely to be an active candidate
for an ICANN Board of Directors position.
In the following 16,272 bytes I'm going to test the MAC's recommended 18
Principles against this contingent candidacy. (My comments are to the May 6
recommendations of ICANN's Membership Advisory Committee.)
PRINCIPLE # 1. At-large membership should primarily represent those
individuals and organizations that are not represented by the Supporting
Organizations (SOs). The goals of the at-large membership are as follows:
(a) to include any Internet user with access and verifiable identity in
order to reflect the global diversity of users (membership should not be
limited to IP address or domain name holders),
(b) to elect Directors to the ICANN Board by procedures that are valid and
(c) to ensure that ICANN’s corporate structure operates for the benefit of
the Internet community as a whole, is not captured, and continues to provide
fair and proportional representation of the entire user community,
(d) to provide input from the user community to the ICANN Directors and
(e) to do so in a cost-efficient manner.
First, as a domain name owner (or is that holder?), small business operator,
trademark owner, and an ISP of sorts, many SO constituencies could claim to
represent me. And I'm concerned that my At-large membership might be
challenged on the basis that I'm "already represented by X constituency" and
therefore not qualified for at-large membership.
Likewise, I could challenge just about anyone's membership right on the
basis of existing SO representation.
I'd like to see language indicating that individuals should not be excluded
from membership merely because an SO claims to represent them. Perhaps the
"primarily" in Principle 1 was intended to serve this purpose, but it
Second, a basic plank of my candidacy would be a commitment to change the
restrictive clause that limits At-large membership to "any Internet user".
We all recognize that the Internet will have an enormous impact on everyone
living on the planet. It should not be the exclusive club of those who
choose (or can afford) to use it on a regular basis. At-large membership
must be opened to all. Let me try to strengthen this point by raising some
questions about other realms:
? Should the pedestrian have a say on how highways are designed, used, and
? Should civilians have a say in the funding, deployment, and operation of
? Should only taxpayers vote?
I'm in favor of universal adult suffrage: All should have a right to
participate in electing the Internet governance team. And, while I suspect
few will avail themselves of this mechanism, its existence will provide
input worthy of our attention.
At the same time I acknowledge that implementation will be difficult and
suggest that, for now, we adopt the following principle,
"We hold these truths to be self evident: that the Internet is all pervasive
and will have a significant impact on every person on this planet; that all
people are thus involved with the Internet; that all people should have a
right to vote in its governance mechanisms."
And I suggest that we place, on the agenda of the initial meeting of the
elected Board, a discussion on implementing universal suffrage.
Third, I'd remove the existing item (e) and place it in a preamble.
PRINCIPLE #2. At-large membership is open to both individuals and
organizations, however, no organization that has a right to designate or
otherwise directly vote for an SO Director may register as an at-large
Member. “Organization” shall mean any institution officially recognized as a
legal persona under the laws of the nation where it claims legal residence.
Individuals who are members of the SOs or their constituencies are welcome
to join the at-large membership. The most feasible protection against
capture by interests that are not representative of the user community at
large is to enroll as many Members as possible.
I'm for an "individuals-only" At-large membership. Organizations may
encourage their individual members to join as ICANN At-large members, but
they should gain organizational representation through SO constituencies.
Which organizations are not currently so represented? Local government?
Education institutions? And anyone else should have constituencies and
representation in the SOs. ICANN should encourage their formation.
PRINCIPLE #3. It is not recommended that membership fees be assessed at this
time. If membership fees should be assessed in the future, they shall
reflect the economic differences of the various geographic regions.
When I think of membership fees, I think exclusion. I think of Raphael, the
homeless fellow who uses our public library to keep in touch with his family
and in his search for work. What membership fee would you charge him? I
agree, no individual membership fees, ever.
PRINCIPLE #4. Online membership registration procedures should be favored,
however reasonable efforts should be made to authenticate the identity of
applicants. The suggested procedure for registration is as follows: an
online form is filled out by the applicant who may thereafter be required to
supply physical proof of existence. ICANN will respond by postal mail
sending the applicant a membership identification code to use for voting and
other transactions. An applicant shall provide the following data in the
? name physical mail address e-mail contact (preferably an individual
? an organization shall also provide the name of its voting representative,
that representative's e-mail address, and evidence of legal identity
My homeless friend Raphael (and others with financial, social, religious, or
political pressures) might find this physical address requirement difficult
to fulfill. But for the upcoming election, the loss of some membership might
outweigh the potential loss from fraud.
PRINCIPLE #5. Membership shall expire 30 days afer the annual election of
Directors and must be renewed annually. Unless otherwise specified, renewal
will generally be effective upon electronic confirmation by the member of
the accuracy of existing registration data. Members shall be required to
notify ICANN of any changes of address (e-mail and postal) during the term
of membership. Failure to do so may result in deletion from the membership
list or ineligibility to vote.
I'd like to see a language to require that ICANN be a persistent participant
in the renewal process, perhaps that it be required to send 3 email
membership renewal notices over a six month period.
PRINCIPLE #6. From time to time, ICANN shall sample the membership
applications in order to determine whether the goals of membership are being
met and whether fraudulent registrations exist in sufficient number as to
call into question the ability of the membership to meet the goals of
Section 1 above. ICANN may take reasonable steps to assure that these goals
are met. Members who submit fraudulent or inaccurate data shall be deleted
from the membership list. Multiple applications from the same organization
or individual shall be deleted from the list.
I think the temporal definition " From time to time" is vague and provides
the opportunity for an existing regime to challenge a disfavored candidate
through an audit process.
I'd rather see the wording as, "On a fixed periodic basis, to be determined
by the initial board, ICANN shall…" This is not to preclude emergency audits
to stop capture, just to make it knows that only specified exceptional
circumstance can justify an irregular audit.
Additionally, the audit should be performed by an outside, independent
PRINCIPLE #7. If desired, ICANN may appoint a committee (a) to assist in
soliciting candidates in regions where there are few candidates or (b) to
oversee election details such as fulfillment of candidate criteria, however
it shall not be a function of such committee to filter, screen or otherwise
evaluate candidates on any grounds other than for failure to supply the
required campaign documentation of Section 12 below, in a true, accurate and
First, the "or" in "ICANN may appoint a committee (a) to assist in
soliciting candidates in regions where there are few candidates or (b) to
oversee election details few candidates" seems to limit ICANN's power here
to either (a) or (b). I'd eliminate it. Both might be necessary in a single
Second, "If desired, ICANN may appoint" No. I don't like this. I'd be
concerned here that a nominating committee will seek to supply "desirable"
candidates that meet the goals of the committee or extant Board. Board
recommended / approved candidates will have an undue advantage.
I don’t anticipate a paucity of candidates from any region. If there is, the
elected Board should take it up for the second election.
PRINCIPLE #8. Privacy concerns should be foremost in the collection,
safeguarding and use of a Member's data. Except as may be required by
applicable law, no Director, officer or Member of ICANN shall be permitted
to use such personal data for commercial or other private purpose nor shall
any Member's individual vote be made public.
As a candidate I'd be concerned that ICANN would inform me that 31,942
people have registered from country X, and that country X's deep privacy
concerns preclude an audit. Privacy issues must not prevent fair elections.
In recent days I've followed the difficult discussion on this issue as led
by Kent. And I'd lean ever so slightly toward openness. The elected board
should review the impact of open roll call in its review of the initial
PRINCIPLE #9. At-large voting shall be on the principle of
one-person-one-vote. An organization shall be limited to casting one vote on
behalf of the entire organization. Individuals who vote for SO Directors in
their capacity as representatives of SO-member organizations shall also have
a right to vote for at-large Directors in a personal capacity if they also
register as individual at-large Members.
Organizations should not have a right to vote. Although this would provide
me with two or three votes, and there's something desirable about that, in a
shallow way, I think it inappropriate.
If organizations are allowed to vote, I might find myself requesting that
every prospective voter (of the human type) look to cast additional
organization votes on my behalf.
No, this is a bad idea. No at-large votes for organizations. Organizations
belong in the SOs.
PRINCIPLE #10. The at-large membership shall consist of a single voting
class. A Member may not vote in any election that occurs less than one month
after the Member has been registered.
I suppose capture and the time needed verify membership is the issue here.
But I'll need time to get my members/voters signed up. So the time to
election, i.e., the time from announcement to the Election Day, at least
initially, must be at least three months.
PRINCIPLE #11. (REVISED May 6) Any adult individual who is a Member may
stand for election as an at-large Director. In the event that the number of
candidates exceeds 30 and thereby discourages careful consideration by
voters, then ICANN shall require all candidates to provide evidence of a
reasonable amount of support from other Members for their candidacy. ICANN
shall take efforts, to the extent permitted by applicable law, to encourage
participation of candidates from regions where there may be a shortage of
In my community, we just had a school board election with 24 candidates
running for 9 seats. And it was quite difficult to give adequate
consideration to each. I think 30 candidates, with all info available
through ICANN's web site, might be manageable.
However, let's say 83 candidates self-nominate for at-large seats. ICANN
then demands 25 emails of support to sustain each candidacy. And suppose 77
of the 83 declared candidates gather the 25 emails and thereby qualify. What
do you do?
You could raise the number of support emails to 100 or 1,000 in a second
round, or you could declare it a 77 candidate election. I support the
The concern for regional representation was discussed in my comment under
PRINCIPLE #12. Candidates for ICANN at-large Director shall provide the
following documents prior to the final date for submitting nominations:
1. proof of identity
2. proof of citizenship (necessary to determine regional representation)
COMMENT #12 - 1
I'm unsure of the importance of regional representation. I don't see how
you're going to accomplish this. I recall at the January meeting at the
Berkman Center the issue was considered unworkable. And that was before the
Kosovo situation arose where, apparently, all identification of fleeing
residents is being destroyed.
Another exclusionary requirement. This one however, can be done away with.
3. proof of membership
4. proof of adulthood as defined in the nation of the candidate's
5. agreement to be online and accessible to the membership via the Internet
with sufficient frequency to fulfill the responsibilities of office
6. agreement to provide adequate personal time to fulfill the
responsibilities of office
7. agreement to provide for translations to and from the candidate's
language into English as necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of office
(although it is hoped ICANN will provide translation of all its materials as
soon as that becomes economically practicable)
8. biographical information not exceeding 250 words
COMMENT 12 - 8 This sounds reasonable. Here's a quick 100 on the
Thomas Lowenhaupt was born in New York City and has resided there most of
his life. He is married with two teenage children.
He has been involved with government and technology for over 30 years.
He is currently vice chair of a NYC Community Planning Board and co-chair of
its communications committee. On the technology side he's designed and
developed interactive telecommunications systems for two decades: designed
and developed cable TV systems 1978-82; designed electronic kiosks 1981-84;
produced electronic marketing materials 1985-Date; published QWIX Guide To
Online Services 1988-91; founder and director The Communisphere Project
He holds a B.A. from Queens College in government studies and earned an
advanced degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York
University's Tisch School of the Arts.
9. statement of positions on issues not exceeding 250 words
COMMENT 12 - 9 I've interspersed some of my positions in the previous
comments and believe that 250 words might suffice for a simple listing or a
summary. However, a full disclosure of my beliefs and their basis is not
going to fit in 250 words.
I would not put a limit here. If people are interested in what I have to say
they can read on. If they're not they'll stop reading. But no overall limit.
(If for some technical reason a limit is essential, make it 5,000 words.)
Also, I'd consider precluding links to other web sites so as to limit
campaign expenditures. If the "statement of positions" allows a link to a
million dollar web site we'll be off raising funds rather than ideas.
10. statement identifying sources of income, financial interests and other
possible conflicts of interest
COMMENT 12 - 10 This is a reasonable requirement. However, this type of
information is quite volatile in this era of e*trade and the requirement
must be ongoing.
PRINCIPLE #13. ICANN shall post the list of candidates and the data in items
numbered 8 - 10 in Section 12 on its web site no later than 30 days prior to
the election. ICANN may elect to provide online discussion fora or other
formats for purposes of the campaign debate.
Principle 13 says that "ICANN may elect to provide online discussion fora or
other formats for purposes of the campaign debate." I suggest changing "may"
In America, the quality of our government has been diminished by the need to
raise huge sums to run election campaigns. In New York State a viable
candidate for U.S. Senator must raise, on average, $5,000 per day, every day
of their six year term, for campaign expenditures - primarily for media.
I suggest we make an effort to avoid this situation by limiting the size of
the allowable campaigns and providing space for campaign discussions through
Additionally, I propose the following "Principle 13b" for consideration.
(Just for consideration, as there's the potential for abuse in providing
this power to an incumbent organization.)
Principle 13b. ICANN shall undertake a voter enrollment, awareness, and
education campaign to encourage the development of a large and educated
electorate. This campaign shall include banners and other linkages with
Registrars, educational institutions, and others.
PRINCIPLE #14. Election fraud shall consist of at least the following:
providing false or inaccurate information concerning the candidate's
obligations, offering financial or other value in exchange for voting in a
specified manner, or requiring a Member to vote in a particular manner as an
obligation of employment or office. Any Member who participates in election
fraud shall be deleted from the membership registration.
I would also support expelling organizations that sponsor such fraud from SO
PRINCIPLE #15. Voting shall be conducted using Internet-based methods to the
greatest extent possible consistent with authentication requirements and
applicable law. ICANN will work to design a method of cumulative voting by
electronic methods that satisfies the requirements of applicable law and
enhances the likelihood of achieving quorums. If proxies are used, they
shall be limited to specific proxies which authorize and direct an officer
of ICANN to vote exactly as specified in the proxy document.
Preference seems more desirable than cumulative voting when a large number
of candidates are involved. See
http://www.igc.org/cvd/cvd_reports/1995/chp4/richie3.html for a discussion
PRINCIPLE #16. Article V Section 6 of the ICANN Bylaws should be amended so
that the SOs and the At-large may select their representatives without
regard to the election results of any of the other of them. The following
principles are recommended:
a) unless authorized in advance by the Board of Directors, no two Directors
from the same SO may be from the same region, and
b) the at-large Directors must include at least one from each region and may
have no more than 4 from the same region, and
c) as a consequence of establishing independent regional requirements for
each component of ICANN, the cap on the aggregate total of all Board
Directors from one nation should be eliminated.
I'm uncertain of the method for implementing the at-large regional voting,
but find it conceptually agreeable. And I support treating the SO and
at-large seats independently.
PRINCIPLE #17. All general meetings of the at-large membership shall be open
to the public and minutes thereof shall be kept and promptly posted on the
ICANN web site.
This is agreeable, but a commitment should be made to allow tele-access to
PRINCIPLE #18. Until further notice, all official communications to and from
ICANN concerning the at-large membership shall be in the English language.
Reluctantly, I agree.
End MAC comments of Thomas Lowenhaupt, TOML@communisphere.com