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Re: [names] a cross-posting you might find interesting

I agree with Jonathan :-)


At 10:29 PM 10/23/99 , Jonathan Weinberg wrote:
>         Joe Sims, in his note to the names list attacking Michael Froomkin,
>neglects to point out that he himself was the author of the message he
>reposted.  See
><http://www.icann.org/comments-mail/comment-bylaws/msg00025.html>.  I
>sincerely hope you're not billing ICANN, Joe, for the time you spend on
>this sort of thing.
>         I confess to being surprised by your note, Joe  and not merely 
> by your
>apparent desire to shout down or discredit every ICANN critic who has not
>yet given up and gone elsewhere.  Certainly stability is important  the
>White Paper lists it as the first of its four "principles for a new
>system." But the White Paper lists other principles as well.  Another one
>is *representation*.  Another one is bottom-up coordination. You seem
>determined to ignore those.
>         Further, it seems to me that your approach to seeking stability 
> is even on
>its own terms, in the words you apply to Froomkin, "fundamentally
>wrongheaded."  You want ICANN to not screw up the Internet, Joe  so do I.
>You seem to think the best way for ICANN to achieve that goal is to ensure
>that ICANN staff and legal counsel have the greatest independent autonomy
>to implement whatever decisions they think best, with some input from "the
>business community, the infrastructure providers and other important
>political forces."  That's not a route to good policy, though.  That is,
>it's a route to substantively suboptimal decisions.  The only way to
>achieve sound, fair and widely accepted policies for DNS management is
>through open processes that allow the participation of the broad and
>growing community of Internet users.  Without casting unwarranted
>aspersions on ICANN staff or ICANN directors, you are flawed vessels (as
>are we all); I don't have any reason to believe that left to your own
>devices (even supported by the ability to talismanically intone the word
>"consensus"), you'll make especially good policy.  Nor, for that manner, do
>I think the most successful policymaking process is to leave decisions to
>"the business community, the infrastructure providers and other important
>political forces."  The way that ICANN can actually reach good decisions is
>through an inclusive decisionmaking process.  I understand that you're
>worried that the inmates will take over the asylum; it seems to me, though,
>that you have an unwarrantedly high opinion of the folks to whom the
>current ICANN process grants influence, and an unwarrantedly low opinion of
>most everyone else.
>         A personal note: I'm co-chair of a DNSO working group.  I obviously
>believe that it's worth working within the ICANN process.  I've been
>supportive of ICANN, though critical of it where it thought it deserved
>criticism.  This is a time when ICANN needs to be building bridges.  An
>unremittingly adversarial, if not scorch-and-burn, public stance toward
>folks who *want* ICANN to succeed doesn't serve ICANN's interests; it
>actively disserves those interests.
>Jonathan Weinberg
>At 03:37 PM 10/23/99 -0400, Joe Sims wrote:
> >___________________________________________________________________________
> >____
> >
> > This message is intended for the individual or entity named above.  If you
> >are not the intended
> > recipient, please do not read, copy, use or disclose this communication to
> >others; also please
> > notify the sender by replying to this message, and then delete it from
> >your system.  Thank you.
> >___________________________________________________________________________
> >____
> >
> >The following was just posted on the ICANN comments page in response to a
> >posting on the proposed bylaw amendments dealing with the At Large
> >membership from Professor Froomkin; I thought this list might also find it
> >interesting.
> >-----
> >
> >Professor Froomkin's literary skills are fine, but his analysis leaves a
> >lot to be desired.  Since his views might be taken by a reader who is
> >unfamiliar with the subject as having some particular validity, given his
> >academic credentials, it is probably necessary to provide at least some
> >context, something that Froomkin ignores.
> >
> >Froomkin says that "one of the things that ICANN needs to enhance its
> >rather tenuous legitimacy is members."  This single statement reveals the
> >"complete disconnect," to use another Froomkin phrase, between his view of
> >what ICANN is and should be, and the real world.  In the real world -- the
> >world of the technical people who created the Internet, the infrastructure
> >providers who make it work, the businesses (large and small) who
> >increasingly depend on it for commercial activity, the more than one
> >hundred million individual users who benefit from the incredible increase
> >in access to communication and information that the Internet provides, and
> >the national governments around the world that view this global resource as
> >an important global asset -- in that real world,  ICANN's mission is
> >extremely limited:  to maintain the stability of the DNS.  Or, to put it
> >more simply, to not screw it up.  This is the prime objective, the
> >overriding core task, the critical job.  Everything else is secondary, or
> >even lower than that, in importance and priority, and that includes
> >anything that can remotely be described as governance.
> >
> >Given this real world fact, ICANN has been constructed to maximize its
> >potential to maintain stability, and to minimize the possibility that it
> >could do something that would increase the risk of instability.  Now, of
> >course, global and national politics, and the honest search for the
> >broadest possible consensus of all interested stakeholders, have combined
> >to produce an ICANN drafted by committee.  As could be expected, the result
> >is not a perfect instrument for anything, including its prime objective.
> >But the fact that there has always been a prime objective -- and that no
> >responsible participant in this effort has ever disagreed that this was and
> >should be the prime objective guiding the creation of ICANN -- has allowed
> >there to be a common definition of  progress that has led to where we are.
> >And, I might add, that has led to broad -- essentially unanimous -- support
> >for where we are from those real world entities I listed above.  None of
> >them think we got it exactly right, but almost all of them think we got it
> >acceptably right.
> >
> >The principal exception to this rule is a class of critics, of whom
> >Froomkin is one, that believe that ICANN has been constructed with
> >insufficient attention to the needs, desires and inputs of the little guy
> >-- the individual user, the individual domain name holder, the small
> >entrepreneur.  They believe that, since ICANN will (they assert) have
> >control over an important global resource, it must itself be controlled, or
> >at least significantly influenced, by some form of global democracy -- if
> >not one person, one vote, then as close as they can get to that.  This is
> >not a frivolous position, but it is a fundamentally wrong-headed one,
> >because it is clearly not consistent with the principal objective of ICANN:
> >create a vehicle for consensus development of policies that will promote
> >the continued stable operation of the DNS.  This objective requires slower,
> >not faster, decision-making and incremental change; consideration of
> >technical issues that are generally not accessible to the population as a
> >whole, or even the user community as a whole; and the continued support of
> >the business community, the infrastructure providers and other important
> >political forces in this space.   The more direct influence that the
> >general population -- even the general user population -- is given over the
> >actual decision-making processes of ICANN, the more risk to the prime
> >objective of continued stability, and the more pressure there will be for
> >the only realistic alternative:  control of ICANN by some form of
> >multi-national body, where we would likely get stability all right, but
> >combined with more control. less freedom  and less innovation.  The fact
> >that the global community of national governments has so far allowed and
> >even encouraged this private sector approach is quite remarkable, and owes
> >great credit to the United States government for its leadership in this
> >regard, but this forebearance is neither pre-ordained nor guaranteed.
> >
> >Froomkin says that the proposed At Large Membership structure
> >"disenfranchise[s] the public."  Pardon me, but exactly when was "the
> >public," whoever that is, in charge of the Internet?  The Internet was in
> >the beginning a US government research project, which has long since become
> >a global resource managed and made to function in large part by volunteers,
> >and now that it has become an increasingly important asset for commercial
> >transactions, is financed largely by private businesses, either through the
> >creation of infrastructure or of applications designed to make use of that
> >infrastructure.  Where exactly in this process was "the public"
> >enfranchised?  What has "the public" been voting on?  And is Froomkin's
> >"public" just the United States "public," or does it extend to a global
> >"public."  Finally, to the extent that there is or should be a "public"
> >role in this effort, why is that not already accomplished by the extensive
> >involvement and control by the United States and many other national
> >governments throughout this process -- and continuing, I might add, for the
> >foreseeable future?  Where is it written that for ICANN, unlike the ITU or
> >United Nations, for example, there needs to be direct involvement by
> >individuals in making policy decisions, rather than have those made by
> >representative bodies?
> >
> >Finally, let's deal with his specific point, such as there is one:  that
> >the proposed At Large bylaws "remove direct end-user input into the
> >management of ICANN."   If by "direct end-user" he means to exclude all
> >those involved in the other three Supporting Organizations, and thus limit
> >the term to individuals that have no other connection to the DNS than as an
> >individual user of the Internet, he is correct -- and not only correct, but
> >that is the objective of the policy that the ICANN Board adopted in
> >Santiago that these bylaw amendments are designed to implement.  Keeping in
> >mind the prime objective of continued stability, the notion that half the
> >ICANN Board could theoretically be elected, especially in this first
> >election cycle when all nine will be up for election, by a determined
> >minority -- whether commercial, religious, ethnic, regional or otherwise --
> >is anathema.  In addition, since this particular portion of the Board is
> >supposed to be representative -- not simply the product of who can marshall
> >the most votes for a seat on a Board of an entity that the vast majority of
> >the "public" that Froomkin is so worried about has never even heard about
> >-- we have to be worried about how this clearly subsidiary goal of having a
> >membership can be met without interfering with our basic objective.  And
> >finally, while the indirect approach that is set forth in the Board's
> >policy that these bylaws implement does have the added benefit of
> >eliminating the concept of derivative actions -- another potential source
> >of instability -- that is certainly not the only reason it was adopted.
> >Froomkin's legal work on this point is interesting, but I suspect even he
> >would not want to guarantee that the arguments he presents will be
> >consistently successful, or that even if they are, an organization with
> >billions of potential members will not be constantly fighting some very
> >small subset of them -- which could quite easily amount to many hundreds or
> >thousands of individual matters.
> >
> >In the end, I guess it is easy -- and maybe desirable -- for academics to
> >constantly seek a better world; after all, they have less real-world
> >responsibilities and thus fewer constraints on imaginative thinking.  Over
> >time, good ideas will gain support and bad ones will not.  And I would
> >certainly not want to discourage Professor Froomkin or anyone else from
> >continuing to advocate a change in focus or objectives for ICANN; after
> >all, if they don't speak out for what they see as the underrepresented, who
> >will?  Maybe at some time in the future there will be a consensus for a
> >globally-democratic ICANN, or some similar body; maybe at some point down
> >the road the Internet will be so stable that no one will worry about that
> >anymore.  But today, at least my perspective is that almost everyone
> >involved in this process is worried about stability, and that almost
> >everyone wants to avoid doing things in the creation of ICANN that would
> >risk continued stability of the DNS.  Indeed, one could make a reasonable
> >argument that, if stability is our objective,  we should postpone any
> >movement to an At Large membership or Directors until ICANN is up and
> >running successfully; after all, we have had enough trouble getting
> >consensus out of those who make up the Supporting Organizations -- a much
> >more homogenous group than the population of the world.  But the ICANN
> >bylaws call for an At Large membership, and the Initial Board feels bound
> >by that call, and so it has sought to carry out that responsibility in the
> >best way it could -- consistent with what it (and virtually all, if not
> >all, of the other participants) see as its principal goal of creating an
> >organization and a structure that would enhance, not risk, the continued
> >stability of the DNS.  I think its efforts so far have the support of --
> >dare I say it? -- a consensus, even a strong consensus, of the Internet
> >community, Professor Froomkin's views to the contrary notwithstanding.
> >
> >
> >
> >


Jay Fenello,
New Media Relations
http://www.fenello.com  770-392-9480