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[Membership] Re: Organizations

A 14:16 01/03/99 -0500, Paul Stauffer a écrit :
>I would posit that the interests of any organization are really nothing
>more than the sum of the interests of the individual people involved in the
>organization: members, shareholders, employees, business clients, and so
>on.  If this is true, what argument can be made to support the notion that
>organizations should have direct representation and/or voting rights within
>the ICANN at-large membership?  Should it not simply fall to the
>individuals with interests in the organization to represent those views?

Well, I thought it was now a well-established fact that the whole is more
than the sum of its parts.
The "parts" in an organization have different, often conflicting interests.
What is good for the company's management may sometimes not be for all its
employees; minority shareholders may have different interests than larger
ones, and all these may have different interests than the workers. The
membership and the officers of an association are known to diverge in many
cases, etc.
The organization itself has its own life, culture and personality. A new
CEO in an existing organization is changed by the organization as much as
he/she changes it. And again, the good of the organization may not be the
good of all its parts, sometimes not even of a majority of its parts.

So much for general considerations, but I felt this needed to be reminded
to readers on the list.

Now, which organizations are we talking about when we argue in favour of
direct membership and voting by organizations in ICANN's At Large
membership? Obviously not those organizations which make a living providing
internet-related services. These organizations will join SOs, and there
should (as long as the membership is small, anyway) be a mutual exclusion
between organizational SO membership and At Large membership.

At Large Membership was designed with the users in mind. Most users will
not be allowed, and if allowed not willing, to participate in SOs. We are
not judging that here. But who are theses users? Individuals of course, but
also companies, associations, public agencies... connected as such to the
Internet, owning as such one or more domain names and a bunch of IP
addresses, paying as such for those services. Indeed, it is clear that for
the moment, organizations are the main financers of the Internet, and the
prime "users" of domain names and IP addresses. If they are not allowed to
join the At Large membership, most of the "user-only" corporations (whose
main activity is not Internet-related, e.g. socks manufacturing) will just
not be represented.

Some argue that they can be represented through individual membership, by
joining through their CEO. This is a joke: Will Lou Gertsner join for IBM,
get all this e-mail and vote for AL directors? In the real world, what will
happen in most organizations is that several levels below the CEO, the
legal, or marketing, or DP department will decide to join and send a
delegate. It will want to have the ability to pay and receive an invoice as
the company. It will want to be able to change delegate if the original one
is fired, or disagrees with company policies.

Some argue that organizations will be represented because they will
encourage all their members to join. This, regarding the "user-only"
organizations, is another joke: Do you really think ICANN is THAT important
to most domain-names holders? No, It is just one other issue, one place
among others where the organization may want to be represented. There may
be some internet-related organizations which will try to get their members
to join as individuals (and remember, THESE are not allowed to join At
Large since they will belong to SOs where policy is drafted), but this will
not be the case of "user-only" organizations.

So the result of excluding "user-only" organizations will simply be this:
- those organizations, whose level of interest towards ICANN is low, will
just see that they are not invited and refrain from joining;
- some (very few) organizations will design twisted and opaque strategies
to get some of their members to join and to control their votes;
- eventually, corporate associations will complain to ICANN and demand
their own At-Large membership category. And they will get it - or at least
an "advisory committee". And for those who wonder who, between an advisory
committee composed of high-level lobbyists on the one hand, and individual
voters on the other, wield more power? - just spend a day in Washington

This is why I strongly recommend giving organizations the right to become
members and receive the same number of votes any member gets: 1. (whatever
its nature and size).

Daniel Kaplan                            Consultant
dkaplan@terra-nova.fr        http://www.dkaplan.net
5, rue de la Véga    -   75012 Paris    -    France
Tel +33 (0)1 5333 8881       Fax +33 (0)1 5333 8882