ICANN Logo Membership Implementation Task Force: Call for Expressions of Interest
Posted: December 1, 1999

ICANN is actively seeking expressions of interest from individuals who would like to volunteer to serve as members of ICANN's Membership Implementation Task Force.

What is the Membership Implementation Task Force? What will it do?

The Membership Implementation Task Force will play a key role in ICANN's effort to create a broad, diverse, and globally representative At Large Membership, through which 9 of ICANN's 19 Directors will be elected.

The Membership Implementation Task Force was chartered by the ICANN Board at its August and November meetings. The Board charged the Membership Implementation Task Force with the following responsibilities:

"RESOLVED [99.144], that the President and CEO is directed to convene a Membership Implementation Task Force, which shall generate and implement strategies for outreach and recruitment of a broad and numerous membership that is globally representative of the Internet user community; design effective membership authentication and online election procedures; and undertake such other membership implementation responsibilities as may be assigned to it by the Board or the President."

The Membership Implementation Task Force is thus intended to be a body of active and committed "do-ers" who will work to make the goal of a broad, diverse, and globally representative At Large Membership a reality. More specifically, its responsibilities will include the following:

  • developing and implementing outreach and recruitment strategies;
  • investigating, designing, testing, and implementing effective registration and election mechanisms, including membership authentication and online voting procedures;
  • assisting with the organization of the At Large Council;
  • planning for independent oversight of the initial At Large Council election; and
  • proposing a permanent funding mechanism for the At Large Membership.

How will the Membership Implementation Task Force do its work?

As with most ICANN bodies, the bulk of the Membership Implementation Task Force's work will be done through the Internet, via email and the web. Periodic teleconferences may be necessary as well.

The Membership Implementation Task Force will have a chair, and will also include a number of small, narrowly-focused task groups, such as task groups on voting systems, election oversight, and outreach to specific regions. The Membership Implementation Task Force will have staff support from ICANN's Membership Project Manager.

I'm interested! How do I submit my statement of interest?

Expressions of interest (and any questions) should be sent to Andrew McLaughlin <mclaughlin@icann.org>. Statements need not be longer than 100 words, and should include information about your professional background and the contribution you will make toward the work of the Membership Implementation Task Force.

The deadline for expressions of interest is December 21, 1999.

Background on ICANN At Large Membership

For nearly a year, ICANN has been working hard to design and implement an At Large Membership structure through which the 9 At Large Directors on the ICANN Board will be elected by the diverse members of the global Internet community. The following paragraphs outline the history of the effort, and sketch the current implementation plan.

Background. In July, 1997, the Clinton Administration published an executive order calling for privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) and began an open and consultative policy development process which lead to the publication of a document entitled "Management of Internet Names and Addresses," commonly known as the White Paper, in June, 1998. The White Paper stated the desire of the U.S. Government that a private, non-profit corporation be formed to assume responsibility for the Domain Name and IP addressing systems and certain related functions, and called for proposals to be submitted to accomplish this goal.

White Paper Position on Representation in new DNS Corporation. With respect to representation, the White Paper stated,

"The new corporation should operate as a private entity for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole. The development of sound, fair, and widely accepted policies for the management of DNS will depend on input from the broad and growing community of Internet users. Management structures should reflect the functional and geographic diversity of the Internet and its users. Mechanisms should be established to ensure international participation in decision making."

Speaking further to actions to be taken by the Board of Directors of the new corporation, the White Paper proposed that the entity's organizational documents:

"2) direct the Interim Board to establish a system for electing a Board of Directors for the new corporation that insures that the new corporation's Board of Directors reflects the geographical and functional diversity of the Internet, and is sufficiently flexible to permit evolution to reflect changes in the constituency of Internet stakeholders. Nominations to the Board of Directors should preserve, as much as possible, the tradition of bottom-up governance of the Internet, and Board Members should be elected from membership or other associations open to all or through other mechanisms that ensure broad representation and participation in the election process."

Department of Commerce Requirement concerning ICANN Membership. Subsequently, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) recognized ICANN -- the corporation proposed by Dr. Jon Postel in September, 1998 -- in a Memorandum of Understanding/Joint Project Agreement dated November 25, 1998. With regard to membership, the MOU specified that ICANN and DOC would, "8. Collaborate on the design, development, and testing of appropriate membership mechanisms that foster accountability to and representation of the global and functional diversity of the Internet and its users, within the structure of the private-sector DNS management organization."

ICANN Membership Advisory Committee. The ICANN Bylaws provide for four organizational units having membership attributes. Three of the units are named "Supporting Organizations" (SO) and are designed to provide specific mechanisms for the participation of business and technical interests in the policy development and consensus mechanisms of ICANN. The fourth is an At Large Membership designed to ensure accountability and adequate representation, on a worldwide basis, of the interests of all Internet users. Each SO names three ICANN Directors, while the At Large membership names nine, for a total of eighteen elected Directors and an ex officio voting Chief Executive Officer. Consistent with both Internet tradition and the guidance of the White Paper, the ICANN Board has worked closely with the Internet community to support bottom-up and self-organizing efforts for all four of its membership entities. All three SOs are now operational, and all three have named their Directors to the ICANN Board.

Seeking advice from the community on the complex issues associated with creation of an At Large membership, ICANN created a Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) in January, 1999, and asked for its recommendations on a range of membership policy and procedural issues. To assist the MAC with its work, ICANN commissioned a study by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The MAC's interim report was given to the Board at its meeting in Singapore in March, 1999 and a final report and commentary was delivered at its meeting in Berlin, in May, 1999.

ICANN Board Actions to Create At Large Membership. By resolution at its Berlin meeting, the ICANN Board asked staff to review the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) report and commentary and make recommendations to the Board, for consideration at its Santiago, Chile, meeting in August, 1999, on an implementation plan that was responsive to the Mac's suggestions.

Also in Berlin, the Board adopted four general principles to guide the creation of an At Large membership for ICANN:

1. "Members" should be individuals, and only "members" should vote for At Large Directors.

2. The election process for At Large Directors should take place in stages, to allow for adjustments in the process based on experience.

3. At Large Directors should be geographically diverse and broadly representative of the Internet user community.

4. The costs of At Large membership should be borne by the At Large members.

Two staff reports on At Large membership were prepared for the Santiago meeting, one dealing with analysis and recommendations on an implementation plan, and the other dealing with legal questions concerning membership provisions in California nonprofit corporation statutes.

After considering the staff reports and hearing public comment, the Board took a series of actions on At Large membership at the recent Santiago meeting. Together with its Berlin resolutions and the recommendations of the MAC, these decisions establish the basic structure for an ICANN At Large Membership.

In addition, to give some sustainable momentum to the planning and implementation of a large and globally diverse membership, the ICANN Board authorized the creation of a Membership Implementation Task Force, whose members will initially focus on membership outreach and recruitment.

ICANN At Large Membership Structure. After considering a range of issues affecting structure, the ICANN Directors have adopted an indirect representation mechanism in which an At Large Membership of a minimum size of 5000 individuals will elect an At Large Council composed of up to eighteen members. The At Large Council will in turn select nine individuals to become the At Large Directors of ICANN. Up to ten members of the At Large Council will be elected from each of the five geographic regions into which ICANN is currently divided, with no two regional members coming from the same country. The remaining (up to) eight members will be elected from a single global pool of candidates, with no restrictions on geographic origin.

Balancing a desire to encourage wide participation in ICANN membership on a worldwide basis with the need to protect against election fraud, the minimum requirements for an individual to become an At Large member will be (a) completion of an online membership application, including a statement of a commitment to participate in ICANN's activities; (b) a working Internet email address; and (c) a single physical residence verified by a postal mail address.

At Large Membership Implementation. The initial appointed At Large Directors of ICANN wish to proceed expeditiously with implementation of the At Large membership so that their elected successors may take office as soon as possible. However, translation of the membership structure that has been adopted by the Board into detailed plans and procedures that can operate faultlessly in a worldwide, interactive Internet environment requires significant staff and technical resources.

The membership implementation plan, which is being developed under the direction of interim President/CEO Mike Roberts, has six program elements, which will proceed in a parallel but coordinated manner.

(1) Identify a funding source sufficient to meet the minimum expenditure requirements of the initial phase of the At Large membership program. In early November, the Markle Foundation announced a commitment of $200,000 to fund the initial launch of ICANN's At Large Membership program. A copy of ICANN's application to the Markle Foundation, which outlines the specific implementation and outreach purposes to which the funds will be devoted, can be found here.

(2) Engage staff to manage and implement the program for at least the next six months. A membership program manager position has been defined and created. A search for qualified applicants is currently underway. The job posting can be found here.

(3) Complete plans for the creation of an At Large membership component of ICANN. The membership program manager will be responsible for development of detailed plans, resource requirements and timing. The plan will be based on previous work by the MAC and ICANN staff, Board membership resolutions, and assistance from the new Membership Implementation Task Force.

(4) Obtain necessary computer and network resources to support the membership database and applications. The membership database and online server will be located at the ICANN administrative headquarters in Marina del Rey, California, using ICANN computer facilities and under the supervision of ICANN technical staff. Design, development, installation and testing of membership software and hardware will be contracted to a qualified technical services firm.

(5) Provide administrative and logistic support for the new Membership Implementation Task Force. The membership program manager will be primary liaison to the task force, whose intended functions include carrying out a worldwide outreach program to recruit At Large members, reviewing specifications for membership computer programs, assisting with organization of the At Large Council, planning for independent oversight of the initial At Large Council election, and proposing a permanent funding mechanism for the At Large Membership.

(6) Specify, develop and test necessary processes and procedures and hold the first At Large Council election. Depending on progress toward meeting the minimum At Large membership threshold requirement of 5000 individual members, the ICANN Board is expected to approve election procedures and set a date for the first election of members of the At Large Council at its first meeting in the year 2000, currently expected to be the first week in March. Prior to approving the election date, the membership staff, working with the task force, will have completed and tested the required computer programs and related fraud protection provisions of the election procedures.

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