Meeting of the Membership Advisory Committee
30 March 1999



30 March 1999

Summary of March 30 Membership Committee Conference Call

Prepared by Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Committee Staff


Izumi Aizu
Diane Cabell
George Conrades
Greg Crew
Daniel Kaplan
Siegfried Langenbach
Nii Quaynor
Molly Shaffer Van Houweling (staff)
Dan Steinberg

George Conrades opened the call by discussing the committee procedures leading up to the ICANN meeting in Berlin. He suggested that the committee should complete its recommendations for an ICANN membership structure by April 25, in order to leave time for the recommendations to be posted for public comment in advance of the meeting. He predicted that the committee would not have time for a face-to-face committee meeting between now and Berlin. Several committee members agreed that the report prepared by the committee in Singapore would provide most of the necessary material for the final recommendations.

Next, the group discussed a proposal (based on previous discussions and posted to the group for comment by Molly Shaffer Van Houweling) for online voting by at-large members. Shaffer Van Houweling explained that the proposal called for minimal postal mail contact with members--only upon initial registration, when they would be sent a unique identification number and asked to return a signature card and a consent form agreeing that subsequent notice, etc., would all be electronic. Using the id number, the members would then vote (either by specific proxy or written ballot, a detail not finalized in the proposal) online.

Several committee members expressed support for the proposal, although they would like to know more about the detailed differences between proxy voting and written ballots. Shaffer Van Houweling indicated that she is continuing to research what would be more feasible under California corporate law.

Next, the committee discussed whether cumulative voting (where members get to distribute multiple votes among the director candidates) should be an option. Greg Crew explained the basics of cumulative voting--a system in which members each get multiple votes, which they may cast all for one candidate or for multiple candidates. Siegfried Langenbach expressed concern that voters would stack all of their votes with the candidate they are familiar with, to the detriment of better candidates. Nii Quaynor reported that the Internet Society uses cumulative voting and that he is in favor of this method. Izumi Aizu, Daniel Kaplan, and Diane Cabell agreed. Langenbach and Crew supported straight (not cumulative) voting. Conrades said that Jonathan Zittrain had offered to work on this issue on the last call and that the committee should hear his report before deciding this issue, but that cumulative voting appeared to be the majority preference.

Conrades directed Shaffer Van Houweling, working with Diane Cabell, to work to incorporate the committee's recent discussions into the Singapore report, and make other modifications necessary to turn the Singapore report into a final recommendation of the committee, to be posted for comment in advance of the ICANN meeting in Berlin.

Diane asks about sunset provisions, asking whether the committee wants the membership structure to automatically "self-destruct" if it's not officially renewed after a certain time period. The consensus was that that would cause too much uncertainty and political wrangling. There was support for the general idea that the Board would have to monitor the membership process and review it after a certain period of time and that, in particular, the Board should consider whether or not the size of the at-large membership is sufficient (especially in relation to the size of the SOs). Cabell agreed to write up a proposed provision along these lines.

Conrades next turned the discussion to next steps for the membership committee. He said that the ICANN Board would like the committee to help with implementation issues--in particular, with outreach to potential members. Conrades asked Daniel Kaplan to summarize some ideas that he had developed in this area.

First, Kaplan discussed a question that Conrades had raised at the last committee calll--"what is the value proposition that ICANN is offering to potential members?" Kaplan suggested that ICANN needs to offer members benefits outside of just voting. He suggested that other benefits of membership under California law might be one source. He also suggested that members might receive special information services--early notice of meetings and other ICANN events, etc. They might also receive (with proper privacy protections) a membership directory, and be offered subscription to members-only discussion lists. He also suggested that, to attract new members, ICANN form alliances with other associations, perhaps offering joint memberships, or linking to other associations in exchange for their linking to ICANN. ICANN could also try to conduct outreach through registrars and registries, who will be in contact with likely members. ICANN could ask them to forward messages from ICANN, to post links to ICANN, etc. Quaynor suggested conducting outreach through universities. Izumi reported that outreach about ICANN is going on in Japan already (and he agreed to give the committee the details via email); he suggested emphasizing special channels for members to give input to ICANN. Diane volunteered to collect input from committee members regarding their ideas for the message that ICANN should communicate to potential members to attract them. Daniel agreed to collect input from committee members regarding their ideas for mechanisms for outreach to potential members.

George summarized the assignments for the group. Shaffer Van Houweling and Cabell were directed to work on a draft recommendation based on the committee's discussion. Kaplan agreed to send a summary of his outreach ideas to the committee for their comment and to be the reporter for other members' ideas about outreach mechanics. Cabell agreed to do the same regarding the outreach "message." The next call was tentatively schedule for April 20th, at 0900 U.S. East Coast time (1400 GMT).

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