Meeting of the Membership Advisory Committee
18 March 1999



18 March 1999

Summary of March 18 Membership Committee Conference Call

Prepared by Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Committee Staff


Izumi Aizu
George Conrades
Greg Crew
Kanchana Kanchanasut
Oscar Robles
Molly Shaffer Van Houweling (staff)
Jonathan Zittrain (Berkman Center liaison)
(Dan Steinberg joined at the end of the call.)

George Conrades explained the background behind a proposed summary of committee consensus items that he and Greg Crew had recently distributed to the committee members. He said that he and Crew were hoping to help bring things to resolution so that the committee could present recommendations to the ICANN Board which could then be made available for public comment in advance of the Berlin meeting in late May. The committee would then concentrate on implementation issues, which would probably extend beyond the Berlin meeting.

Conrades then led a discussion of the proposed consensus points and the committee comment on them to date. (The consensus points are the numbered items below.)

1.  Any individual or organisation may be an AL member. Only ORGANISATIONS that are members of a SO are excluded.

    Greg Crew explained that he thought that exclusion of organizations in SOs was something agreed upon by the committee in Singapore, and thatís whey he put it in, but that some committee members have raised concerns about the complexity of enforcing this limitation. Some committee members suggested that organizations should all be excluded in order to avoid this complexity. Conrades expressed the opinion that to be as broad as possible, the at-large membership should include both individuals and organizations. Kanchana Kanchanasut asked how the balance of individuals and organizations would be struck in the Supporting Organizations. Conrades explained his understanding of the DNSO that is currently in the formative stages--that individuals and organizations will take part, but that the voting for directors will be indirect, through the Names Council. After it was clarified that individuals would not be excluded from the SOs, Kanchana agreed that it would be acceptable for her for organizations to have one vote each in the at large membership.

2.  Members must apply by sending an on-line registration form provided by ICANN, giving an e-mail address and other minimal identification details, which ICANN will only attempt to verify if a complaint is lodged.

    Conrades reported that a number of committee members had expressed concern about the adequacy of the authentication procedures. Michael Weinberg had also raised a concern that physical ballots, proxies, and nomination information are required under California law. Jonathan Zittrain suggested that the committee ask Weinberg to consider whether there might be some way to work around the California law provisions--maybe by having members vote to select Directors who are then officially elected by the Board of Directors (which would be required to elect who the members voted for) (much as the SOs currently do under the ICANN bylaws). Izumi Aizu worried that indirect voting would not be acceptable to people who had supported the idea, when ICANN was formed, that it should be a membership corporation.. Jonathan emphasized that the practical effect would be the same, as long as the Board had no discretion about electing the Directors selected by the at-large membership. Greg Crew expressed support of the idea of parity with the SO members, who are not now members of the corporation. Along those lines, Zittrain suggested referring to the membership as the "At Large Membership SO." Crew suggested leaving the specifics of the membershipís legal status to the Board, since the structure would work the same, practically, in either case.. Conrades asked Molly Shaffer Van Houweling to confer with Weinberg and Joe Sims to determine what alternatives would be legally feasible under California law and politically acceptable. Conrades also expressed interest in finding out how much paper ballots and mailed documentation would cost, and what documentation California law requires to authenticate members.
3.  Members must re-register annually. Changes to registered details, particularly e-mail address, must be advised on pain of loss of membership.
    Committee members did not express any concerns with this consensus item. 
4.  There will be no membership fee. (We consider this to be too difficult to set equitably, and costly to collect. We intend to be silent on the question of donations - they will always be acceptable).
    Committee members did not express any concerns with this consensus item.
6. Members form a single world wide constituency to elect AL directors.
    Committee members did not express any concerns with this consensus item.
7. Every member has a single vote at election of AL directors. (I.e., one vote for one director. Candidates scoring most votes are elected, subject to regional representation rules).
    Zittrain wanted to know if whether this item precluded the possibility of alternative voting mechanisms--cumulative or preferential voting, for example. He and Greg agreed to write up the costs and benefits of the various approaches.
8. Objective qualifications will be established for candidates for board positions. Candidates must provide ICANN with supporting documentation, by post if necessary.
    Committee members did not express any concerns with this consensus item.
9. There is no limit to the number of candidates at any election.
    Committee members did not express any concerns with this consensus item.  
10.  We see no need for a nomination committee, or for an electoral committee. These are tasks for the ICANN executive.
Several committee members wanted to leave the door open for the possibility of a committee that would work to solicit nominees (if, for example, there was a special need for representation from one region). But they agreed that there is no need for a committee to screen candidates.
    Several committee members favored the idea of including a sunset provision in the membership structure--directing the board to review how well the membership system was working after a set period. Crew suggested that following the second election would be a natural time to review. Zittrain suggested that the board should also do some sort of review after the initial membership is determined, but before the first election. That way if there are only a few members, they are all from the same place, or there is some other reason that the membership is not satisfactory, the Board can address the problem before the election. Dan Steinberg agreed to work with Diane Cabell on drafting a sunset provision.
Finally, Conrades discussed the timing of the next conference call. Greg Crew said that the committee should complete its recommendation by early April, to give the Board time to review it and post it in advance of the Berlin meeting. The group agreed that the next call will be on Tuesday, March 30, at 9:00 am U.S. East Coast time.

In advance of that call, Conrades asked all committee members to email their thoughts about how to do outreach to potential ICANN members, and what "value proposition" ICANN can offer people to entice them to join. What can they expect to get out of it?

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