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<nettime> ICANN Watch: ICANN Publishes Letter from Gilmore to Cerf
nettime's_roving_reporter on Sat, 25 May 2002 22:30:10 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> ICANN Watch: ICANN Publishes Letter from Gilmore to Cerf


     [via <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>]

<http://icannwatch.org/article.php?sid=763&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0>

   Board of Directors 
   ICANN Publishes Letter from Gilmore to Cerf

   Posted by tbyfield on Friday, May 24  {AT}  12:06:19 MDT

   Amidst the batch of documents[1] ICANN has filed in Auerbach v ICANN, one
   is especially noteworthy, both for its eloquence and its pathos: a
   two-month-old letter from EFFer[2] John Gilmore to ICANN Chairman Vint
   Cerf (PDF here[3]).

     [1] http://www.icann.org/legal/litigation.htm
     [2] http://www.eff.org/
     [3] http://www.icann.org/legal/auerbach-v-icann/cerf-decl-16apr02.pdf

   It's not entirely clear why ICANN would think it beneficial to enter
   this into the court record -- maybe to paint the case as a personal
   vendetta, maybe to imply that Auerbach will irresponsibly distribute
   the financial documents he's requested, maybe to insinuate that the
   case is a part of a larger attack, maybe some or all of the above.
   Cerf's terse declaration sheds no light on the strategy behind it, of
   course; but it does present a very strange (at least to this
   not-a-lawyer) counterpoint to Gilmore's ferocious criticism.
 
    ---

    Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2002 14:26:26 -0800
    From: John Gilmore
    Subject: Re: ICANN: Auerbach's Allegations Off Target
    To: vcerf {AT} mci.net, gnu {AT} new.toad.com

    > "Karl paints this as a dispute between him and ICANN management, but
    > nothing could be further from the truth," noted Board chairman Vint Cerf.
    > "ICANN management is merely carrying out its obligation to follow the
    > wishes of the Board as a whole rather than follow the dictates of any
    > single Director."

     Hi, Vint.

     I haven't wanted to disrupt our friendship, so I've held off a long
     time in telling you what I think about how you are leading ICANN.
     That's why this message is a little longer than it needs to be; I'm
     saying things that I've been bottling up for a while.

     I don't want to be considered a friend of what you now stand for.

     You are on the wrong side of this issue, as you have been on the
     wrong side of many issues regarding ICANN. If ICANN has secrets
     about who it is doing backdoor favors with, those *should* be made
     public. And you, as Chairman, as the most prominent and trusted
     board member, and as the architect of the openness that should
     still be in the Internet, should have been way ahead of Karl
     Auerbach in making them public.

     Even if those secrets are never made public, or even if there are
     no terrible secrets inside ICANN, the activities of ICANN MUST be
     available to every person on the Board of Directors. Without
     restriction, without delay, without subversion. By law, and for
     good reasons.

     You have been a rubber stamp for many corrupt ideas out of Network
     Solutions, Verisign and ICANN ever since your election. When I
     complained to you in the past, such as when the NSI contract was
     amended to give them a perpetual monopoly, you said that there was
     nothing else that you could do. I disagreed with that sentiment
     then, and I disagree with it now. You could have left the contract
     the way it was, rather than amend it. You don't even have to make
     things better to keep my respect; you could keep things from
     getting worse. But you continue to choose to make things worse. Now
     you are defending ICANN's lack of openness even with its own
     elected directors!

     ICANN was created to promise openness, transparency,
     accountability, and competition. It has provided none of those, and
     actively works every month to reduce what little it has provided.
     You have worked with it to eliminate, rather than create, those
     promises.

     Opening whatever squirming can of worms that is calling the shots
     at ICANN is what is needed. I can see that ICANN management is
     terrified that directors from outside the old-boy network might
     actually find out the details of what ICANN does day by day. They
     have eliminated any future threat of that, by eliminating outside
     directors after this term. And they are delaying the current
     directors' access to information, in the hope that they can
     permanently avoid outside scrutiny.

     I've been a director of several California corporations. I've read
     that part of the law myself. I've invoked it in a couple of
     occasions. I contributed significant funding for Karl's lawsuit.
     Karl is right and you and the ICANN staff are wrong. And now I find
     you lying about it in a press release. "ICANN management is merely
     carrying out its obligation to follow the wishes of the Board as a
     whole..." ICANN *management* instigated those policies, the board
     didn't. The board has never even considered them.

     Virtually everyone at EFF has been looking for ways that we could
     help to open ICANN and get it to do what it was chartered to do.
     I've had to hold them back for years, telling them that
     participation was a waste of our scarce time -- and that no matter
     how much time they put in, ICANN would have to get really bad
     before it would ever get better. I put two years of my own life
     into the domain-name issues, with CORE. It became clear that the
     strings were being pulled behind the scenes, because the right
     answers were relatively obvious, yet the wrong answers got
     approved, providing billions of dollars of benefit to certain
     parties with heavy ties to the US military. Rather than ICANN
     making open decisions and using transparent processes, whoever
     pulls those strings is still controlling what happens. But under
     ICANN, the process is even murkier and further hidden from public
     scrutiny. And you're helping.

     All the way back at the start of ICANN, EFF and I proposed
     amendments that would provide a "Bill of Rights" and a "Sunshine
     Act" and a "Freedom of Information Act" in ICANN's Bylaws. These
     were all summarily rejected. ICANN does not give a damn about the
     fundamental rights of citizens or Internet users. It does not want
     to operate in. the sunshine. And it does not want information about
     what it's doing to be made available even to its own directors, let
     alone to the public. Give me one good reason why such an
     organization should get even a millisecond more of your support --
     or anyone's.

     The law gives directors an "absolute right" because directors exist
     to be INDEPENDENT OF and SUPERIOR TO the management. Each and every
     director has a separate duty to the company; each one carries it
     out in their own. way. The Board cannot prevent any board member
     from merely inquiring into the state of the company. The Board
     cannot condition any board member's inquiry on agreement to a set
     of arbitrary terms. Nor can the management. This is not only a good
     idea -- it's the law.

     ICANN is going down, one way or another. Either it will go down
     like East Germany, with a peaceful transition to governance
     responsive to the public will, or it will go down like Japan, with
     big bombs dropped on it. ICANN has lost all semblance of
     credibility and merely seeks to entrench its unaccountable power.

     I have absolutely no idea what you are doing leading that
     megalomaniac, unaccountable, unresponsive, anti-expression,
     anti-public-interest organization. Did they take your kids hostage?
     Did you sell your soul for a mess of pottage? What hold do they
     have over you?

     I used to think much better of you than this, Vint. You can see
     that even now I'm grasping at straws rather than believe that YOU
     are one of the megalomaniacs. But the evidence continues to pile
     up, and I'm afraid it's true. I don't want to be the friend of such
     a person. I'll see you from the other side of the courtroom. Bye.

     John

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