Ronda Hauben on 27 Jul 2000 15:52:54 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Re: ICANN --and you can too (fwd)

From: "Ben B. Day" <>
>>From a Brian Livingston article in InfoWorld:



---------- Forwarded message ----------
>In a major shift of power, the board rewrote ICANN's bylaws, eliminating the 
>requirement that nine out of 19 of its directors be elected by Internet users 
>at large.

>Now, instead of guaranteeing that nine directors will be democratically 
>elected, the bylaws state that only five will be elected this year. 

>This is significant because most of ICANN's 19 interim and appointed directors 
>are involved with for-profit Internet businesses. When the U.S. Department of 
>Commerce contracted with ICANN in 1998, its bylaws
>"balanced" the directors with financial interests by promising Internet users 
>the right to elect nine out of 19 directors soon.

But you can't balance commerce self interest and end up with a public
interest. The notion is flawed.

And you can't get ICANN to represent the public interest of Internet users
whether you have 9 or 5 at large delegates elected. 

The public interest is a general interest that serves all Internet users
while the commercial self interest serves a very narrow segment and only
in the short term. 

To put anyone with a commercial self interest on an entity that is then
given control of the vital functions of the Internet is to put those
functions into the hands of the vested interests who they need to be
protected from. 

>Instead of honoring this commitment, the 19 currently appointed directors
>have voted for a study of "whether the ICANN Board should include
at-large >directors" at all. 

What are the implications of this? Isn't it that having any decisions made
by those with a commercial self interest is a problem, not whether they
decide to have 5 or 9 board at large board members put on the board
through some bogus "election" process. 

The whole structure of ICANN is rotten to the core. And it was created by
an illegal process contrary to the laws and constitution in the U.S. And
it will only violate the laws and constitutions of all the countries it
tries to dominate. 

When I was at a meeting at the Kennedy School of Government, Elaine
Kamarck, an advisor to Gore, and then working at the Kennedy School,
listed to what I was saying about putting such power into the hands of the
people who would be ICANN, and she commented both to me privately, and to
those at the meeting publicly, that a nonprofit entity under US law is
*not* an appropriate form of entity in which to put such power and wealth.
That a nonprofit entity is for a voluntary organization that wants to
lobby government, for example. It is not for an organization that is being
vested with enormous economic power and wealth. That that was what
government was for.

That if a director of ICANN steals or privately benefits from the enormous
power and wealth being put in ICANN's hands, then the most one can do is
remove the person. 

That in government, someone who is in such a position has to go through
certain processes and security checks, that they are not allowed to go
into a positions they have a conflict of interest in, that they can be
subject to criminal charges for violating the obligations they have not to
personally benefit from the public role they are in. 

None of these safeguards exist in a nonprofit organization such as that
that ICANN has been created as. 

>Is it naive to think that any of this matters? (I'm thinking, of course,
of >Marcus's post of yesterday!) 

What matters is how to get the US government and the EU and other entities
like the Japanese government (and it would be good to figure out who else)
who have been instrumental in creating ICANN to end ICANN. 

And for now there needs to be a process begun to create the appropriate
institional form for the protection of the IP numbers, domain names,
protocols etc. That the IANA functions need to be protected, not put into
the hands of the vested interests to be abused. 

So it does indeed matter. 

But it would be good to see discussion about what is needed to change what
is happenig. My proposal to the US Dept of Commerce before they contracted
with ICANN was a real alternative as it gave a process to set up a
prototype for the kind of institutional form needed. 

My proposal is still up at the Department of Commerce and also online at

It is as if the US government and other governments have declared that the
Internet is an entity without any memory or history and that they can just
redirect it at whim by putting in this new and inappropriate institutional
form at its head. 

Isn't that the kind of thing that conquerors do to nations they conquer.
They try to erase the history or any consciousness of the history. That is
what ICANN represents for the Internet. 

The processes that made it possible to create and develop the Internet are
the processes that anyone interested in creating a new entity for the
Internet had to be conscious of and utilize to build the new entity. 

The internet was built through an interactive and as soon as possible,
online process, which was open, and which had the technical and scientific
and social nature of the network as foremost. 

It was built through a process of human-computer symbiosis, with the user
and the computer at the core of the process of development. 

That is what is the way to create a solution to the problem of scaling the
vital functions of the Internet's infrastructure. 

ICANN is the opposite. It was created via top down and anti user
processes. It can only be intended as a way to fundamentally change the
nature of the Internet. 

And it does seem people are more and more coming to realize this. 

There was just a reference to "Bill Clinton's ICANN, the insider's group
that controls the doling out of domain names and standards" in the Village
Voice, (July 25, 2000) pg. 32. 

The more people know the problem, the wider the resources to solve it :-) 


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