NGO and Academic ICANN Study

Statement of the NGO and Academic ICANN Study (NAIS) on the ALSC's Proposed Action Statement.

October 31, 2001

We appreciate the effort of the ALSC to find consensus principles relating to the future of the At Large Membership that the Board can adopt at the Los Angeles meeting. As we have said many times before, we believe that there are several important points of consensus between the ALSC report and the NAIS report. It would be useful for the Board to formally acknowledge these consensus principles in order to form a floor for future debates on the final shape and scope of the At Large.

We start with two procedural points. First, it would be better for the community to have the ALSC final report prior to commenting on language in a proposed board resolution. The strength of the arguments to be presented in the final report is relevant to the principles stated in the ALSC's draft resolution.

Second, while we support an ongoing role for the ALSC until a final decision on theAt Large Membership is made at the Ghana meeting, we are skeptical of the draft resolution's call for the ICANN staff to explore the level of community interest in regional At Large structures. This appears to position the proposed ALSO as simply a traditional supporting organization, or even a DNSO constituency, both of which are not appropriate models for the structure of the At Large Membership.

As to the merits of the ALSC draft, we agree with many of the principles stated by the ALSC:

We strongly agree with the first principle that Internet users have a "significant stake" in ICANN's activities and should have the opportunity of "fully participating" in ICANN. Indeed, this conclusion forms the basis for our own report and recommendations.

We also agree with the thrust of the three additional statements of principle -

However, we strongly disagree with the language in the proposed board resolution that refers to two specific recommendations in the ALSC report - that the At Large electorate be limited to domain name holders, and that the At Large should elect only six members of the ICANN board.

While it may be that the ALSC intends these references to be for purposes of illustration only, the wording in the resolution is very susceptible to mis-reading and interpretive abuse. We fear that if the board in Los Angeles adopts this resolution as written, we will hear people say in Ghana that the board has already "decided" to limit the ALSO electorate to domain name holders and the number of At Large seats to six.�

There is no reason for the ALSC to insist on stating, even as illustrations, its own specific recommendations in a resolution intended to achieve broad consensus on several important, general principles. The resolution will be much, much more acceptable if the ALSC deletes the specific references to the particular ALSC positions that are, in our view, very much in controversy.

If the ALSC wants to include language that illustrates the general principles, you should include more than just the ALSC's own recommendations as examples. For instance, you could make your point by including references to NAIS positions as well, again for illustrative purposes only.

In other words, we believe there is consensus in support of the principle of "proportionate" representation for the At Large, but that principle could be implemented by either 6 seats as the ALSC recommends or 9 seats as NAIS recommends (or some other number). If you include a reference only to the ALSC recommendation, it makes the resolution appear to be a Trojan Horse attempt to pre-judge a controversial point of specific implementation in the guise of a general principle.�

This is undoubtedly not the intent of the ALSC. But the language as written can be read and perhaps used that way by others, and it undermines the ALSC's effort to have the board adopt important consensus principles.

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