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[atlarge-discuss] De-Construction of Assistance Group's ALAC Proposals

Analysis of the Assistance Group Report -
My comments ***starred***

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Assistance Group on Proposed Implementation of an At-Large Advisory
(ALAC Assistance Group)

Report to the Evolution and Reform Committee

"The recommendations contained in this report are intended to implement the
core values and principles outlined in the ERC's ICANN: A Blueprint
for Reform,"

[***RH: So the purpose is to IMPLEMENT the Blueprint for Reform?
I and many others like me, internet users, DO NOT want the Blueprint to be
We are therefore totally opposed to the QUOTE "intended" purpose of this
The intentions of this report are to implement the disenfranchisement of the
@large. The intentions of this report are unacceptable to many many people
in the @ large constituency***]

 which requires ICANN to:

(i) bla...

(ii) bla...

(iii) To the extent feasible, delegate coordination functions to
responsible entities that reflect the balance of interests of affected

[***RH: "the balance of interests"... analyse the new proposed Board...
would you not say that the entire internet user community of ordinary people
using the internet all over the world constituted a significant "interest"?
Where are they in your Board? So... balance ?***]

(iv) Seek and support broad, informed participation reflecting the
functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet, at all
levels of policy development and decision-making.

[***RH: quote- "ALL levels of decision-making"? So why remove the vote of
the biggest constituency away from the Board? Isn't the Board one of ALL the
levels? And is there an ALSO? Nope. "ALL" levels?***]

(v) bla

(vi) bla

(vii) Employ open and transparent policy development mechanisms that
(a) promote well-informed decisions based on expert advice, and (b)
ensure that those entities most affected can assist in the policy
development process.

[***RH: quote- "those entities most affected"... yep, I'd say that was
internet users... but "assist in policy development process" is wholly
inadequate, if it leaves the ruling clique with the ultimate power, veto,
and reduces "those most affected" merely to yapping committees without Board
votes etc***]

(viii) bla

(ix) bla

(x) Remain accountable to the Internet community through
mechanisms that enhance ICANN's effectiveness.

[***RH: It's just SPIN - "remain accountable".... accountable...
mechanism... effectiveness... just words which are used to legitimise the
palace coup - Vint and Joe and crowd remain in control, and the @large
elected representatives are kicked out. This Blueprint proposes that
disenfranchisement and is wholly unacceptable. The stated purpose of this
report is to "IMPLEMENT" the principles of the Blueprint. We cannot support
that or participate in the report.

(xi) Act with sensitivity to the public interest and related
governmental concerns, so that the need for direct governmental action
is minimized."

[***RH: Two things here - "act with sensitivity to the public interest" -
but what legitimacy or authority do you have to act on behalf of the
public... who exactly are you... where are the public's representatives?
AND Secondly: mimimizing need for direct governmental action - this is a
message to DoC, who do not want other governments to start interfering with
ICANN because it would intrude on US interests***]

This report also builds upon the ICANN Board's subsequent action on
June 28 in Bucharest, Romania, accepting and endorsing the Blueprint,

[***RH: This report is "building upon... the acceptance and endorsement of
the Blueprint". For goodness sake, just read the words. This report is
building upon the Blueprint. It's helping the Blueprint. It's helping to
build it up. A Blueprint that casts out the representatives of ordinary
internet users, the elected representatives of the @large***]

and instructing the ERC to take due account of the need to:

(i) bla

(ii) consider the creation of an At Large Advisory Committee as a
potential vehicle for informed participation in ICANN by the broad
user community;

[***RH: You take away executive authority on the Board, and replace it with
a sop, a sham, a powerless piece of window-dressing. "Informed
participation" is just SPIN. It means "We'll give you a powerless role,
because we need to be able to show DoC that you're involved somehow - that's
the purpose of removing the Board members and constructing some ALAC - not
to empower, but to disempower. That's the reality or "realpolitik" behind
the SPIN.***]

(iii) bla...

(iv) bla...

(v) ensure that ICANN's policy development processes enhance and
promote a transparent bottom-up process."

[***RH: "promote a bottom-up process" - that's what electing @large
Directors was all about. But this isn't "bottom-up" - this is creating
sections of powerless discussion,  to control the bottom from the top - this
is all an exercise in SPIN... Where is the bottom-up power to reject the
edicts of a top-down ruling clique? This is the Soviet Union again. In the
Soviet Union "the people" were meant to rule the country, and there were
similar "bottom-up processes" but the actual power was "top-down"... if they
really wanted bottom-up power they'd bring @large Directors onto the Board
instead of throwing them off.***]

ALAC Assistance Group

The ERC asked Esther Dyson (a member the ALOC - At-Large Organizing
Committee, and former member of the ALSC - ICANN At-Large Study
Committee) and Denise Michel (coordinator of www.at-large.org,
At-Large Organizing Committee, and former Executive Director of the
ALSC) to identify a small group of individuals to provide assistance
in defining how an ALAC could be created and what it should do.

[***RH: Remember the stated purpose was to IMPLEMENT the Blueprint, to
operate within its purposes and constraints and "build" upon Bucharest. Note
that the Assistance Group is generated "top-down" - neither Esther or denise
are there because the @large community has asked them to be... they're
imposed by ICANN***]

Dyson and Michel asked for volunteers from the ALOC, and the ERC
subsequently appointed these individuals, in addition to Dyson and
Michel, to help craft this report as members of the Assistance Group:
· Gabriel Piñeiro (LatinoamerICANN);
· Tommi Karttaavi (ISOC Finland);
· Peter M. Shane (InSITeS - Institute for the Study of
Information Technology and Society);
· Núria de la Fuente Teixidó (STEC - Sistemas Técnicos de
Enseñanza Consultores);
· Edmundo Valenti (Internet Society Argentina Chapter);
· Vittorio Bertola (ISOC Italy); and
· Izumi Aizu (former NAIS member - NGO and Academic ICANN

[***RH: Please note the absence and exclusion of the appointed observers
from Icannatlarge.com, the successor group of the @large, and most
vociferous in its criticism of the Blueprint; also the exclusion of Hans
Klein, who was equally robust in his opposition to the Blueprint. In other
words, the Assistance Group did not reflect the cross-section of @large
opinion, nor was it requested by the @ large, nor is it endorsed by the
@large. The process of its report (which aims to implement and build upon
the Blueprint) is the OPPOSITE of the expressed desires of most @large
groups. Those few individuals who actually participated in the Advisory
Group mostly did so simply to maintain a protesting presence and to observe
what was being put together to support the Blueprint - they were in a very
difficult and, some would say, unwise position***]

The Assistance Group encouraged other individuals involved in At-Large
organizing to assist with this effort, and would like to acknowledge
the following individuals for their contributions:
· Alexander Svensson (Manager, www.icannchannel.de, DNSO General
Assembly Alternate Chair, creator of www.alac.info);
· Sotiris Sotiropoulos (ALOC member, and member of
www.icannatlarge.com); and
· Christian Ahlert (ALOC member, and former NAIS member).

It should be noted that, although individuals' affiliations have been
included for reference, the recommendations in this report reflect the
personal views of Assistance Group members, and do not necessarily
represent the views or positions of any organizations referenced in
this report.

[***RH: as such, this Assistance group is not representative of the @Large -
it is simply engaged in a process for the Blueprint which is at odds with
the @large***]

  This report is intended to fulfill the ERC's request to
provide ALAC implementation recommendations

[***RH: it appears that probably a considerable majority of the @large does
not WANT the ALAC implemented and the report and its ALAC can therefore be
seen as a contradiction in terms... a Committee which the At Large does not
want... an "At Large Doesn't Want This Committee" - in short... top-down

, as part of ERC's ongoing
process to further develop and seek public input on the Blueprint for

[***RH: We do not WANT this Blueprint further developed. This is spin and
propaganda and this is the Soviet Union years after the rest of the world
had left this sort of thing behind***]

  It does not represent the Assistance Group's individual
members' endorsement of the current Blueprint for Reform, nor does it
represent its members' preferred approach to individual user
(At-Large) participation or representation within ICANN.  (Many
participants favored direct elections, with differences only on their

[***RH: That being the case (and Denise was obliged to put this in) this is
just an "invention" of some ICANN staff, speculating on "what if" the @large
accommodated the loss of its Directors, which it doesn't. Many (most) of the
members of the @large in the Group do indeed still demand elected Board
members and repudiate the Blueprint for reform. So this whole thing that
follows is an exercise in What If.... It is a creation and a fantasy of the
ICANN Board to try to legitimise its usurpation of User power, and to try to
coax @large members into involvement in their powerless alternative to give
them some sort of legitimacy. But there is no legitimacy. Esther and Denise
simply DON'T speak for the @large. And those @large members "speaking" in
this group, were speaking hypothetically on a construct they would roundly
reject if they could.***]

These recommendations are the Assistance Group's suggestions on how to
implement an ALAC according to the Blueprint,

[***RH: which they DON'T WANT to implement... let's keep that clear...]

 and are offered for
consideration and use by the ERC.  Soliciting public comments was not
part of our compressed, report-development process. Our process was a
precursor to a public comment process, not a replacement.  We note
that the ERC "strongly encourages public feedback" on specific details
of their implementation efforts and look forward to reading the
public's comments on this report.

[***RH: Yes well that's SPIN isn't it? Esther? Denise? You don't look
forward to reading public comment on this report do you, because the public
do NOT WANT it, and what you're orchestrating is something the @large public
does not want to exist. Public feedback will also be ignored, let's be clear
about that, because the wishes of the public do not fit into the Blueprint.
So the Public Feedback is just window-dressing before the Soviet Coup
carries on***]
[***RH: TOP-DOWN: TOP-DOWN: TOP-DOWN... If you were seriously concerned with
the informed opinions and wishes of others, why did you ignore the
recommendations of the ALSCommittee you appointed yourself, which affirmed
the necessity of @Large Directors. And public opinion STILL says that. And
the Top-Down politburo just ignore it. "Strongly encourages Public feedback"
is "To hell with what you want but we must be seen to be going through the
motions of consulting with you riff-raff anyway." Well, it's true. Go on
prove me wrong : adopt ALSC***]


The method by which the global Internet community should participate
in ICANN has been the subject of contentious debate since before ICANN
was created (see brief summary in addendum). According to its
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of
Commerce, ICANN, as a private sector, non-profit corporation with
technical management responsibilities for the Internet's domain name
and address system, should have a structure that fosters accommodation
in decision-making among various interests, including individual
Internet users. The stated goal of "At-Large" (individual Internet
users) organizers and organizations is to represent a broad set of
interests, thus helping to ensure that ICANN's policies truly reflect
the needs, interests and rights of a full range of stakeholders. This
in turn will contribute to the stability of the domain name system and
attract broader public support for ICANN over time.

[***RH: bla..."contentious debate" ... well not really in the @large groups
themselves... there is more or less consensus, and certainly a big majority,
who know that commonsense requires @large representatives on the Board if
Internet Users are to have their own members who can curb, balance and alter
the decisions that may be made for other (often more commercial interests.
That will for voting Board members is not "contentious" - it's the obvious
commonsense of power - but the realpolitik behind all this is that
alternative and more commercial/political interests do not want the
interference of the @large in positions of real power where their vested
interests might be compromised. That's the reality of the history of recent

The Assistance Group agrees with the ALSC's statement that "ICANN
needs to be accountable not just to governments and members of its
existing Supporting Organizations, but also to those who are affected
by its actions. Actions ICANN takes within its seemingly narrow
technical and administrative mission can affect (and generate interest
among) the world's individual Internet users in a myriad of ways.
These users hold a variety of values and interests and represent a
critical voice in how ICANN's actions can and should impact them." For
example, the ALOC,

[***RH: no, no, no, more SPIN... ALOC (yet ANOTHER invented committee) is
just another ICANN invention, ICANN-imposed, ICANN-designed to distract
attention from the removal of @large Directors... the AtLarge groups did not
request: Please, may we have an ALOC. Internet users do not exist with ICANN
at the centre of their universe. They mobilise and group together because
they choose to, they do not need "encouragement" from ICANN, indeed some
have grown specifically because they perceive ICANN to be so autocratic and
damaging to user interests. ... It's the same SPIN when Denise writes: "The
Assistance Group agrees..." because the people who reluctantly participated
in this ICANN ploy DO NOT AGREE with the ultimate purposes of this group at
all... they are "tolerating for the sake of dialogue"... but they want the
opposite outcome to the one which the AG and ALOC and ALAC are designed to
achieve... because these ICANN groups aim to implement the
disenfranchisement of the @large via the Blueprint, and the @large wants the
opposite. This AG, this ALOC, this ALAC is all hypothetical, based on an
imaginary consensus that simply doesn't exist : though the reversal of these
policies WOULD ironically meet with near consensus in the @large. ICANN
through ALOC and ALAC are trying to get users to adopt a direction which
they've already rejected.***]

 which is encouraging the self-formation worldwide
of "At-Large Structures,"  ...etc...

Members of the "ICANN community" have been searching for the fairest
and most practical compromise among those who seek global democratic
procedures to realize At-Large representation, those who want ICANN to
be governed by experts in the technical and administrative tasks for
which ICANN is responsible, and those who think it should be managed
by government (-selected) officials.

[***RH: Well the fairest way is obviously to involve all. The clearly UNfair
way is to abolish the elected element. That's not a "practical compromise",
it's a "fait accompli" in direct rejection of the ALSCommittee they set up
themselves to determine this.***]

 Identifying a mechanism that
would enable all of ICANN's "constituents" to influence its actions
and ensure the "public interest" is represented has proven
challenging.  There remains significant concern in parts of the ICANN
community about the potential destabilizing effects of direct
elections, or even substantial At-Large involvement in ICANN

[***RH: Appalling bias. Commercial interests don't like the independent
voice of users' representatives, so stifle them, kick them off the Board.
You could actually reverse that and state, that Internet Users do not always
like the implications of commercial influence upon the administration of the
DNS, or the influence of big business on quasi-legislation on IP matters etc
etc Whether or not there is concern, ICANN's mandate is established on the
need to fully involve internet users in the administration of the DNS***]

In contrast, many interested individuals and organizations (including
some members of the ALOC) remain convinced that direct user
representation on the Board is the only appropriate mechanism for full
individual user (At-Large) involvement in ICANN, and they remain
unconvinced that the ALAC approach is the appropriate course of
action, or even the appropriate first step towards an organized and
representative approach for user involvement in ICANN.

[***RH: Yes well this had to be acknowledged because it's the overwhelming
reality. The @large constituency is largely sceptical (as explained above)
about this unsolicited ICANN initiative, particularly as it appears to
legitimise the disempowering of the @Large***]

This report does not seek to end these disagreements, per se.  Rather,
we offer for consideration some initial steps that we believe are
consistent with the ERC's reform efforts and that could serve as a
starting point from which to phase-in broader At-Large involvement to
support ICANN's work in the future.

[***RH: Here we go again - SPIN - "we believe..." WHO? not the @large ... "a
starting point to phase in..." At Large says "We don't want this. We don't
want this. We don't want this. Esther and Denise say "Well let's start and
phase in" which means "Sorry you're getting it, like it or not... we're
starting... we're phasing it in" ("phase in" is a classic SPIN term for
implementing an unpopular idea) : actual REALITY behind the SPIN: the @large
is being spectacularly PHASED OUT of power and influence inside ICANN!!
Black=white. SPIN.***][oh, this is very crafty stuff, well done Esther and
Denise, did Joe Sims write this for you? ]

  (Should ICANN's reforms take a
different course, some of these suggestions might still be
appropriate, while others could be modified.)

Role and Responsibilities

The Blueprint for Reform proposes two types of entities in a "reformed
ICANN:" Supporting Organizations, which would be organized to address
policy issues for each kind of identifier (e.g. GNSO, CCSO), and
Advisory Committees, which would be structured to provide specific
perspectives or expertise deemed useful to ICANN's activities (e.g.
TAC, GAC).  Based on this structure, and taking into account the
initial reform decisions made by the Board, we recommend the creation
of an ALAC to provide ICANN with advice and information on issues
affecting individual Internet users.

[***RH: Supporting Organisations = policy making/developing
Advisory Committees= provision of advice
yes, this is disenfranchisement***]

[***RH: When you say "WE recommend an ALAC" who exactly do you mean by "WE"?
Do these participants want these reforms? Do they ACTUALLY recommend this is
what should happen, or is this just a forced hypothesis? And who does WE
actually represented? Since the @large appears to want Directors, WHO gave
esther and Denise the legitimacy to speak "WE" like this and on behalf of
whom. Let it be made quite clear: this Advisory Group represents NO @large.
If anything, the @large as a whole opposes the implementations being posited
by this group.***]

The establishment of an ALAC should be viewed as a critical first step
towards structured involvement of the individual user community in
ICANN and, in particular, towards a formalized role in ICANN's policy
development process that ensures users' views are taken into account.

[***RH: Well no, I'm sorry - users views HAVE to be taken into account - its
a condition for ICANN. "First step... phase in ... same language ... but no
authority for it... except from "the top"***]

Without a structured entity such as an ALAC capable of presenting user
perspectives, a critical group of stakeholders would be excluded from
the reformed-ICANN, ultimately undermining its (and their)

[***RH: Laughable! "We've stolen all your money, so unless we give you a
dollar, you won't be able to eat." "Oh wow! Thank you so much!" These
stakeholders would be excluded because their representative had been kicked
off the Board... that's the reality of what the politburo has done! The
representation has gone, because the politburo has removed it. The @large is
being excluded from power, but has to be squeezed into a corner somewhere to
satisfy the MoU***]

ICANN was created to provide a way for members of the global Internet
community to join to offer input and develop policies in a transparent
manner for the technical management of the Internet's domain name and
address system.  Neither ICANN's current structure, nor the latest
version of the Blueprint for Reform, however, provides for adequate
participation by individuals or representation of their interests. The
existing and proposed Supporting Organizations are structured to
provide expert advice to the Board, and they afford only limited
opportunity for At-Large participation. Governments (and ICANN's
Government Advisory Committee), though useful, are not the appropriate
mechanisms for individuals' participation.

Other alternatives for achieving these goals were considered and
rejected by the Assistance Group.  A "Public Participation Manager,"
while potentially useful in advancing ICANN outreach and public
participation, is a top-down mechanism, limited in scope, and not
suitable for achieving bottom-up, structured user involvement in
ICANN's policy development process (although ICANN will need to hire
staff to communicate with At-Large, and to help foster its members'
participation in ICANN activities).  Placing At-Large solely within
the GNSO would limit At-Large representatives' ability to address user
issues related to other Internet resources within ICANN's purview.
Although gTLD issues figure prominently in individual users' list of
priorities, the At-Large constituency comprises users (either directly
or indirectly) of all Internet resources.  At-Large's place within
ICANN should enable it to address the breadth of issues concerning
this constituency.

[So create an ALSO to do that, and restore voting Directors - simple.
What's lacking is WILL - because the politburo simply doesn't want the
@large in positions of influence, otherwise they could create those
positions in their 'architecture' - the problem is created by the ruling
clique, as simple as that. SO WHAT if one of the SO's didn't seem as
technical as the others. The representation and participation and power
issues are far more significant. An ALSO would address the need for an
umbrella organisation; and voting Directors (already recommended but now
abolished in the coup) would address the need for empowerment and due
representation.. The reduction of the @large movement to some paltry ALAC is
purely the decision of a ruling clique which wants to keep it under control
and wants to stifle independent or threatening or alternative points of
view. Like in the old Soviet Union, they prefer a set up where in a vote
everyone puts up their hand and there's no real opposition.***]

Like ICANN's existing and proposed Advisory Committees, the ALAC
should be available to provide advice and guidance to the Board and to
other organizations within ICANN (for the ALAC, this would be based on
its members' expertise in the area of individual Internet users and
their needs and rights).  The ALAC should serve both as a resource
that can be called upon to pursue specific questions involving users,
and as an active "watchdog" ensuring that issues affecting individual
users that might otherwise be overlooked are brought to the attention
of decision makers.

[***RH: A watchdog needs teeth***]
[***RH: This Board does indeed need a Watchdog. It needs watchdogs ON the
Board - but look how it detests Karl Auerbach's barking. And it needs an
Ombudsman, to put ICANN's whole work under regular methodical scrutiny -
only this Ombudsman should be entirely independent of ICANN - it's
extraordinary that the Board has decided to avoid the independent element -
but wholly predictable. Top-down control all along the line.***]


Richard Henderson

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