Ben B. Day on Thu, 27 Jul 2000 07:01:47 -0400 (EDT)

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<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 

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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