[CCWG-ACCT] An mplication of accountability models being discussed

George Sadowsky george.sadowsky at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 17:13:13 UTC 2015


[This message contains my personal opinion and is not related to any formal ICANN Board function.  My opinions may of course reflect insights that I've had as a result of Board service, but they're still my personal insights, and not ICANN positions, either formal or informal.]

First, I accept the idea that the ICANN Board is accountable  --  in fact, with multiple accountability requirements, including the Attorney General of the State of California (California law), ICANN Inc. (as a Director), the "community" (bylaws provisions), and the global public interest (Affirmation of Commitments).  Personally, I also embrace another dimension of accountability; my actions must contribute to the health and growth of the Internet, as opposed  to weakening them.  That's clearly a subjective measure, as is the interpretation of what is the global public interest.   

A problem arises for me when there appears to be a conflict between satisfying one or more of these obligations while working agains others.  For the most part, they coincide, but not necessarily always. For me, the most important accountability requirement that I have is to the health and growth of the Internet, and if I were to have to act against that in any significant way as a member of the Board, I would quit the Board.

Here's the question: Does the CCWG believe that the global public interest is _always_ defined by "community" consensus or "community" dictates?    Yes or no?  I believe that the great majority of the time the two are consistent, but I believe that there are cases in which they diverge.   Is there any disagreement among us that this could happen?  In that case, what should a Board member do?  Which is the higher authority according to the CCWG's thinking?

It's somewhat more complex than that.  ICANN uses the multistakeholder model precisely because it brings together stakeholder groups with specific interests that are often in conflict or opposition.  It brings them together because only if they are together can they attempt to find compromise positions for progress.  But sometimes that requires decisions that support one side's position and go against another's.  GAC advice provides an excellent example; the Board may make a decision to accept or not accept, with follow up consequences either way. 

The issue comes up because of the CCWG discussion about removal of Board Directors.  Such removal may well depend upon whether, in those cases of divergence of accountabilities, Board members choose a direction that does not reflect what the community wants, or what a major part of the community wants but a minority may not want.

This implies to me that the test for removal of a Director must rest upon a process that is broadly distributed in the community and must recognize the different organizations to which such a member is accountable as an important factor in the process.

What are the opinions of members of the CCWG on this point?


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