[CCWG-ACCT] Staff accountability

Kieren McCarthy kieren at kierenmccarthy.com
Fri Jul 17 20:15:14 UTC 2015

What I am saying Avri is that we should not keep making the same mistake
over and over again.

And one of those mistakes is to continue to believe that a single person
can bring a decent level of accountability to ICANN. They cannot.
Especially when they are reliant on ICANN for doing their job and getting


On Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 12:44 PM, Avri Doria <avri at acm.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> On 17-Jul-15 20:38, Kieren McCarthy wrote:
> > > some personnel issues should remain confidential,
> >
> > I don't understand why people keep putting this strawman out there. No
> > one is suggesting, or indeed has ever suggested, that personnel issues
> > be included in a proper accountability mechanism.
> True.
> >
> > > Why would a strengthened ombudsman not be a good fit for this role?
> >
> > I'll give you three good reasons:
> >
> > 1. The Ombudsman was created in 2004. Despite numerous efforts to make
> > the role effective, it has never happened. Why keep making the same
> > mistake?
> Previous failure is not a mistake.
> I believe we can succeed at doing this.
> And the Ombudsman can get access to any information.  It is uncertain
> how much he can do with it at this point, but at least someone who is
> trusted can look and can give testimony about the validity of redactions.
> Sure I would like to see ICANN live of to ATRT obligations,  take on CSR
> seriously, have reasonable RR and stronger independent reviews and
> audits &c., but we should not give up the partial successes because they
> are not right yet.  WS2 will focus on strengthening the ombudsman role
> and I think we can do it.
> >
> > 2. The Ombudsman is completely reliant on ICANN corporate. For access
> > to people and documents, for resources, for salary, for technical
> > support, for logistical support, for an office, for a room at ICANN
> > meetings, for everything except his own body. And his role and what he
> > can do is determined by ICANN's legal department in the rules that
> > they wrote. The Ombudsman also signs a very strong confidentiality
> > agreement with ICANN that effectively ties their hands on everything
> > except illegal activity. See point 1.
> Ombudsman in general are paid for by the company they work for.  And
> they often still have strong independence.  Some even have power to fix
> things.  We should fix the aspects of the ombudsman support that need to
> be fixed, we should not give up.
> See response to point 1.
> >
> > 3. An Ombudsman is a single person. And one completely reliant on
> > ICANN. This provides an enormous degree of control by ICANN and very
> > little freedom for the accountability role the Ombusdsman is supposed
> > to fulfill. There are numerous people able to testify that ICANN
> > corporate has no hesitation in applying significant pressure on
> > individuals if they act in a way that it deemed a potential threat.
> > All of those people are however under confidentiality agreements with
> > ICANN.
> >
> Actually we have an Ombudsman's office with 2 people in it.
> It either needs to be fixed or we need to walk away from ICANN.  Some of
> us have done so and are probably making a good living picking on ICANN,
> and some of us are thinking of walking away just to make a living
> (volunteering is a difficult vocation).  But those who do stay need  to
> keep trying to fix it for as long as they do stay.  And new people come
> to the effort all the time, determined to succeed where we fail.
> For anyone who says ICANN never improves, I ask them to think back to a
> decade ago and compare.  Problems there still are, but it is nowhere
> near as bad as it once was. Could be a lot better, but also could be a
> lot worse.
> >
> > The only way to bring actual accountability to ICANN is to have people
> > that are not dependent on ICANN and are not muzzled by confidentiality
> > agreements asking the questions.
> True they are necessary.  But they are only one part of the story.  They
> need internal allies.
> And it is my impression that though not as effective as he could have
> been due to conditions you describe, the ombudsman has helped in many
> cases.  And does as much as possible to support the people who need help.
> > And those people are... the 2,000 people that turn up to ICANN
> > meetings. The community.
> Actually aren't most of them there to wheel and deal?
> Only hundreds go to meetings dedicated to doing the policy stuff.
> And they need the support of a strong ombudsman office.
> and a CSR officer, and ...
> That is what this process is all about.
> avri
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