[CPWG] [registration-issues-wg] Discussion of Capture is and always has been a legitimate topic at ICANN (was Re: ICANN Code of Conduct)
carlton.samuels at gmail.com
Thu May 2 14:02:21 UTC 2019
Here you go again Evan, this malignant propensity to being erudite and
FWIW, I am proud to associate and support the POV expressed.
On Thu, 2 May 2019, 4:24 am Evan Leibovitch, <evan at telly.org> wrote:
> *TL;DR version:*
> Q: Are capture and conflict of interest issues in ICANN fair game to
> talk about?
> A: Well, sure, but norms on these issues in the outside world are
> gleefully ignored within ICANN. So good luck with your conversation.
> *Long version:*
> Well, this has been ... interesting.
> First, a few disclosures:
> - I have been involved in the Internet Society though many vectors. I
> co-started a chapter, was the primary drafter of its most recent chapters
> advisory council charter, and I have been recruited by ISOC staff to help
> impartially resolve disputes in other chapters. All of this has been done
> voluntarily. My involvement at this moment is negligible.
> - I own or manage about a dozen domains, none of which are being held
> for resale.
> - While on ALAC I "benefited" from travel subsidy that nowhere near
> covered the value of my time participating at ICANN conferences. I have
> also gone to two ICANN meetings at my own expense, and I am one of only two
> people I know (besides Sebastien) who has hosted ALAC social events at
> their home.
> - Codes of conduct and conflicts of interest are a thing to me. I created
> the code currently in use <https://www.lpi.org/conduct> at my
> nonprofit employer which addresses multiple contexts, and is an amalgam of
> a number of other codes.
> - Not only do I agree that the dot-org price cap should be lifted as a
> significant matter of public interest, I advocate a sharp increase of the
> fees that ICANN charges all registries for domains. I'd actually like to
> set a minimum fee rather than a maximum. More details on the rationale can
> come later, but this discussion seems well beyond the specifics of that
> public comment issue.
> Now to a few points:
> 1. Conflict of interest, in a governance context, has a more specific
> definition than simply one's having conflicting interests (by being part of
> multiple constituencies, perhaps). It means that someone's vote, or
> advocated point of view, is driven by potential gain in either money or
> power. If we want to strictly apply CofI principles, we find that Internet
> Society chapters who are ALSs and whose members are not ISOC staff do *not*
> have a direct conflict of interest, because their policy viewpoints would
> not affect their income and power. Conversely, NGOs who protest the lifting
> of the .ORG price cap are absolutely conflicted because they are defending
> their own ability to pay as little as possible for domains. Their actions
> are those of registrants, not end-users, and the issue of price caps is one
> of those few where the interests of registrants and end users can be very,
> very different.
> 2. I experience hand-wringing denouncements of conflict-of-interest
> within ICANN with the sense of creepy entertainment that I get watching an
> episode of Black Mirror. ICANN was built on a foundation of widespread and
> openly visible conflict of interest and remains that way to this day. *Nothing
> is off-limits so long as you declare*. Quoting other constituencies'
> harping about CofI within ALAC betrays a dangerous ignorance of both
> history and culture. From the day At-Large began as an alternative to
> direct public elections of the ICANN Board there has been a constant and
> predictable effort within most of ICANN, including certain senior staff, to
> de-legitimize us. The goal of that has been to preempt anything we might
> say that dare disrupt the cozy compact between domain buyers and domain
> sellers. Sadly, over the years ALAC has been so timid and self-censoring
> that such belittling campaigns have proven largely unnecessary.
> 3. As for capture, I struggle to see it within ALAC. Despite a list of
> flaws that I could take a book to detail, ALAC and the other ACs are by far
> the least-corrupted components of ICANN. Elections tend to be robust, and
> the NomCom factor works to reduce cronyism. If anything, ALAC suffers from
> the same ills as many democratic entities in that often the politically
> sociable will win over the duller policy wonks, and ALAC has traditionally
> been wonk-poor. I myself once believed that there was ISOC chapter capture
> until I saw just how freaking diverse the chapters are; considering them a
> cohesive interest bloc within At-Large, once one looks at the reality, is
> laughable. Just because a group has reached a conclusion with which one
> disagrees doesn't make it "captured" without further evidence of
> 4. Of *course* complaints are legit that a poorly-resourced 25-person
> ALAC/RALO council can't possibly do a fantastic job representing "the
> billions". Yet it does sorta OK with what it's given, considering that it
> has no discretionary budget; ALAC-approved projects have been rejected by
> ICANN without reason. I have always wished that ALAC got more involved in
> public polling and education to better know with confidence what the global
> public wants from ICANN, but (a) doing that is expensive and (b) I'm quite
> sure ICANN really doesn't want to know this information. I also note that
> ALAC is the only constituency within ICANN that has forced geographic
> 5. Small nit that I couldn't let pass, even though the point is
> irrelevant: The assertion that "*nothing would stop ISOC/PIR from
> selling out to private equity*" is bullshit. Conversion of a nonprofit
> body to a for-profit is impossible or horribly difficult in most
> jurisdictions, and even transfer of assets would quickly come under the
> disapproving eye of regulators. I've seen some attempts first-hand and they
> didn't end well.
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> registration-issues-wg at atlarge-lists.icann.org
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