[CPWG] [GTLD-WG] [registration-issues-wg] Towards a comment on evolving the multistakeholder model at ICANN

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Wed May 22 06:36:54 UTC 2019

On Tue, 21 May 2019 at 19:44, Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca>

> We are under no obligation to comply and in fact we should not if there is
> a general feeling that this is a useless exercise.

Before committing volunteer and staff time to track this, please offer
(beyond wishful thinking) evidence that this exercise will serve the ALAC
mandate and make ICANN more responsive to the needs of end users.

Aren't you tired of all these dead ends?

You are right that we can say whatever we wish whenever we wish. I
> personally think that advice we give should be useful and implementable

And here is where the self-censorship begins. We pre-suppose what the rest
of ICANN will judge to be useful and implementable and restrict our
comments to that.

Why don't we trust ourselves to determine what is useful and implementable?
All of what I have spoken of is "implementable", but it will be derided by
the status quo. So we limit ourselves only to ask for what would already be
given, never testing boundaries or challenging conventional wisdom. Funny,
those fears never seem to strike those within ICANN who work against the
public interest.

When one side of a conflict is willing to die for a cause and the other is
willing to kill for its cause, the outcome is easy to determine.

You know how well your white paper was received. But it is a very different
> ICANN and specifically ICANN Board now.

Sorry, but "it's a new ICANN" is trotted out every time some high profile
Board members swap out, or a new CEO comes in. While newcomers may be
swayed by it, this rationale can't fly with anyone possessing any
historical context. All that I have seen changed is the extent to which
various Board members indulge our fantasies of being heard. I think I
prefer to the ones who are transparently hostile to those who wait for
closed meetings to abandon us. Sure we have occasionally had some good
friends on the Board along the way, not to mention the ones we elect, and
behind closed doors our views are likely well conveyed. But to take the
Board by its actual deeds rather than its individual allies, truly little
has changed over the years. And I remind that the Board is bound by GNSO
consensus policy, in which instances the common ground of some Board
members is irrelevant.

That means parts of the organization might be more receptive now.

There's Lucy with the football. She promises this time it'll be different.

But let's not pretend that if we come charging in on our (proverbial) white
> horse, the rest of the organization will all quickly support it - that is a
> far more difficult challenge than just writing a paper.

And here we have our really fundamental difference and IMO the reason we
get nothing accomplished.

Every other constituency in ICANN has already charged in on their white
horses, imposing their will on ICANN's very way of operating. ALAC,
seemingly alone, is actually embarrassed to say what it really thinks needs
to be done. Our opening position on every issue is close to the existing
consensus, no wonder we have neither clout nor respect.

Of COURSE I don't expect that "the rest of the organization" will support
our honest and principled stands on what ICANN must do to serve the public
interest. What we want threatens the very existence of some of the
Internet's worst rent-seekers. But if we don't lay down our own idea of a
superior destination we have no chance of even starting a path to it.

As I've said before, I don't think ICANN is any more capable of reforming
itself purely from the inside, it is way too corrupt for that. If ALAC
takes a principled and researched stance, it will definitely be rebuked and
probably even ridiculed by the existing status quo. It may even lead to
some shunning and reduced access to those in power because they don't like
our message. We'll certainly get fewer invitations to the closed industry
parties at ICANN meetings, But that doesn't mean our message is wrong, we
might just be targeting the wrong audiences.

ALAC, at its best, has the capability to mediate (or at least significantly
participate in) a difficult but necessary global conversation to discover a
user-centered path that is neither the industry capture of the current
ICANN nor the totalitarian government capture proposed by the ITU. But so
long as ALAC is content with bikeshedding, that's all we'll get.

- Evan
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