From: Mary Jaekl
Subject: [ALSC-Forum] ICANN forum question
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 15:05:12 -0700
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>If membership were to be open to literally anyone with access to the
Internet, what might be the positive and negative repercussions?
As I think the original elections demonstrated, there is a real
identification difficulty. How do you know that user ID 1 is not the
same as user ID 2, or that user ID 1 is unique to a single individual?
On the other hand, opening the membership to everyone with Internet
access would dramatically reduce the so-called "barriers to entry".
There's a trade off to be made here. Personally, I think the idea of
restricting membership to domain owners provides a good balance.
However, one of the main benefits to ICANN of having the at-large
component (as I see it anyway) is the potential involvement of users who
do not necessarily have a strong corporate or technical agenda.
Instead, users have an idea of how they expect the Internet (eg TLDs) to
work and what would be the best for the average web surfer is not always
the best for (or may not even occur to) the corporations, legalistic
(lawyers and governments) and technical gurus that seem to make up the
rest of ICANN.
>Should membership come with some responsibilities, such as knowledge of
ICANN's mission, or participation in discussions and decision-making, or
voting for representatives?
Yes. I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I am actually one of
the huge numbers of validated members who did not vote. I did not end
up voting because after validating my membership, I then put my mailed
PIN away. And when it came to elections, it was WAY too much effort to
retrieve it from the filing cabinet, bring it to my computer (half way
across the city in my case) etc etc just to vote on an election where
the outcome (I did monitor closely) was already going the way I would
have voted. (Talk about barrier to entry!)
I decided that I was only going to make that effort if I felt that a
single vote was necessary to express my opinion. I did carefully review
the material for all the candidates for North America (!) and determined
which platforms I agreed with most. As it turned out, I didn't need to
vote in order for the outcome I felt was best to occur.
However, I do think that membership of ICANN should require members to
know ICANN's mission, to have a general idea of what (and opinion on)
issues the board members are discussing. I think participation in
discussions should be strongly encouraged, but perhaps not mandatory.
And unless the voting process became significantly easier, then I don't
think voting should be mandatory.
>How should an At-Large membership be funded? Would a membership fee
prevent or discourage participation of users in developing countries?
Would they encourage only the committed and informed to participate?
Should membership fees be scaled in some way?
I think it's interesting that the assumption here seems to be that
membership fees would mainly be a problem in developing countries.
Don't forget that even in so-called developed countries there are also
those where a "modest" fee is completely out of reach. To be honest, I
am not completely sure what expenses would be required in order to
"allow" At-Large membership. Personally, I thought the snail mail
verification procedure was a waste of money and I would be reluctant to
pay a reoccuring fee in order to fund this type of activity. In general
I would be reluctant to pay a yearly fee unless it was extremely low and
the payment method would have to have a low aggravation threshold. For
instance, asking me to write out a cheque and mail it in would be
I would be open to paying a one-time membership fee, but it would also
need to be low in order to be accessible. Further, I don't think that
fees/no fees will weed out non-committed/non-informed. Rather, fees
will weed out those who have less cash. If you really wanted to ensure
that only informed/committed members participated, then implementation
of some kind of pop quiz would be more likely to accomplish the goal.
In terms of scaling fees - this would potentially solve some problems
but it would be difficult to implement fairly. I personally disagree
with the idea that fees should be scaled "based on economy of a region".
In one extremely poor region you might have an individual who has much
more money than someone living in a rich region.
As discussed in the Membership Advisory Committee report
(http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/rcs/macsing.html) I tend towards setting a
low fee and asking people willing and able to contribute more than
others to specifically donate funds towards the At-Large membership.
>What would you, personally, like to gain from being involved in ICANN?
As someone else said: I would also like to retain my existing rights of
being able to
elect a member of the Board from my area.
I like the information that my representative (Karl Auerbach) posts on
his site about the decisions he has made (or not made) and reasoning.
Although I have not actually emailed him with an opinion on any topics,
I do have the sense that a) he would read the email and b) would
consider it fairly. This is much more than I can say about my "real"
government... As part of being involved in ICANN, I like the feeling
that even though I am a very obscure member of a very large organization
(perception, anyway), my opinion would be noted by someone.
I also agree with the premise that there should be a mechanism for
removing "rogue" representatives.
I also think that there should be some mechanism for soliciting opinion
on given topics (perhaps a secure poll on various issues by each