From: Mr Pindar Wong
Subject: Re: [ALSC-Forum] Authentication Technology -- Please try it out
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002 03:09:52 -0800
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Dear Bruce and Eric,
Apologies that I have to keep this somewhat short as I've to prepare the
Sunday dinner before dawn ...
Anyway, personally, there are at least the following elements in trying to
answer the question you raised,
2) The Public Interest
3) Demonstrable Interest in ICANN
Depending on your view of what ICANN is, there are different answers to the
question of who has a stake in ICANN. There are those that argue that
everyone on the planet does (both born and to be born -- given the
importance of the Internet etc.), and there are those that might take a
somewhat narrower view.
Anyway, one has to start from somewhere, and I would hope that we can all
minimally agree that ICANN has *something* to do with the Domain Name System
2) The Public Interest
Again, depending on your view of what ICANN is, answers to what is the
public interest in ICANN differ. Defining what constitutes the public
interest is a tough problem and even more so when you try to look at who
typically claims to represent it and, furthermore, what comprises a
'private' interest (e.g. Governments can argue that they are the best
embodiment of the public interest, yet in last year's elections did
nationalistic behaviour constitute a public interest or a more private
Nevertheless, if one accepts that ICANN has something to do with the DNS,
then one can try to look at what would constitutes the public interest in
Again there are many potential answers to this ... yet one hopes that we
can all minimally agree that 'having the DNS continue to work' would be a
component in any such answer.
If one considers further what does it mean for 'the DNS to work', it can be
argued that having domain names continue to 'resolve' would be a component
in any answer. It furthermore can also be argued that the concept of trying
to preserve 'universal resolvability' is a desirable feature of the public
DNS (e.g. http://www.internic.net/faqs/authoritative-dns.html ) and that a
unique and authoritative root is again an important aspect of trying to
ensure this (...using today's technology.)
Yet ICANN is only responsible for the so called 'root' of the DNS, and in
order to try to ensure universal resolvability, one cannot look at the root
alone. Indeed the chain of delegation of responsibility stretches from the
root, through each and every delegation and sub-delegation ... spanning
from the root of the DNS, across each and every branch of the tree...till
one reaches the end leaves.
Hence the responsibility of ensuring universal resolvability does not rest
solely with ICANN -- it is distributed throughout the DNS and is the
collective responsibility of each and every domain name holder (specifically
those who actually wish to use their Domain Name in the public DNS) to
ensure that their domain names resolves. [It can be also be argued that
today the DNS isn't in too good a shape
If all domain name holders and ICANN, the root operators etc. play their
respective roles, the DNS should remain a useful infrastructure and...
well... life is good.
Now, aren't we dealing about individuals? Yes, of course. Some domain names
are registered by individuals and it is these individuals who, one might
argue, have both a stake in what ICANN does (they will certainly be affected
if the root of the DNS does not work ), *and* they also contribute to the
common interest of ensuring the DNS continues to work. [Furthermore, if
their part of the DNS doesn't quite work, they should be in a position to
arrange to get it fixed! ]
Yet, if your starting point is somewhat different, e.g. that ICANN is
somehow responsible for Internet governance or should be an instrument to
spread global democracy etc.... you might end up with a very different view
of what constitutes the public interest and who should be considered to be
stakeholders (both now and in the future).
Nevertheless, I hope that we can all agree that today's ICANN has 'something
to do with the DNS'.
3) Demonstrable Interest
Shouldn't those who are not currently domain name holders or those that
can't afford one or have no wish to be responsible for one also be
considered in the At Large if they demonstrate an interest in ICANN
activities? Furthermore, what would constitute demonstration of interest?
Showing up at ICANN meetings? Participating in online mailing lists?
There are again many facets to these questions and perhaps we can agree that
it is not only questions of 'representation' that are important but also
ones concerning 'informed participation'. Namely, that those who demonstrate
interest should be able to participate and do so in a meaningful way.
I understand that ICANN and the other 'Supporting Organisations' (SOs) have
various claims to be open to individual participants. Yet, as we can all
probably appreciate, with the Internet (and email forums in particular),
it's not really a question of whether or not you have a 'voice' per se --
rather ... 'will anyone listen?'
Furthermore, how does one move from just a collection of individual
expressions of concern, fear, uncertainty and doubt ... into something more
powerful and useful that can be equitably compared in a bottom-up policy
As you know, the ALSC believes that creating informed participation
throughout the continuous ICANN process is extremely important; arguably
more important, than just periodic representational issues (i.e. voting)
that occur once a year ( or once every three years as the ALSC has
recommended). Hence we have recommended the creation of the At Large
Supporting Organisation (ALSO) -- viewed as probably the best way of
creating informed participation in the current structure; given that the
Board will need to equitably compare input from all SOs.
Yet, creating an ALSO that will foster meaningful discussion on ICANN
issues in a manner in which the participant is most accustomed, across a
global infrastructure, across multiple cultures and languages etc., is a
non-trivial task that will no doubt involve resources if it is to be
effective and useful (e.g. volunteers, staff, websites, travel money,
translation etc.) -- some of which may be voluntary contributions of effort,
but inevitably at some point ... involve some cash. Futhermore, if one
considers the SO structure as being a useful construct, one probably should
have some degree of confidence that the SO itself is viable and not add to
further short-term instability in ICANN.
Perhaps, one might argue that subscription to an ICANN-related mailing list,
and not simply the possession of an email account, is the weakest form of
'demonstrable interest' but I digress...
Given that individual interest can come from anywhere on the network (which
just happens to span the globe ... and perhaps later ... Mars), and given
that it is envisaged that resolution of any representational issues is
currently viewed as involving direct elections and 'voting' across this
network-wide space; there is a sensitivity to ensure that individuals are
both real (living, breathing, warm blooded ones) and that they are unique
(in particular they can't vote more than once). Even if the realuser or
some other technology can be used to gain confidence that there is an human
being at the end of an email account, we will also need to solve the
uniqueness issue as well.
As Karl, the ALSC and others have pointed out payment mechanisms can also
serve several useful functions.
* Payment mechanisms can be used to cross-check membership data to assist in
* It certainly can be argued that payment of membership dues can also be
considered 'demonstrable interest'
* Any funding contributed, by those willing and able to pay, would certainly
contribute to ensuring the an ALSO is somewhat financially viable (i.e. is a
going concern, can contribute resources that fosters informed participation,
perhaps even financially contribute to ICANN etc.).
Yet, how does one ensure that membership dues are equitable, that there is
an infrastructure present or one that can be cost-effectively built that can
actually collect, clear and process the money that might come from any one
of 180+ countries/distinct economies? i.e. literally, how on earth can one
implement a solution?
Regardless if one determines to collect fees from all At Large members, or
use a sliding-scale to determine fee structures using elaborate measures
based on some UN/World Bank definition of developing economies etc., one
would hope that whatever one decides stands the best chances of actually
being implemented -- network-wide.
Unfortunately, in today's Internet, this means globally. Furthermore, with
the rate of internet growth, a solution that will inevitably scale (and
Hence, in essence, there is a 'buy or build' decision on whether one can
'buy' a global infrastructure that could outreach to individuals everywhere
or if one should go and try to 'build one'.
In order to keep costs reasonable for any At Large membership dues, instead
of trying to build a global infrastructure, it is perhaps advisable for one
to tap into an existing infrastructure that happens to be global, can deal
with participants in a manner in which they are most accustomed (e.g. in
local language), and can, in some cases, financial clear transactions, and,
ideally... has something to do with ICANN.
The Short Answer?
The ALSC, in recommending that the core of an At Large Membership, for those
that are interested in issues surrounding 'representation' (i.e. voting for
At Large Directors for the ICANN Board) be based on 'Individual Domain Name
Holder', IMHO, is that it can be argued that Individual Domain name
* Have a clear stake in the DNS, which is relevant to what ICANN mainly
deals with today
* Can contributed to the common interest of having the DNS continue to work
furthermore, by leveraging the existing global infrastructure provided by
the TLD registrars and registries, that
* there is cost-effective and scaleable infrastructure to assist with
implementation of a global At Large Membership
* there there is a financial mechanism to collect and clear membership dues
* that collection of membership dues will enable a stable ALSO that will
have resources to encourage informed participation (ideally from a much
* that such collection of membership dues can create greater confidence in
* that financial clearing can be done in a currency that is most convenient
* that effective participation mechanisms within a local internet community
* that there is the possibility of having local resources that have some
clue as to what the DNS, IP addresses, protocol identifiers are all about
* that membership dues might be able to be contained and reasonable
* that familiar distributed database and registration technologies used in
the DNS can also be used to help create the electoral roll (effectively a
voting registry) (e.g. using whois, EPP etc.)
* that stands some chance of actually being implementable
This is, of course, assuming that the TLD registries and registrars actually
buy into this whole process and what we are talking about is implementating
a global At Large Membership of a non-trivial size.
Does this mean that using Individual Domain Name Holders should be the
*only* entry point into the At Large Membership?
This again really depends on what your view of what ICANN is actually all
about ( I guess the 'root' of the problem ;) -- and perhaps, as others have
argued, ICANN needs to further clearly limit what activities it engages in
(using 'picket fences' or whatever ...)
Nevertheless, as Carl mentioned at the ICANN AGM, we continue to look for
other mechanisms that can constitute 'domain name plus'.
i.e. while it may be debateable what constitutes a 'stakeholder' and what is
'the public interest in ICANN' depending on your view of the ICANN world,
other mechanisms should address issues of
1) Demonstrable Interest
Using Individuals Domain Name Holders is a starting point ... it may not
necessarily have to be the only one... given the confusion of what ICANN is
----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Dierker" <email@example.com>
To: "Bruce Young" <Bruce@barelyadequate.info>
Cc: "Denise Michel ALSC" <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 11:48 AM
Subject: Re: [ALSC-Forum] Authentication Technology -- Please try it out
> Let us make damn sure that the ALSC understands this question.
> What is your primary reason for suggesting that domain name registration
> any thing to do with voting in the At-Large?
> And what is your reasoning behind that decision?
> Bruce Young wrote:
> > Denise wrote:
> > >The financial transaction accompanying a domain name
> > >acquisition can contribute to authentication, but it was not the
> > >reason the ALSC recommended this approach.
> > Could you illuminate us then as to the primary reason, since the one you
> > mention above was the primary argument made in your final report?
> > Bruce Young
> > Portland, Oregon
> > Bruce@barelyadequate.info
> > http://www.barelyadequate.info