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> roving_reporter t byfield

Mon Sep 18 20:41:10 EDT 2000

ICANN MAL candidate questionnaire: Barbara Simons

[Barbara Simons qualified as an MAL candidate. As noted, I have endorsed her candidacy.]

1. ICANN presents itself as a "technical coordination body for the Internet." Do ICANN's activities to date support this description?

ICANN is supposed to have limited scope in terms of technical management. Clearly, the UDRP stretches that point, but for a very limited purpose i.e. fast, efficient very narrow handling of very limited set of cybersquatting case. Were ICANN to expand the UDRP or become more involved with trademark policy, they would clearly be exceeding their mandate. ICANN should not be involved with trademark policy.

2. ICANN describes itself as "transparent," "bottom-up," and "consensus-based." Do ICANN's activities to date support these descriptions?

ICANN has made some efforts in the direction of being "transparent", "bottom-up", and "consensus-based", but there is much work to be done. For example, fairness in a "bottom up" process is difficult to achieve in the current environment where there is not a balanced construction of the Constituencies in the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). For example, currently there is no constituency for individual domain name holders. The process would be much more fair if there were more representative constituencies.

3. The "stability" of the internet is a staple if ICANN's rhetoric, as if to suggest that the net is a fragile entity that needs to be protected. What do you think ICANN is protecting it from?

Significantly increasing the number of gTLDs does not create any technical problem regarding stability of which I am aware. If there is problem of which the general community is unaware, it would behoove ICANN to provide a technical explanation. A clear and precise analysis would help to dispel the widespread perception that "stability" is a code word for trademark protection.

4. "Global" top-level domains pose a basic quandary, which can be summarized thus: everyone in the world can point somewhere and say "there," but there can only be one, one, and one Many people have legitimate claims to what, within the limited context of DNS, appear to be the same words. Rather than expanding the namespace in order to produce a diversity more adequate to the rapidly expanding demand for new domains, ICANN has devoted much of its resources during its first two years to developing a global policy for arbitrating conflicts. In the balance, was this the best approach?

No, this is not what ICANN should have been doing. But this is the agenda that was given to them by the Department of Commerce's White Paper. ICANN has chosen to adopt the agenda at least in part because of political pressures.

This is one reason I want to get onto the Board, namely to try to refocus the agenda and to open up the domain name space. As a member of the Board, I shall work to refocus ICANN on expanding the namespace in order to produce a diversity more adequate to the rapidly expanding demand for new domains.

5. Should the refusal of the country-code domain registrars to pay the invoices ICANN submitted to them be seen as a referendum on ICANN's legitimacy as a "global" organization?

There seems to be little or no sensitivity to the needs of economically developing countries within ICANN when determining fees. The most recent example is the $50K charge for applying to run a new gTLD. As ACM President, I successfully pushed to get ACM to restructure our membership dues to take into consideration the economic limitations experienced by our members living in countries with low per capita incomes. If elected to the ICANN Board, I would push for similar considerations within ICANN.

While I have not been following the specific issue closely, it seems to me that country code registrars are being asked to pay a huge amount of money. I am actively soliciting input from other sources, and I would appreciate hearing from your readers about this issue

6. ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) stipulates that "the complainant shall select the [dispute resolution] Provider from among those approved by ICANN by submitting the complaint to that Provider." Is this an appropriate way to assign resolution providers to cases?

No, it is not appropriate for the complainant to select the dispute resolution Provider. The ACM Internet Governance Project (ACM-IGP), who were involved with designing the UDRP, argued strongly for a different kind of selection process. Unfortunately, we lost this one.

7. ICANN often mentions its limited resources as a decisive factor in justifying various actions -- in other words, there seems to be a serious disjuncture between ICANN's means and its goals. Has this cast doubt on the results of ICANN's activities to date?

This troubles me as well, and we see this problem in many areas. As one example, I'm troubled that ICANN has not appeared to have the time to adopt clear procedural rules. If I am elected to the Board, one of my top priorities will be the creation of procedural rules and promulgation of those rules. An important characteristic of the rules must be sufficient time to read, analyze, and respond to new proposals. Otherwise, the only entities that can participate are those with large support staffs that work on ICANN related issues with an extremely short turnaround time.

8. The law firm Jones, Day, Reavis, and Pogue has played a huge role in ICANN, mainly through Joe Sims, ICANN's Chief Counsel, and Louis Touton, ICANN's Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel. Sims, with JDRP since 1978, was intimately involved in crafting ICANN's bylaws and selecting the initial boardmembers; he remains a cental figure at board meetings. Before joing ICANN, Touton spent the last 18 months of his 18-year practice at JDRP as a legal advisor involved in ICANN's formation, registrar-accreditation and dispute-resolution policies, and the NSI/DoC/ICANN agreements. Is it appropriate for an organization such as ICANN to be so closely aligned to a single law firm?

This is an issue I've given some thought to. I'd very much like to see the Board working with a variety of counsel. In the past the ACM-IGP has protested the active involvement of Joe Sims, in the day-to-day political deliberations of the Names Counsel. Jones, Day, by its own claim, represents over half of the Fortune 500 Companies. Our concern is that this reflects a real bias towards large corporations and in particular several of the constituencies in the DNSO.

9. ICANN may soon be a kingmaker, with the power to delegate the administration of new top-level domains. This will almost certainly be a multibillion-dollar business. Is an adequate system of checks and balances in place to ensure that ICANN's officers and staff do not abuse or exploit this power?

I think that checks and balance have not been fully developed. As I understand it, this is a process that is still in formation. As a member of the ICANN Board, I would work to make sure that there are strong checks and balances in place.

10. Based on ICANN's actions to date, should participants in the Membership At Large, specifically, and netizens, generally, trust ICANN to honestly report the election's outcome?

There are some good people on the Election Committee. But given concerns expressed by a number at at-large members, I would encourage ICANN to make its election software available to the public for review. As we all know, on-line voting has many potential pitfalls, especially in the area of security. So, even if ICANN intends to conduct as honest and secure election as possible, there is still the risk of having the election manipulated if there are security holes in the software.

The above material is Copyright © 1999 by t. byfield.

The r_r began as a semi-collaborative nym on the <nettime> list, where it worked well; but the pseudonym precluded comments, and there was more to report than was good for the list, so now it -- or a mutation of it -- has resurfaced on TBTF. [ back to the roving_reporter]


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