The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been entrusted with the important tasks of promoting the Internet's stability and dynamism as it rapidly evolves as the world's most important infrastructure. To be able to fulfill these tasks in a way that satisfies the Internet's stakeholders, ICANN must have a structure of governance that ensures the stability, transparency and predictability of its work.
However, at its inception in 1998, key aspects of ICANN's decision and policy-making structure were left unresolved. The resulting uncertainty has come to play a large role in the work of ICANN since then, to the detriment of the core tasks ICANN has been asked to undertake. This relates primarily to the question of the so-called "At-Large Directors" of the ICANN Board.
Following decisions at its meetings in Cairo and Yokohama in March and July 2000, the ICANN Board chartered the At-Large Study Committee (ALSC) to seek a consensus on the concept, structure and processes relating to an "At-Large" membership, thus enabling ICANN to concentrate on its mission during the coming years.
The ALSC has spent the past six months exploring numerous alternatives, listening to different opinions and trying to stimulate a debate on these important issues within the wider Internet community. It has sought to facilitate different independent studies, and posted discussion papers and options in order to encourage dialogue.
Despite extensive efforts, the ALSC has found it difficult to generate a high degree of interest in these issues. We have not found profound and widespread opinions favoring any one solution to the At-Large issues. We have concluded that the main interest of the wider Internet community is in the stability and reliability of the Internet itself, and that a structure for participation and representation that is seen as creating the best possibilities for this would meet with its tacit approval.
Although outside our mandate, the ALSC has discussed whether the tasks now assigned to ICANN could be handled better or equally well by an intergovernmental organization, thus potentially securing the legitimacy of the process, ensuring a degree of public participation through regular governmental mechanisms, as well as assuring the stability of the policy and decision-making system.
We have found, however, that such an approach has several serious drawbacks. ICANN represents an effort at global self-regulation that, if successful, has great merit in a number of different ways. Engaging developers of Internet standards and providers of the domain name and address system, as well as seeking to create a voice for Internet users, results in a system that contributes both to the stability of the Internet and to its constant evolution. We do not believe that an intergovernmental system would be able to do this in the same way.
The developers and providers, now grouped in three Supporting Organizations, have a critical role in the overall system. We have discussed whether ICANN could be entrusted solely to them, thus eliminating the very profound challenges associated with an At-Large membership. However, the concerns of users are equally important to the success of ICANN's mission, thus requiring that an effective mechanism for their participation and representation in ICANN processes be found.
Based on our view of ICANN as a balance among developers, providers and users, we would recommend that the At-Large membership select a third of ICANN's Board. We have found that more narrow interests could seek to influence the ICANN process through all three avenues, but that wider and more public interests can also be found in all three.
We have spent a considerable amount of time looking at different alternatives for selecting the proposed At-Large members of the ICANN Board. We are dealing with a unique organization, with unique functions and a truly unique structure. There are no models to follow.
In spite of our efforts, we have failed to find any system for the selection of At-Large Directors that is completely failsafe from every possible point of view.
Using e-mail addresses as the basis for voting rights, as tested last year, has significant drawbacks, and is obviously open to national capture. In addition, we have not found any way of conducting a pure online election involving e-mail address holders with even moderate confidence that capture or fraud has been prevented, thus creating the need for a combination of online and mail processes which not only is complicated, but which also risks totally undermining the finances of ICANN. In spite of being superficially attractive, closer scrutiny makes clear that this is not a viable option.
We have thus decided to recommend a system with voting rights based on domain names, and we have proposed the creation of a system in which those domain name holders wishing to be part of the process also become part of the process of setting up an At-Large Supporting Organization (ALSO). In our view, the emergence of an ALSO would greatly facilitate the process of articulating wider issues in the ICANN process, thus also strengthening the role of the At-Large members between the elections. We are seeking to create an At-Large membership that is, at least to some degree, committed to the tasks of ICANN.
There are issues with a system in which domain name holders are given the option of becoming part of an ALSO and taking part in elections that need further discussion and elaboration (e.g. there might be some risk of capture, although less than in the email-based case). There are also significant technical issues that need to be addressed. We do see, however, the possibility of a pure online election process with adequate safeguards, and we do see the possibility of a smooth integration of the financing of ALSO activities, including the elections, with the domain name payment system. In our opinion, these are critical advantages to this approach over any other so far discussed.
We see the need to elect the six At-Large Directors of ICANN's Board from six different regions in the world, and have suggested for discussion, a division we believe is appropriate. This will be a larger number than at present, although less than envisaged earlier. We have also indicated how an ALSO with a local and regional structure might evolve from these elections.
Although there are significant implementation issues that need to be resolved, we consider it realistic to aim at having elections next year for the suggested six At-Large Directors, and would recommend that these be elected for a period of three years. This would not only give the ICANN Board a period of stability in which it can concentrate on its important tasks, but would also give time for the establishment of the suggested ALSO, thus putting in place a mechanism for the articulation of different interests and points of view prior to the next election.
As the Internet is a system in rapid evolution, ICANN must be an organization open to change over time. We hope that a period of stability in its structures would make it possible for ICANN to contribute to the evolution of the Internet in different ways. We would consider it natural that an evaluation of the system of governance of ICANN in its entirety be done after experience with two ALSO elections and the intervening period.
These are our draft recommendations, which we are now submitting for public discussion and comment. As we indicate, there are numerous issues where we see the need for further discussions and elaboration. Based on this discussion and further work, we are committed to presenting a final recommendation to the ICANN Board prior to its meeting in Los Angeles in November.
The ALSC: Carl Bildt (Chair), Chuck Costello (Vice Chair), Pierre Dandjinou, Esther Dyson, Olivier Iteanu, Ching-Yi Liu, Thomas Niles, Oscar Robles, and Pindar Wong (Vice Chair).
ALSC Draft Report on ICANN At-Large Membership
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors chartered the At-Large Membership Study Committee (ALSC), as provided by Article II, Section 5 of the ICANN Bylaws, to forge a consensus on "effective means by which the diverse global Internet communities and stakeholders may participate in ICANN's policy development, deliberations, and actions." The ALSC proposes, as draft recommendations to ICANN's Board of Directors "At-Large member" be defined as "individual domain name holder," a new "At-Large Supporting Organization" (ALSO) be created to help represent the public interest and foster informed participation by individuals in ICANN, and a geographically-based ALSO member election be instituted to simultaneously provide members for six directly-elected Regional At-Large Councils and one (international) At-Large Council, and six directly-elected At-Large Directors to serve on ICANN's Board. The At-Large Councils would help build and manage a self-organizing, self-funding, transparent ALSO that would serve as a local and regional-based framework for collecting and defining views, engaging members, enabling consensus decision-making, and working closely with other Supporting Organizations on policy development.
The ALSC has spent the last six months studying At-Large issues and seeking input from all interested parties, and continues to work to achieve a broad consensus on effective means by which Internet users (At-Large members) may participate in ICANN's policy formulation and decision-making. We have worked without preconceptions about the outcome and have carefully considered the full spectrum of potential At-Large participatory and representational mechanisms - from zero to 100 percent of the Board seats selected by an At-Large membership - and from an inter-governmental model representing individuals to directly involving all of the world's e-mail-address holders.
We found there to be great value in ICANN's existing bottom-up approach and in the involvement of At-Large members to strengthen the focus on Internet users' interests. However, we do not accept the notion that users' interests are somehow exclusively or even best protected by selecting half of the Board's Directors. Nor do we believe that users' interests can be properly represented through a system that relies on e-mail addresses to identify individuals; such an approach is administratively and financially unworkable on a global scale for a sizeable electorate, and fraught with potential dangers ranging from capture to outright fraud. Furthermore, experience has already shown that it is costly and difficult to manage and does not effectively handle many people in regions that use non-Latin script or have inefficient postal systems.
Instead, we have found the requirement that members hold a domain
name to be a useful way of identifying individuals, reaching them
(initially) in a decentralized way through registrars and ensuring their
direct interest in the Internet infrastructure that is ICANN's central
concern. (Any e-mail address holder can acquire a domain name at minimal
cost, but with some effort. To help ensure that this is not an impediment
to those who want a domain name and want to be an At-Large member, the
ALSC suggests that the ICANN community identify and encourage
organizations that could provide appropriate assistance to such users.)
We believe the approach with the best chance for consensus support is addressing Internet users' interests by organizing ICANN along stakeholder interest or functional lines of developers, providers and users, by defining At-Large members as "individual domain name holders" (since they have a strong and tangible vested interest in ICANN activities, not just the Internet in general), and by providing these At-Large members with the opportunity to fully participate in ICANN and select one-third of its Board. Obviously, this is only one of many possible approaches; we endeavored to find one that could win broad support. We propose the At-Large user "community" include institutions, but only individuals may vote. Institutions already play a greater role in the existing Supporting Organizations, so this seems an appropriate balance. We encourage your input on this issue.
To launch the ALSO membership, we recommend that ICANN undertake an outreach effort and that organizers work with the registrars to use the domain name registration infrastructure to notify current and future individual domain name holders and give them an opportunity to join and financially support a new ALSO.
We recommend that the ALSO framework and elections be based on six geographic regions, and that guidelines be established to foster an ALSO that can develop and present policy advice to the Board on issues that affect Internet users' interests and that are within ICANN's specific technical and administrative mission. (Careful attention to ICANN's constrained mission should render it less attractive as a vehicle to "capture" and make sure that the public does not expect ICANN to remedy problems or solve disputes not within its narrow competence.)
We recommend that Directors be elected for three-year terms and that the At-Large be re-evaluated after two election cycles. This would provide At-Large with time to develop and provide ICANN with stability and an opportunity to implement any necessary changes to At-Large participation and representation mechanisms based on six years of experience. Clearly, timely outreach, development and management efforts will be necessary to implement our recommendations. The ALSC assumes there will be a need for committees or working groups and requests input on potential implementation measures. We will seek to develop specific, consensus recommendations on execution for the Board's consideration.
We think a consensus can form that an ALSO's organized participation mechanisms and election processes will fulfill the mission of involving individuals and representing their interests in ICANN's policy development and decision-making structure and processes. Individual domain name holders, as users, have a significant stake in ICANN's activities and should have the opportunity of fully participating in ICANN. The creation of elected, geographically diverse At-Large Councils with the responsibility to build a framework for At-Large participation and attention to users' voices is essential. At-Large representation without a mechanism for structured participation in policy development does not fulfill the spirit or intent of ICANN's guiding principles. The ALSO should also strengthen the link to people who have demonstrated a commitment to ICANN's mission and support informed participation in ICANN's technical coordination of the Internet's domain name and address system.
In proposing these draft recommendations on the role of an At-Large membership, our intention is to help create a policy and decision-making structure and process within ICANN that fosters understanding and accommodation among various interests, including individual Internet users. We believe we are recommending such a structure, one that has potential for consensus support and will help ensure that ICANN's policies truly reflect the needs, interests and rights of all its stakeholders - including those who may not agree with some resulting policies but who will ideally feel that at least their positions were understood and fairly considered. Finally, we do believe that attention to the interests of all stakeholders is likely to produce transparent policies that will indeed make the Internet operate more smoothly and reliably and with broader public support over time.
We have concluded that no system exists for incorporating an "At-Large" membership that would fully satisfy all interests, because this is a world of limited resources in which compromises must be made and priorities set in all spheres of activity. We also recognize that our recommended approach is not foolproof (i.e. vulnerability to capture of a geographic region would still exist.) We believe, however, that this is the most balanced, reasonable approach currently available, and that we are outlining a system that is generally fair and that involves those individuals who have an active interest in ICANN's activities. It focuses At-Large membership on an identifiable and vested community, provides a reasonable mechanism for registration and self-funding, offers a framework for users' structured participation, and grants individual users a proportionate responsibility for selecting ICANN's Board (along with providers and developers in the DNSO, ASO, PSO and others). Our draft recommendations are issued for the consideration of all interested individuals and organizations. We look forward to receiving constructive input that helps us fulfill our charter and contributes to a final report that can be issued in November 2001 and leads to implementation through the following year and beyond.
ICANN's Board of Directors created the independent At-Large Membership Study Committee (ALSC) to forge a consensus on "effective means by which the diverse global Internet communities and stakeholders may participate in ICANN's policy development, deliberations, and actions." The issue of how to involve Internet users in a non-profit corporation with technical management responsibilities for the Internet's domain name and address system has gone unresolved despite more than three years of debate (started before ICANN itself began), several studies and one global, direct election of five At-Large Directors to ICANN's Board. Since ICANN's success depends on the voluntary cooperation of root server operators, Internet service providers, name and address registry operators, and registrars around the world, as well as support from those who might otherwise undermine the Internet's global reach and accessibility, ICANN's ability to fulfill its mission requires global consensus and support, as well as the acquiescence of the world's governments. Continued controversy over the proper role and function of the individual Internet community in ICANN's decision-making processes is harmful to these objectives.
This draft report recommends an approach to Internet user participation and representation in ICANN that the ALSC believes is defensible, executable, effective, and most likely to gain consensus. Our draft recommendations are issued for the consideration of all interested individuals and organizations. As of August 27, this report is widely available on the Internet and the ALSC is seeking comments via e-mail, public meetings and the like through October 26. Public outreach meetings have been scheduled to receive input and foster discussions about this report: on September 4 in Paris, France, and on September 7 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our final report will be submitted to the ICANN Board at its third annual meeting on November 14, 2001. We look forward to receiving constructive input that helps us fulfill our charter and contributes to a final report that leads to implementation through the following year and beyond.
ICANN has a narrow technical and administrative mission, but even within those boundaries its actions can affect the global community of Internet users in various ways. This is reflected in the "White Paper" issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce in June 1998 as the statement of policy guiding ICANN's creation: "The new corporation should operate as a private entity for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole. The development of sound, fair, and widely accepted policies for the management of DNS will depend on input from the broad and growing community of Internet users. Management structures should reflect the functional and geographic diversity of the Internet and its users. Mechanisms should be established to ensure international participation in decision making."
The method by which the global Internet community should participate has been the subject of contentious debate since before ICANN was created. Last year, after considerable public discussion and no apparent consensus, ICANN's Board adopted what is described as "a compromise interim solution: the direct selection of five ICANN directors by a self-selected At-Large constituency, combined with the continued service of four of the original ICANN directors (for a period not to exceed two years) to ensure that there would remain nine At-Large 'slots' on the ICANN Board until (at a minimum) the results of the At Large study were implemented." The ALSC's comprehensive study of how to provide appropriately for input and influence into ICANN policy deliberations and decisions by the general Internet community was part of this compromise. The five At Large Directors were selected in a global, direct election by 34,035 e-mail address holders and seated in November 2000.
The ALSC has spent the last six months searching for the fairest and most practical compromise between those who seek broad global democratic procedures to assert At-Large control and those who want ICANN to be governed by experts in the technical and administrative tasks for which ICANN is responsible. In addition to the fundamental participation and representation issues, we have given due consideration to the serious mechanical, practical, and financial issues raised by last year's At-Large election, and have sought ways to avoid fraud, abuse or capture by determined minorities.
The ALSC is an independent committee formed by ICANN's Board in February 2001 to undertake a comprehensive study of the concept, structure and processes relating to an ICANN At-Large membership. The ALSC is charged with forging a consensus and offering recommendations to the ICANN Board on how Internet users can effectively participate in ICANN's policy development, deliberations and actions for technical coordination of the Internet. Recommendations offered by the ALSC that require the selection of any At-Large Directors should be implemented on a schedule that allows them to be seated at the Board's annual meeting in November 2002.
On January 26, 2001, the Board approved Carl Bildt as ALSC Chair, Chuck Costello and Pindar Wong as Vice Chairs, and the appointment of Denise Michel as the ALSC's Executive Director. The Board approved funding and ratified the ALSC's membership at the quarterly board meeting in Melbourne on March 13, 2001. The Board unanimously approved the six individuals proposed by Carl Bildt: Pierre Dandjinou, Esther Dyson, Olivier Iteanu, Ching-Yi Liu, Thomas Niles, and Oscar Robles. (See Appendix for URL for biographies). As instructed by the Board, ALSC members' were chosen, in part, to reflect the breadth of relevant interests in the Internet community, and to achieve geographic and personal diversity suitable for the study, while at the same time permitting the Committee to work efficiently and within the time constraints imposed by the Board.
As chartered, the ALSC began with no preconceptions as to the outcome and a determination to re-examine all past decisions and actions. Our goal has been a consensus recommendation that provides an appropriate mechanism for input by the general Internet community, while also permitting effective and efficient management of ICANN and the achievement of its specific technical and administrative mission. We have sought input from all interested parties and have encouraged the participation of individuals and organizations worldwide in our effort to work towards a broad consensus on At-Large membership and, specifically, to address the following issues:
The ALSC has conducted a worldwide outreach, discussion, research, and consensus-building campaign that will culminate with submission of our final report to the Board in November 2001. This draft report is a reflection of our activities to date, which include:
In the last six months, members of the ALSC have had in-depth discussions on a wide range of At-Large issues. A gamut of options have been examined for involving individual users in ICANN -- from providing input through the existing ICANN advisory structure, to creating a new At-Large organization -- from electing all Directors through an At-Large membership election, to electing none. As directed, we conducted a "clean sheet" study, examining all of the issues, decisions and activities related to At-Large, and attempting to leave no question un-asked. We believe this has helped make our draft recommendations more defensible, executable, and effective - though we expect to refine them in response to further, broader feedback through October.
The ALSC has given serious consideration to all the input it received, the realities of ICANN's evolution and last year's At-Large election, the need for transparency and accountability in functional terms, the cost and resource constraints ICANN faces, and the need to fulfill ICANN's mission. This has yielded an ALSC conclusion that structured involvement of individual Internet users in ICANN' policy formulation and decision-making is needed, along with representation of individual Internet users on ICANN's Board, and that "individual Internet users" is appropriately defined as "individual domain name holders." We found there to be great value in ICANN's existing bottom-up approach and in the involvement of At-Large members to strengthen the focus on the benefit of the Internet community as a whole. However, we do not accept the notion that users' interests are somehow exclusively or even best protected by the direct election by e-mail address holders of half of ICANN's Board. Clearly this approach does not have consensus support. Whatever its theoretical merits, we found any attempt to reach individuals on the basis of e-mail addresses to be administratively and financially unworkable on a global scale and fraught with potential dangers ranging from capture to outright fraud. We also do not accept the notion that the interests of individual users with respect to ICANN's mission should be represented by the world's governments. Clearly this approach also has no consensus support.
Recommended Membership Alternative
Instead, we believe that a viable compromise -- the requirement that
members hold a domain name - is a useful way of identifying individuals,
reaching them in a decentralized way through registrars and ensuring
their direct interest in the Internet infrastructure that is ICANN's
central concern. (Any e-mail address holder can acquire a domain name at
minimal cost, but with some effort. To help ensure that this is not an
impediment to those who want a domain name and want to be an At-Large
member, the ALSC suggests that ICANN identify and encourage organizations
that could provide appropriate assistance.)
Because there is a "public interest" responsibility vested in ICANN (which operates for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole), a role for individuals (as well as non-commercial, public interest organizations, etc.) is appropriate. In essence, ICANN needs to be accountable not just to governments and members of its existing Supporting Organizations, but also to those who are affected by its actions but whose daily focus is elsewhere. Actions ICANN takes within its seemingly narrow technical and administrative mission can affect (and generate interest among) the world's individual Internet users in a myriad of ways. These users hold a variety of values and represent interests that may be personal, political or economic. They care about issues such as access to domain names in non-Latin characters, the potential use of IP addresses and domain names for identification or location of individuals and groups, competition and choice (or not) in the provision of various services provided by independent parties under contract to ICANN, domain-name intellectual property issues, introduction of new gTLDs, practices of gTLDs and ccTLDs, etc.
We believe the best foundation for consensus, and the best way to serve the public interest, is by organizing ICANN along functional lines of developers, providers and users, by defining At-Large members as "individual domain name holders" (since they have a strong tangible vested interest in ICANN activities), and by providing At-Large members with the opportunity to fully participate in ICANN and select one-third of its Board.
We found no consensus support for the position that every individual 16 years of age or older who uses the Internet has an automatic right to determine ICANN's leadership, and we found potential consensus support for the notion that participation should go hand-in-hand with representation. Although every e-mail address holder in the world is in some way ultimately affected by ICANN's actions, it would be impractical to use 400 million people (expected to be about 673 million Internet users at year-end 2002 and over 1 billion users by year-end 2005) as the base for user participation and representation in ICANN. E-mail address holders are too difficult to identify, authenticate, and organize, and their addresses themselves often transient. Furthermore, ICANN's impact on them is marginal. Last year's At-Large election raised what the ALSC has found to be currently insurmountable mechanical problems and unreasonable financial burdens in attempting to involve the world's e-mail address holders. With an electorate comprised of e-mail address holders, there are no reasonable methods by which ICANN can create a well-informed electorate, and avoid fraud, abuse or capture by determined minorities. The burden would be even greater (and the requisite effort even more impractical) to attempt to achieve informed participation of the world's e-mail address holders in a policy development and decision-making structure. In the ALSC's view, there is an emerging consensus that At-Large representation without a mechanism for structured participation does not fulfill the spirit or intent of ICANN's guiding principles.
Individual domain name holders have a greater vested interest in ICANN activities and can form an effective base for organized user participation and representation in ICANN. Equally important, basing At-large membership on individual domain name holders, we believe, is the approach most likely to generate consensus support. The holding of a domain name is a reasonable threshold for At-Large membership and building informed participation of this constituency can help ICANN fulfill its public interest responsibility. Although the numbers are still significant - approximately 30 million second-level domain name holders in the .com, .net and .org registries, and approximately 11 million equivalent domain name holders in the ccTLDs and .edu registries -- and soon more in the new gTLD registries -- this is a reasonable basis for creating an At-Large membership. While e-mail address holders were difficult to verify, this approach focuses At-Large membership on an identifiable and vested community, can provide a reasonable mechanism for registration and self-funding, and offers a framework for users' structured participation and communication. In addition, using registrars for At-Large registration and initial outreach decentralizes a process that ICANN found difficult to accomplish centrally. At-Large membership will be strengthened by linking it to people who have a commitment to ICANN's mission, demonstrated by registering for a domain name, providing funding for At-Large activities, and participating in the ALSO.
Structured participation by an At-Large membership comprised of individual domain name holders will be an important means of ensuring balance and accommodation among user, provider and developer interests, and will be a source of input concerning global user interests. ICANN was created in order to provide a way for the global Internet community to provide input and develop in a transparent manner consensus policies for the technical management of the Internet's domain name and address system. ICANN's current structure, however, does not provide adequate participation by individuals or representation of their interests. The existing Supporting Organizations were organized to provide expert advice to the Board, and they afford only limited opportunity for At-Large participation. Governments (and ICANN's Government Advisory Committee), though useful, are not the appropriate mechanisms for individuals' participation. An At-Large membership, comprised of individual domain name holders, is needed to provide an opportunity for the Internet user communities' participation, to represent individual users' interests, to encourage global communication and participation, and ensure a meaningful proportion of ICANN's Board is selected based on a global At-Large membership's priorities. Developing an At-Large membership is a critical pre-condition to successful election of At-Large Directors, but equally important is the creation of an At-Large Supporting Organization to foster informed participation, transparency, and public accountability, and help secure public acceptance of ICANN's legitimacy.
The ALSC recommends an "individual domain name holder" be defined as the "At-large membership contact" (a new term to be incorporated into the domain name registration procedures and data) for a "registered domain name." We recommend that "registered domain name" be defined as: "A registered name within the domain of the Registry TLD, whether consisting of two or more (e.g., john.smith.name) levels, about which Registry Operator (or an affiliate engaged in providing Registry Services) maintains data in a Registry Database, arranges for such maintenance, or derives revenue from such maintenance."
To further define At-Large membership, the ALSC recommends the following:
We recognize that using "individual domain name holders" for At-Large membership could include a named person behind large and small institutions' domain name registration. We invite comments on this point. The ALSC also is aware that potential would exist for holding domain names to influence the At-Large membership and representation, and encourages input on potential mechanisms to ensure geographic diversity and pluralism. Although clearly not a perfect mechanism for At-Large, we believe this to be the best mechanism to achieve consensus support. We are working on the assumption that organizations will not attempt to create or influence large numbers of individual domain name holders voting on their behalf, and we are looking for input on ways to detect and avoid such behavior. We note that individuals' votes will be private, and we note that sudden large numbers of individual holders representing the domain names of a single entity will most likely be visible, depending on the final decision about privacy protections for At-Large members. Finally, any attempt by organizations to influence votes on a broad scale is likely to backfire, as at least some of the subjects of such attempts will publicize them and complain. We welcome input on what specific rules or procedures may be appropriate, while recognizing institutions rights to free speech.
To create an At-Large membership, the ALSC recommends that ICANN undertake an outreach effort. In addition to general outreach efforts, organizers should work with the registrars to use the domain name registration infrastructure to notify current and future individual domain name holders' administrative contacts of the opportunity to join and financially support an At-Large membership. The ALSC also sees great benefit in immediately "jumpstarting" the ALSO with voluntary, grassroots efforts and encourages input how this could be accomplished.
The ALSC recommends that the At-Large membership, and its participatory and representational activities, be self-funded through membership dues. ICANN is a non-profit organization with limited resources and it is appropriate for At-Large members to pay an annual, recurring fee collected through the domain name registration process. We recognize that fees may discourage some individuals from becoming members, but believe this is balanced by the need for a self-funded ALSO independent of outside funding sources (including ICANN) and a resulting membership that has demonstrated a commitment to supporting At-Large activities - and the higher level of public services and effectiveness that will result. The ALSC is concerned by some evidence that the very low entrance barrier in last year's At-Large election may have resulted in a large enrollment of people who were not actively interested in ICANN, but who enrolled only because it was easy, or who were "encouraged" to do so simply because of nationalistic competition. Membership fees may help address this problem, as well as contribute to a reduction in fraudulent registrations.
To help ensure that this approach to At-Large membership is not an impediment to those who want a domain name and want to participate in an ALSO, the ALSC suggests that the ICANN community identify and encourage organizations that could provide appropriate assistance to such users. We encourage input on this and hope to include specific suggestions and named institutions in our final report.
The ALSC has concluded that the most likely consensus approach to fulfilling expectations for ICANN involving individuals and accommodating their interests in its policy development and decision-making structures and processes, is the organized participation and representation of individual domain name holders.
The ALSC recommends the creation of an At-Large Supporting Organization (ALSO) as vital to At-Large participation in ICANN. The existing ICANN structure has not fulfilled expectations of involving and representing individual Internet users and their interests. The ALSC agrees with the DNSO that restructuring of that organization is required, while the ASO and PSO, in general, seem to be functioning well. All three existing Supporting Organizations, however, in the ALSC's view, should take steps to be more open and inclusive. Specifically, in reviewing numerous ICANN discussions and resulting decisions, we found it difficult to follow the documented "consensus" decision-making process. In many instances, it is unclear how the input into a particular "open process" decision was duly considered, documented and assimilated. The ALSC recommends that the Board consider dedicating staff to supporting the internal activities of the Supporting Organizations. Significant problems with information sharing, public access and education, the aggregation and presentation of views, the maintenance of mailing lists and websites, coordination among the various constituencies and Supporting Organizations and the Board, and the documentation of consensus decision-making could be, in part, addressed with additional, dedicated staff resources and a review of Supporting Organization processes. In addition, we solicit input on specific mechanisms - including user choice - to protect the privacy of At-Large members while simultaneously encouraging open, transparent communication among them and with the various organizations and interest groups that wish to educate them and solicit support for their policies.
We recommend steps be taken to ensure that all interested individuals have an opportunity to participate fully in "bottom-up ICANN consensus development," and to ensure that there is a mechanism that will make this possible. An ALSO gives ICANN the opportunity to organize individuals' energy and experience in a more productive manner - making the issues intelligible to a broader community and giving individuals a way to turn their feedback into tangible influence in an accountable, transparent and predictable manner.
In recommending the creation of an ALSO, we envision an At-Large structure and process that would contribute to the following goals:
Directly representing and/or involving individual Internet users in some structured way unquestionably contributes to fulfilling the mandate that ICANN's Board of Directors be accountable to the whole Internet community and that ICANN "operate in a bottom-up and representative manner, open to input from the broad community of Internet users." Indeed, the most critical recommendation in this report is the creation of a framework for structured At-Large participation - an ALSO to foster local and regionally based (and perhaps eventually issue based), informed participation by individuals in ICANN.
The ALSC recommends that an ALSO framework and At-Large membership elections in 2002 be based on six geographic regions to simultaneously provide ALSO At-Large Council members, and six At-Large Directors (the winners of each election) to serve on ICANN's Board. We propose that the five regions used in last year's At-Large election be amended by creating a sixth region with the following name and composition: Central/West/South Asia (CWSA), comprising India (.in), Pakistan (.pk), Afghanistan (.af), Kazakhstan (.kz), Uzbekistan (.uz), Kyrgyzstan (.kg), Turkmenistan (.tm), Tajikistan (.tj), Sri Lanka (.lk), Maldives (.mv), Iraq (.iq), Iran (.ir), Israel (.il), Syria (.sy), Jordan (.jo), Lebanon (.lb), Palestine Territories (.ps), Kuwait (.kw), UAE (.ae), Yemen (.ye), Oman (.om), Bahrain (.bh), Qatar (.qa), Saudi Arabia (.sa) (see Appendix for ISO 3166-1 list). This will ensure that the six At-Large Directors and At-Large Council members meet ICANN's geographic diversity requirements, and having six separate electoral regions will help prevent capture and contribute to global legitimacy and inclusiveness.
Our recommendations build on ICANN Bylaws, which define five regions (Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America), and mandate that At-Large Directors must include at least one citizen of each geographic region. Regional elections prevent populated countries and those with high Internet penetration rates from choosing all of the winners, and also make overall capture less likely, because any entity would have to organize large numbers of At-Large memberships in each region. In addition, our recommendation for this sixth region also reflects the distribution of population and Internet usage for the fastest growing region (Asia/Pacific).
The ALSO's elected, Regional At-Large Councils, each comprised of 5 members plus the Director, and geographically diverse global At-Large Council, with two members from each region, would be responsible for helping to build an ALSO structure that would serve as a local and regional-based framework for ALSO outreach and education, engaging members, aggregating views, enabling consensus decision-making, and working closely with other Supporting Organizations to address issues and develop policy on Internet user/consumer issues that fall within ICANN's specific technical and administrative mission. By giving the At-Large Council the responsibility to help organize local and regional organizational structures, the ALSO will have a critical framework that enables At-Large members to learn about and discuss At-Large issues in their own language, find common ground with users in other localities and regions and ultimately provide meaningful user advice to the Board. We welcome comments on potential by-country diversity requirements among these various individuals.
To ensure that the grassroots At-Large membership has an opportunity to participate in, and influence the shape of, the ALSO, it is recommended that initial outreach and organizing efforts be undertaken. The ALSC assumes committees/working groups and specific guidelines will be needed, and requests input on potential implementation and management measures. We will seek to develop specific, consensus recommendations on execution of these recommendations for the Board's consideration.
Our recommendations on reconfiguring Board membership are also driven by the goals noted above. Ensuring "users' voices" and diverse interests are represented on the Board by high-quality Directors is paramount.
As noted, rather than dividing the Board between At-Large and all other interests, the ALSC believes that the approach most likely to gain consensus is that of organizing ICANN along functional lines of developers, providers and users, by defining users as "individual domain name holders," and by providing these users with the opportunity to fully participate in ICANN and select one-third of its Board, providing geographically diverse Directors. This would result in a Board comprised of six At-Large Directors, 12 Directors selected by other constituencies (which are currently represented in the DNSO, ASO, and PSO), and ICANN's President and CEO. We assume that the DNSO will reorganize to achieve a more effective structure and decision-making process, and therefore did not suggest a specific assignment of the 12 non-At-Large seats.
The ALSC carefully considered but ultimately rejected as having an unsound logical basis the notion that users' interests are best served by giving At-Large half of the Board seats. A functional approach makes more sense considering ICANN's evolution and responsibilities, and it has the greatest likelihood of achieving a consensus. Reserving six seats for At-Large Directors enables users to have a proportional role but also prevents any one of the constituency groups from exercising undue influence within ICANN. We believe this Board structure will provide broader, more effective representation of ICANN's constituencies. In contrast to the current arrangement where the At-Large Directors have no identifiable constituency and no efficient mechanism for interaction with At-Large membership, our recommendation is centered on a self-funded, staffed, local and regionally based At-Large Supporting Organization. With its broad-based structure for user involvement and a geographically diverse managing Council, the ALSO should be able to engage its significant user membership in developing and aggregating At-Large views, participating in consensus decision-making, and presenting agreed upon At-Large views and working closely with other Supporting Organizations on policy development.
The ALSC commends ICANN for running a global on-line At-Large election last year that resulted in five At-Large Directors who are contributing members of ICANN's Board. It is particularly noteworthy that ICANN accomplished this despite changing the election system 15 months into development to handle a direct (rather than an indirect) election, building a system expected to process 5,000 registrations and ultimately logging 176,849 registrations (of which 143,806 were valid registrations), and doing so with a severely limited budget (initially $200,000), limited staffing, and few if any guidelines.
Despite the un-contested seating of qualified At-Large Directors, the election revealed numerous systemic problems in the process, and raised serious questions about future elections with e-mail address holders. These include:
As noted by Chuck Costello, in his capacity as Director of the Carter Center's Democracy Program and monitor of ICANN's At-Large elections: "The integrity of the voters list is open to question and that list obviously determines the pool of eligible voters who can vote. The system of mailings to physical addresses as a means to verify the bona fides of membership applicants as individuals and to prevent multiple registration is vulnerable to abuse. Computer security programs can identify patterns of use of the same address, but the system legitimately does allow multiple members at the same physical address, e.g. family members with separate e-mail addresses in the same house. Individuals intent on registering more than once using more than one e-mail address would not find it too difficult to defeat the controls and beat the system. The possibility of doing the same on a large-scale organized basis therefore also exists, introducing the risk of fraud capable of changing electoral outcomes. Batch registration in the Asia region apparently occurred and raises questions about people registering for other people and voting on their behalf as well if the individual secrecy of PINs is compromised."
The ALSC determined that building an effective At-Large membership and conducting a global election on the basis of individual e-mail address holders to be unworkable and likely to engender fraud or capture. Instead, we found that the requirement that members hold a domain name to be a useful way of identifying individuals and also a way of ensuring their direct interest in the Internet infrastructure. We believe that an up-front election of ALSO leadership will help jump-start the self-organization of the ALSO, and conducting a completely online election saves both money and time. Defining the membership as registered domain name holders affords a higher confidence in verifiable voters and removes the need for costly, un-reliable pin letters (although work will still be needed to reduce fraud). E-mail address holders can acquire a domain name at minimal cost. Efforts should be made to encourage all previous registrants to participate in the At-large membership, and inform them of available assistance when needed. Although this obviously has not been done on a global scale, countrywide online elections with domain name holders has shown promising results. We are optimistic that an At-Large membership registration and election process can be developed that meets standards of integrity, fairness and affordability.
To create an ALSO leadership, the ALSC recommends that global elections be held based on six geographic regions in which the ALSO membership elects one Director to serve on ICANN's Board for a three-year term. In addition to the "winner" in each region serving as a Director, the five candidates who received the next highest number of votes in each region would form the Regional At-Large Council. Each region's Director also would serve as an ex-officio member of the Regional At-Large Council. Each Regional At-Large Council would select two of its members to serve on the global ALSO At-Large Council and manage the ALSO.
Elements of a potential process that could be used to create an At-Large membership and that merit further consideration include:
The ALSC recommends the following structure and processes for an At-Large membership election:
The ALSC recognizes the complexity involved in planning, executing and managing such processes, and encourages discussions, analysis and input on implementation options. We expect to provide more detailed process recommendations in our final report after we receive public input.
To begin implementation of these recommendations, the ALSC recommends that the Board provide adequate seed funding to support initial ALSO activities, which will give the ALSO sufficient time to create an independent, stable source of funding. The ALSC is in the process of developing specific const estimates for implementation of its recommendations. ICANN may want to consider financial contributions from outside sources to help offset this cost. The ALSC has considered a number of approaches to address the outreach, development and management issues involved in simultaneously launching and funding an ALSO and conducting a global election. The ALSC requests input on potential implementation mechanisms and processes and will seek to develop specific, consensus recommendations on execution for the Board's consideration. Elements to be addressed include:
These are our draft recommendations, which we are now submitting for public discussion and comment. As indicated, there are numerous issues on which further discussions and elaboration are needed. We are committed to presenting final recommendations, based on these discussions and further work, to the ICANN Board prior to its meeting in Los Angeles in November.