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Presented in November 2001, ccTLD Marina del Rey meeting

31 Oct 31 2001

Suggestions on the ALSC Draft Report
(from CNNIC&VNNIC)

We are very pleased to see the release of the draft report after six months' study. At-Large study is a very complicated undertaking. It encompasses technical, financial and administrative issues. It also focuses on how to engage the Internet users' endorsement and participation into ICANN policies and decision-making process. The ultimate objective of ALSC assignment is to secure the legitimacy of ICANN. It is an arduous task to find a proper way keeping balance among these issues. We congratulate ALSC on having done a great job.

After having studied the subject Draft Report, we have certain concerns and would like to offer the following observations and suggestions. Our intention is to make the final resolution of the Report to be fair and reflecting the true spirit of ICANN charter to be the organization of all Internet users.

  1. Key Issues:

    While the Draft Report covered a whole range of issues, we would like to concentrate on only two key issues, namely: "membership Definition" and "membership Fee".

    1. Membership Definition:

      We consider that if ALSC regards "individual Domain Name holders" as "At-Large members", it will not comply with the spirit of ICANN. ICANN is supposed to represent the interests of Internet users as broadly as possible and should not focus its attention on any special interests group. Only when the interests of the majorities are represented, the legitimacy of ICANN policies can be ensured.

      The concept of the Internet user is so broad that not every one could possibly register a domain name. Therefore, the range of domain name holders cannot completely cover that of the whole Internet users. If the At-Large membership is only limited to those individual domain name holders, the interests of other Internet users who has never registered a domain name can not be represented properly.

      Most gTLDs and ccTLDs holders are from commercial institutions. For this reason, the opinion of the At-Large members will most probably be in favor of the commercial institutions if the voting rights are based on the domain name registration. Additionally, the interests of commercial institutions have already been represented in the DNSO (Commercial Constituency). The consequence will be like this: the interests of commercial institutions will be double-represented while leaving the interests of non-commercial Internet users in the cold.

      To vote on the basis of domain name registration cannot effectively avoid the problems of potential corruption and fraud during the voting process. Some organizations can still cheat by organizing large scale of domain name registration. It could also cause chaos and fraud for it is extremely difficult to examine whether an organization or individual owns several domain names and cast multiple ballots.

      Practically speaking, there are lots of difficulties in confirming the identities of "individual domain name holders" through registrars. Many registrars regard their client information as confidential while other registrars do not keep accurate information at all.

      In summary: We believe that ICANN shall continue to use the original definition of "At-Large membership". This is the most effective approach for ICANN to retain its' authority.

    2. Membership Fees:

      We also believe that ollect membership fees ill discourage a great number of Internet users from becoming At-Large members.

      Collecting membership fees may certainly help ICANN to address some financial problems and potentially raise the standard of the membership, but it also shut the door against a vast number of common Internet users. Wealthy individuals, groups, institutions and nations tend to dominate. We must avoid the dominance of the "HAVEs" over the "HAVE NOTs". Today, almost all the international organizations and governments declare to devote themselves to bridging the "DIGITAL DIVIDE". We believe that ICANN centainly does not intent to carry out the Board election in favor of the "HAVEs". We suggest ICANN find other ways to organize and facilitate broad Internet user participation in ICANN At-Large membership without any fee.

      We were cognizant of the fact that the Draft Report has tried to strike a balance among relatively complicated aspects such as issues of security, finance and interoperability. We admit that it is a very tough job. However, some suggested solutions in the Draft Report could cause serious consequences that is beyond the original intent. For example, the fee based on At-Large membership could weaken the universality of the At-Large membership; radically impair the legitimacy of ICANN. The end result of this approach will be the dominance of the "HAVE NOTs" by the "HAVEs".

  2. Proposed Alternatives:

    The following proposed alternatives are based on the principles established below:

    1. Retain the original At-Large membership definition: This is the fairest way to ensure that the interests of the broadest masses of Internet users can be protected. This is also consistent with ICANN policies and its decision-making process, and thus guarantee the legitimacy of ICANN;

    2. Do not collect membership fees from At-Large members. Encourage the participation from the broad masses of Internet users, especially in developing nations and regions in order to reflect the global "democratic spirit";

    3. ICANN should assume the administrative role in the t-Large electionsí▒ process. ICANN can create a unified electing procedure for all ccTLDs and supervise the electing process of each ccTLD;

    4. To conduct the local/regional At-Large election basing on each ccTLDs (or government, if the Internet community does not exist).

    Based on the above principles, we elaborate our suggestions as below:

    1. The global At-Large membership shall still be based on the e-mail account holders. Up to date, this still is the best approach which complies with ICANN principle to create the At-Large membership and ensure the legitimacy of ICANN;

    2. We suggest the "At-Large voters" be elected by local or regional At-Large members. They will participate in the final election of ICANN At-Large Directors on behalf of local or regional At-Large members;

    3. It is the responsibility of the local/regional organization which is authorized by both ICANN and Internet community in certain ccTLDs (or government, if the Internet community is not presented) to select "At-Large voters" and cover the costs of the regional election;

    4. We suggest ICANN create a unified procedure to regulate At-Large elections in each ccTLD, supervising the process and selectively monitor the election process in certain ccTLD;

    5. The local/regional organization which is responsible for the local/regional At-Large election shall have the duty to identify the regional At-Large membership by confirming responses from e-mails and domestic postal mails;

    6. Each ccTLD can nominate candidates of "At-Large voters" following the same way ICANN selected nominees for At-Large Directors in the year 2000 election or to establish a new procedure based on local conditions;The slate of nominees for At-Large Directors in each region shall follow the At-Large election procedures of the year 2000;

    7. We agree with the suggestion in the Draft Report that ALSC divides the world into six geographic regions with at least one At-Large Directors representing each geographic region. We suggest that the "At-Large voters" shall still vote on the basis of the six geographic regions in future At-Large Directors elections;

    8. ICANN shall organize the At-Large voters from different nations and regions to conduct the final election for the At-Large Directors;

    9. We consider that ICANN At-Large Directors shall occupy half of the seats in ICANN Board of Directors. We suggest that six At-Large Directors shall be elected from the six different geographic regions and the rest of the At-Large Directors (currently 3 directors) shall be elected from the global Internet community.

  3. Rationale for the Proposed Alternatives:

    1. ccTLD-based At- Large Election: We believe this approach has the following advantages:

      1. The global networks can be divided into 243 units in accordance with different ccTLDs (Countries and Regions). There are great advantages for regional institutions and/or Internet communities to organize local "At-Large members" taking part in the "At-Large election";

      2. Certain election issues can be resolved through the decentralized process rather than being centralized in ICANN all the time;

      3. It is more convenient for local or regional organizations to conduct outreach activities for At-Large election by using local languages;

      4. In each ccTLD, local or regional organizations of the Internet community may identify the At-Large membership by confirming applicants identities by sending domestic postal zip codes. This will eliminate international postage. ICANN and/or any other international or regional organizations could reduce their financial burden by saving election costs;

      5. It can further reduce the financial burden caused by maintaining a huge database capacity under ICANN current centralized online election;

      6. The cost of At-Large election in each ccTLD will be covered by the regional Internet communities. This will also reduce the financial burden of ICANN and thus eliminate the necessity of collecting fees from the At-Large members.

    2. Ensure the legitimacy and democracy of the At- Large election:

      In order to guarantee the legitimacy and democracy of each local or regional election, ICANN may develop a uniform process for certain local or regional At-Large elections, and supervise the whole process, review candidates' lists of "voters" of each ccTLDs.

    3. Effectively prevent against Nationalism:

      To guarantee the equal interests of each ccTLD, the ccTLDs can be prescribed to have equal voting rights in the final election for At-Large Directors conducted by ICANN. It conforms to the thoughts of ICANN to divide the global Internet community into six regions. That is: No matter how many Internet users are living in a certain nation or region, these nations or regions shall have equal number of representatives to participate in the election. This will effectively prevent nationalism from spreading unchecked. Furthermore, we propose that the number of ballots in each nation or region be sufficient in order to prevent bribery and to avoid any other organized fraud to take place in the election. (The more "At-Large voters" there are, the more difficult for a organization to result in bribery during the final election) We truly believe that the above proposed alternatives can not only comply with the principles of ICANN At-Large membership process but also reduce the cost of the election.

In summary, we believe the ALSC Draft Report is a good starting point to redefine the At-Large membership. The principle is to create a "fair" election process to choose Board Members. This principle of embracing ALL Internet users is the fundamental spirit of ICANN. Our common objective is to promote equality and to bridge the "DIGITAL DIVIDE" between the "HAVEs" and the "HAVE NOTs".

We welcome other inputs so that we may debate this issue to finally reach consensus in equitable representation of ALL Internet users around the world in ICANN.

CNNIC Director Mao Wei

VNNIC Director Nguyen Le Thuy


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