Presented in November 2001, ccTLD Marina del Rey meeting
31 Oct 31 2001
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.
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".
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.
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".
The following proposed alternatives are based on the principles established below:
Based on the above principles, we elaborate our suggestions as below:
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.
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