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[ NNSquad ] Re: Other Developments at ICANN

I was encouraged to send my comments to the At-Large forum board, and
the following is what I posted, only somewhat cleaned up.  I tried to
outline how the right considerations converge, and I hope it's a
measure clearer than my previous post.


>From https://community.icann.org/display/Improve/At-Large+Vision+Statement+as+Proposed+by+the+At-Large+Improvements+Taskforce?focusedCommentId=32026835&#comment-32026835


I was asked to present some notions here which I originally posted on
the NNSquad list

See this link and continue with my elaboration below:

The At-Large community needs a far better stance and relationship to
ICANN to do its job well.  Think:

   1) Concurrent status

   2) A "responsibility of representation" (not real
      representation as this is not really that kind of body)

   3) Asserting the claims of the broader communities to
      their rights in an effective way

Those are the things that should inform your Vision statement, what
the At Large communities should at minimum see as their part in the
overall scheme.

1) You can't be something people really recognize as government, and
2) you can't let a private entity be the model for what to do in terms
of overseeing and stewarding something like the transnational
Internet, and 3) multi-stakeholderism doesn't do anything but cast the
important questions being dealt with here in a kind of
consultant/facilitator-speak that works in business contexts but not
for according appropriate regard to the concerns at stake here.  And
4) too much is being done in the broader context by treaty-makers
acting on behalf of the executive functions of local governments (and
the private entities that influence those delegates) without proper
regard for the people those numerous governments are supposed to

And finally, ICANN is already doing things much like those
treaty-makers, making decisions about exclusive rights to works and
trademarks -- while blithely disregarding the relationship those types
of policies have to more fundamental concerns of the people at large.

Those considerations seem to me to be the key parts of the problem of
what we might call "governance" for something like the Internet,
relevant here and in the present context.

What you *can* do is situate the at-large community so its function of
representing the broader public interests is placed at the right level
in relation to the chartered private entity as such.  Then, while not
being representative in a real sense, you can nevertheless describe
what the at-large community is about in relation to the role of
rights.  In doing that, you can incorporate recognition of local
sovereignties, though only in the specific way of recognizing that
local governments are the sources out of which which the broader
constituencies assure their rights.  In so doing you also do not act
as if the joint ICANN-broader-communities entity were a government (or
encourage it to act like that, continuing to make decisions that have
real impacts on rights claims which are necessarily implicated in the
stewardship of a transnational medium of communication).

Something like the following is more like the vision the At-Large
communities and ICANN should have of what the at-large community is
about, including these key pieces: concurrent status, responsibility
to represent, rights, and the local sources by which end users secure
their rights:

Vision Statement:

"The At-Large community [and ALAC?] assure[s] the stewardship of the
Internet by joining the single privately chartered entity of ICANN
with a concurrent body acting with the responsibility to represent end
users whose rights are implicated in the areas of responsibility
overseen by ICANN, and who secure their rights by the local
constitutions and political structures to which they have consented

That's more like what you want.

However, noting that a Vision Statement process, done right (even from
a consultant/facilitator-speak standpoint), should really precede
other things, and noting that most of the rest of the At-Large
Improvements process listed here (Recommendation 5) is denoted as
complete or substantively complete, I don't know that you're exactly
ready to engage with these considerations at this point.

Seth Johnson


On Sat, May 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM, Seth Johnson <seth.p.johnson@gmail.com> wrote:
> The Internet: A Web for the World
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/20/internet-web-for-world-editorial
> Snippet: "It must be a web not for the consumer, but for the citizen"
> The contrast in this op-ed between "corporations seeking to corral
> users into marketable segments" vs "state power in pursuit of control
> and censorship" really misses the most important point, and just
> reflects the same old "corporate power vs regulations" frame we
> constantly rehash.  In the balance we see various parties pursuing the
> governance of the Internet as a "borderless" medium.
> The most important point at this juncture is to address the
> relationship the stewardship of the Net has to the rights of the
> people.
> To put this in context, note that this was the week the White House
> lauded the rationalizing of ICANN's role under the rubric of
> "multi-stakeholderism," where all who have an interest in the Internet
> can "have a voice" in it:
>> http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/05/02/ensuring-open-internet
> And to get to a practical matter in this connection: at this moment
> the At-Large folks at ICANN are considering the following text,
> developed at the recent 43rd gathering in Costa Rica, for a "Vision
> Statement":
> "The ALAC and At-Large community catalyzes and facilitates inclusive,
> meaningful participation of Internet end-users world-wide, aggregates
> their input and brings their voice to bear in all ICANN matters."
> Which might sound great . . . right?  Whereas the following is a bit
> of text (developed on the basis of the premise of ICANN's present
> role), that might far better reflect and address the real implications
> here:
> "The ALAC and At-Large community assures the stewardship of the
> Internet by joining ICANN with a concurrent body constituted of
> representatives of end users whose rights are implicated in the
> establishment of universally connected communications, and who have
> secured their rights by the constitutions and political structures to
> which they have consented worldwide."
> The point is, we're not making anything better -- until we acknowledge
> effectively the relationship that stewardship of the Internet has to
> our rights.
> If you're going to oversee a medium that transcends borders, you can't
> let an entity like ICANN become the model of "borderlessness" -- you
> have to recognize how rights are assured in the world, despite the
> fact that in the natural course of history people have acted to do
> that within borders. This assures that our role as "stakeholders"
> isn't simply used as a way to accommodate "governance" by entities
> that see borderlessness in a very different way.
> It isn't as if the ALAC structures are well rooted in the people, or
> that their functions, or those of ICANN, stack up as anything like
> what we would traditionally recognize as a true organ of democratic
> government as such.  But it is important to position the ALAC
> constituencies appropriately such that any claims they may make for
> various interests and for the rights of the people have a standing in
> the structure that lets those claims be taken seriously; and such that
> the rights of the people are represented with reference to the
> existing means by which they are secured.
> Seth

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