August 22, 1999

Welcome to As the CaveBear Growls.

This publication is an occasional newsletter covering topics of interest to the author, generally related to the Internet to a greater or lesser degree.

Over to the left of the screen is the catalog of issues, past and present.

Suppose ICANN Had An At-Large Membership Drive:

I can imagine my phone ringing:

Caller: "Hello this is the ICANN at-large membership outreach program, we'd like you to join"

Me: "What do I get out of it?"

Caller: "You can pay a membership fee to cover the large machinery involved because we don't trust that you are a legitimate person. And you can get a vote for ICANN board members."

Me: "Can I take part in the definition of Internet policy."

Caller: "No, I'm sorry, that's the job of the Supporting Organizations."

Me: "Can my board members develop internet policy?"

Caller: "Well, the bylaws say that that is mainly the job of the Supporting Organizations. And the bylaws also say that the board 'shall' accept the recommendations of the supporting organizations. But ICANN's chief counsel says that that language in the bylaws is meaningless, although he refuses to remove it."

Me: "Oh wow, that means I get a vote for a less-than majority number of board members who are possibly precluded from developing internet policy. Might I say in my best Yiddish accent 'Such a deal'?"

Caller: "Well the board can, and does, change the bylaws at the drop of a hat."

Me: "It's nice to know they are so agile. I'd like to see that in action."

Caller: "I'm sorry, but the board has never had an open meeting or published any but cursory minutes. But they promise an 'open' meeting in Santaigo, but I would caution you that it's their definition of 'open'."

Me: "Since it's the Supporting Organizations that are the prime source of policy creation, I'd like to know: Can I join the Supporting Organizations?"

Caller: "No, I'm sorry that is the exclusive province of corporations and organizations. It is open only to groups with expertise in technical matters, groups like the 'Intellectual Property Constituency' and 'business constituency', you know, real experts in the technology."

Me: "Is there a constituency that I can join?"

Caller: "No, the board decided that since this at-large membership is such a great value, it would be unwise to let you protect your interests by direct participation in the development of policy, you might ask questions that businesses might find embarrassing."

Me: "Gee, I must thank ICANN for letting me know my proper role. And how much do SO members pay for the machinery to verify that they aren't fraudulent bodies?"

Caller: "Oh, they pay nothing. We trust corporations and entities. Why, just the other day we were proud to admit INEG."

Caller: "But let's get back to your future as a member of ICANN."

Me: "OK. Can you tell me something: I hear that ICANN is deeply in debt and has no means of paying it off. Am I a going to be at risk of having to pay that off out of my own pocket?"

Caller: "Probably not, but we don't know for sure."

Me: "And does ICANN have a business process, as recommended by the Boston Working Group and the ORSC, to keep costs under control?"

Caller, "Oh, no sir. We trust our captain. In fact, ICANN just gave him retroactive approval to enter into certain loan agreements."

Me: "And do I get the rights afforded to members under California law to ensure that ICANN is actually run according to its rules?"

Caller: "No, we have structured ICANN to minimize your legal rights as a member."

Me: "Gee, thanks for the vote of no confidence in my integrity and technical expertise. You know, I think I'll buy a Ginsu knife. It's a better value."

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Updated June 20, 2001 12:42:41 AM -0700