At-Large Representative for Canada and the United States on the
ICANN Board of Directors
Karl Auerbach

Diary - December 14, 2001

On December 14, a Special Meeting of the Board was held via telephone.

As usual, it occurred at the crack of dawn - I watched the sun come up as the meeting droned along.  And, as usual, there was no opportunity for the public to listen in, and no recording was made.

The preliminary minutes have been posted at: http://www.icann.org/minutes/prelim-report-14dec01.htm

Most of the meeting was devoted to a review from the President about ICANN's budget and other such matters.  Given that ICANN's management has refused to allow me to inspect its financial records unless I surrender to their demand that I submit to conditions and restrictions that make a mockery of my obligation of independent oversight of ICANN I am not of a mind to give automatic credence to financial reports that I hear from that same management.  If ICANN's management chooses to continuously act as if it were guilty of hiding something then why should I not draw the obvious conclusion and begin to believe that ICANN's management is actually hiding something?   ICANN's management continues to be less than forthcoming in clarifying ICANN's expenses; the issue of the costs of the TLD selection process are apparently a state secret, even from ICANN's own Directors; similarly, how ICANN exercises the IANA function is a mystery.

It appears from ICANN's proposed budget that ICANN has forgotten that ICANN's mission is both small and limited.  Instead it seems as if ICANN's management is building an expansive empire that will ensure life-time employment for its officers and executives as they oversee the ever-increasing number of employees and the ever larger budgets that will be required to perpetuate ICANN's already entrenched system of nano-management of the Internet's domain name system providers.  Even today ICANN has a manger-to-worker ratio that exceeds the dreams of professional bureaucrats.  And what has ICANN achieved with with the millions that it has already spent?  Not much.  Instead, ICANN has been busy feathering its own nest, and that of the law firm that created ICANN, while the actual stability of the Internet has eroded.  The consumers of domain name services are more at risk today than they were in the days before ICANN.  For instance, we don't even have a working escrow system to protect domain name consumers from the impact of registrar or registry failures.  And even the weak proposals that ICANN has published to date are inadequate.  And, because they define multiple data repository formats, they are a disaster waiting to happen.

ICANN's developing budget is a blueprint for the cancerous growth of ICANN into regulatory tumor.  ICANN's budget needs chemotherapy, and it needs it now.  It is very sad that ICANN's management chooses to hide information from the Directors.  That makes it rather difficult for the Board to exercise real oversight and to begin to pull ICANN back into its proper limited role.

IDN Committee

I voted for this resolution.  Internationalized Domain Names remain a large issue.  However, ICANN seems to continue to forget that Internationalization extends to the all of the supporting DNS mechanism - including WHOIS, escrow systems, and all the protocols between registrars, registries, and customers.  Is DNS really internationalized if it can hold names in arbitrary character sets but the support systems can not hold the internationalized names of the owners or their internationalized contact information?

On a somewhat tangential matter, Director Mueller-Maguhn and myself have accepted an informal board request to create a document that describes the distinction between names as entered by users into the address bar of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and names as expressed as domain names.  The purpose of this document would be to begin to delineate some of the limits of ICANN's responsibilities.  In this case, the purpose is to indicate that ICANN is not involved with whatever transformations or directory lookups that might occur inside a popular application above the level in which that application (or the operating system underlying that application) emits a domain name system query onto the Internet.

Election of Officers

This was voted upon as a single resolution, however, it had many parts.  I voted against the combined resolution.

A CFO for ICANN

Remind me, didn't ICANN's board appoint a CFO just one month ago?  What happened?

ICANN really does need a CFO.  But with a budget approaching $6,000,000 per year, ICANN does not need an amateur.

ICANN needs a CFO who is a professional financial expert, a CFO who has been measured by a public board of accountancy and who is obliged to meet well established professional standards and ethics.  ICANN's CFO ought to be someone who has his or her own knowledge of accounting and finance and not be someone who will have to depend upon ICANN's President and ICANN's accountants and auditors for advice.  ICANN needs a CFO who who has not only the personal strength but also the professional integrity to say "no" to the rest of ICANN's management when such a position is appropriate.  ICANN needs a CFO who will not sign-off on payments to those who provide services using inadequately licensed workers.  ICANN needs a CFO who will resist those who wish to take advantage of ICANN and its tax exempt status to establish a private "bank" to process their cash flow needs on a set of books that is not visible to this Director.

Diane Schroeder is a fine person; she has been capable and diligent in her ICANN role.  Ms. Schroeder has demonstrated that she is capable of  undertaking a senior role in ICANN's affairs.  However she is not a professional financial expert.

A Vice President

ICANN's org-chart already reads like the Dramatis Personae from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado".  ICANN needs a Vice President like The Mikado needs another Pooh-Bah.

In addition, the candidate is unqualified, just as he was unqualified a month ago when he was elevated to be ICANN's CFO-for-a-month.  Moreover, I object to employing those who appear to be more interested in using ICANN as a kind of private Club Med, financing worldwide travel, than in actually improving the Internet.


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2001 Karl Auerbach, All Rights Reserved.
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2001 08:33:50 PM