March 7, 2004


I went to one of the ALAC meetings at the ICANN meeting near Rome.

I do not believe that ICANN's ALAC system will work.  Under ALAC an individual must join an ICANN-approved local club that, in turn, must join an ICANN-approved regional club that, in turn, sends a few delegates to ICANN's ALAC that, in turn, sends a few delegates to ICANN's nominating committee (other non-ALAC bodies also get to send delegates) that, in turn, names a portion of the ICANN Board of Directors who, in turn, routinely rubber-stamp the output of ICANN's "staff".  Under this system, an individual has about as much ability to affect ICANN's decisions as he or she has ability to affect the selection of the next Pope.

When I was on ICANN's board, I was hoping that my belief would be proved wrong and I voted to support the ALAC effort.  The ALAC was chartered roughly one year ago.  Since then the growth of the ALAC has been disappointing.

The ALAC meeting in Rome was held in a small hotel room - the total attendance was less than 20 people, including at least two representatives of ICANN who are not really part of the ALAC.

The meeting topics did not seem to include the question of how to get people to participate in ALAC and how to grow what is now a tiny seed into something of significance.  Rather, the discussions concerned substantive policy - such as ICANN's TLD review.

The opinions expressed on these substantive policy matters were reasonable, well thought through, and articulately expressed.

However, it seems to me that the present business of the ALAC is to build a system for individuals to participate in the making of internet policy.  It seems to me that given the ALAC's existing minimal size that the ALAC ought refrain from substantive policy matters and focus exclusively on its own growth.  Debate on substantive policy ought to be postponed until the ALAC is actually a viable body, with real membership and real structures for ascertaining and developing the opinion of the public.

In addition, it seems to me that the ALAC should be sending a consistent message to ICANN about substantive policy questions.  That message should be that the ICANN policies made to date have all been made without the full consent of the community of internet users and that, as a result, those policies are grounded on incomplete and weak foundations and that such policies are considered as tentative until ratified by an ICANN that includes the fully empowered voice of the community of internet users.

Posted by karl at March 7, 2004 12:54 PM