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> roving_reporter t byfield

Mon Sep 18 20:41:10 EDT 2000

ICANN MAL candidate questionnaire: Lawrence Lessig

[Unlike the other "member-nominated" MAL candidates who have responded here, Lawrence Lessig was nominated by ICANN's Nominating Committee.]

1. ICANN presents itself as a "technical coordination body for the Internet." Do ICANN's activities to date support this description?

Not clearly enough. There has been a desire among some on the board to go slowly, and keep focused on the (limited) mandate. This desire is not broadly enough shared.

2. ICANN describes itself as "transparent," "bottom-up," and "consensus-based." Do ICANN's activities to date support these descriptions?

Not clearly enough. The board has yielded in some ways to the strong criticism of outsiders, to make the process more transparent, and to remain committed to the bottom-up coordination function ICANN is to have.

3. The "stability" of the internet is a staple if ICANN's rhetoric, as if to suggest that the net is a fragile entity that needs to be protected. What do you think ICANN is protecting it from?

Best case: changes that the system can incorporate quickly enough. Worst case: changes that will undermine the monopoly power of the existing regime.

4. "Global" top-level domains pose a basic quandary, which can be summarized thus: everyone in the world can point somewhere and say "there," but there can only be one there.com, one there.net, and one there.org. Many people have legitimate claims to what, within the limited context of DNS, appear to be the same words. Rather than expanding the namespace in order to produce a diversity more adequate to the rapidly expanding demand for new domains, ICANN has devoted much of its resources during its first two years to developing a global policy for arbitrating conflicts. In the balance, was this the best approach?

Expand the name space as quickly as is feasible. Minimize monopoly power.

5. Should the refusal of the country-code domain registrars to pay the invoices ICANN submitted to them be seen as a referendum on ICANN's legitimacy as a "global" organization?

Not yet. The refusal of governments to live up to their obligations is nothing new, and means nothing important.

6. ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) stipulates that "the complainant shall select the [dispute resolution] Provider from among those approved by ICANN by submitting the complaint to that Provider." Is this an appropriate way to assign resolution providers to cases?

Arbitrators are to be mutually selected.

7. ICANN often mentions its limited resources as a decisive factor in justifying various actions -- in other words, there seems to be a serious disjuncture between ICANN's means and its goals. Has this cast doubt on the results of ICANN's activities to date?

I'm not sure what "doubt" means. ICANN has been constrained because of resources.

8. The law firm Jones, Day, Reavis, and Pogue has played a huge role in ICANN, mainly through Joe Sims, ICANN's Chief Counsel, and Louis Touton, ICANN's Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel. Sims, with JDRP since 1978, was intimately involved in crafting ICANN's bylaws and selecting the initial boardmembers; he remains a cental figure at board meetings. Before joing ICANN, Touton spent the last 18 months of his 18-year practice at JDRP as a legal advisor involved in ICANN's formation, registrar-accreditation and dispute-resolution policies, and the NSI/DoC/ICANN agreements. Is it appropriate for an organization such as ICANN to be so closely aligned to a single law firm?

Jones Day, and Joe Sims, have done a great deal of work for ICANN. I do not believe it is healthy for one firm to retain a permanent or exclusive relationship to ICANN.

9. ICANN may soon be a kingmaker, with the power to delegate the administration of new top-level domains. This will almost certainly be a multibillion-dollar business. Is an adequate system of checks and balances in place to ensure that ICANN's officers and staff do not abuse or exploit this power?

Not yet.

10. Based on ICANN's actions to date, should participants in the Membership At Large, specifically, and netizens, generally, trust ICANN to honestly report the election's outcome?

I do not believe ICANN will lie about the results, but I do believe it is prudent and responsible for an independent body to process and report the results.



The above material is Copyright © 1999 by t. byfield.

The r_r began as a semi-collaborative nym on the <nettime> list, where it worked well; but the pseudonym precluded comments, and there was more to report than was good for the list, so now it -- or a mutation of it -- has resurfaced on TBTF. [ back to the roving_reporter]


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