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[ga] NAIS Statement on At-Large Membership

Members of the GA:

Today the NGO and Academic ICANN Study (NAIS) released a new 
statement regarding the Board's upcoming decision on At-Large 
Membership issues. The statement includes our latest analysis and 
research regarding: how a fee might be best implemented; the 
structure of an effective ALM participatory organization; financial 
predications for the ALM; and other pressing issues. A complete PDF 
of the statement will be available shortly at the NAIS web site, 
http://www.naisproject.org/; for the time being I've attached our 
executive summary.

I hope we can have a good list discussion of this statement; feel 
free to e-mail me on-list or off- with any questions or comments.


* * *

Statement by the
NGO and Academic ICANN Study (NAIS)

Summary: A Defining Moment for the At-Large and ICANN

We have reached a defining moment for creating a meaningful At-Large 
and achieving a more legitimate ICANN. It may also prove to be the 
last chance for the Internet community and the public at large to 
secure the inclusion of its voice and interests in the 
decision-making processes of ICANN.

The NGO and Academic ICANN Study (NAIS) remains committed to our 
principles that ICANN's legitimacy can be best established through an 
open, inclusive membership; robust, sustainable public participation; 
strong representation of the public's interest in ICANN; and a clear, 
well-defined statement of the ICANN mission.

Our report of last September, "ICANN, Legitimacy, and the Public 
Voice: Making Global Participation and Representation Work," offered 
detailed policy recommendations along these lines. Yet members of the 
ICANN Board and the ICANN community have expressed concerns about 
some aspects of our recommendations, and are pursuing different 
approaches. Elements of this alternate track stem from the 
recommendations of the At-Large Study Committee (ALSC), which has 
called for a membership fee and a reduction in the number of At-Large 
seats from nine to six.

While we find serious deficiencies in these alternate proposals, we 
recognize that they attempt to address certain questions, including 
some questions of financial boundedness left open by our report of 
last September.

If the Board is to impose a membership fee, and/or decrease the 
number of At Large directors, there are better and worse ways to take 
such steps.  Although we continue to disagree with movement in this 
direction, if the Board nonetheless adopts these positions it should 
do so by incorporating protections that will maximize ICANN's 
legitimacy, stability, and accountability to the global Internet 
community. We present some of these implementation ideas below.

We continue to believe in a broadly inclusive membership. We present 
here a structure of dues for the Board's consideration, but we 
emphasize that even if voting rights become contingent (in most parts 
of the world) on payment of dues, the ability to become a member and 
to otherwise participate should remain open to any interested user.

* Scaled Fees: Any fees or dues should be carefully scaled to avoid 
raising the bar for membership so high that large numbers of 
interested individuals in lower-income countries are excluded. While 
imperfect, we suggest that fees be based on the World Bank's tiers of 
low-, lower-middle-, upper-middle-, and upper- income countries. For 
discussion purposes, we suggest a fee ranging from US$5 to US$20.

* Fee Exemption: The Least-Developed Countries (as classified by the 
UN) should be exempt from any fees. If there are concerns about 
dues-exempt registrations creating a potential unbounded cost and 
disparities within a region, a high "cap" could be created to set an 
upper limit on the number of free registrations available in any one 

* Authentication & Expression of Interest: Where members pay dues, 
those dues could be taken as adequate authentication of the members' 
validity and interest. For those exempt from dues, a version of the 
online registration and postal-return system from the 2000 election 
could be used. New technologies offering alternative low-cost 
authentication should be welcomed.

* Transaction Costs: To avoid the potentially untenable cost of 
international money transfers, the transaction costs for dues payment 
should be borne by members. The ALM should minimize costs by 
accepting a wide variety of payment methods, including collection at 
the local or regional levels.

Providing the ALM with a participatory structure that promotes 
productive interactions among members is of equal importance to 
running a successful election in 2002. We offer several 
recommendations for a stable, effective participatory structure:

* The At-Large Should Not Be a "Supporting Organization": We disagree 
with the characterization of the new ALM body as a "Supporting 
Organization." We do not believe it will assume the direct 
policy-making role of the other SOs, nor is it conceptually or 
structurally the same. It should be referred to simply as the 
"At-Large Membership."

* Membership Council: The ALM should be coordinated by a council that 
facilitates communication and cooperation in the Membership and 
further development of the ALM's participatory structures.

* Staff Support: Initially we believe at least one full-time 
professional staff member will be needed to support the ALM and its 
participatory structures. This person could be based in any region 
deemed appropriate and feasible.

* Outreach to the User Community: The ALM should seek out 
partnerships with local, national, and regional associations that 
have established networks of participants.

* We do not believe sufficiently compelling arguments have been 
presented to justify the reduction of the number of At-Large 
Directors from nine to six. Nevertheless if the number of At-Large 
Directors is reduced, the Board should change the bylaws to require a 
vote of more than two-thirds of the Board for structural bylaw 
changes (i.e., at least some At Large directors would have to support 
such changes). Such a change should also only take place in the 
context of a narrow mission for ICANN.

* How much will the ALM cost and how will it be paid for? We present 
cost and revenue projections for an ALM election and structure.

* Expenses: Based on the 2000 At-Large election, we estimated costs 
for an ALM election in 2002 and the creation of a membership 
organization. Significant elements will vary with the size of the 
ALM. We estimate initial costs of about US$450,000.

* Revenues: Fee revenues are highly dependent on the number and 
geographic distribution of members. With the same distribution as 
2000 and a fee reaching US$20, our revenue estimates range from as 
high as US$576,000 (with a membership of 34,000, the number of votes 
cast in 2000) to as little as US$28,000 (a membership of 1,700, just 
five percent of the 2000 totals).

* Initial Support from ICANN: We conclude that, initially, it is 
unlikely that a fee will generate enough revenue to fully support the 
cost of the ALM. However, we believe the costs are not prohibitive; 
are unlikely to be substantially higher than predicted; will decrease 
over time; and are sufficiently bounded. We believe they should be 
paid from ICANN's budget (raised from those who benefit financially 
from a legitimate ICANN - and ultimately from consumers.).

* Restatement of the ICANN Mission: We share a growing concern in the 
ICANN community that ICANN's scope of activities, as described in its 
Articles of Incorporation and bylaws, lacks important clarity and 
creates a risk of "mission creep." The Board should amend these 
documents with a new mission statement, restating and explaining the 
limited, bounded mission of ICANN.

* Election Rules: As the ICANN Board prepares for a new At-Large 
election, it should establish and publicize clear, concise election 
rules and codes for conduct. Our research has indicated that clear 
statements by ICANN about the propriety of certain registration 
and/or campaigning tactics could have a significant effect in 
preventing the problems seen in 2000.

* Domain Name Holder Requirement: In its Final Report, the ALSC 
proposed that membership be limited to those people who own domain 
names. We strongly believe that such a restriction is not only 
unnecessary but also unworkable globally, particularly in regions 
where DNS registration practices vary widely.

Rob Courtney
Policy Analyst
Center for Democracy & Technology
1634 Eye Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
202 637 9800
fax 202 637 0968


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