Richard Henderson
Candidate in ICANNATLARGE.COM Interim Panel Election April 2002

Richard Henderson

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I'm inviting you to vote for me! But I know there are many other good candidates!

My name is Richard Henderson. I am a 49-year-old writer from the United Kingdom. I'm married with three young children. I would describe myself as an industry outsider - just a committed Internet user who sees the Internet as a worldwide resource for all people and all communities. My life experience is rooted in dealing with people and trying to find practical solutions. I am a former Prison Governor (I think you call it 'warden' in some countries) so I have a no-nonsense approach to corruption, evasion and trickery. When I was younger I worked with mentally ill patients as a nurse and held many different jobs including cook, farm labourer, and clerk. I would describe my candidature as coming from outside the ICANN establishment. I am not part of any wealthy elite and my tendency is to side with end-users and to expect decency and fair play. My interests include mountaineering, music, running, malt whisky, and most of all my family. Over the years I have taken an active interest in human rights issues and I am particularly concerned to see access to the internet gained by communities who are disadvantaged by poverty or political repression. I am excited by the prospect of building a worldwide network of ordinary people who share an idealistic vision of the ways the Internet can become a truly shared resource for all people.

The kind of AtLarge organisation I would like to see built would be one which focuses with clarity on issues that affect the general public, often raised and discussed at a local level, but accessible to all. I believe it can grow into a huge organisation of end-users, but that it should be run from the bottom up, based on groups which operate at country level, but use the technology to reach across continents too. I take the view that too many people in ICANN are from "within" the industry, and while it is essential that dialogue with ICANN is rational and co-operative, I believe that the general public has a right to challenge the way things are run, particularly where there is lack of openness, opaque dealings, or an evasion of dialogue and discussion. As I see it, the AtLarge organisation should not simply react to ICANN’s initiatives, but should set its own agenda, and develop a network of forums, not just centrally but locally. There could be literally hundreds of these, all linked together, and everything should be done to promote openness and rational dialogue.

If elected, I hope that I could represent - in particular - the majority of stake-holders who are simply end-users... essentially the general public... who want ease of access to the Internet, ease of access to domain addresses, ease of transfer, straightforward control of nameservers and greater constraints on those registrars who fail to maintain acceptable business standards. While ICANN should indeed guard against "mission creep" there should be a much more clear-cut definition of Registry and Registrar Agreements, with accountability and sanctions as a last resort (including loss of accreditation). Instead of advertising "Best Practices" which are merely optional, ICANN should make it a condition of registrar agreements that they abide by "Required Practices" because too often ICANN has failed to protect consumers through shoddy contracts and an accommodation of unacceptable standards in the industry. Yes, of course, normal consumer watchdogs at national level can be used where wrong practice occurs, but ICANN should use contracts to pre-empt bad practice and protect the consumer.

To be quite honest, I know there are many people more qualified than me in terms of expertise : however, I would feel honoured to stand and represent the millions of ordinary people like myself, who just want to use the Internet and know that there are processes of integrity involved in its administration. To this end, I have shown my commitment by operating my (very basic!) website which has called both ICANN and the Registries to account over their handling of the release of New TLDs, and in co-operation with many decent people we have publicised the way in which ICANN and Afilias failed to protect the consumer from unscrupulous registrars and failed to construct or implement acceptable Agreements - resulting in what Afilias Director Robert Connelly described in his resignation letter as the Sunrise "abomination". More recently, and with the co-operation of Jeff Neuman at Neulevel (I am glad to note), we have drawn attention to the continuing concern over "exclusive" registrar lists - a problem which looks like recurring in the forthcoming .info Landrush 2. It is unacceptable, for example, that Signature Domains excluded the general public from their .biz 2B list and applied simply on behalf of their own partner, obtaining ten top names because their short list helped them queue-jump ordinary consumers. Clearly, the public deserves protection through tighter controls and clearly-defined Agreements.

I realise that my own area of clarity and focus has been in one fairly specific area - the area of domain name distribution and registrar practice - but this is probably the interface most relevant to the public at large. As consumers, ordinary internet users worldwide have a right to expect the fair and open distribution of the DNS, and they have the right to expect high standards and proper business practice from all registrars (and not just some!). In confronting ICANN over this issue, I have been left in no doubts about the need for public representation there, as opposed to vested interests, insiders and nominated stooges committed to an ICANN orthodoxy. On election, I see my primary role tied up with practicalities rather than distant ideals : to help increase membership significantly, to organise new elections, and to provide ideas and stimulus to support everyone in their own locality or with their own concerns - so that everyone's voice matters, and ICANN get this clear message from the public at large:



It is absolutely clear that this priceless resource for the whole of humanity has suffered from maladministration and lack of openness. There has been a lack of accountability. There has been a lack of concern for the consumer. It is essential that the public at large organise their voice (or voices!) and that their representation is placed at the heart of ICANN. Thank you for reading this statement.


"The administration of the DNS is a responsibility to the whole world, to safeguard a worldwide resource. Those who are assigned to this task must accept accountability and embrace openness and transparency in all their dealings."

Information from: ICANNATLARGE.COM