By Nick Patience The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ first step towards having an elected board is taking place this week and complexity and controversy appears to be the name of the game. There are three supporting organizations that between them will choose nine of the eventual 18 board seats. The other nine […]
By Nick Patience
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ first step towards having an elected board is taking place this week and complexity and controversy appears to be the name of the game. There are three supporting organizations that between them will choose nine of the eventual 18 board seats. The other nine will be chosen by an at-large council, which itself will be elected by an at-large membership, neither of which will be in place until next summer. The elections have highlighted which constituencies have the ability to organize themselves most effectively to help get the candidates they want elected, leaving some alleging that those efforts have infringed ICANN’s bylaws.
The first supporting organization to be formed is the first to get its elections underway this week. The domain name supporting organization began opening and closing elections on Monday October 11 and at the start of the week there were 14 nominees for the three seats, three of which were actually members of the 19-member ‘electorate’ that would be choosing the board members.
The voters in this election are the 19 members of the DNSO’s names council (NC), three each from six of the seven constituencies that make up the council and one from the generic top-level domain (gTLD) registry constituency, which is Don Telage of Network Solutions Inc, the only gTLD registry at the moment. That constituency was restricted to just one member by the ICANN board some months ago until there are new gTLDs. Telage is one of the three that doubles as both a candidate and a voter.
Anyway, the 19 members of the NC are picking from a list of nominees who need to get a majority, or at least ten of the 19 NC members in order to win and get the board seat. In order to become a nominee, each needed to get emails of support from at least 10 valid individuals, who must be either a member of the DNSO’s general assembly mailing list; a subscriber to its announce list, or a subscriber to one of the mailing lists of one of the DNSO’s seven constituencies. That’s a fairly broad list, but it hasn’t been enough to prevent controversy when one of the nominees, former US Congressman Rick White secured 11 supporters, five of which do not appear to be valid because they are not members of any of those lists. White is the only nominee that is basically new to the domain name battles.
He appears to have been persuaded to run by lawyers representing AT&T Corp and Microsoft Corp and was nominated by Jerry Berman, the chair of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a Washington DC-based advocacy group. Berman joined the non- commercial domain name holders constituency of the DNSO the same day he nominated White.
There are three rounds of voting, (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week) to pick the three seats, which are good for periods of three, two and one year on the ICANN board, respectively. The NC members continue voting until one nominee gets the necessary ten votes.
The three-year seat went to Alejandro Pisanty, who is director for computing academic services at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and more relevantly is chair of the Mexican chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC). He won fairly comfortably ahead of four others left in the vote, including White. Pisanty is not a member of the NC.
The two year seat went yesterday to Amadeu Abril i Abril, one of the most vocal participants at the public ICANN meetings and a lawyer working for Nominalia, a Spanish-based registrar, which is part of the Council of Registrars (CORE), an effort born out of ISOC back in 1997, which became one of the first five accredited registrars chosen by ICANN in June. Abril is a member of the NC.
Abril was among those busily horse-trading and swapping votes in the past couple of days. The principal nexus for this activity appears to have been the intellectual property lawyers representing various large business interests and Abril and other members of the registrars constituency and it is the trading between Abril and Jonathan Cohen, an NC member, candidate and member of the intellectual property constituency that has brought allegations of a violation of ICANN’s bylaws.
The bylaws stipulate that any person who is a member of a supporting organization’s council, and who is also standing as a director, cannot participate in any discussion of, or vote by, such Supporting Organization Council or other body relating to the selection of Directors by such Council or other body. ComputerWire has seen emails that appear to show Cohen drumming up support for an agreement between himself and Abril prior to the vote for the two-year seat. Abril won a close run-off against Peter Dengate-Thrush of New Zealand, a barrister who is not a member of the NC. The vote wasn’t resolved until the list had been whittled down from an initial 12 to just those two left, which is when Abril finally secured the required 10 after some intense lobbying.
The final seat for one year’s service on the ICANN board will be voted on tomorrow, Friday. With one representative from Latin America and one from Europe already selected, the third and final board member from the DNSO must come from either Africa, North America or Asia-Pacific, in accordance with ICANN’s bylaws, which will cut the list of possible candidates to nine, by our calculations.
With the stipulation that you only need 10 messages of support to become a candidate, it could – and has been – argued that it isn’t relevant how many supporters each candidate gets over the required ten. But it could also be argued that the more supporters a candidate gets, the greater his or her grassroots support, and ICANN is supposed to be a bottom-up organization. The person with the largest number of supporters by that metric, according to the DNSO web site was Nii Quaynor (60), the only African among the nominees and obviously still up for the final seat, although votes for him have been fairly thin on the ground up to this point. And Karl Auerbach, an American lawyer and engineer was the person with the second largest number of initial supporters (52) but he doesn’t appear to have received a single vote in any round of the first two elections, although all the figures have not been made public yet. Auerbach is a strong advocate of an individual’s constituency within the DNSO, which most of the NC does not support and which probably explains his lack of votes.
The other two supporting organizations, which deal with protocols and IP address allocation respectively are due to hold their elections before the next series of ICANN meetings in Los Angeles November 2-4.