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ICANN CEO gets all headmasterish on Mueller-Maguhn and Auberach

And friend of the people Joe Sims chips in

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ICANN new CEO M. Stuart Lynn has hit back at claims by at-large board members Andy Mueller-Maguhn and Karl Auerbach that life at the Internet organisation was like "old East Germany".

M. Lynn responded to Wired after an article in the mag a few days earlier. He was particularly upset about the accusation that the ICANN board simply rubber-stamped what ICANN staff presented. "The board is not a rubber stamp, it's very active, and to draw any analogies with East Germany is just polemics, not substance," he said. "I think that's nonsense. That's insulting to the board. It's a very thorough, thoughtful, careful board that makes sure to do its homework."

Sadly, what Andy Mueller-Maguhn was referring to was his refusal to vote to approve the minutes of the last ICANN meeting on the grounds that he hadn't seen any minutes. Nit-picking you may think. Until, at least, it emerged that there weren't any minutes from the previous meeting. This sparked him to comment: "That is the mentality on the ICANN board: Always to say yes. It's a lot like in the old East Germany."

"The point here really is the views that Karl and Andy expressed are rather obviously minority views, but they have been unable to persuade their peers on the board that their views are correct," Lynn continued. This has nothing to do with the fact that very few people on the board have actually been voted onto it by anyone but themselves (self-serving elite, anyone?). And then there's the thing about board members changing their own by-laws so they can remain on the board for longer.

In fact the lovely lovely man that helped produce these elastic by-laws, lawyer Joe Sims, was also terribly disappointed in Karl and Andy. It's them that's out of touch, he said, not the ICANN board. He's right, because he'd just changed the rules again (well, it was a Tuesday) and emailed everyone but the two naughty schoolboys.

Anyway, Karl and Andy have no real place on the board because so few people voted for them. That's what Stuart Little reckons anyway. "The amount of people who actually voted was minuscule, compared to the number of users on the Internet. There is a concern that they represent a very narrow segment of viewpoints." It seems likely that out of all the organisations in the world, only ICANN could produce this stunning piece of double-think.

It is also likely to prove the core argument when ICANN attempts to get rid of all democratically elected board members, so it can continue its love-in.

Stu's best line though was this: "It's not a surprise that ICANN sometimes sounds like a Tower of Babel. We're not some closed corporation trying to steer a very carefully crafted point of view. We're an open organisation that allows many voices to come to the table. We sound argumentative because we are designed to be argumentative."

Which would beg the questions: why then hold your meetings in secret? Why consistently avoid the topics that most Internet observers are concerned about? Why get other groups to investigate things and then completely ignore their advice? Why purposefully release information only when your own timetable dictates that there isn't time to debate it? Why change your own laws to fit in with self-satisfying aims? Why only have five out of 19 people on the board that are selected by the people you profess to represent? It goes on and on and on.

Neither Joe Sims nor Stuart Lynn made reference to the other comments made to Wired by Karl and Andy. These included:

"ICANN's founding premise, as defined by the attorneys who put it together, was that the only people who should have a voice in ICANN were stakeholders, which is essentially a code word that means someone who makes money from the Internet."

"ICANN has serious structural problems. Hacking ICANN might be the next logical step. The question is how can this unsatisfactory situation be solved."

"Here in the United States, corporations do not vote for President or Congress, but they have no trouble making their voices heard. I'm not worried about them not making their voices heard with ICANN. Right now they have virtually 100 percent control."

"I believe ICANN staff is completely out of control. The board largely just rubber stamps what the staff does. It's not just ICANN's internal staff. Joe Sims works for a firm we hire. He went out on his own and initiated a complete rewrite of the VeriSign contract that made VeriSign billions of dollars wealthier. The board never asked our opinions. It was presented on a plate to us in Melbourne with a take it or leave it attitude. It's shocking. It's absolutely inappropriate behavior. ICANN's staff pretends it's the emperor and ICANN is a policy organization, but the staff has no accountability, no transparency. The board is the policy-making organ, and yet it has abrogated its responsibility to staff."

"If a significant number of Internet users were to simply point their machines to another root server, where would ICANN be? The only reason it has authority is because of inertia."

Related Links

Check out the Wired articles here and here. ®

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