[governance] RALOs without halos

Bret Fausett fausett at lextext.com
Mon Jan 23 15:54:55 EST 2006

Another way to think of the At Large structures -- ALS > RALO > ALAC -- 
is simply as a series of relationships designed to share information. 
The thought was to build on existing structures, and create loose 
relationships among them (a la Linked In or Friendster or Orkut), so 
that information from ICANN could be distributed quickly to people 
interested in receiving it, and then, so that information could be 
collected and forwarded to ICANN. The only real responsibility of the 
RALOs is to be a conduit for information and place people on the ALAC. 
There's absolutely no expectation that they spend money or travel. 
E-mail is sufficient. It was designed to be light-weight and 
inexpensive, and its power was to come not from any bylaw guarantee but 
from the power of its ideas and input. This model, a shell of the 
original At Large concept, is what the ICANN Board decided in Ghana, 
rejecting the proposals of its own blue-ribbon Bildt Committee and the 
independent NAIS.


Many of those working within the ALAC were involved in the various At 
Large Studies and once were deeply committed to ICANN's original idea of 
empowering Internet end-users and electing half of the Board. I don't 
think the belief that ICANN should have a stronger, more empowered At 
Large has been abandoned by any of us working within the ALAC. We are 
simply working within the limited structure given to us by ICANN. After 
Ghana, the only alternative was to abandon ICANN altogether or attack it 
from the outside.

I fully understand and appreciate the view that complete rejection of 
the ALAC concept might have been preferable as a symbol to ICANN of the 
At Large community's significant dissatisfaction with the Board's vote 
in Ghana. I also fully understand and appreciate the other view that it 
was better to work within the very limited role given to us by the Board 
than to leave ICANN without any At Large involvement at all. What I do 
*not* understand is why the people who want a more empowered At Large 
are directing their criticism at the members of the At Large Advisory 
Committee, as though we're apologists for ICANN's damnable actions in 
Ghana. When we want to achieve the same objective, but have differing 
views on how to best achieve it, we should see ourselves as allies, 
albeit working on different fronts.

Milton Mueller wrote:

>The RALO structure created in ICANN's 2002 "reforms" is a joke. It asks people to invest huge amounts of time and energy to build organizations that have no power. It is predicated on the notion that hundreds of thousands of domain name registrants, to whom a domain name represents a $20/year investment, are going the spend the equivalent of $10,000-$100,000 a year on organizing, traveling and jawboning -- in order to elect people to Councils who elect people to another Council who participate in the process of selecting a minority of ICANN's Board members.

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