[governance] RALOs without halos

Annette Muehlberg annette at nnm-ev.de
Tue Jan 24 13:33:14 EST 2006

In ALAC we face the problem of how to attract more Internet user
groups, individuals and organisations to participate in At-Large and we
all know it is not just a "problem of mediation" but (also) a problem of
an organisational structure within ICANN. (What is the impact of 

The more I am surprised, as a new EU-ALAC member, that there should be a
time limit for discussing an EU-RALO-proposal until the *15th of
february!* This does not give us the chance to contact other 
organisations or individuals whor ane not on AlAC- or IG-mailing lists 
to discuss the proposal.

One of our deepest concerns is, that a RALO just looks as if it gives
endusers interest a voice, but instead rather serves clubmanship (it is
hard to find the right english word for it) and new forms of bureaucracy.

But I also know, it is always hard to come up with a first proposal and
it certainly helps to have a fruitful discussion.

Therefore I would like to make the following remarks on that EU-RALO

I. The timeline does not help to get good results.

There is no definition of aims and principles.
To say, the "mission ... will be that of constituting a channel for
participation by the European individual Internet users into the
activities of ICANN..." sounds strange in the age of global internet and
even more concerning its very central corporation ICANN. Participation
via email has no borders - except for language and access to technical
infrastructure, which is a problem we have to face. So, individual user
activists rather focus on special issues not on region, but to give
endusers interest a voice and say in ICANN and help formulate these
interests, regional aspects should be taken into account (eg. problem of
many different languages, a different legal system in comparison to the
US eg. concerning privacy,...)

It is good that it is planned to finish the exclusion of individuals and
to have both: organizational as well as individual members.

Does the structure of one representative per each organisation, one per
every 34 individuals (with decreasing ratio as the number of individual
member increases...) help to get people involved and participate in
endusers/consumer rights issues?
And if we go by the logic of numbers, how to deal with a really large
organisation of e.g. 2,4 million members (my trade union ;-)) in
comparison to organisations with a small amount of members? So to solve
that problem, isn't direct participation the more effective and just way?

And why do we need representatives electing representatives? Why should
an elected "Executive Council" elect a "Chair and a Vice-Chair"?

Concerning funding: Yes, we do need money - for specific issues, eg.
translations, workshops on internet consumer rights issues etc.

So, a little more, than what Bret wrote in his eMail, but still
"light-weight and inexpensive". "At-Large structures... as a series
designed to share infomation..." eMail is almost sufficient (and
speaking the same language makes it easier).

I think a wiki on our new upcoming website would help to get the issues


Bret Fausett wrote:
> 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.
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