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ICANN advertises for Board members

Category : Internet governance ยท by Apr 19th, 2006

There are three places on the ICANN Board that will open up in December when Hagen Hultzsch, Veni Markovski and Hualin Qian leave their positions.

ICANN has just stuck up the official request for statements of interest (as well as a revised .xxx agreement which looks pretty solid to me).

I think I might put myself forward.

This was just a daft thought about two hours ago but while tapping away at my Sex.com book, it's been whirring round my mind and I think I might do it. I can think of alot of people that would hate me to be on the Board but then the identities of those people are precisely the reason why I should show willing.

Off the top of my head, this is why I – or at least, someone like me – should be on the ICANN Board. If I do do this, these points will no doubt form the foundation of my application.

  • ICANN Board transparency is the biggest priority for the Board of Directors at the moment – they have admitted as much. And, from the people I have spoken to, they do seem to be determined to be more open. It strikes me that alot of the Board are unsure, even scared, of how to open up. Transparency is my business. It's what I do for a living.
  • Tied in with this: communication. Communication within nearly all ICANN processes is terrible. It's often only after a big row that people finally understand what the other party is trying to get across. As a reporter covering the whole political processes surrounding the Internet, the most useful role I have played it not so much telling the outside world what is going on within ICANN, as informing people within the process of what others think in a non-confrontational third-party way.
  • Awareness. It is surprising how unaware different sections of the ICANN community are of what is going on outside their sphere. Lawyers always see (and so therefore self-edit) the legal side of things. Registrars only see the domain business. Board members, incredibly, often seem surprised when faced with angry stakeholders. It's partly because of the culture that has been built up where there is a palpable fear of getting “too close” to any particular group. I know all the groups (even some of the government folk), and have that odd position of not being part of any group – nor of having the slightest fear of ever being seen as biased to one group or another.
  • I know how the system works. And I have been more than happy to point out where the problems are. I am also not afraid of confrontation. And I have nothing to lose or to gain from either keeping quiet or standing up and being counted.
  • Of course you could make the charge that as a journalist I couldn't be trusted with confidential information. In actual fact, I would argue the opposite. I am trusted with confidential information every single day, and because I publish for public consumption information related to the subject, I have become highly skilled at making swift and complex decisions on what information to relay and not to relay. I don't think there is anyone that could or would accuse me of breaking their confidence.
  • I am not compromised. And I am utterly uncorruptable. You only have to look at my salary. I have no interests in anything except the promotion of the Internet for the good of all. I am also very approachable. Tied in with that, I have grown up with the Internet. And I have made most of my living from covering what is happening with the Internet. As such I have a very broad knowledge of changes within the Internet, and how those changes relate to the law and to society in general.
  • I understand how the Net works. I have a Masters in Engineering. I have learnt about the infrastructure of the Net and how it can be expanded from chatting with Paul Mockapetris and Bob Kahn. I have pointed out to Steve Crocker how Sex.com was *really* stolen. And I have argued with Vint Cerf over, well, lots of things. I have also built at least a dozen websites, know HTML, XML etc, have learnt some JavaScript and so on.
  • The media remains under-represented at the highest levels of the Internet. God knows why, but it is telling that of all the stakeholders constantly mentioned in the WGIG, WSIS and now IGF processes, that the media never gets in there. People have a fear of the media. But it is largely a fear of the unknown. The simple fact is that the media is absolutely vital to all of us. And the Internet is actually expanding the media far beyond the handful of powerful people that have disproportionate power. All the media is is the wide dissemination of information. The Internet is therefore the perfect host, and it's daft not to have someone that understands that process at the top of the tree.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts. I think I am persuading myself into applying.

The question is: who would actually act as a reference for me? I can think of dozens of the Internet great and good that I could call up and ask, but would they really want to stick up for the nosy British journalist?

Anyone that reads this, feel free to comment – or send me an email if you'd rather not appear below.

Right, back to the Sex.com book…

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