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My application for the ICANN Board

Category : Journalism · by Jul 11th, 2006

After several weeks’ serious deliberation I have decided to put myself forward to the ICANN Nominating Committee and stand for one of three vacant Board positions in December. I just sent the email.

It is with some nervousness that I have applied, I have to confess. Even if I was fortunate enough to be chosen, it is a lot of work being an ICANN Board member, and it is also inevitable that the others would initially be wary of me because of my job. Still, I have had a growing sense of having to do this because, after all, a job is just a job but this would be an opportunity to do something to be proud of. If I wasn’t nervous, it would probably not be worth doing.

Anyway, in keeping with my main point that ICANN needs to open itself up if it hopes to become the organisation it is capable of becoming, I have decided to make my entire application public knowledge. The current NomCom process is entirely confidential and secret, and while I can understand the logic behind it, I honestly believe that here is a great opportunity to point out the advantages of being open.

Frankly if people – and people with more important jobs than mine, and with families and mortgages – are willing to give up so much time for free, they should be happy to let the world know. And there shouldn’t be a sense of embarrassment if they don’t get one of the positions, they should be congratulated for showing willing.

So I am going to stick up my entire application (minus personal contact details) here, and I will also publish any applications that anyone else decides to make public – even if that is just the Statement of Interest. I’m not holding my breath for a flood of people doing the same, but if just one person does it, then that is a step in the right direction.

If you want to know more about the whole NomCom process, you can find all you need at this ICANN webpage. My application below:

Statement of Interest

ICANN Nominating Committee 2006

SECTION A. Identifying and Contact Information.

(A.1) Kieren MCCARTHY

(A.2) Male

(A.3) kieren@xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk

(A.4) [personal information removed]

(A.5) UK

(A.6) UK

(A.7) Freelance journalist. I specialise in writing about the Internet, mostly for UK newspapers, magazines and online news sites including The Times. The Guardian, The Register, The Independent and others.

(A.8) Education: MEng in Mechanical Engineering with Management and French, Nottingham University, 1997; A-levels: Economics (B); Mathematics (B); Physics (B), Godalming Sixth Form College. GCSE: Ten subjects studied. All ‘A’ grades, Royal Grammar School, Guildford.

Work: Freelance journalist since 2001. I have worked at or written for most written media outlets in the UK that covering Internet issues, from national newspapers to small technical journals. Previously a reporter and sub-editor for The Register, PC Week, PC Dealer, and others. I provide occasional media training for a number of global IT companies.

SECTION B. Background and Interests.

(B.1) Position(s) for which you would like to be considered.

If you would like to be considered for more than one position, please state so,
categorizing each position with numbers, in your order of priority (i.e., 1 is
your highest priority)

ICANN Board _x__
GNSO Council ___
ccNSO Council ___
Interim ALAC ___

(B.2) Describe how you meet the criteria for each of the positions you are
applying for.

1. Accomplished persons of integrity, objectivity, and intelligence, with reputations for sound judgment and open minds, and a demonstrated capacity for thoughtful group decision-making;

I have a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. I have written extensively on IT matters for over 10 years for a wide range of internationally respected magazines and newspapers including The Times, The Guardian, New Scientist and The Independent. I have worked for years as a sub-editor, and as a news editor – a job which requires extensive teamwork and leadership in a high-pressure environment with immediate legal repercussions if you make an error. I have interviewed everyone from internationally renowned politicians, sports stars, musicians and businessmen to nearly all the people most closely associated with the Internet itself.

2. Persons with an understanding of ICANN’s mission and the potential impact of ICANN decisions on the global Internet community, and committed to the success of ICANN;

I have followed ICANN extensively since 2000, and have written several hundred articles covering every aspect of its role. I have interviewed nearly all senior staff at ICANN and engaged in long discussions with Paul Twomey over ICANN’s role and approach. I have also closely followed the WSIS and WGIG processes in which ICANN was an important element. As part of this, I have flown across the world on countless occasions to meet with people involved with the Internet. I have been both a critic and champion of ICANN and apologise for neither. I am only applying for a position on the Board because I am committed to making ICANN a success.

3. Persons who will produce the broadest cultural and geographic diversity on the Board consistent with meeting the other criteria set forth in this Section;

I am British and so somewhere between American and European. I am not a lawyer, nor an ex-government official, nor a big business executive. I am a member of the Fourth Estate, and so currently under-represented both on the Board and within ICANN.

4. Persons who, in the aggregate, have personal familiarity with the operation of gTLD registries and registrars; with ccTLD registries; with IP address registries; with Internet technical standards and protocols; with policy-development procedures, legal traditions, and the public interest; and with the broad range of business, individual, academic, and non-commercial users of the Internet;

I have a broad range of knowledge covering most aspects of Internet technology due to being an Internet journalist for 10 years. I have written extensively about TLDs, both global and country-code. I have had numerous discussions with experts in the basic protocols of the Net. I follow with great personal and professional interest legal cases that affect the Internet, and I am naturally drawn to new and newsworthy advances in Internet technology. I also run a number of websites for myself and for paying clients, for both commercial and non-commercial uses.

5. Persons who are willing to serve as volunteers, without compensation other than the reimbursement of certain expenses

I have a flexible job and no family commitments.

6. Persons who are able to work and communicate in written and spoken English.

I am a British journalist and writer. I have however also studied French as part of my engineering degree, and I am learning Spanish.

(B.3) Describe any current and past involvement in, contributions to, and
leadership roles in activities and organizations involved in the development and
operation of the Internet’s naming and addressing infrastructure.

My involvement has always been as an independent observer, following the process, asking those involved for their perspectives and then attempting to summarise what are frequently complex and involved issues into digestible forms for the wider reading public through news stories and features.

I have followed ICANN across the globe, and as topics have cropped up, discussed them with the people most knowledgeable about them, whether that has been IDNs, IPv6, ENUM, security problems with the DNS, Anycast, or so on. I have followed Nominet in the UK extensively, taken a keen interest in domain name law both in the UK and through UDRP, and taken part in a large number of the WGIG discussions in Geneva, Tunis and elsewhere.

By pushing at newspaper editors, who are even less technical than the average reader, I hope I have managed to make important discussions surrounding the Internet visible and accessible to the public at large, and expanded general awareness of the Internet’s infrastructure.

(B.4) Describe any current and past volunteer positions, roles and
accomplishments.

None.

(B.5) Provide a statement about what you would contribute to ICANN and its
mission.

I believe that ICANN is best placed, best equipped, best prepared and best suited to ensuring that the Internet’s enormous potential is fulfilled in the best interests of all its users.

However, I am concerned that without an important degree of change – which can most effectively be brought about through the Board of Directors – that the organisation’s ability to moderate between competing interests to find an equitable solution for all will be severely curtailed.

For that reason, I am putting myself forward as a candidate to the Board because I believe I possess a set of skills that would prove extremely valuable to ICANN over the next few years.

ICANN has been forced to adapt to circumstance numerous times since its inception, each time following pressure from constituencies who have had little choice but to keep pace with the medium itself. It is quite clear that we are again at that crossroads, and this time it is the issue of transparency that is foremost in people’s minds.

There have been a number of highly contentious issues of late – the dotnet and dotcom contracts, the .xxx domain, the budget – and at the centre of each has been a general failure of communication in both directions between ICANN (staff and Board) and those loosely defined as the Internet community. It is telling, for example, that even just a few months away from the MoU and the IANA contracts, from which ICANN derives all of its authority, that discussion has been limited to private groups, where open public discussion would clearly be preferable.

This generalised failure to communicate is especially ironic given the fact that the Internet has enabled wider, freer and simpler communication than at any other point in history. It is also understandable: ICANN does have limited resources and in the past few years they have been directed at the wider political arena. That ICANN has made it intact through the WGIG and WSIS process is testament to that focus. However, I believe it is now essential for ICANN to eschew the secrecy that governments prefer and return to its roots, where agreement is reached by open consensus. RFCs helped create the Internet and they can help it evolve too.

I think the main stumbling block to returning to an open and inclusive model of governance is not that people are unwilling or unable to do so, but more that they are uncertain of how to do it effectively. This is where I believe I can be of assistance. Not only do I earn my living from making information publicly available, but I have significant experience in media training, advising company executives on how to provide information and, just as importantly, how to explain difficult and complex realities openly, so avoiding accusations of secrecy or wrong-doing without damaging their own interests.

I should make it clear at this point that I recognise that if I was accepted as an ICANN Board member, it would have a significant impact on my journalism in relation to ICANN and to related Internet matters. If I was accepted, ICANN’s interests would be placed above journalistic concerns. In practice, this would mean writing comment-free stories only from information publicly available, or comment-only pieces written as an ICANN Board member, the like of which are frequently written by existing Board members.

I believe that with ICANN now widely accepted as the technical authority for the Internet, it should provide a clear voice to the world from that technical perspective – there is certainly no shortage of topics that could do with it: IDNs, URIs, domain names, IPv6, and of course the next-generation networks that will again turn everything on its head. ICANN has too often been used as a political football but its real strength comes from the people that continue to work tirelessly and for little financial reward in order to maintain the culture that made the Internet possible in the first place.

I also believe very strongly in maintaining a single, universal root and so retaining the core characteristic that has made the Internet such an extraordinary force in the past decade. I remain confident that despite all the pressures and enticements for people to move away from this model that the logic of retaining a single root can prove strong enough to act as a catalyst for solving all the problems, past, present and future that the Internet creates.

I have been following ICANN and the Internet in general very closely for more than six years, and while I cannot claim the technical competence or even the management experience that would be ideal in a Board member, I see those weaknesses as strengths when it comes to relaying information to as many people as possible. I have discussed and reviewed the technical aspects of the Internet with Steve Crocker, Paul Mockapetris and Bob Kahn, much as I have discussed and reviewed its political components with Nitin Desai, David Gross and Masood Khan. My privileged role as a neutral observer with a press badge has seen me follow ICANN and related Internet issues across the globe, and given me access to the decision-makers in each case. As a result, I believe I have a valuable understanding of not only how ICANN works but also how it fits into the bigger picture.

In that sense, I was pleased to see so many people affiliated with ICANN sitting on the Advisory Board of the Internet Governance Forum, but at the same time it may be useful to reflect on the fact that many wider Internet users saw such participation in a negative light.

I would like to play a part in steering the future course of ICANN, and I would do so not in order to push any group or party’s aims or ambitions but solely as an Internet user in support of the medium itself.

SECTION C. References and Related Information.

(C.1) Conflicts of interest with ICANN. Please indicate clearly if you have any
areas of potential conflicts with ICANN.

I am a freelance journalist. But as I have previously stated, I am fully prepared to accept that becoming a Board member would mean putting ICANN’s interests before journalistic concerns. As such, I would produce only either articles based on publicly available information, or comment pieces stemming from my position as a Board member in order to avoid any potential conflicts.

No other conflicts.

(C.2) All positions are voluntary and require a significant commitment of time
and energy. Is your schedule of activities compatible with a significant
allocation of time to contribute to the positions that you are looking for?
Board / GNSO / ccNSO / ALAC

[ *] Y [ ] N

(C.3) Please provide the names of no less than 3 and no more than 4 people who
can provide a reference for your candidacy. Please provide the person’s name,
e-mail address, telephone number, professional position, and a brief description
of your relationship with them.

Reference 1: Marilyn Cade; [personal information removed]; Consultant; Associate.

Reference 2: Monika Ermert; [personal information removed]; Journalist; Colleague.

Reference 3: Milton Mueller; [personal information removed]; Professor; Associate.

Reference 4: Michael Palage; [personal information removed]; Lawyer; Associate.

NomCom will send a copy of your SOI to each of the people you name as a
reference.

SECTION D. Consent and Authorisation.

(D.1) Under the nominating committee’s procedures, your candidacy will be
treated as confidential unless you give the nominating committee your permission
to disclose it or unless the nominating committee is consulting your references
and conducting third-party reference checks from selected sources on a
confidential basis. These third party checks are required as part of a due
diligence process necessary before we can accept candidates for leadership
positions in ICANN. Due diligence will be conducted by professional companies
experienced in such work (i.e. executive recruitment and other human resources
organizations.)

Once selections are made, the nominating committee will make the identities of
only the Selected Nominees public. Although the nominating committee will take
reasonable steps to ensure that its confidentiality procedures are followed,
Candidates and Selected Nominees shall have no claims against ICANN, the
nominating committee, or affiliated persons in the event information is
disclosed despite these procedures.

You also authorize the nominating committee to consult with your references and
conduct third-party reference checks. You will not be entitled to review or
access any of the information received, generated, or considered by the
nominating committee regarding any Candidate or Selected Nominee, or any of the
nominating committee’s discussions or deliberations regarding any Candidate or
Selected Nominees. Candidates and Selected Nominees have no right to challenge
or seek review of the nominating committee’s selections.

Please indicate that you understand this statement and agree to it. Indicate Yes
or No:

[ *] YES [ ] NO

I give the Nominating Committee permission to publicly disclose my application and its content, save for my and my references’ contact details.

(D.2) From time to time, due to a change in employment or other circumstances, a
mid-term vacancy may occur in previously NomCom appointed leadership positions.
If a vacancy is for more than three months in length, the Chair of the next
NomCom may be asked to fill the vacancy.

If you are NOT selected for any of the preferences indicated in (B.1.) above
this year, would you permit the Chair of this year’s NomCom to retain your name
(based on the same preferences) and transfer your statement of interest to the
Chair of the 2007 NomCom for possible consideration in the event that a mid-year
vacancy occurs in 2007?

This is only in the event that a mid-term vacancy occurs and does not mean you
will be included in the pool of candidates for regular term positions next year
– you would need to apply again. Please indicate Yes or No:

[ *] YES [ ] NO

If your Answer to the above is YES, please indicate whether the same preferences
indicated by you in (B.1) above would be applicable or whether you would have
any ONE specific interests? Please state clearly your specific interest.
Please confirm your understanding of and agreement with the above conditions by
marking the box below:

***___Yes, I agree to be a Candidate under these confidentiality arrangements and
other terms outlined herein, listed in full in the Formal Call for Statements of
Interest and Suggestions for Candidates at

http://icann.org/committees/nom-comm/.

And I agree to the same preferences as indicated in (B.1)

(D.3) Is there any additional information you would like to submit that would be
helpful to nominating committee in making its decision? If so, please summarize
it here:

If you have a personal web page, you may wish to provide a link to it here:

http://www.kierenmccarthy.co.uk

http://www.kierenmccarthy.me.uk

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(17) comments

Ed
8 years ago ·

Good luck! (fix the site’s CSS for firefox – please!)

Kieren
8 years ago ·

Ta. I’d forgotten about that. Have fiddled with CSS – any better?

Kieren

Kevin Murphy
8 years ago ·

Murphy’s 14th Law Of Journalism states that a journalist will always make at least one glare typo in his CV.

Kieren
8 years ago ·

I don’t even want to know…

Keith Burnett
8 years ago ·

A most impressive application and good luck to you, Sir, and I am impressed by your determination to get involved at this level, despite the inevitable limitation of your journalistic activity.

texturbation
8 years ago ·

Reporter Stands For ICANN Board…

Freelance reporter Kieren McCarthy, best known for his stories for The Register, has put himself forward, with some interesting supporters, for a seat on the ICANN board of directors.
I hope he gets it.
As an outsider, he’s already done more th…

[...] I will not bore you with the full text of my statement of interest. There are some excerpts on page two of this post. Again, I am not sure I will be selected. In Marrakech, the nomcom chair, George Sadowski said it is difficult to find volunteers to serve at the ICANN board. Well George, I already know of two, the other being Kieren Mc Carthy. It should not be too difficult to find the remaining ones. [...]

Ed
8 years ago ·

Yep, perfect :)

Ole
8 years ago ·

Wow, I never realized the form was that detailed and complicated. All the best of luck.

[...] A while back, I referred to the nomination/election process for ICANN. By way of update, I now note the good news that Kieren McCarthy, a journalist in Britain, has applied for the ICANN board vacancy. [...]

Kieren
8 years ago ·

Cheers Keith. The way I see it, the reason I am a journalist is because I believe in the enormous advantages that come from making information available to those that are interested in it. It is the reason that open democracies are so much more advanced and equitable than other methods of governance.

With ICANN, I think I can actually achieve more by using my skills within the organisation than by reporting from the outside. I wouldn’t do it for any other organisation, but the Internet is very dear to my heart and ICANN is still a very young organisation that needs someone whose business is public awareness.

Of course, it all depends on 22 people – most of whom will know only that I am a journalist – sitting in a room to decide. We shall see.

Kieren

[...] My colleague from ISOC – Patrick Vande Walle. The English journalist Kieren McCarthy. [...]

Wendy Leibowitz
8 years ago ·

Kieran, I commend you for your initiative. I do hope that having a journalist on the ICANN Board will make it easier to obtain comment quickly and freely on matters of public interest that come before the board. As I have said to Paul Twomey and others, who come from free countries and who have informed opinions, there is no reason why a board member cannot discuss his or her vote after it is cast. No reason. I hope you will be accessible to journalists.
Of course, whatever you do, you will face criticism. Let me be the first to offer a friendly critique of your application:

1. Under A.7, there should be a comma, not a period, after “online news sites including The Times. The Guardian,” …

2. Under A.8, you write, “I have worked at or written for most written media outlets in the UK that covering Internet issues…” Obviously, that should read, “that cover Internet issues.”

3. Under B.5, in the paragraph beginning, “I should make it clear at this point…,” you write, “If I was accepted…” This is proper, if you’re George W. Bush. Better English would be to use the present tense, “If I am accepted” or the conditional subjunctive, “If I were accepted” because you are uncertain as to the outcome.

Throughout your application, as with so many ICANN documents, the spelling, punctuation, and wording are very European and a little jarring to U.S. eyes. But I understand that ICANN is an international organization, where Americans have little influence, so we have to get used to unusual spelling and an appalling lack of commas in most documents. : >

I wish you well, and should you ever need a copyeditor, or sub-editor as you would put it, I’m happy to fly (business or first class only–this is ICANN we’re talking about) to whatever far-flung location ICANN is meeting in, to do my part.
–Wendy in Washington, D.C.

Kieren
8 years ago ·

Cheers Wendy, and thanks for making me despair at the errors in my application. I was a sub-ed for years so it is doubly disgraceful.

If I do get on the Board – and that is very far from certain – the gagging order put on Board members would certainly be something I would be very vocal about.

If I don’t, I plan to be even more vocal if ICANN tries the tactic again. It is entirely unjustifiable to prevent Board members from speaking for 48 hours after a vote and the reason it was done is so transparent that I am stunned that there hasn’t been an outcry.

If it crops up again, I intend to ask Paul Twomey if he accepts that each of the board members fulfils the sixth criteria of six to be accepted onto the Board, which is: “6. Persons who are able to work and communicate in written and spoken English.”

Either they do fulfil it and so are able to discuss matters immediately without a delay for “reviewing” their comments. Or they do not and so should be excused from their position.

We disagree on commas though. Too many commas make reading impossible.

Kieren

[...] I applied for an ICANN Board position and broke with the NomCom’s self-imposed secrecy by making my application public. I received receipt of the application. I understand from my proposers that they were asked to provide a reference, although I have not seen any of them. I have received no information since then, and a number of requests over the NomCom basic procedures have not received a reply. I am assuming I have not made it onto the shortlist. I know several people who have put themselves forward for positions, two of which have made their applications public and several others who feel that even making their application known could count against them and so have decided to keep it quiet. [...]

[...] The reality was (and I know because I applied) that no one at all had even the slightest idea what was going on. You sent a submission, you received an email saying it had been received. And then four months later you recieve an email telling you who had been chosen (and it wasn’t you). [...]

[...] So I re-read the statement on my Board application late at night about a week after I had been asked to consider the job of general manager of public participation, and in the morning I woke up convinced that being offered the position was, if not exactly destiny, then whatever comes close to it for a realist. [...]

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