Africa: Democracy on Internet, 07/26/00

Africa: Democracy on Internet, 07/26/00

Africa: Democracy on Internet

Date distributed (ymd): 000726

Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide

Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ Summary Contents:

This posting contains an action alert from the Association for Progressive Communications and additional background information on the upcoming on-line elections for at-large members of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). One at-large board member will be elected from each of five regions: Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America. Anyone with an e-mail address and web access can register to vote as an at-large member, but the deadline for registration is July 31, 2000.

By July 19 the total registered was 52,652 people; by July 25, the number had more than doubled to 118,189. Only 659 had registered from African countries.

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Association for Progressive Communications (


Who controls the Internet? ICANN wants to.

Register to vote in the ICANN elections by July 31 and .... Promote Democracy in Cyberspace.

What is ICANN?

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is an NGO which was created after calls by the US government for a body to be set up to administer policy for the Internet name and address system (DNS).

Why Should I Care about ICANN?

Until now, ICANN has been dominated by commercial and technical interests. Such a homogeneous body has every potential to become a 'World Trade Organization in cyberspace', defining policy and legislating changes to the Internet which will affect us all, and which favour big business over individuals. Already certain decisions taken by ICANN have clearly demonstrated this bias.

Now, for the first time, ICANN is opening up and accepting five non-technical, non-commercial Board directors; one from five of the world's regions. These new directors will be elected by ICANN's 'at large' members. Anyone can register to become an 'at large' member.

Register to vote, so together, we can get pro-social justice, pro-development candidates from civil society elected to the ICANN Board.

If You Are from Latin America or Africa..

You have very good chances of getting a civil society candidate elected to the ICANN Board. In Africa and Latin America relatively few people have registered yet, so registrations by pro-development, pro-social justice voters improve chances of getting at least one civil society member on the ICANN Board.

How Can I Promote Democracy in Cyberspace?

* Become an ICANN at-large member: Register to vote at It will take you five minutes. **Voting registration ends July 31.**

[APIC Note: Due to much higher registration than expected, response time from the ICANN registration database has been slow. You may experience delays. If these delays make it impossible for you to register, please send a message to the contact person for ICANN at-large membership, Pam Brewster ( Ask for an extension of the time for registration. Send a copy of your message to Andrew McLaughlin of ICANN ( and to the Chair of the Membership Implementation Task Force for Africa, Pierre Dandjinou (]

* Vote pro-civil society/pro-development at the ICANN Board elections: Candidates are being nominated currently. Voting takes place in October 2000.

* After *you* register to vote, send this message to five friends encouraging *them* to register.

* For more information write to and write "Open up ICANN" in the subject line, or visit APC Internet Rights:


ICANN Press Release

ICANN Creates At Large Election and Nominating Committees

Marina del Rey, CA, USA, 9 May 2000 The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the appointment of Election and Nominating Committees that will play key roles in the process by which five At Large Directors of ICANN will be selected later this year through a global online election.

The At Large Members of ICANN are individuals who have indicated an interest in participating in ICANN. They will vote to select five Directors for the ICANN Board, one from each of five defined geographic regions (Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/ Caribbean, and North America). With nearly 15,000 applications so far, ICANN's At Large Membership outreach effort has been greeted with notable enthusiasm among the members of the global Internet community.

Today's announcement marks the beginning of the first phase of this selection process. The Nominating Committee will nominate a set of At Large candidates. At the same time, ICANN's Election Committee will solicit and select an outside vendor for the online voting system, and complete detailed recommendations for ICANN's campaign and voting procedures, including independent oversight and monitoring.

Following this first phase, there will be:

* a petition period, in which candidates who were not nominated by the Nominating Committee can seek a place on the ballot by attracting a minimum threshold of support from At Large Members in her/his region via online petition;

* a campaign period; and

* the vote of the At Large Members.

About the Election Committee

The Election Committee will develop detailed recommendations on the ICANN election procedures, subject to public review and comment prior to ICANN's next meetings in July. The Election Committee will propose the rules that will apply in this election for campaigning, voting, measures to prevent vote fraud, and independent oversight and monitoring. The Committee will solicit proposals from third-party vendors of online voting systems, and will recommend a vendor to the Board. To read more about the Election Committee, its charter, and its members, please see

The Committee's membership includes experts in electronic voting, Internet infrastructure and security and election oversight and monitoring. The members of the Election Committee are:

Greg Crew-Chair (Australia)

Charles Costello (United States)

Lorrie Faith Cranor (United States)

Patrik Filtstrom (Sweden)

Ken Fockler (Canada)

Hans Kraaijenbrink (Netherlands)

Nguyen Huu Dong (Mexico)

About the Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee will identify and nominate outstanding candidates to stand for election to the ICANN Board. This Committee will actively seek input (such as recommendations and expressions of interest) from all members of the Internet community. Procedures will be announced shortly. The Nominating Committee will complete its work by the end of July, after which the election process will proceed to the petition, campaign, and voting phases. For more information on the Nominating Committee, please see

The members of the Nominating Committee are:

Linda Wilson - Chair (United States)

Jean-Francois Abramatic (France)

Dr. Mads Bryde Andersen (Denmark)

John Klensin (United States)

Jun Murai (Japan)

Charles Musisi (Uganda)

Alejandro Pisanty (Mexico)


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit, international corporation formed in September 1998 to oversee a select set of Internet technical management functions currently managed by the U.S. Government, or by its contractors and volunteers. Specifically, ICANN is assuming responsibility for coordinating the management of the domain name system (DNS), the allocation of IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system.


Pam Brewster

415-902-1158 - mobile or 415-923-1660 x119 - voice;


ICANN Membership Implementation Task Force

AFRICA Task Group

Pierre Dandjinou (Benin) [Chair]

Mohammad-Sani Abdulai Ghana)

Silvio Cabral Almada (Angola)

Zakaria Amar (Mauritania)

Clement Dzidonu (Ghana)

Philip Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie Fergusson (United Kingdom/Sierra Leone/Nigeria)

Sondlo Leonard Mhlaba (United States / Zimbabwe)

Andrew Muigai (Kenya)

George Nkusi (Rwanda)

Victor Nwankwo (Nigeria)

Alioune Traore, (Mali)


Internet Service Providers Associations (ISPA), South Africa


ICANN - A Primer

[Excerpts: full text available at]

By: Tracy Cohen



ICANN proposes numerous organisational units and include a Board of Directors, three supporting organisations (SO), multiple councils, multiple constituencies, a Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and various others. This note is concerned with the Board and the SO's.

ICANN's Board of Directors is comprised of 19 volunteer members. (There are nine At-Large Directors, nine selected by ICANN's three supporting organisations, and the President/CEO (ex officio)). The Board was chosen by ICANN's three supporting organisations - the Domain Name, Address and Protocol Supporting Organisations which collectively represent a broad cross-section of the global Internet's business, technical, academic, and user communities. The "At Large Membership" is a recent addition to the structure, which will be responsible for choosing At-Large Directors to replace those on the initial governing board. By November 2000, the first round of At Large elections will choose five At Large Directors.

The "At Large Membership" is envisaged as a new way in which Internet users from all over the world will participate directly in the ICANN process and policy making structures. At Large Members will receive regular news, updates, and announcements about ICANN activities and policy initiatives. The At Large Members of ICANN are any individuals who have indicated an interest in participating in ICANN. They will vote to select five Directors for the ICANN Board, one from each of five defined geographic regions (Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America). ...

Due to external funding, the initial launch of ICANN's At Large Membership program does not require membership dues. Thus, there is no cost to become an At Large member of ICANN. In order to ensure that the At Large Membership is broadly representative of the global diversity of the Internet, ICANN has created a Membership Implementation Task Force to lead its worldwide outreach and recruitment efforts. The ICANN board of Directors approved resolutions establishing the principles of the initial At Large Program. As anyone can join the At Large membership, its election principles have become the focus of many debates over the last few months. A recent coalition of civil society groups have started an initiative to ensure that the election principles espouse values of transparency and accountability, and take strong note of the constituencies of developing countries.

Supporting Organisations

The ICANN Bylaws provide for three Supporting Organisations (SOs) to assist, review and develop recommendations on Internet policy and structure within three specialised areas. The SOs help to promote the development of Internet policy and encourage diverse and international participation in the technical management of the Internet.

The three supporting organisations are:

1. The Address Supporting Organisation (ASO) concerned with the system of IP addresses, such as

2. The Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO) concerned with the domain name system (DNS), the system of names commonly used to identify Internet locations and resources. By bringing together parties participating in the operation and use of the DNS, the DNSO seeks to formulate and recommend consensus-based policies concerning the configuration and operation of the DNS. Under the bylaws, the DNSO consists of:

A Names Council (NC) responsible for the management of the consensus-building process of the DNSO. The NC consists of representatives selected by each of seven constituencies. The constituencies are self-organised and determine their own criteria for participation.

The current constituencies are:

* CcTLD registries. This constituency consists of managers of country-code (i.e. two-letter) top-level domains.

* Commercial and business entities. This constituency represents the views and interests of those stakeholders who use the Internet to conduct their business or part of it.

* gTLD registries. This constituency consists of present operators of gTLD registries. Its only current member is Network Solutions, Inc.

* ISP and connectivity providers. The ISPCP constituency represents entities that are in the business of operating DNS nameservers as a service for third parties and that either operate an Internet backbone network based on TCP/IP or provide transit either to Internet users or to third parties' Internet content.

* Non-commercial domain name holders. The NCDNHC consists of organisations (a) holding at least one domain name (b) that are incorporated as a non-commercial entity or, if not incorporated, that operate on a not-for-profit basis primarily for non-commercial purposes and (c) that are engaged in activities that are primarily non-commercial, including, e.g., political, educational, religious, charitable, scientific and artistic.

* Registrars. This constituency is currently made up of members who meet the requirements for being an ICANN-accredited registrar. ...

* Trademark, other intellectual property and anti-counterfeiting interests. (IPC). ...

3. The Protocol Supporting Organisation (PSO) concerned with the assignment of unique parameters for Internet protocols, (the technical standards that let computers exchange information and manage communications over the Internet.)



The bulk of the concerns around ICANN extend to two issues: that of equity and legitimacy. There are also many concerns regarding institutional design and the efficiency of such a complicated organisation with so many people involved. One of the major tasks of the Board will be to reorganise the Domain Name System. The DNS is the very heart of the Internet, the point at which this vast global network balances. Presence in (or absence from) the chain of interlocking servers and databases constituting the DNS is crucial. Because of the view that the Internet cannot be regulated, whoever controls the DNS will be subject to immense pressure as the domain name system is the one place where enforceable global Internet policy can be promulgated without any of the messy enforcement and jurisdictional problems that bedevil ordinary law-making exercises on the Net. It is suggested that a more public interested argument would be to advance a decentralised root. The centralised root is what renders "technical coordination" on a level akin to governance. ICANN has sole authority over the root, and everyone on the Internet depends on ICANN for his or her domain name. With this power, ICANN can set conditions for access.

As it stands, ICANN sets the use of Domain Names conditional on a commitment to use the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Usage is also conditional on a non-negotiable fee/tax. The concern, as governments and many corporations become more concerned about regulating the Internet, is that the conditions could grow. Future domain name use could include regulations on privacy, content, income-reporting etc.

It is a concern that businesses, which now realise the huge economic stake they have in this medium, and governments, who are seeking to ground their tax revenues and regulatory authority over Internet transactions, can potentially view ICANN as the means to impose their particular vision on Internet users worldwide. Thus the concern emerges that the body will become a pawn for certain commercial and/or governmental concerns. As such, concerns abound regarding the accountability, checks and balances on ICANN's exercise of its powers? Given the possible pressure ICANN may face, the Internet community and public interest groups are concerned about how ICANNs may exercise power.

Further, recent actions by ICANN (e.g., imposing a fee on all domain name registrants, the adoption of the WIPO report for trademark-related domain name disputes) suggests that ICANN has already moved far beyond the realm of "technical management" of the DNS. Internet users and public interest groups are raising questions about whether this type of global Internet policy is necessary and whether this is the way it should be structured. Pertinent questions pertain to whether the bottom-up, decentralized, consensus-based governance structures under which the Internet grew and flourished are incompatible with its continued growth and development? Further concerns emerge regarding whether users worldwide have called for such a structure and what opportunities are there for broad participation by users and industry around the world? Unlike a formal governance body, ICANN's deliberations are not subject to stringent requirements of procedure as yet. This is leading to enormous dissatisfaction, as civil society and Internet users struggle to analyse and comment on complex documents in the very short time frames given by ICANN to date.

Despite the many controversies raging, ICANN is proceeding and is likely to be solidly in place (and legitimated) with the buy in anticipated at the At Large Elections towards the end of the year. The main issue for ISPA is how we should join the At Large membership and contribute to ICANN's structures and further, how meaningfully, developing economies can really participate in international standard setting agencies, given the constraints both in infrastructure and costs.

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Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <>

Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 11:29:24 -0500

Subject: Africa: Democracy on Internet

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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