Mexican intellectual property lawyer León Felipe Sánchez Ambía has been selected to become a member of the ICANN board of directors by the At-Large, comfortably beating his opponent in a poll this weekend.
Sanchez took 13 votes (65%) to 10-year At-Large veteran Alan Greenberg’s 7, in a vote of At-Large Advisory Committee members and Regional At Large Organization chairs.
He’ll take the seat due to be vacated in November by Rinalia Abdul Rahim, who will leave the board after one three-year term.
He’s currently head of the IP practice and a partner at Fulton & Fulton in Mexico City. According to his bio:
He is co-lead for the Mexican chapter of Creative Commons and advisor to different Government bodies that include the Digital Strategy Coordination Office of the Mexican Presidency, the Special Commission on Digital Agenda and IT of the Mexican House of Representatives and the Science and Technology Commission of the Mexican Senate.
He drafted the Internet Users Rights Protection Act for Mexico and has been very active on issues like Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and other local initiatives of the same kind, always advocating to defend users’ and creators’ rights in order to achieve a balance between regulation and freedom.
Sanchez is certainly the less experienced of the two short-listed men when it comes to length of involvement in the ICANN community, but he’s a member of the ALAC and is deeply involved as a volunteer in ICANN accountability work following the IANA transition.
The At-Large was recently criticized in a report (pdf) for the perception that it is “controlled by a handful of ICANN veterans who rotate between the different leadership positions”.
Sanchez’s appointment to the board may have an effect on that perception.
The selection of another (white, male) North American to the board, replacing an Asian woman, will of course create more pressure to increase geographic and gender diversity on the other groups within ICANN that select board members.
A written Q&A between the two candidates and At-Large members can be found here.
Almost a quarter of ICANN’s board of directors were replaced at the organization’s annual general meeting in Hyderabad last week.
Five of the 21-strong board are fresh faces, though many will be familiar to regular ICANN and industry watchers.
They hail from five different countries in four of ICANN’s five regions. One is female.
They replace Bruce Tonkin, Erika Mann, Suzanne Woolf, Kuo-Wei Wu and Bruno Lanvin, each of whom have served terms between three and nine years.
The newcomers all get initial, renewable, three-year terms.
Here’s some abbreviated bios of the newly appointed directors.
Appointed by the Nominating Committee, Botterman is an internet governance consultant with strong historic ties to the registry industry.
From the Netherlands, he was chairman of .org manager Public Interest Registry for eight years until July 2016 and served as its interim CEO for several months in 2010.
Prior to that, he held advisory roles in the Dutch and European Union governments.
American Burr replaces term-limited Bruce Tonkin as the GNSO contracted parties representative to the board. Since 2012 she’s been chief privacy officer of Neustar. Before that, she was a lawyer in private practice.
There are very few people more intimately familiar with ICANN. In the late 1990s, while working at the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, she was a key player in ICANN’s creation.
Koubaa, a Tunisian, is founder of the Arab World Internet Institute, a non-profit dedicated to improving internet knowledge in the Arab region, and until recently head of Middle-East and North Africa public policy at Google.
He was selected by the NomCom. He is also a former member of NomCom, having sat on it during its 2008/9 session. He’s also been a volunteer adviser to PIR in the past.
Hailing from Japan, Maemura works for IP address registry JPNIC. He was selected for the ICANN board by the Address Supporting Organization.
Until recently, he was chair of the executive council of APNIC, which is responsible for distributing IP addresses in the Asia-Pacific region.
Iranian-born, Netherlands-based Ranjbar is chief information officer of RIPE NCC, the European IP address authority.
He was appointed to the ICANN board by the Root Server System Advisory Committee.
A former Dutch politician, a cable company VP and a Latin American ccTLD manager joined the ICANN board of directors today.
The three new directors took their seats at the conclusion of the ICANN 54 public meeting in Dublin.
Two were Nominating Committee appointees, the third was selected by the Address Supporting Organization to replace six-year veteran Ray Plzak.
Lousewies van der Laan is possibly the highest-profile new director.
She is a former politician who has sat as a member of both Dutch national and European parliaments.
She was a member of the super liberal D66 party in the Netherlands, briefly leading whilst it was part of a governing coalition before a leadership vote defeat and her subsequent retirement from politics in 2006.
Wikipedia has her as a former party spokesperson for “foreign policy, higher education, justice, technology, European affairs and gay rights”
Since then, she has spent time as chief of staff of the president of the International Criminal Court and an independent public affairs consultant.
She’s the second former MEP to sit on the current ICANN board, after German Facebook lobbyist Erika Mann.
The other NomCom appointee is Rafael “Lito” Ibarra, who runs SVNet, the ccTLD manager for El Salvador’s .sv domain.
According to ICANN, he is known as the “father of the Internet” in El Salvador, due to his contributions over the last couple of decades.
He seems to have received the .sv delegation from Jon Postel himself, in the pre-ICANN days.
He’s also on the board of LACNIC, the Latin American IP address registry.
The ASO appointee is Ron da Silva, VP of network engineering at US cable giant Time Warner Cable.
His previous employers include AOL and Sprint. He’s also been chair of ARIN’s advisory council.
The NomCom also reappointed incumbent George Sadowsky, who already has six years of ICANN board service under his belt.
The other two departing directors were Wolfang Kleinwachter and Gonzalo Navarro.
ICANN has named Olga Madruga-Forti, an Argentinian telecoms policy expert, as the newest member of its board of directors.
Selected by this year’s Nominating Committee, Madruga-Forti will take over from R. Ramaraj when his second term ends at the Toronto meeting this October.
According to the biography provided by ICANN, she has extensive experience of telecommunications policy, particularly related to satellite, in both public and private sectors.
She currently works for ARSAT in Buenes Aires as international counsel. She’s previously worked for Iridium, Loral and the US Federal Communications Commission.
ICANN pointed out that she represents telcos at the International Telecommunications Union, a relevant data point, perhaps, given the WCIT conference coming up in December.
Madruga-Forti ticks one of the Latin-American boxes on the ICANN board.
NomCom has also reappointed two other directors for second terms on the board: Gonzalo Navarro (Latin-America) and the reliably contrarian George Sadowsky (North America).
New leadership members of three ICANN supporting organizations have also been selected by NomCom.
Jennifer Wolfe of the intellectual property law firm WolfeSBMC, which counts new gTLD applicants Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods among its clients, has been appointed to GNSO Council.
I believe she’s destined to replace Carlos Dionisio Aguirre when his term is up later this year.
Canadian Alan Greenberg and Frenchman Jean-Jacques Subrenat have been reappointed to the At-Large Advisory Committee.
Mary Wong, who currently sits on the GNSO Council representing non-commercial stakeholders, has been appointed to the ccNSO Council.
The full biographies of all 2012 NomCom appointees can be found here.
ICANN’s next public meeting, and all its public meetings thereafter, will be a day shorter than usual, following a decision to cancel the regular Friday morning program.
No Friday means no public meeting of the board of directors.
While the move is being characterized as an effort to enhance the effectiveness of ICANN’s board – a particular concern, frequently voiced, of chairman Steve Crocker – it’s also a perplexing shift away from ICANN’s core tenet of transparency.
One of the effects could be to mask dissent on the board.
From now on, it appears that all of ICANN’s top-level decision-making will happen in private.
Instead of wrapping up each public meeting with a board session at which resolutions get voted on, each meeting will instead be book-ended by less formal “community sessions”.
During these sessions, the board will apparently report to attendees about what it has been doing since the last meeting and what it plans to do before the next meeting.
Crocker said in a statement:
We believe that the removal of the Friday public Board meeting and its replacement with two Board community sessions will improve the effectiveness of both the Board and the staff and increase the time that the Board has to interact with the community.
That may well be true — time will tell — but let’s look at what the ICANN community is almost certainly losing.
First, there will be no more transcripts of board meetings at all.
Today, only the public meetings have published recordings and transcripts. Intersessional meetings are minuted, but not transcribed. If recordings are made, they are not published.
Killing off transcripts completely is a pretty obvious step backwards for an organization committed by its bylaws to “operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner”.
Second, if there is dissent on the board, it will be essentially shielded from the community’s view for some time after the fact.
In both cases, certain directors read prepared statements into the record harshly criticizing the majority view.
In March 2011, for example, George Sadowsky stated that ICM’s purported community support for .xxx was “illusory” and that approving the TLD could lead to DNS Balkanization.
And with new gTLDs last June, Mike Silber abstained in the belief that the program was incomplete and that the vote had been scheduled “based on artificial and ego-driven deadlines”.
In both cases, the ICANN community heard the dissenting views – in person, webcast, recorded and transcribed – moments before the vote actually took place.
With no public board meetings, it seems likely that in future that we’re going to have to wait a week to read the voting record for any given resolution and a month or more to read directors’ statements.
Under ICANN’s bylaws, the voting record, which breaks down who voted for and against resolutions, is contained in a preliminary report that is not published for seven days after the vote.
Also under the bylaws, directors’ voting statements are not published until the minutes of the meeting are approved at the board’s next meeting, typically one to two months later.
If the new procedures had been in effect last year, the statements of Sadowsky and Silber would not have been published for over a month after they were made.
With that in mind, it’s clear that killing off the public board meetings could in no way be seen as a positive step for transparency at ICANN.
It’s true that these meetings have for several years been pure theater, but it was theater with value.