SECTION B. Professional and Educational Background
1. Provide details of your current job, role, title, employer and affiliations
I am a semi-retired and a part time, self-employed consultant. Although much of my recent energy has gone into ICANN, I also have a vital interest related to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in support of developing countries. Past assignments have included (both paid and pro-bono):
- an evaluation of current ICT development progress for the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).
- an overall review of the support of ICT by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) with recommendations on whether Sweden should continue such support, and if so, how.
- a review of Sida ICT support in Tanzania.
- a draft position paper on ICT development support for the Government of Germany.
- post-project evaluations of projects in various countries.
- a study investigating how technology can be used effectively to address poverty issues, and what must be done to ensure such successful use (presented at WSIS-2 in Tunis – the report can be found at http://www.eldis.org/fulltext/sidaictpoverty.pdf).
- authored a treatise on access issues for: Accelerating Development Using the Web: Empowering Poor and Marginalized Populations (http://g3ict.org/download/p/fileId_928/productId_241)
All of my efforts in these projects have focused on what developing countries must do to be able to effectively deploy and support Information and Communications Technologies – a pre-cursor and co-requirement for the effective and widespread use of the Internet.
I also donate time to a local genealogical organization helping people research their ancestors and re-uniting families, and from time-to-time take on paid assignments.
2. Describe your educational and professional history. Provide all information that you believe may be relevant to being an effective member of the ICANN Board
B.Sc. (Major Physics), McGill University (1967)
M.Sc. (Computer Science), McGill University (1973)
I spent much of my professional career at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada holding a variety of technical and managerial positions. For the period from 1987 to 1999, I held the position of Director of Computing and Telecommunications. In that role, I was responsible for the institution’s communications and computing infrastructure, technology policy advice and formulation, personal computer sales and support, and a profitable commercial software subsidiary. My responsibilities included a staff of over 120 full-time people and budgets totaling about $18m. Universities are challenging places to work, where technical and managerial skills must be melded with the ability to work collegially and yet still make crucial decisions in a timely manner.
During 1980-81 I was on leave from McGill holding the position of Visiting Scientist at IBM’s Watson Research Laboratory.
Since taking early retirement from McGill, I have been working as an independent consultant focusing on the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in developing countries.
I have included additional information with regard to Board experience and volunteer experience in following sections.
3. Describe any current and past volunteer community positions, roles and accomplishments. We are particularly interested in similar Board directorship and committee experience
Much of my past volunteer experience has been Internet-related, and will be described more fully in Section C.2.
My volunteer activities date back to the early 1970s when I started working with an IBM mainframe user group (SHARE), an activity that continued in various forms for over 20 years. I was an elected member of their Board of Directors from 1983-87.
I have been a member of the Board (or similar) of organizations responsible for research and education networking in Canada and Quebec starting in the mid-1980s as well as a not-for-profit foundation responsible for funding innovative Internet projects.
From 1995 to 2001 I worked with and later managed the Internet Society’s Developing Country Network Training Workshops. These workshops were instrumental in facilitating the Internet connection of nearly all developing countries. (See C.2 for additional details.)
I was an elected member of the Internet Society Board of Trustees for 2001-2004 (elected by individual ISOC members).
I was vice-president and a board member of a for-profit subsidiary of my university, responsible for developing and marketing a number of very successful software products.
I am vice-president, webmaster and database manager and a member of the executive committee of a local genealogy society.
Within ICANN, I am a member of the ALAC and the ALAC’s Liaison to the GNSO and have been extremely active in both roles since late 2006. I have represented the ALAC and At-Large on a number of key GNSO working groups (WG) including acting as both Chair and Vice-Chair for Policy Development Process (PDP) WGs. Further details will be provided in section C.1 and C.2.
I have effectively worked on and chaired committees of varying sizes and compositions for several decades.
4. List any relevant personal or professional web pages
No Placards in this Poll
SECTION C. Internet Involvement and Interest in ICANN
1. Describe how you meet the criteria for the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position
[C.1-Bylaw-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 will let my references speak to my integrity, objectivity and intelligence.
I have a proven success record for innovative planning and successfully implementing those plans. Collegial decision-making is a mandatory pre-requisite for longevity in a large research university and under my direction, McGill went from its pre-network days to being an Internet leader. As an ICT for Development consultant to donors and developing countries, my recommendations have little value if I cannot successfully get buy-in from the parties involved.
Within ICANN, I have been a member of several groups that started with VERY diverse positions and ultimately met their goals. These included the GNSO group that developed the specifications for the Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension mechanism. In this latter group, a number of members credit me with helping to bridge the initially large gap between the Non-Commercial Users and At-Large, and the Business and IP Constituencies.
I have a solid record of looking at issues from all angles and trying to understand the perspectives of others.
[C.1- Bylaw-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 been active in ICANN for 7 years, but I have been very involved in inter-networking activities for 3 decades and I have a deep understanding of ICANN’s background and activities. I participated in both WSIS-1 and WSIS-2. I have been an ALAC member for 5 of the past 7 years, and have been the ALAC Liaison to the GNSO. In the GNSO, I was active in the new gTLD discussions and I initiated the ALAC request for an Issues Report on Domain Tasting and followed it through in the GNSO, resulting in the PDP which eliminated Domain Tasting (classed by many to be one of the high-points in ICANN’s ability to control the domain industry). I played a similar role protecting registrant rights in the Post-Expiration Domain Name Recovery PDP resulting in the Expired Registration Renewal Policy (ERRP). These endeavours illustrate my clear understanding of the potential impact on the global Internet community of the decisions that ICANN takes (or doesn’t take), and my ability to not only talk about issues but to actually make things happen.
Over the past year, I was a member (recommended by the ALAC) of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT), a group charged with examining ICANN’s accountability and transparency and making recommendation to the Board of Directors on how to improve the organization.
During my career at ICANN, I have taken on very significant workloads and always delivered. My commitment to ICANN and its success can be measured by my taking on both ALAC leadership and GNSO Liaison roles at one point, and more recently working on the very intense ATRT while staying on as GNSO Liaison.
[C.1- Bylaw-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;
Although I come from and live in North America, activities over the last 18 years have involved working in and with a number of developed and developing countries around the world (Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda) and working with people from a far larger list of developing countries. As noted in my answer to question C.2, the training workshops that I managed involved people from over 140 countries, and I am still in contact with many of them. I believe this has given me the knowledge and sensitivity to look at things from a wider perspective than a typical North American.
Having spent much of my career working in a bilingual setting, I am very aware of both the benefits and the difficulties in supporting a multilingual environment.
One of the issues I personally took on for the ATRT was to develop recommendations which will address ICANN’s difficulties in bringing people from multiple cultural, geographic and language communities into ICANN processes.
[C.1- Bylaw-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 am not an Internet technical guru, but I have a long and deep understanding of detailed technical issues, the infrastructure that supports them and the policy issues that governs it all. My involvement with regional and national networks included activities in all of the mentioned areas and my experiences with the Internet Society (ISOC) developing country training workshops and the ISOC Board has reinforced this, as have my more recent ICANN activities.
As ALAC Liaison to the GNSO, I fully understand the ICANN policy development process and I was one of the small group of people who developed the current PDP Bylaws. Although the PDP is far more formal, it is not that far removed from the policy development process in a collegial university such as McGill; policies are formally adopted by the University Senate, and for policies to be approved, they must have been developed with the involvement of all constituencies.
Although not a lawyer, while at McGill University I wrote and/or negotiated numerous contracts. In most Boards or similar groups, I tend to be regarded as “the Bylaw expert” speaking well of my ability to both read and write with precision. Within ALAC, I took on the role of overseeing the re-writing of the ALAC Rules of Procedure during 2012-13.
My experiences at McGill included interactions with and support of all mentioned categories on Internet users. Similarly, my consulting activities in developing countries have covered all of these domains.
[C.1- Bylaw-5] Persons who are willing to serve as volunteers, without compensation other than the reimbursement of certain expenses.
I have worked as a volunteer for the good of various technical and social communities for over 40 years. The efforts that I have made on behalf of At-Large over the last 7 years continue to demonstrate this.
[C.1- Bylaw-6] Persons who are able to work and communicate in written and spoken English.
English is my native language. I have participated in or presided over meetings throughout my career and have taught university-level courses for most of that period. Much of my career for the last 25 years has involved writing reports and documents, and I am told that I do it well.
I believe that my recent efforts on behalf of the ALAC and At-Large demonstrate this as well. Within the ALAC and as the ALAC Liaison to the GNSO, I have written innumerable statements that were endorsed by the ALAC, and the Rules of Procedure plus its accompanying documents highlight my abilities.
Nominating Committee Criteria
[C.1-NomCom] The NomCom adds (in summary) two additional criteria: a commitment to ICANN’s mission; and an understanding of the importance of good governance practices and an ability to contribute to the Board in this regard.
My references have seen various aspects of my commitment to ICANN, and I will let them speak on my behalf in that respect. With respect to the proper governance of ICANN, the Board is in an interesting and difficult position. It is not supposed to be involved in operational issues, but at the same time, it needs to ensure that the organization is indeed going in the right direction. Due to the complex nature of many of the issues that the Board must address, it relies heavily on ICANN staff. In the view of some people (and I am among them) this has at times, led to staff having too strong a position in a supposed bottom-up stakeholder-based organization. Although I believe the current Board is doing FAR better, this is an issue that cannot be ignored.
The Board is also in a rather unique position in that the Bylaws give it a number of responsibilities with regard to overseeing the domain name system that in a more traditional organization would be delegated to staff. It therefore cannot avoid having a more operational role, and along with that being the subject of lobbying efforts from all directions. In this respect, my position of having NO connections or allegiances to the domain industry puts me in a good position.
At-Large has included several additional criteria which will be considered by the evaluation committee and ultimately by the voters.
[C.1- At-Large-1] An understanding of the structural, communications and decision-making processes of ICANN At-Large
Having been involved with the ALAC for 7 years as it transitioned from the Interim ALAC to its current organization, having been active in the NARALO, and having filled various roles on the ALAC Leadership Team, I can say with confidence that I meet this criterion.
[C.1- At-Large-2] An understanding of the potential impact of ICANN decisions on the global Internet-using community and the Internet end-user community in particular.
I do not believe that anyone can know the full impact of some of the decisions that ICANN is making. There is a truism that goes “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” (usually attributed to Roy Amara, but science-fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke told me that he came up with it first). This is definitely true about some of the decisions that ICANN is making and will make. What is certain is that there WILL be significant impact on the Internet user (at all levels) and it is crucial that we try to think of it from that point of view when decisions are being made. To the specific question, I note that I have spent seven years in At-Large (and within the GNSO) pushing for deliberations to consider the Internet user and not just the traditional ICANN industry-oriented stakeholders.
[C.1- At-Large-3] A track record of working to build consensus with a diverse set of interests working together on complex policy issues.
As mentioned elsewhere in this EoI, survival in a policy-making role in a large research university makes this attribute mandatory. Within ICANN, we have seen several times in the very recent past where the differences between the various players are vast (the new gTLD issues of intellectual property protection, registry/registrar vertical integration, morality and public order and the latest, policy and implementation). The policy and implementation (P&I) debate is an interesting one, because it highlights one of the main issues – people have trouble reaching consensus because often they are using the same terms in different ways (both “policy” and “implementation” in this case). Without a common set of definitions, consensus will never be reached. In other cases such as vertical integration (registries being allow to own registrars), there a very different world-views involved. Understanding the basis for differences is a major part of bridging those differences, and I believe that I have a strong ability to do just that. I am a lead participant in several of the P&I activities and I believe that my contributions will play a central role in the WG’s outcomes, just as they did in resolving differences during the Trademark Clearinghouse and URS debates.
[C.1- At-Large-4] Independence from the ICANN stakeholders whose financial situation is significantly impacted by ICANN decisions.
I am not employed or in any way connected with the various industries that surround the Internet, and would receive no personal financial benefit from any decisions that will reasonably come to the ICANN Board. I believe that this is a key requirement - being able to represent the interests of Internet end-users in ALL Board activities.
I have a proven record of working effectively on not-for-profit boards. I understand the issues of fiduciary responsibility and independence. I am not afraid to take positions that may differ from the “accepted views” when I feel that important issues are at stake. ICANN is in a transition mode and it is critical that the Board take a real leadership role while at the same time being sensitive to the needs and of its various stakeholders.
I am a “quick-study” and I have no worries about being able to quickly get up-to-speed on any issue that the Board may need to tackle. I am a strong believer that a Board should address policy issues and not operational ones, while at the same time, I am sensitive to the many comments that past Boards have been more influenced by ICANN staff rather than by the constituent ICANN stakeholders (including At-Large), and that although not taking technical decision, Board members must be cognizant of technical issues.
2. Describe current and past involvement in, contributions to, and leadership roles in activities and organizations involved in the development and operation of the Internet, its naming and addressing infrastructure and/or its security and stability
I was part of the group that started NetNorth, the first Canadian national research and education network in the early 1980s. My department at McGill ran the eastern Canada hub of that network. I was a charter member of the CA*net Board, the organization that brought IP-based networking to Canada. I was a charter member of CANARIE, the organization that (among other things) functionally replaced CA*net a few years later. Following the replacement of CA*net, I sat on the board of the not-for-profit Foundation chartered with awarding the remaining CA*net funds (plus matching funds raised commercially) to innovative network-related development projects.
In Quebec, I was one of the prime instigators and the founding Chair of the Quebec regional network RISQ (currently Réseau d’informations scientifiques du Québec, although like many long-lived acronyms, its meaning has varied over the years). For the first years, at my initiative, McGill physically ran RISQ. I remained active in RISQ management until my retirement from McGill. Several years ago, I was given an award for my pioneering service 20 years earlier.
In 1995 I started working with the Internet Society’s (ISOC) Developing Country Network Training Workshops, an activity which markedly changed my life and my world-view. Over their nine year lifetime (1993-2001) these network training workshops taught over 1,000 students from 140 developing countries how to build, support, manage and use the first networking and Internet facilities in their countries. In 1996 I was responsible for the local arrangements of workshop held in Montreal in conjunction with the ISOC’s INET meeting and a concurrent IETF meeting. I co-managed the 1997 workshop in Malaysia, and managed the next workshops from 1998 to 2001 in Switzerland, USA, Japan and Sweden. Unlike some volunteer activities, managing the workshops required a massive time commitment.
It gives me deep satisfaction to know that nearly every country that connected to the Internet after 1993 did so with the help of people trained at these or spin-off workshops (Eastern Europe, Francophone, Latin-American and later African). Many of the workshop’s former students are active in ICANN, and that too gives me a warm feeling (there are many, but they include Nii Quaynor, Tarek Kamel, Yaovi Atahoun and Manal Ismael (former GAC vice-chair and ATRT-1 vice chair).
From 2001 to 2004, I was an elected member of the Internet Society Board of Trustees.
In 2006, the ICANN NomCom appointed me to the then Interim ALAC (now the ALAC). At my first meeting, I was elected to be the ALAC Liaison to the GNSO, a position that I still hold. My first ALAC year was a tumultuous one, with all five Regional At Large Organizations (RALOs) being formed and selecting ALAC members to replace those on the Interim ALAC. Much of the ALAC’s efforts in 2007/8 focused on process, adjusting to its new membership and constituents. I played an active role in this. Moreover, partially in an attempt to help the ALAC shed its sometime image of a less-than-productive organization and focus more on policy issues, I took responsibility for the domain tasting issue (where millions of domains per month were being “sampled” by domainers at no cost – an issue which had been repeatedly discussed by the ALAC, but with no action). As a result of the Issues Report requested by the ALAC, a GNSO PDP was started which led to the Consensus Policy that eliminated domain tasting. I have played an active role on the GNSO throughout my tenure there.
In 2008/9 I took on a new role as a member of the ALAC Executive Committee (now ALAC Leadership Team) where I took responsibility for ALAC administrative policies (a thankless task). For 2009/10 I was one of two ALAC Vice-Chairs. Throughout this time, I continued to serve and be active as the ALAC Liaison to the GNSO. I have represented the ALAC and At-Large in a number of important initiatives (including the GNSO STI and Vertical Integration working groups) and I have largely authored many crucial ALAC documents.
I played an active role throughout the ALAC review, I was the only individual to comment exhaustively of the various interim reports, and I believe that I was instrumental in convincing the review team of several important points.
I initiated (through the ALAC) the GNSO PDP on ensuring registrant rights at domain expiration time, and have been very active on a number of issues that were of great import to At-Large (for one, the activities around protecting (or not!) Red Cross/Red crescent, Olympics, IGO and International non-governmental organization names within new gTLDs.
Most recently, I have spent a large part of the last year working with (and co-chairing) the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT-2).
3. Provide a statement about what you would contribute in the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position to ICANN and its mission
I believe that I have the interest, perspective, ability and maturity to be an ICANN Director. By the end of this year, I will have served on ALAC for 6 years and on the GNSO for 8 years. I believe that this unique recent history and perspective would be beneficial to the Board.
As will be noted by my ICANN volunteer record in recent years, I am not afraid of hard work. I have no illusions of this being an elite position, but rather one where some hard decisions are going to need to be made over the coming years. They will need to be made with careful analysis and with an awareness of the implications on all of the stakeholders, both those that come to ICANN meetings and those who do not even know (or care) what the initials I.C.A.N.N. stand for. I come into this as someone with no financial connection to any of the many businesses involved in the Internet, and this independence, I believe, is a key to my ability to work purely on behalf of ICANN and the public interest.
These general comments notwithstanding, I have a number of specific goals as a Board member:
1. The decision to launch the new gTLD program was, in my view premature. The program is and will be of crucial importance, primarily for its ability to allow IDN TLDs. But at the time of the launch, there were simply too many things that had not been properly resolved. The history since that time has demonstrated that I was correct, and we now have almost innumerable examples of processes that had not been properly thought out.
I resolve that if selected to the At-Large Board seat, I will work diligently to continue to resolve the problems which plague the program and address them with an eye to addressing public interest concerns. In addition, and arguably more important, I will work to ensure that ICANN does not let its collective ego get in the way of making sound decisions.
2. We talk a lot about transparency in ICANN. Those in positions of authority often tell us how transparent ICANN is. Those working at lower levels often feel that it is not quite the case. I believe that as a Director with recent operational experience in ICANN, I will be in a strong position to recognize and address issues of transparency. The ATRT-2 used an expression “transparency needs to be in the DNA of ICANN” and it should be the default mode. This is still not the case, and I would work to make it so.
3. I believe that there is still a major disconnect between large parts of ICANN, and the interests of both users and the public interest. I would work tirelessly to bridge these gaps. With the new (and almost overpowering) focus on Internet Governance and the roles of governments, there is the potential for user interest to take an even further-backseat. As important as the other issues are, ICANN must become and then remain linked to user-issues, since ultimately, users are the reason that the Internet exists.
4. Provide a statement about what you would contribute in the At-Large selected ICANN Board Director position to the At-Large Community
I believe that the best contribution that I (or any other At-Large Director) could make is to keep At-Large and perhaps more importantly, the Internet users that At-Large represents, in the forefront of all Board discussions and decisions.
I strongly believe that the items I highlighted in the previous question are of specific importance to At-Large, and it is through change such as this that At-Large will benefit.
I think that the other major contribution is to work to ensure that there is a continued dialogue between At-Large and the Board, ICANN staff, and other parts of the ICANN organization. It is only through such dialogue that the rest of ICANN will realize the worth of At-Large, and At-Large will understand how it needs to work to ensure that the needs of the Internet user are addressed by ICANN. At the Board level, it is clear that the Director selected by At-Large must be a key participant in that dialogue, but it cannot be restricted to just that Director.
Under the leadership of the current Chair of the Board, there are regular and often productive discussions with the ALAC and At-Large, and there seems to be a healthy working relationship with the ALAC Chair.
There has, however, been a lack of ongoing dialogue between At-Large and specifically the ALAC and the Director selected by At-Large. It is only through such a dialogue that the Director can ensure that he or she understands the issues that are important to At-Large. Since the Director is explicitly prohibited from “representing” At-Large or the ALAC, without this understanding, there may be a complete disconnect. Moreover, the reverse direction is equally important. The Director selected by At-Large is not empowered to represent the Board to the ALAC or At-Large. But he or she can be a conduit so that At-Large understands the issues confronting the Board and can offer more targeted advice on these issues.
5. Please describe specifically how and why you will be able to advance, at the ICANN Board, the interests of the At-Large Community and the broader global community of Internet end-users
I have addressed this already in previous answers and will not repeat myself here. I have the ability to identify the core issues and to fight for what I believe is needed to give ICANN a vibrant and useful At-Large Community. This position may not be popular with some Board members, but I have a track record of not letting that get in the way of trying to effect change. At the same time, I understand that there are many competing needs within ICANN, and one must make compelling arguments to win over others. At-Large will not likely be the prime motivators in most Board policy – governments, the multi-billion dollar industry and more recently Internet Governance issues will surely have a strong voice. I believe the key is to ensure that we also have a strong voice and that there is continued dialogue with At-Large. The Public Interest, which ICANN is explicitly bound to respect and enhance, demands this.
6. Is there any additional information you would like to submit that would be helpful to the BCEC in making its decision? If so, please summarize it here
Perhaps the only thing to be added is that both ICANN and At-Large will have a difficult transition over the coming years. ICANN must convince the global community that it is a good steward of Internet Names and Numbers. At-Large is one of the few parts of ICANN that can claim to have a regionally balanced makeup. With this global make-up, At-Large must convince the rest of ICANN that it well represents the needs of Internet users around the world – a VERY diverse group. And At-Large, with the support of all parts of ICANN, must develop the tools to do this properly and to get more users involved in the processes setting policy which WILL ultimately impact them.