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It's just a fringe group of Indians.- General George C. Custer. 

Grey Ribbon Campaign
calls for
Open ICANN Board

TIBURON (January 22, 1999) - A website concentrating on domain name system (DNS) issues today launched a grey ribbon campaign, targeting the new non-profit corporation that will administer Internet names and addresses.

The protest highlights the decision of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Addresses (ICANN) to sit in closed session when it meets as a board. Those who support the call to "bring ICANN out of the shadows" are encouraged to add to their own websites the grey ribbon image posted at WWW.DOMAINHANDBOOK.COM.

In November 1998, the Department of Commerce issued a Memorandum of Understanding to develop jointly with ICANN mechanisms and procedures to transition DNS management functions to a private-sector not-for-profit entity. ICANN received the nod after a summer-long series of international meetings were held to identify public consensus on the structure of this new corporation.

Ellen Rony, webmaster of the site leading the protest, explained that there was common agreement throughout the International Forum on the White Paper (IFWP) in the summer of 1998 that openness, fairness, and transparency were to be the guiding principles of this self-governing initiative. Her call for public board meetings echoes complaints by subscribers to discussion lists that monitor the policies and activities of ICANN. She turned black a web page that tracks ICANN announcements, news reports, committee notes, and related activities after ICANN posted the agenda for its next closed board meeting, set for Singapore on March 4, 1999.

"What this means is that the Board members are unwilling to expose their reasons and process to public view," explained David J. Farber, the Alfred Fitler Moore Professor of Telecommunication Systems at the University of Pennsylvania. "If it is the public's business, then let it be done in public."

Esther Dyson, ICANN's chair, says a public meeting is scheduled the day before the board meets. She answered critics in a message to the discussion list, "Yes. It is in our bylaws and in all the public statements we have made. Basically, we could have had 'open' board meetings with executive sessions that were closed, but we figured that this is the best way to do it."

"That's unacceptable," says Rony, and she hopes that a proliferation of grey ribbons on web pages will make that point to ICANN's board members. "Minutes may not be published for up to 21 days; the board members can even decide among themselves not to publish their decisions or their individual vote. A board meeting that is open to the public adds the important component missing from this equation: accountability." Rony is co-author of The Domain Name Handbook: High Stakes and Strategies in Cyberspace. She developed the DOMAINHANDBOOK.COM website to keep individuals apprised of DNS news and policy changes.

The following websites support the Grey Ribbon campaign to open ICANN board meetings to the public:












Have you joined the Grey Ribbon campaign? Please send us a note so that we can add your site to the list of supporters.

Domain Handbook Cover

The Grey Ribbon protest to bring ICANN out of the shadows is independent of the silver-gray ribbon campaign to find a cure for diabetes.

Additional information about the quest for a silver lining cure for those with diabetes, launched in December 1996, is available at Diabetes Cure Now!


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