ICANN RPM PDP holds a sham consensus call to approve its recommendations

To what should be no one’s surprise at this point, the shenanigans in the ICANN RPM PDP working group continue, as a sham consensus call is now taking place to approve its recommendations.

This working group is reviewing the controversial URS and other rights protection mechanisms. There are 159 members of the working group and 102 observers, at the time of this blog post. Observers cannot participate in the work or the consensus call, and are essentially just subscribers to the mailing lists. I’m an observer, not by choice, due to the unfair elimination of my participation rights in all GNSO working groups 18 months ago. However, only a small fraction of those members have ever been truly actively engaged in the group’s work, as can be seen by the attendance log and by reviewing the activity (or lack thereof) on the mailing list. As I’ve previously documented, the active members are dominated by those representing the interests of expansion of TM rights.

Now, the co-chairs have framed the consensus call in a biased manner so that all those unengaged and silent members are deemed to be supporters! In a mailing to begin the consensus call today, staff wrote (on behalf of the co-chairs) that:

WG members are requested to indicate via reply to this list whether they support, or do not support, the recommendations. If a WG member does not respond this will be taken as support.

By counting “silence” as being in support of the report, this will result in a gross overstatement of the actual level of support for the working group’s recommendations. Generally, participation on calls is about 20 to 30 members, on average, and almost non-existent on the mailing list.

This is not how the consensus call took place in the IGO PDP, for example. Only those who actually responded to the mailing list were ever counted.

Imagine if Donald Trump setup the election (or a hypothetical referendum) so that anyone who didn’t vote at all was considered to be a “supporter” — this is what the co-chairs of the RPM PDP working group have done. It would be a sham election if Donald Trump did this, and it is a sham consensus call when the RPM PDP co-chairs do the same.

Why are the co-chairs of the working group doing this? It’s obvious — they hope to hide the capture that has taken place in the working group. If the real supporters had to support the recommendations openly (as is done in other working groups), then it would be clear that those small number of supporters aren’t representative of the broad group of stakeholders that ICANN purports to represent through its processes.

In conclusion, the GNSO Council should put an end to this sham, which makes a mockery of the multistakeholder model that they pretend to uphold.