03.10.2022

Interview with new icann director andy muller-maguhn

After two months of campaigning, the experiment of the first global internet elections for the board of directors of icann, a network management company not known for its transparency, ended last week, overshadowed by numerous mishaps.

As expected, the hacker andy muller-maguhn, who has become a net celebrity through his press work for the chaos computer club, won the race. Now it’s time for the data traveler to get to work on implementing his "election promises" and fight for an internet that is open to all users.

It was a long night for andy muller-maguhn in the middle of last week: by 2 a.M. Wednesday, the election of five directors from around the world to the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers (icann), the world’s top network authority, was supposed to be over. But shortly before 1 a.M., doubts arose in the hacker’s mind as to whether everything was going according to the rules in the first global internet election. "Server unavailable", it was then, as it had been at the beginning of the ten-day voting period on the site where icann’s european members were supposed to choose their favorites from among the seven candidates, that the following people took the floor. A bit of a shock for the 29-year-old hacker from berlin, as he himself had not yet cast his vote.

"It’s like 80 million voters jostling for two ballot boxes", said muller-maguhn about the election server.Com, a new york-based company that icann had contracted to handle the technical side of the online voting process. But in the future, the spokesman of the chaos computer club (ccc), who after a half-hour extension of the official election period finally got his say, will be allowed to have his own say in the planning and execution of further icann elections. Because when the results were available a few hours later, the hacker was leading with 5948 votes out of a total of 11309 cast (link to article on this). Second place went to jeanette hofmann from the social science research center in berlin, whom 2295 surfers had liked to see as their representative at the california-based watchdog of net addresses and domain names.

Stefan krempl spoke with the newly elected icann board member about the priorities of his work on the top network body, the steps needed to build a solid user base and membership organization, and his chances of fulfilling more than a fig leaf role at icann.

The flood of congratulatory emails slowly subsides. Have you ever thought about what you will have to do as icann director besides long flights around the world??

Andy muller-maguhn: the upcoming work was already foreseeable even without a director post. The first step must now be to collect the regional as well as global problems and concerns of the european users with respect to the icann ies and to create at least an informal networking of the european user organizations. This work starts now, so to speak, in view of the relatively short time available to address the points at the upcoming meeting in california. When does your official entry into the "icann-jet-set"? Have you already received an invitation to the next meeting in california in november??

Andy muller-maguhn: officially, i have only received a congratulatory e-mail with the naming of contacts and the message that they would be glad to see me in california in november. The official start will probably be during the meeting in los angeles. "There will be noise" at icann, quotes the "mirror". Do you have concrete actions planned?

Andy muller-maguhn: that there will be noise is simply a result of the situation that icann’s decisions so far have met with a lot of criticism, not only from me. However, until now, the icann board has publicly announced the decisions without disclosing any background information. Preliminary discussions to be held openly. The critics had, so to speak, an aubenposition. Since i am not interested in continuing this culture, and karl auerbach, a prominent critic, has also joined the board of management, there will certainly be one or two disputes in the supervisory board, including in the public meetings. Have you already made direct contact with auerbach, the u.S. At-large director? How far do your goals actually coincide with his positions??

Andy muller-maguhn: first contacts arise at present by email, and many of the points of criticism represented by it are represented yes not only by me, but by a whole set of experts. Especially the decentralization of the naming system outlined by him is completely in line with my concept, also because it disproves excuses of icann that decentralization is technically not feasible. I have the impression that our direction is very similar, even if i still have to represent a whole range of specifically european user interests in the form of a recognition of the public space in the icann policies. In several european countries, such as france, it is apparently not even possible for burghers to register a domain in their own country. In their own cctld. They had themselves repeatedly described the entire choice as "legitimation simulation attempt" the european winner is criticized by the french – but this leaves a sour aftertaste?

Andy muller-maguhn: surely, the partly completely absurd procedure does not become better in retrospect, blob because i made it. One of the next steps is certainly to obtain the (re)election of the four remaining directorate positions at icann according to a clear election procedure. In and of itself, nine of the 18 + 1 directors – half of them – are supposed to represent user interests there. What is the top priority of your content work at icann??

Andy muller-maguhn: the strengthening of the internet as a public and global cultural space, the decentralization of administration, the demand for transparency of procedures and the creation of opportunities for user participation. What do you think are the real chances of changing structures at icann in view of the overwhelming power of the industry lobby on the supervisory board??

Andy muller-maguhn: in fact, as one of 19 directors, i can’t imagine that i’ll be able to change the majority situation in a hurry, so the priorities i’ve just described are of course also priorities that i’ll be advocating within icann. Both a stronger networking of european user interests and the addressing of these interests to the public as well as local, regional and global politics can of course be realized without a majority at icann. What lessons have you learned from the first icann election?? What has to be different in the planned second round?

Andy muller-maguhn: the first question is difficult to answer. Perhaps the answer is: blob because an election is poorly advertised, the voting process is not transparent in parts, and the election server also crashes all the time, that doesn’t mean you can’t win the election. The second round must now be tackled concretely. This is certainly an important point for the meeting in november. Four directors still have to be freely elected – according to the current view probably globally. The election must be announced clearly and in time and, above all, it must be carried out according to a simple and understandable election procedure. It cannot be that people are excluded from the election because of technical problems. You were already a busy data traveler as a ccc spokesperson. Can you still do the club work on the side or have you already appointed a successor??

Andy muller-maguhn: the icann work is mostly about the same topics and so i still see myself as a ccc member and i am active in the network of the club. With the added burden of the more european and/or. Global icann ie i have to handle first of course. In terms of the ccc’s press relations, there will certainly be one or two new faces by the end of the year. Icann must become as well known as adac, says your former competitor for the icann post, jeanettte hofmann. You brought the ccc into the public eye – will you be able to do the same with icann??

Andy muller-maguhn: i find the comparison stupid, but surely the icann decisions of the past, which were partly made completely free of user interests, also have to do with the fact that many net users were not aware of the importance of icann. I have the impression that the icann election is a good opportunity, on the one hand, to bring the overriding discussion about the effects of the architecture of the network on social development into the media and, on the other hand, to show the importance of icann for this development. In the medium term, the european icann membership will also have to think about new (funding) structures. Are there already plans?

Andy muller-maguhn: there are different approaches and the discussion is still in a relatively early stage. Even if the informal networking of the european user groups is more important to me than the creation of any legal constructions, on the other hand, the creation of an organizational structure is also important to advance the networking of the european user groups. Of course it is planned to organize a small conference with representatives of european user groups. In addition, a budget for travel expenses, hotels, etc. Will be created. Have to find. Since there is hardly any question of leaning on party, economic or government institutions, there will probably initially be a short-term solution. In any case, it would seem a bit absurd to me to found a centralized institution right now, before a corresponding informal networking of user organizations. That would be more or less what we accuse icann of.

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