Karl Auerbach

Gender Male
Region North America
Nationality USA
Residence USA
Nominated by Milton Mueller
Endorsed by -

Nomination statement

Mr. Auerbach has been working on Internet technology since the early 1970's, and has been a long-time participant in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He has worked for Cisco in the past, and has developed his own company dealing with network management issues. In addition to his technical work, Mr. Auerbach has been an attorney in California since 1978.

I consider Auerbach to be an ideal representative of CS on the Internet Governance Working Group, because of his campaign to make ICANN democratic and accountable. He is also committed to privacy rights, free expression, a decentralized Internet, and resistance to Internet's dominance by intellectual property interests. While ICANN was being created, Karl worked hard to ensure that it would be a membership organization that was open to civil society. He played an important role in ensuring that half of its Board would be selected through a global electorate. For two years ICANN's management attempted to eliminate, stall, or cripple those elections. When elections were finally held, Karl obtained a position on the ballot by petition, and decisively won the North American seat on the Board.

The ICANN elections constituted a radical experiment in civil society participation in global governance. I believe that someone who was actually *elected* to a responsible position by thousands of civil society members has a special standing in the Internet Governance working group. It is rare that this exposure to the highly political side of Internet governance should be combined with the kind of technical knowledge that he has. He is also a very accessible, informal and friendly person.

If you want to examine his service on the ICANN board, you can turn to his web page about it:
Here is more biographical information:

It is well known that Karl was very critical of ICANN, but he is also very independent and is aware that some alternatives proposed are worse. One of his important achievements was to bring successful litigation requiring ICANN to open some of its records to the public.

There are only two negative things that might be said about Mr. Auerbach as a nominee. One is that he has not been an active member of the WSIS activities. However, I hope this group is not so parochial as to think that all of civil society is encompassed by WSIS activists. One must remember that until November 2003, Internet governance and WSIS hardly intersected at all. By forming a WG focused on Internet Governance, the December Plan of Action required a consolidation and intersection of those elements of CS involved in ICANN with those CS elements involved in WSIS. Since December 2003, Mr. Auerbach has been recognized as an important participant in WGIG matters, being invited to the ITU's meeting in February and the UN ICT TF Global Forum in March.

The other possible criticism is that Karl is focused exclusively on ICANN and does not see the bigger picture. To that I would answer, yes, of course, he knows the most about those aspects of Internet governance related to his direct experience in ICANN, but his training as an attorney and a technologist provides a much broader awareness of key issues. This includes issues such as intellectual property, free/open source software issues, and telecommunications policy and regulation.

I hope you will support his nomination to the WGIG.