FC: ACLU protests ICANN demand of $5,000 to leaflet at meeting

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 12:52:37 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: ICANN replies to ACLU protest of $5,000 leafleting charge"

    ----- Forwarded message from Chris Chiu <CCHIUat_private> -----
    From: Chris Chiu <CCHIUat_private>
    Subject: FW: letter on ICANN leafleting restrictions
    To: "Declan McCullagh (E-mail)" <declanat_private>
    Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2001 15:13:49 -0500 
    November 9, 2001
    Dr. Vinton Cerf
    Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
    4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
    Marina del Rey CA 90292-6601
    Dear Dr. Cerf:
    It has come to our attention that the Internet Corporation for Assigned
    Names and Numbers (ICANN) plans to restrict leafleting at its meetings in
    Marina Del Rey on November 12-15, 2001. 
    Specifically, ICANN will not permit anyone to distribute leaflets or other
    such materials at the conference unless they pay at least $5000. This plan
    is explained on ICANN's website:
    "A table will be provided for distribution of literature for sponsors only.
    Additional recognition of sponsorship is listed below in the description of
    each level. An organization that is not a sponsor will not be permitted to
    distribute materials in the meeting area." 
    The lowest level of sponsorship requires a minimum payment of $5000.   
    We are deeply troubled by this development, and we urge you to revoke the
    ban. This decision runs counter to Article III of ICANN's own Bylaws, which
    requires the organization to be open and transparent to the general public:
    "The Corporation and its subordinate entities shall operate to the maximum
    extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with
    procedures designed to ensure fairness." 
    The restriction on leafleting will diminish the public confidence in the
    quality of the ICANN's decision-making that Article III was intended to
    foster, as well as substantially prejudice the rights of many persons with
    interests in ICANN's proceedings. ICANN can and should hear from all points
    of view and encourage public debate regarding its activities. As many
    observers have pointed out, "ICANN must rededicate itself to its original
    conception as a decentralized, bottom-up organization." Your organization
    has already been criticized as suffering from a "democracy deficit." This
    ban on leafleting will only further fuel these fears.
    Moreover, your decision raises significant free speech issues. It has long
    been recognized that the right to distribute flyers and literature is a
    protected form of expression. In some instances, leafleting even when other
    forms of speech have been prohibited. When an organization such as ICANN
    intentionally open a space for public discourse, it should refrain from
    imposing burdens on such discussions. By prohibiting leaflets (except from
    those who can afford to pay at least $5000), ICANN violates these basic
    freedom of expression precepts. 
    Based on the foregoing, we urge you to rescind this ban.
    Barry Steinhardt
    Associate Director
    American Civil Liberties Union-National Office
    Peter Eliasberg
    Managing Attorney
    American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
    ----- End forwarded message -----
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