Bob Shaw and the creation of the GAC

Bob Shaw and the creation of the GAC

Bob Shaw of the ITU almost single handedly organized the GAC. It was easy to do; when you call from Geneva and explain that "the world governments are sending people to assume administration of the Internet and who will you be sending I'd like to brief them" it's easy.

The GAC came out of nowhere. Nobody anywhere in any camp ever envisioned having a secretive government only committee with final veto power. It was not one of the consensus points agreed to anywhere in the open and no evidence justifying its existence in the public record can be found anywhere.

In fact only the opposite is true. At the first meeting in Berlin when the notion of the GAC was introduced I used my two minuted at the microphone to conduct, very very quickly, a straw poll in the room "who thinks we need the GAC and that this is a good idea".

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I said it and Shaw, on stage as the ITU rep to all this, was furious and motioned the chair who started mumbling slowly that uh, maybe no we won't do this.

The crowd was paying no attention however by now they were looking at the people who'd put their hands in the air - that is, the government people sent to this conference. There weren't many, by my count, 13. Out of 1000 people. Even the long grey bearded "old guard" hadn't put their hand up and nobody in stage had, they were trying to ignore the whole thing, but when the government types with their hands up were looking nervous at each other by now and the crowd started to snicker.

That was too much now and the red faced chair begun sputtering out like he was having a brain seizure: "Uh, governments govern... that's what they do... and sometimes it's better to let a sleeping dog lie..."

And they just went right on ahead with the GAC plans. It was at that point we knew that "ICANN is to measure community consensus" was rubbish. ICANN was already setting policy.

Don Telage said it best. A tall thin bright mathematician from senior management of NSI he was their ultimate tech person. He said "I'm glad I was here so I can tell my kids that I was there the day the government sold the Internet".

Berkman videorecorded this and it was on the Berkman site for a while in Real format, I have yet to rack down if it's around today.