Skip to main content
back to forum topic

I believe every CIRA member received an email from Alex Beraskow, a fellow Member Candidate for this year’s board election.

As you read it, and very possibly receive more emails from other candidates in the near future, please consider the following …

Does this candidate respect the right for your consent to use your personal data?

Does this candidate understand the systemic problems of privacy protection and surveillance on the Internet that have been unleashed by unrestrained digital marketing?

If elected, can this candidate be trusted to work on behalf of all CIRA members … and all Canadians? … or are their interests more narrow?

If the answers to any of these questions make you feel uncomfortable, then please consider voting for me.

I understand how the Internet-Human ecosystem works. I understand how my behaviour as a board member can affect millions of Canadians, if not directly then by others imitating my actions with no ground rules and no forethought of negative outcomes. I understand that, just because you can do something with technology, doesn’t mean you should.

If elected, I am committed to work with other board members, and the entire CIRA membership community, to update CIRA’s governance practices.

CIRA needs someone on the board who understands the complexities of the Internet-Human ecosystem, and will work to align CIRAs governance system with modern digital marketing technology in the interests of all CIRA members, and all Canadians.

It’s important that CIRA remains a respected and influential leader on the Canadian Internet.

Please think about this every time you receive an unsolicited email from a candidate during this election.

 

I hope and trust that you are not trying to skate me off side while promoting yourself as a better candidate, all in the name of "trust".  Are you sure you have no conflict of interest? 

On my part, having had "C" Level responsibility (i.e. executive level) for 5 different firms, serving on 10+ boards, working in IT all my professional life (including a consulting gig for the Auditor General on the Phoenix Pay system), writing a "Directors Handbook" and posting it on the web, getting legal counsel on all aspects of my web communication to ensure that it is both legal and ethical, I am open to having members decide who has more experience, qualifications and can be trusted to do act in CIRA's best interests and those of Canada (public interest). 

CIRA member's need to make an informed decision, don't you agree?   

Hi Alex, 

Welcome to the campaign forum. 

I’m not sure I understand your point about my conflict of interest. As you rightfully point out, each of us has a duty to help members make informed decisions. The motivation to communicate our differences is transparent and baked into the process. It’s pretty simple. You don’t need board experience to understand how an election works. 

However, since you brought up the question of board experience, I’m sure you’re aware that CIRA board "experience" itself isn’t the same as "performance" while you were on the board. Before a member votes for you in 2020, they may be interested in your performance while you were on CIRA’s board. So, let’s take a look at it. 

I received an email from you last year on Aug 27, 2019, while you were a CIRA board member. Your email asked me to fill out a survey. Your email did not indicate how you found my email address, or how I could unsubscribe from your list. Aug 27th was outside the time period of the official 2019 election campaign. 

I was confused by the email. I had already seen your name on the Show of Support candidates list in 2019, but it did not appear on the final candidates list. Did your email on Aug 27th to all the CIRA members have something to do with that? Are you able to shed light on what happened behind the scenes after your email blast last year?

Some members might also be interested in how long you’ve personally possessed the CIRA membership list. Did you destroy the list last year after using it? What actions did you take over the last year to ensure the privacy of CIRA members data is better protected during the election process this year?

Of course, it's not just a question about the privacy protection of CIRA members. Section 23 of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act applies to the privacy of millions of Canadians who are members of Not-For-Profit Corporations in Canada. Are you happy with the privacy protection legislation as it currently stands, or do you think there’s an opportunity to improve the current legislation for all Canadians? 

In general, I wonder if you think your past performance represents what members can expect from you in the future if you’re elected to the board again?

 

Wow.  I had thought the purpose of the Campaign Forum is to allow a civil discussion on candidate qualifications as well as thoughts on governance and the like.  It is not a graffiti board.  I am very open to a conversation but if you are looking for a bar fight, I will decline your invitation. 

Your complaint is that you received 2 emails from me over a span of 12 months.  Did you unsubscribe the first time or the second time?  If not, why not?   

I am open to discuss my qualifications: academic (P.Eng. MBA., ICD.D), business (CEO of several firms, 3 of which I started and sold to international firms), as well as governance (10+ boards), IT (my professional career spanning decades), including recognition as Business Person of the Year in the Ottawa (which we both live in).  And fully bilingual.

CIRA’s core business is operating the “.ca” domain name which it must do in the public interest, operating in a transparent manner and accountable to its stakeholders.  About 90% of its revenue comes from that.  Did you know that?

While CIRA talks about building a trusted internet, you might want to ask what polices have been developed in that regard and has CIRA promoted any change in government policy, regulation or legislation – other than blog posts?    

Board governance is about providing oversight and guidance over all material aspects of the corporation.  If you are unaware of what governance is you can check out  the following 15 minute PPT  https://youtu.be/rgBFwNTRv58 or my website https://beraskow.ca/governance-topics/.  Equally there is a lot of information on the web about board governance and especially as applied to Not For Profits.  Some, not all, argue that to provide oversight you must have some equivalent experience, that oversight should not be an oversight.  

There are some who, lacking substance, decide to go on the attack.  We see Trump doing that down there.  I hope and am confident that sort of approach will not work in Canada.    

As a CIRA member, I also received two email messages from Alex to members this year and a survey last year. While Alex's replies above address potential questions about his qualifications, he did not speak to his choice to promote himself by these means and to place some of our CIRA member data in the hands of a US-based third party (Constant Contact).

Candidates in the CIRA board election may request the member list from CIRA. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm aware that different email rules apply for a not-for-profit. Being a member of CIRA can easily be considered implied consent to receive email from CIRA. I am doubtful that this means implied permission to candidates to contact the members or give our data to a 3rd party. I do recall an incident in one of the previous elections where this lead to some discussion.

References:

Canadas anti-spam legislation: https://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/00008.html

Speaking for myself, I appreciated Alex's outreach. As a 'member', CIRA has always seemed like a closed club. Alex's email was the first meaningful communication I've ever received from CIRA.

As a former board member who went through three successful campaigns and one unsuccessful campaign I considered using the member list in each campaign. I decided not to each time. It is an intrusion into the member's privacy that I could not condone.

 

Michael has  a point re the AGM as I developed a proposal for member consideration to be voted on at the AGM.   CIRA has not provided much information on how that process will work.  For example, are members expected to wait for 3 hours, not knowing when the vote will take place?  Nor has CIRA allowed that putting forth such proposals is an integral part of governance, that few seem to know about.  More on that later.  

I am sorry to hear that you find or found my email an intrusion of your privacy.  The service I used allowed every person to unsubscribe from any further emails.  I hoped that worked and that you could unsubscribe.

The election process needs to be reformed, to allow candidates to present themselves, allowing members to get to know them, to in turn make informed decisions, while respecting privacy.  I welcome your thoughts on that, especially since you served 3 terms on the Board and sought a 4th.  There needs to be a balance that has not been addressed. 

FYI, many members welcomed the conversation with very few detractors (less than 5).  Surprisingly (or not) many saw it as an opportunity to connect with me on LinkedIn (even though I am not looking for a job).   I believe strongly in the process of critical collaboration and incessant dialogue.  That helped me create a very successful management consulting company, more than double the size of CIRA.  

We all live in a social media world, full of chatter and connection.  My junk/trash folder gets more than a dozen emails every day, that takes me 2 seconds or so to empty.   So I live with that as I prefer to get "more", to stay informed. 

You can't change the wind but you can change the sails.      

Alex

I would fully support better member engagement. During my nine years on the board I brought this to the board's attention many times. I was instrumental along with another board member in stopping a governance change that would have prevented members from electing the board. Members would have been restricted to an advisory capacity. That is in the past and hopefully will never be revisited. I don't believe spamming the members during a campaign is a valid way to engage members. This forum could certainly be implemented better. It could run all year with modern forum software.

As for your proposal. You profess to be a governance expert but don't seem to understand how an AGM works. If your proposal was properly submitted I assume it would be on the agenda and the members will have an opportunity to vote on it. The AGM portion of the event is usually quite short and usually a schedule for the day is available ahead of time. If someone is pressed for time they only have to logon for the AGM portion.

 I understand that CIRA is allowed under strict confidentiality rules to disclose my contac info as a member when this regards to issues such as this election.  Of course there is also individual responsibility to keep a close eye on this rule in order to respect codes of conduct regarding when and how you can access list of members and contact them and for what purpose.  As for myself, I prefer to waive my right to contact members.  Inversely I invite anyone to contact me dierctly if they wish to have more information about my candidacy and the way I see my eventual role at CIRA and the future of the organization.  

Kerry, thanks for your note on how an AGM works.  There are several parts to it: presentations, approving the recommended auditor, etc.  There is also a provision for members to make a proposal.  I asked CIRA for guidance on that, but it seemed that never happened before at CIRA – a member making a proposal at an AGM.  So, there was much uncertainty as to how to go about it (along with wrong information).   

So far, I haven’t seen an agenda yet, nor how or when the voting will take place.  As it is held on EST time, many people will be at work and need to consider their use of time.  Giving up 3 hours of a work day, for some unpaid,  can be tough for some.   

Equally, the CIA web site suggests that questions at the AGM are welcome but there is no process in place, it seems.  For example, what questions are permitted, should questions be posted ahead of time, etc.   On my part I wrote out a few questions and sent it off to several CIRA members but still don't know if they will be answered and whether I addressed them to the right people.    

While you - and some others - may consider my email to be SPAM, I certainly don't and neither did others.  Having worked with you for 1 term on the CIRA Board I respect your opinion, I simply have another opinion, checked it out several times (legally) and acted accordingly (and not cavalierly) trying to find the right balance.    
 

I did not know that there was a process to enable every member email to be made available to a potential board member.  In fact, I do not support that.  As a business owner in the communications space we often do email and other outbound marketing campaigns.  We are hypersensitive to not email anyone who has not expressly given consent.  This is a requirement under Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL). 

My marketing campaign was based on utilizing my and my company’s social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, FB) and online presence (hubs.ly/H0wt-r70) to promote my candidacy and to allow CIRA to promote ALL Board Candidates as a group to the CIRA community.

I think there is a lot of confusion here that needs to be clarified.

If you're a member of the CIRA, you must understand that any other member can make a direct request to the CIRA or to the court to examine and have a copy of the list of all active members in an organization. See for yourself:  Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, SC 2009, c 23, s 23(1) <http://canlii.ca/t/535b0#sec23subsec1>

As per the Act, the you can only use the list of members for the following:

(7) A member or a member’s personal representative who obtains a list of members or information from a register of members under this section shall not use the list or information except in connection with
(a) an effort to influence the voting of members;
(b) requisitioning a meeting of members; or
(c) any other matter relating to the affairs of the corporation.

As such, if you're a member, consent is not required to be contacted by another member as it relates to any reason in (7) above. Specifically, an effort to influence the voting of members is one of the only explicitly permitted uses of the information. This is a statutory right each member holds, and to state that an exercise of this member right is a violation of any privacy right is inappropriate. 

If you do not want to be potentially contacted by other members, you shouldn't have elected to become a stakeholder of the organization.

 

To ACIRAMember, 

I agree with your statement "I think there is a lot of confusion here that needs to be clarified.".

The information you shared, about Section 23 of the Canadian Not-for-profit Act may be accurate, but it was not widely publicized with CIRA members in the past or with board candidates during past elections. 

Information about section 23 of the NFP Act is now available in 2020 on CIRA's website. This is an improvement from the past, but I don't believe information about section 23 is included in CIRA's privacy policy yet. Maybe that will change. 

There should be no confusion about whether it's legal or not. Obtaining and using CIRA's membership list for the purposes of 7 (a) is legal. Your clarification about rule 7(a) helps me understand what happened last year. Thank you. 

Finally, I find the statement "If you do not want to be potentially contacted by other members, you shouldn't have elected to become a stakeholder of the organization." a bit problematic. The Canadian NFP Corporations act was written in 2009. Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) came into affect in 2014. Forced Terms of Service and finding gaps in privacy laws might work for some companies, but I hope CIRA can give more than just the minimally legal privacy protection to CIRA members at some point in the future. 

I sincerely thank you for the extra information. Not everyone is a lawyer, nor should they have to be to live in the digital world. It has taken much time and effort to understand the complete legal basis for behaviour I've observed in the past. I believe it's time to end the confusion about which laws are applicable. We need to have a discussion about whether the current laws give the right level of privacy protection to CIRA members and other Canadians. We're definitely on the right path with this conversation thread. 

Cheers!
David 

@ACIRAMember: I'm aware of the member list being public to candidates and potentially to other members, too. However, this doesn't equal an automatic opt-in to receiving unsolicited messages and to agreeing for my data to be provided to an out of country entity for processing. At best, it's "implied consent". I appreciate that CIRA in general tries to use Canadian Providers for member voting etc, even though they of course also have trackers on their website from a lot of companies in other jurisdictions.

@Alex: Since I'm interested in the CIRA election process myself, I'm refraining from unsubscribing at moment, but I appreciate the offer. Unfortunately, you failed to address the issue of handing the member's data over to a third party based in another jurisdiction.

@Joe: Unfortunately, the Canadian privacy and marketing related legislation is quite weak when it comes to not for profits and public institutions.

The service I used - Constant Contact - stated to me when I asked inwriting, "We definitely don't sell, give away or use your contact information".   

I am told that they are a reliable and trusted service provider.  As to other jurisdictions?  CIRA has servers in other countries.  I also use Rebel.com as my web and email service  provider.  While they have staff and their CEO in Canada, their HQ is in Barbados.  I never asked them where their servers were.   Nor have I asked for any other such service. 

Part of the issue on privacy is finding the right balance between privacy and being informed.  Some - David and Kerry - set their hair on fire, claiming a breach, at receiving 1-2 emails from me, over the course of 12 months  and then spent considerable time defending their position at getting information from me.   Many more appreciated getting information and stated so.  Certainly I can't send an email ahead of time asking for permission to send an email either.  

In retrospect privacy is certainly a very important issue.  Equally, there should be a way for candidates to present themselves.  The current system for elections is flawed and needs serious work at the board level and should not ask  CIRA management to solve.       

"CIRA has servers in other countries."

 

Other then anycast servers which would be a normal and have only zone data - what CIRA member data is hosted outside that you can point at? I'd actually be curious as this is a good discussion. When I was there CIRA was always very sensitive about such things.

 

" I also use Rebel.com as my web and email service  provider.  While they have staff and their CEO in Canada, their HQ is in Barbados.  I never asked them where their servers were.   Nor have I asked for any other such service. "

You can choose whatever registrar you feel comfortable with. Many Canadians like providers like GoDaddy. Others choose Canadian only ones. CIRA however has to be involved in every .ca registration and as a NFP has a membership. So really this is like comparing apples to poutine.

Hi Alex, 

You stated ... "In retrospect privacy is certainly a very important issue.  Equally, there should be a way for candidates to present themselves.  The current system for elections is flawed and needs serious work at the board level and should not ask  CIRA management to solve. "

I agree with your comment that the current system for elections is flawed.

I do appreciate that email communication should be part of a flexible solution for candidates to present themselves.  For instance, I was happy to see an email yesterday from CIRA to all CIRA members which referenced the ongoing conversation in the campaign forum. That's a positive way of keeping members informed by email. 

There are other aspects of digital marketing that should also be included in any discussion about the CIRA election system, including the question of using or not using paid advertising on Facebook, Google & Twitter. The election cycle needs to allow innovative communication strategies for better engagement with members, but it should also be contained in such a way that it allows for some level of monitoring. 

I think there's plenty of room for a discussion between members, candidates and board members on this topic, with or without setting anyone's hair on fire. :-)

Cheers!
David 

Thank you for responding.

When I ran for the board, I have always been looking for ways to engage more with the members and to find out what motivates people to become members and to vote. The participation in the campaign forum is very low compared to comments on CIRA's ads on Facebook for example (most of the comments are about paying for domains with maple syrup, but that's another topic). I didn't find a good way other than talking to the members that I knew and reaching out a little beyond this circle.

We've alwyas seen candidates running ads a while back, on Twitter and LinkedIn. There was one candidate who tried to write to everybody who was on LinkedIn and had CIRA mentioned in their profile. I have yet.

There's a Facebook group for CIRA members by a canadidate and it basically has a few less members than the ones posting on the forum here.

I agree, we're looking for more member engagement and it's a good idea - probably. We just don't know the right way to achieve. In my eyes unsolicited email isn't the right way either, but that's my opinion.

I'm familiar with Constant Contact and generally the company has a good reputation. For me, Alex, this is not about the provider you selected. I know and can look up or ask where CIRA and/or other companies has their servers before I sign up as a member. I did not have that choice with your mailing.

It's great that CIRA has clarified access to the list and how it works this year - this is an advance. If I remember correctly, one year there where two candidates who got the list and emailed the members. I believe at least one of them was no longer a candidate after a bit, but the memory is vague. A further clarification on the permitted use of the data may be helpful from our CIRA, but I also understand why they might not want to do this.

What many may not realize is that the email list provided by CIRA was a 394 page pdf document.  The "properties" of that document did not allow any search, print  or any other extraction.  It consisted of 12,178 members. Imagine going through 394 page document, in text format, to see if you knew Bobby or Robert, etc., not knowing where he/she lived now  CIRA made that decision but no one has fessed up to who at CIRA did that.  Management decision or Board?   While the ACT specifies the data fields it does not specify the format?  Nor whether Roman or Cyrillic script.

Did CIRA comply with the spirit of the ACT for disclosure or frustrate the process?  

Hi. Marita Moll here -- former CIRA Board Member, former co-chair and one of the original members of the Community Investment Committee and currently a member of the At Large Advisory Committee at ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). If the list of members is no longer usable as an editable list, as you are saying above Alex, that's good. I am afraid that using the members list to influence elections changes the nature of this "community" category in this election process. It considerably narrows the field of potential participants to those who have the financial means and technical skills to pull it off. I wonder how many of the excellent candidates on this roster would be there if this became one of the defacto requirements. Would it affect the nomcom candidates or just the community candidates? Or will this become another filter on community candidates? Yes, it is legal -- only because Canada's Not for Profit Act has not yet caught up to the new European privacy landscape that has the Internet world scrambling to keep up. I am sorry that such a technique is being considered as fair game. BTW, a survey outside of an election period is NOT an approved use of the member list -- never was.... sorry Alex.

Marita, Thx for your comment.  I disagree re your comment about a survey.  For example I sit on the Board of a University.  I ask every student and graduate I meet about that University as I want to be informed as to their experience and thoughts.  How can anyone make an informed decision without knowing what stakeholders - including members - think.   How can you "guide" a corporation - Not For Profit or commercial - without knowing your stakeholders and environment?     

 

I did not receive the above-mentioned email, though I am a CIRA member, so I can only guess on the content. As a new board candidate, I am not aware that candidates have access to current or past member lists -- that practice should stop immediately. Unsolicited emails from these lists for the purposes of candidate self-promotion are unwarranted and possibly subject to Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation due to their promotional nature (I worked at a not-for profit agency and emails with promotional content were a concern depending on implied or express consent).

Forums like this, or social media, are the appropriate discussion venue for individual candidate and member ideas and concerns. 

With respect to above comments, regular CIRA member surveys conducted by a third party are important. They are the most efficient method of assessing member satisfaction, trust and  learning about issues of importance to members. -Liza Aboud

It's a statutory right of any member to have full access to the list of members. What's concerning to me here is that it seems there's a large gap in legal understanding of the laws which govern the CIRA, from aspiring board members to current ones.

Email from Sept 3rd (sent in English & French):

Having served one term on the CIRA Board I am now seeking re-election. 

My professional background includes 3 decades in IT, extensive experience as a private sector CEO, also as an entrepreneur and many years experience on about a dozen boards, both commercial and not for profit. 

Based on my experience – with CIRA and elsewhere – significant improvements can be made in governance, so that CIRA is more engaging, more transparent and more accountable.  

To do that, I need your support as a nominee in the immediate term and thereafter your vote in the CIRA elections next month.

Please go to https://www.cira.ca/about-cira/board-and-governance/board-directors-election/member-nominees and review the candidates for nomination. I hope I earn your show of support now, and then your vote as a member nominee in late September following the AGM.

My views on board governance can be seen at https://beraskow.ca/governance-topics/

Thank you for considering my candidacy for re-election..

FYI, I obtained your email address from CIRA. CIRA is obligated to provide your contact information in accordance with section 23 of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act as long as it deals with matters relating to the affairs of CIRA. If you have any questions about this, please contact [email protected]

Alex Beraskow, P.Eng. MBA, ICD.D

 

Email from Aug 31st (also had the message in French):

Having served one term on the CIRA Board I am now seeking re-election. 

My professional background includes 3 decades in IT, extensive experience as a private sector CEO, also as an entrepreneur and many years experience on about a dozen boards, both commercial and not for profit. 

Based on my experience – with CIRA and elsewhere – significant improvements can be made in governance, so that CIRA is more engaging, more transparent and more accountable.  

To do that, I need your support as a nominee in the immediate term and thereafter your vote in the CIRA elections next month.

Please go to https://www.cira.ca/about-cira/board-and-governance/board-directors-election/member-nominees and review the candidates for nomination. I hope I earn your show of support now, and then your vote as a member nominee in late September following the AGM.

My views on board governance can be seen at https://beraskow.ca/governance-topics/

Thank you for considering my candidacy for re-election..

FYI, I obtained your email address from CIRA. CIRA is obligated to provide your contact information in accordance with section 23 of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act as long as it deals with matters relating to the affairs of CIRA. If you have any questions about this, please contact [email protected]

Alex Beraskow, P.Eng. MBA, ICD.D

Email from August 27, 2019, entitled "Participate on ABC's survey"

Dear Frank,
Ayant siégé au conseil d'administration de l'ACEI au cours des trois dernières années, j'aimerais faire des recommandations sur la gouvernance pour examen ultérieur. Ci-joint un sondage que j'ai développé pour obtenir votre point de vue sur l'ACEI et la gouvernance du conseil d'administration. 

Il devrait prendre moins de 5 minutes Je serais heureux de partager les résultats avec vous. 

Comme l'enquête est anonyme pouvez-vous m'envoyer un e-mail avec cette demande - [email protected] .

Aussi laissez-moi savoir si vous souhaitez la version Anglais 

Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur mon point de vue sur la gouvernance du conseil d'administration, visitez http://beraskow.ca/governance-topics/J'ai aussi développé les https://youtu.be/rgBFwNTRv58 suivants

Having been on the CIRA Board for the past 3 years I would like to make recommendations on governance for subsequent Board consideration. Attached is a survey that I developed to get your views on CIRA and Board governance.

It should take less than 5 minutes

I would be happy to share the results with you. As the survey is anonymous can you send me an email with that request - [email protected] .

Equally let me know if you would like the French version

If you would like to know more about my views on board governance visit http://beraskow.ca/governance-topics/ I also developed the following https://youtu.be/rgBFwNTRv58.

Take this survey (LINK)

Sincerely,

Alex Beraskow, P.Eng., MBA, ICD.D
CIRA Board Director