What is the Internet Computer Association?

In today’s NNS Treasury town hall hosted by ICPJesse, @skilesare brought up the point that at genesis, 5 million ICP was given to the Internet Computer Association (ICA).

@lastmjs replied with a rhetorical question that I believe many of us have been thinking for some time:

“What even is the Internet Computer Association”?

Apparently the ICA is responsible the IC Dashboard, although I believe DFINITY engineers own or at least have visibility into part of that dashboard as well.

The ICA was also the first non-DFINITY named neuron on the NNS.

So I have the following questions:

  • What does the ICA actually do?
  • How are they managed?
  • Who is a part of the ICA and do they have a board and projects they are funding?
  • What overlap is there between the ICA and DFINITY?
  • What is the history of the ICA (how and why was it started, who started it)?
  • The first picture of a person on the ICA website is Chris Dixon from a16z. Is the ICA an investor shell organization?
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I wonder it still working

If the ICA serves no separate identifiable purpose, and is not owned by private investors, might it make sense to push for its use as the initial endowment of a future NNS controlled Treasury?

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For reference, listen to the discussion between minute 56 & 57:

https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1ypKddaDEYjKW

@diegop, I know you’re super busy, but could you rope in someone who might have the background to answer the questions listed in the post topic?

@justmythoughts by ”ICA website” are you referring to https://association.internetcomputer.org/?

The most direct and relevant information I could find there was:

We Invite You to Join Us in Building the Future of the Internet

The independent members of the Internet Computer Association (ICA) together create an Internet Computer ecosystem with the highest possible levels of integrity.

Members consist of geographically distributed and diverse businesses and nonprofit organizations, including data centers and node providers, startups building decentralized services and their investors, participants in decentralized finance, enterprises migrating to the open internet, universities and research organizatons, educators and many others. The ICA continues to welcome new members that support its mission of stewarding the adoption of the Internet Computer.

(VC logos)

ICA Charter

Governance

To govern the Internet Computer by means of submitting and voting on proposals that control the expansion of the network and the implementation and rollout of new features.

Security and Privacy

To provide the Internet Computer with the highest levels of security and privacy available in any decentralized blockchain system.

Certification and Compliance

To provide technical guidance for joining the Internet Computer ecosystem as a node provider. This includes hardware specifications, networking guidelines, and configuration options.

Transparency and Integrity

To ensure that the Internet Computer produces sufficient quality data that allows the community to understand the dynamics of the ICP economy and to verify decentralization claims.

(“Apply for Membership” button)

During the recent DFINITY AMA with Jan (at start time = 11:35) Twitter space someone asked Diego and Jan about the ICA, and they weren’t able to answer what exactly they do or what their function/roadmap is.

Jan responded (at time = 12:40) saying that it was originally meant to be a “very active group of community people”, and then “the foundation wanted to support it”, but it turns out it wasn’t part of their “priorities”.

Jan admitted that he doesn’t have a good answer at this time, and added that they hope to have more independent groups/entities that will help grow and take ownership on the IC. That’s a great blanket statement for what we would all like to see - but what about the ICA?

Is the ICA a failed experiment? If so, it’s an expensive one - with 5 million ICP given at genesis before any of this community, and now much more voting power. Chris Dixon, head of a16z crypto is on the front page - so DFINITY financial people, please what is going on here?

This has resulted in more calls for transparency around what the ICA is, who runs it, and why they were funded so heavily.

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ICA is ICP. Since the rest like DFinity are independent entities making a contribution. ICA coordinates all participants as our decentralized custodian.

To the best of my knowledge this is wrong. Some might even say an outright lie. I tracked down the documents of incorporation in Geneva.

Took a while, but I found the association incorporation number. What I discovered is that, unless there is information missing, the ICA is not a members’ organisation, and so far from independent as to be a front for Dom Williams’ voting power and financial movements. The incorporation document says

“Steering Committee: Dominic Williams, from Great Britain, in Oxford, GBR, president, with collective signature of two, with a director, and Bochsler Gian, of Neuchâtel, in Chéserex, director, with collective signature of two, with the president.”

And then a statement of institutional “mutation”:
" Internet Computer Association, à Genève, CHE-132.001.501 (FOSC du 16.08.2021, p. 0/1005271910). L’inscription no 19857 du 11.08.2021 est complétée en ce sens que le membre Williams Dominic est nommé président."

The (seemingly only) member is being made President with the extra voting power mentioned above: henceforth… Dominic Williams.

From what I can tell, the organisation is not a members’ association as suggested in the website, at least not constitutionally. There is no publicly available charter, beside this document of incorporation, and the statutes of association do not indicate any requirements for a General Assembly, any process for registering members, any accountability to them, or any members’ voting process to establish the Board.

Instead, the board of these “independent members” is, exclusively, Dom (and his token Swiss lawyer). Dom now personally controls the voting power of Dfinity, openly, and the voting power of the ICA (behind smoke and mirrors). And ICA has recently upped its stake and dramatically increased its voting power. Every time you see the three letters ICA, you can replace them with these three letters: DOM.

Unless I am missing something huge (truly happy to stand corrected and apologise heartily and with a sense of relief), this is Dom’s most scandalous governance outrage yet, worryingly aided and abetted by… Dfinity’s VP of Finance(!). To paint a one man voting cartel as an “independent members’” body representing the community, is Kafkaesque.

Who precisely is the “small group of professionals” (as designated by @paulaitubi ) who vote on behalf of both Dfinity and the meant to be independent, advertised as independent, non-dfinity community members? Why is the independent members’ association set to auto follow Dfinity? Might it be because that “small group of professionals” report to the same CEO, President (twice over), Chief Scientist and sole board member of both boards (with his Swiss lawyer)?

And did you know that ICA gives itself the right to invest, take equity, buy businesses in its legal constitution? In other words Dom can use the ICA for business ventures and then vote for strategic directions that will profit them with its absolute majority? And the funding from this second Dom front organisation, the advertised grants programme: where does it come from, go, who does it enrich? I wouldn’t bet on the General Assembly to inform us in its annual report to members. Because I don’t expect a General Assembly to happen at all. Because from what I can see, no General Assembly constitutionally exists.

And we now find that the defacto voting power of Dfinity, ahem, Dom, is double the nominal one, but by splitting it you manage the public relations damage of even more Dfinity voting concentration, while allowing for even less accountability for ICA?

Constitutionally speaking:
Dfinity = Dom without community visibility
ICA = Dfinity without even employee visibility

Dom = sole, direct and aggregate control of Dfinity + ICA + String + ? + ?

And (one guesses) + indirect control over ? + ? + ?

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Erm - @diegop or @paulaitubi or even better @dominicwilliams, a straightforward answer behind this association would be nice to have.

In addition, given that the IC-API is not open sourced, the community cannot easily verify if any of the content on https://dashboard.internetcomputer.org/ is legitimate.

For example, as a conspiracy (not saying this is true), but the growth of the network as represented on the dashboard could be falsified, or certain neuron data (whale investor neurons or Dominic’s neurons) could be purposely not cached in the off-chain cdn that powers the IC-API to hide and transactions that may be traceable back to him.

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This is why this kind of misrepresentation exercises me so. There is so much good will and good faith from the community, willing to take things on trust and be encouraged by it. The above should read

Dominic Williams coordinates all participants as our centralized custodian

But no one checks, no one verifies, and massive amounts of money flow, and big votes are taken, and the sole decision maker is one man. The concept is brilliant too. If ICA was a truly independent members organisation which you and I could join, with a board we could elect, an AGM which would report to us, and voting power and resources to seriously shape the roadmap, then even a hyper centralised Dfinity would be OK, might even benefit the whole.

I was ready to jump in, warts and all, to make the ICA meaningful and put resources into contributing to the tech. But it only takes a bit of pollution at the mouth of the stream to contaminate the whole.

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Ismael back at it again. I will again compliment you on your intellect.

I’ll just point out to anyone not following too closely, the impeccable timing of when you decide to educate the developer forum on the dark side of Dfinity. :slight_smile:

Ha, I’m one of those! Not been following for the last 8 months. What’s the impeccable timing? Anything in particular going on? Not even sure if this is a diss or a compliment!

So I’m not considered just a critic, here is a constructive proposal.

Suatus quo:

From its legal incorporation doc:

“the ICA may undertake, directly or indirectly, any activity to further its purpose, including establishing representative offices or acquiring equity interests in companies; it may acquire, hold or alienate commercial real estate in Switzerland and abroad, in compliance with the provisions of the LFAIE; it can develop, acquire, hold or dispose of intellectual property rights and take or grant licenses thereon.”

One sole person on the boards of Dfinity and ICA. Dom (Dfinity) gives Dom (ICA) 5 million ICP at genesis(!). ICA is set to auto follow Dfinity. Recently Dom(ICA) makes staking choices in ICA that increase ICA (his) voting power.

Proposal:

If this is all a big misunderstanding, I volunteer to help the ICA become a real membership organisation. To open up to you all for membership, and have in place good statutes that the membership can change. I even commit from abstaining from membership to avoid any perception of hidden agendas or conflicts of interest.

Better yet, the community here could, via an NNS vote in which all dfinity connected neurons, including ICA abstain, propose a steering group to transparently, consitutionally and in the open assist Dfinity’s stated pupose of making ICA an independent membership organisation. The steering group could even have Dom as a non-voting member, as long as the decision making is transparent and accountable. At the end, Dom would pass full board control of ICA to the independent members’ body it is meant to be governed by as per its website and leadership statements, in accordance with a non-fictional Charter that is created by the Steering Group and approved by the membership.

All ICP coins remain in the ICA, and all its voting power, and the Charter specifies clear processes for becoming a member, elections to the board, and an Annual General Assembly with the actual authority @paulaitubi said it already has.

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We are one year old. Give IC some time to build out key infrastructure.

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The infrastructure won’t build itself, especially if the wider public doesn’t know it is needed in the first place. @Leamsi is doing a great service to this community, handwaving his concerns away with “the IC is just one year old” only enables the current less than ideal situation to persist.

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“Members consist of geographically distributed and diverse businesses and nonprofit organizations, including data centers and node providers, startups building decentralized services and their investors, participants in decentralized finance, enterprises migrating to the open internet, universities and research organizations, educators and many others. The ICA continues to welcome new members that support its mission of stewarding the adoption of the Internet Computer.” — making statements like “Dom (Dfinity) gives Dom (ICA) 5 million ICP at genesis(!). ICA is set to auto follow Dfinity.” is hyperbolic.

Yes @singularity, i love that quote. It excited me to start with. The problem is, as far as I can tell, it isnt true. The legal docs suggest there is only a single person on the board of ICA, and only a single person on the board of Dfinity. Plus a Swiss lawyer required by Swiss incorporation law. The same thing the public records show for Dfinity.

Can you tell me how what I wrote is hyperbole if the person in sole control of Dfinity foundation (Dominic Williams) makes the decision (only person with that power) to transfer 5 million ICP to a foundation (ICA), that Dominic Williams is in sole control of? How is this not Dom transferring money to Dom, even if it is via a shell?

And can you explain how saying that the ICA neuron is set to autofollow the voting decisions of Dfinity, is hyperbole, when you can see that’s the case? When the VP for finance of Dfinity himself has just posted that “a small group of professionals” make the voting decisions on behalf of both, Dfinity and ICA?

Do you have any evidence, beside the website, that there are, indeed,

Can you give me ANY examples that this is in any way shape or form real? Because the actual legal charter does not mention any of this.

Can you point me to anywhere that shows these so-called members, if you find any real ones, have any mechanism whatever for governing the ICA? Any indication of anyone beside Dom Williams (and his token Swiss lawyer) having final decision on how to spend those 5 million ICP, or how to use the newly increased ICA voting power?

If you can, I will be truly, honestly, grateful.

For now, it feels like you have a community member asking questions about demonstrable, publicly available, and ordinarily alarming institutional arrangements that point to huge ethical, institutional and economic risks around the person of Dominic Williams on the one hand. And for a huge segment of the community the reaction that follows is not: “why is Dom in sole charge of both Dfinity and ICA; why did he transfer 5 million ICP from one to the other at Genesis; at the same time as billions were moved while investors were locked out; why has he recently engaged in staking activity that has massively increased his ICA voting power; and why is the ICA described as an independent members’ organisation in its website, and most recently by the VP of Finance as one whose highest authority is a members’ General Assembly, when there is only one person on the board, Dom (and his token Swiss lawyer), and no General Assembly? What can we do to make things better, safer and more above board?”

Instead the reaction of so many seems to be: “hmm, why are you even asking these questions? Do you have a less than transparent agenda?”. Even as I’ve been absolutely clear at every step as to my thought process and motivations.

Dfinity Forum be like: How To Go Through Airport Security - Airplane II [1982] - YouTube

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I believe we will get there. I got into this because I trusted Dom and DFinity first and foremost. The infrastructure is being put in place, and the network is getting more and more decentralized. In a couple of years I believe we will get there. At the moment I am just focused on reading the tech work that is going on in this forum. I am hoping that the ICA will get more and more visible as the IC core foundation gets more complete. As a long term believer in this network, I am comfortable with how things are for now, and I trust that DFinity believe in decentralizing the network over time in a way that bad actors will not sabbotage the work that is being done to complete key parts of the roadmap. This is just my personal opinion. Who knows, maybe if team went about it any other way FTX would have bought up half of the tokens and messed up all the R & D work done since 2016. DFinity will ease out as the community continues to step in progressively.

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I respect your position at an individual level. Perhaps you know Dom personally, and he’s a jolly good fellow. But “belief” is a poor institutional foundation. Which is why we have developed institutional approaches for accountability and transparency.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could believe and verify? If when people like me, like @tsetse, like @justmythoughts, like @Zane, asked relatively straightforward questions, you could say “no worries, here are the facts”, instead of “O ye of little faith”? Wouldn’t it make it so much easier to gain traction and adoption at scale, beyond a hard core of true believers? And is there any reason why you’d rather be kept in the dark? That’s good for magic tricks and theatre, where the suspension of disbelief is a virtue. For a collective technology and economic enterprise, this seems less than ideal. I’d genuinely, sincerely, want to join you in belief. I just wish I had the elements to do so.

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I will be worried if after 6 years we have not progressed in the decentralization efforts. Now I am more worried of the progress on the technical side, and decentralization efforts are progressing; with key parts of decentralization being laid out (nns, node machine specs and geography, ICA mission, community getting larger, etc). By the way who makes decisions for dev in Ethereum? I dont see holders voting on some NNS or worrying about who holds how much tokens to influence dev decisions. I think we are far ahead of Ethereum in this aspect.

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