Eric Lee

Independent labour candidate for a seat on the Board of the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

A brief biography

Eric Lee is the author of The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism (Pluto Press, 1997) and founder of the LabourStart website.

Born in New York City 45 years ago, he was active in the American democratic left and trade unions until coming to settle on a kibbutz in Israel in 1981. He edited the social democratic magazine The New International Review from its founding in 1977 until its demise in 1989. In Israel he worked as a computer programmer and was active politically in the peace movement and on the left. In the early 1990s he served on the Central Committee of the United Workers Party (Mapam).

Upon becoming the founding editor of the magazine Workers Education in 1993, he took an interest in email and the web and launched the first international trade union website on behalf of the International Federation of Workers Education Associations.

In 1996, he launched the BibiWATCH website which was one of the first political websites in Israel. Over the course of more than 100 weekly issues, he built an online campaign against the Netanyahu government, and initiated two extremely successful "Internet blackouts" to commemorate the anniversaries of the Netanyahu election victory in 1996.

In 1998 he moved to London to work as ICT Co-ordinator for Labour and Society International. He consults with British and international trade unions, has published articles around the globe and lectures frequently at conferences and seminars.

He announced his candidacy for ICANN Board on 7 July 2000.

How to contact Eric Lee


Fax: +1 815 5506904

Phone: +44 20 83461953


Worldwide support for Eric Lee's candidacy

Dozens of trade union activists wrote to ICANN suggesting that Eric Lee be one of the official nominees. They were ignored and ICANN proposed the usual lot of businessmen, lawyers, and academics.

Here are some of the comments ICANN received:

Wuo Young-Ie, Secretary-General of the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU): "We endorse you as an independent candidate of a seat of ICANN."

Roger Darlington, Head of Research, Communication Workers Union, UK: "As Head of Research for the largest communications trade union in Britain, the (part-time) Chair of the UK's Internet Watch Foundation and an intensive Internet user with my own web site, I feel that it is important that the ICANN Board has on it a person broadly representative of the interests and aspirations of organised labour. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions now represents 124 million trade unionists in 143 countries an its members work in every major industry and service - all of which are impacted in different ways by the Internet. Eric Lee has enormous knowledge of the Internet from a technical point of view, but he is also internationally respected for his involvement in the social use of the technology, especially by not for profit organisations. He has written and spoken extensively on the social impact and the social uses of the Interenet. Through the web site LabourStart - which he designed and manages - he has truly global contacts and, in the last few months alone, he has visited and lectured in countries as diverse as Germany, Australia and South Africa. He is a man of great personal integrity and someone for whom I have great respect. He is a tireless worker and a very effective communicator who would be a great asset to the ICANN Board."

Andrew Casey, National Media Officer for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Australia: "Eric is a well respected member of the world-wide labour community. He has gained that respect working for the international Workers Education Association movement, working for local and international unions. The respect has especially come from the fact that he is a cutting edge thinker in how the trade unions should use the world-wide web as both an educational tool and an organising tool.I have been aware of Eric for a lot longer than the two years I have known him personally, largely because of his well known writings on the use of the web among working people and their organisations. . . . I have known Eric personally now for nearly two years, working closely with him as his senior Australian correspondent on LabourStart and working with him face-to-face at international conferences of union activists interested in the web. One of the grand things about Eric is his patience with people who are well 'behind' in their knowledge of the power of the web, his preparedness to take time with people and not to lecture and act as if he was the only source of all wisdom on matters relating to the web."

Linda Gale, Industrial Officer and member of Web Management Committee, Australian Education Union: "Eric would bring the perspectives of the growing number of trade unions/labour unions and workers organisations which are using the internet for internal organisational and external campaign work. His participation would encourage ordinary working people and their organisations to view ICANN as a body which represents the broad spectrum of internet users. . . . I have found Eric Lee to be immensely hard-working, able to analyse complex developments in the technology, economics and politics of the internet and convey them to others in accessible terms. He always works in an open, inclusive and consultative manner, but still manages to get things done! At the Unions Online Conference held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1999, Eric not only gave an excellent keynote address, but participated actively in workshops and seminars using strategic interventions to contribute without inhibiting or stifling contributions from others."

Michael Gilchrist, General Secretary, New Zealand Trade Union Federation: What the individual would contribute to the ICANN Board: "Considerable knowledge of internet processes and a concern to represent a large portion of the internet using population who may not otherwise be represented in our organisation. His publications make him better qualified than any other I am aware of for this position. An outstanding candidate committed to the use of the internet in the interests of universal peace, prosperity and justice."

Alex Spinrad, labour lawyer, Israel: The candidate has an "understanding of the labor and employment relations community to the ICANN and extensive experience in the importance of the internet in employment relations and the efect on employment of the Internet. . . . An extraordinarily far-seeing and serious advocate of the Internet . . . Have worked with him extensively and know him for almost 30 years; can attest to his personal integrity and ability to contribute to any forum in which he participates."

Gunnar Olsson, Finansforbundet (financial sector union), Sweden: "In my opinion, he would contribute a truly global view of the Internet and its use wordwide. I know no other person who is so dedicated to the use of the Internet and its spreading among the small people. He has demonstrated the power of the Internet in global use and he would contribute a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge to this organisation. I think very high of him. He is dedicated to the Internet cause (if that would be a proper phrase?) He is not afriad to take a fight, but he can always see reason."

Stirling Smith, Director, Labour and Society International, UK: "Eric Lee has been responsible for a revolution in how trade unionists use and consider the internet. Labor unions are an enormously important force in society and are now using the internet much more because of Eric. He would bring this important perspective to ICANN. Eric has an immense appetite for work and is completely committed to making the net as accessible to as many people as possible. He is also firm in opposition to outside interference in it by governments and other interests who would like to edit, censor and abuse it."


North American trade unionists speak out

Alicia Sepúlveda, Secretaria de Relaciones y Actas, Sindicato de Telefonistas de la República Mexicana: "I would like to present to you the nomination of Mr. ERIC LEE as a member of the ICANN Board. His expertise and knowledge has helped many of us, unionist from developing nations, to gain an ample vision of the potentialities and uses of the Internet as a way of gathering relevant information, transmitting knowledge and creating links with individuals who share a similar vision. I am a woman unionist from México and much of what I have learned about the Internet comes from the work done by Mr. Lee, who is constantly introducing us to new tools that make our job easier. I had a basic knowledge and was quite fearful of trying to do new things, but his Web page has taught me how to gather information, how to set up links and many more things. An addition like this to your board would only enrich your work, because Mr. Lee is someone who cares deeply about the best uses of the Internet as he is very much in touch with us non professional users."

Larry Kuehn, British Columbia Teachers Federation, Canada: "I would encourage you to include Eric Lee among the nominees for the at large positions on the board of ICANN. Eric is the most connected and knowledgable about the issues related to labour and the Internet. Representation of this segment of users of the Internet is essential."

Gretchen Donart, Union commmunications organizer with the AFL-CIO (Seattle): Eric "would bring the interest of working people around the globe to your organization. His network of trade union correspondents around the world gives him a global perspective on the power and uses of the internet. Through LabourStart we hear the voices of working people who are organizing for a democratic rights on the job and in their societies. Eric would be an excellent spokesperson for people with "low bandwidth"--limited equipment and means. Eric Lee tirelessly promotes internet use, including innovative software to promote international communication. . . . Eric Lee is very talented, dedicated, and ethical. Eric is also very funny, and would be a personal asset to your board."

Andy Banks, George Meany Center, USA: "Eric Lee is a labor pioneer on the INTERNET and founder/websteward for Please read this article, join ICANN (no charge) and vote for Eric Lee. Please urge others on your e-mail address book to do the same."

Ron Harrell, IAMAW Local Lodge 79, Seattle, USA: "Some of you may be familiar with the Labourstart website ( administered by Eric Lee. Labourstart is without a doubt the most comprehensive and credible website dedicated to global labor news. Both Lee and his site are highly regarded and regularly referenced by labor educators and experts in the fields of global labor issues and organized labor's use of Internet technology. Lee is running for a position on the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). While this may be old news to some of you, ICANN essentially runs the Internet. It is critically important that labor have a strong voice in the continuing development of the Internet and I can think of no stronger or more credible voice to represent us than Eric Lee."

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