Posts Tagged ‘governance’

Top Ten Myths About Civil Society Participation in ICANN (condensed)

August 22, 2009


Full version here: The Public Voice

From The Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)

Myth 1
“Civil Society won’t participate in ICANN under NCUC’s charter proposal.”
False. NCUC’s membership includes 143 noncommercial organizations and individuals. Since 2008 NCUC’s membership has increased by more 215% – largely in direct response to civil society’s support for the NCUC charter.

Myth 2
“More civil society groups will get involved if the Board intervenes.”
A complete illusion. Board imposition of its own charter and its refusal to listen to civil society groups will be interpreted as rejection of the many groups that commented and as discrimination against civil society participation. The appointment of representatives by the Board disenfranchises noncommercial groups and individuals.

Myth 3
The outpouring of civil society opposition can be dismissed as the product of a ‘letter writing campaign.’
An outrageous claim. Overwhelming civil society opposition to the SIC charter emerged not once, but twice. No policy or bylaw gives ICANN staff the authority to discount or ignore groups who have taken an interest in the GNSO reforms. ICANN’s attempt to discount critical comments by labeling them a “letter writing campaign” undermines future participation and confidence in ICANN public processes.

Myth 4
“Civil society is divided on the NCSG charter issue.”
Wrong. Board members who rely only on staff-provided information may believe civil society is divided, but Board members who have actually read the public comments can see the solidarity of civil society against what ICANN is trying to impose on them.

Myth 5
“Existing civil society groups are not representative or diverse enough.”
Untrue by any reasonable standard. The current civil society grouping, the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), now has 143 members including 73 noncommercial organizations and 70 individuals in 48 countries. This is an increase of more than 215% since the parity principle was established.[1] Noncommercial participation in ICANN is now more diverse than any other constituency, so it is completely unfair to level this charge at NCUC without applying it to others.

Myth 6
“ALAC prefers the ICANN staff drafted charter over the civil society drafted charter.”
False. In fact, the formal statement actually approved by ALAC said that many members of ALAC supported the NCUC proposal and that “the de-linking of Council seats from Constituencies is a very good move in the right direction.”

Myth 7
“The NCUC charter would give the same small group 6 votes instead of 3.”
False. For the past 8 months, NCUC has stated that it will dissolve when the NCSG is formed. It does not make sense to have a “Noncommercial Users Constituency” and a “Noncommercial Stakeholders Group,” as they are synonymous terms. Thus, NCUC leaders would not be in control of a new NCSG – a completely new leadership would be elected.

Myth 8
“NCUC will not share council seats with other noncommercial constituencies.”
Wrong.  Given the diversity and breadth of NCUC’s membership, many different constituencies with competing agendas are likely to form. The organic, bottom-up self-forming approach to constituency formation is much better than the board/staff approach – and more consistent with the BGC recommendations.

Myth 9
“The NCUC wants to take away the Board’s right to approve constituencies.”
False. NCUC’s proposal let the board approve or disapprove of new constituencies formed under its proposed charter.  Our proposal simply offered to apply some simple, objective criteria (e.g., number of applicants) to new constituency groupings and then make a recommendation to the Board.

Myth 10
“The purpose of a constituency is to have your very own GNSO Council Seat.”
False. Some claim GNSO Council seats must be hard-wired to specific constituencies because a constituency is meaningless without a guaranteed GNSO Council representative. However this interpretation fails to understand the role of constituencies in the new GNSO, which is to give a voice and a means of participation in the policy development process — not a guaranteed councilor who has little incentive to reach beyond her constituency and find consensus with other constituencies.

Glossary of ICANN Acronyms

ALAC – At-Large Advisory Committee
ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of the ICANN, as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the “At-Large” community).

gTLD – Generic Top Level Domain
Most TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as “generic” TLDs, or “gTLDs”. They can be subdivided into two types, “sponsored” TLDs (sTLDs) and “unsponsored TLDs (uTLDs), as described in more detail below.

In the 1980s, seven gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created. Domain names may be registered in three of these (.com, .net, and .org) without restriction; the other four have limited purposes. Over the next twelve years, various discussions occurred concerning additional gTLDs, leading to the selection in November 2000 of seven new TLDs for introduction. These were introduced in 2001 and 2002. Four of the new TLDs (.biz, .info, .name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three new TLDs (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored.

GNSO – Generic Names Supporting Organization
The GNSO is responsible for developing policy recommendations to the ICANN Board that relate to generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
The GNSO is the body of 6 constituencies, as follows: the Commercial and Business constituency, the gTLD Registry constituency, the ISP constituency, the non-commercial constituency, the registrar’s constituency, and the IP constituency.
However, the GNSO is in the process of restructuring away from a framework of 6 constituencies to 4 stakeholder groups: Commercial, Noncommercial, Registrar, Registry. The Noncommercial and Commercial Stakeholder Groups together make up the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bi-cameral GNSO; and the Registrar and Registry Stakeholder Groups will together comprise the “Contracting Parties House” in the new GNSO structure (beginning Oct. 2009).

ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions.

NCUC – Noncommercial Users Constituency
The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for noncommercial organizations and individuals in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). With real voting power in ICANN policy making and Board selection, it develops and supports positions that protect noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. NCUC works to promote the public interest in ICANN policy and is the only noncommercial constituency in ICANN’s GSNO (there are 5 commercial constituencies). The NCUC is open to noncommercial organizations and individuals involved in education, community networking, public policy advocacy, development, promotion of the arts, digital rights, children’s welfare, religion, consumer protection, scientific research, human rights and many other areas. NCUC maintains a website at

NCSG – Noncommercial Stakeholders Group
The GNSO is in the process of being restructured from “6 constituencies” to “4 stakeholder groups”, including a Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) into which all noncommercial organizations and individuals will belong for policy development purposes, including members of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC). The NCSG and the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) will together comprise the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bicameral GNSO structure beginning October 2009.