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Comment on CC application for constituency status.

  • To: consumers-constituency-petition@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comment on CC application for constituency status.
  • From: Avri Doria <avri@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 13 Feb 2010 14:04:54 -0500

To the Board and the Structural Improvements Committee,

I am writing this in my personal capacity and not in my capacity as a member 
and chair of  the NCSG Executive Committee.  The NCSG Executive Committee does 
not have a consensus position on this topic.

While I do not support the Board approval of the Consumer Constituency (CC) at 
this time, I want to make it clear that I strongly support the creation of a 
Consumer Interest Group/Constituency* within the NCSG and, depending on the 
nature of the final charter of the NCSG, may support a Consumer Interest 
Group/Constituency in getting Board approval as an official Board approved 
Constituency at some future time.  I also want to say that I think that the 
influence of consumer advocacy groups, both non-commercial and commercial in 
ICANN is a critical necessity.

My reasons for requesting the rejection of the current application are varied, 
and include:

1.     The proposed  constituency is not representative of the non-commercial 
consumer organizations already present in the GNSO.  The NCUC contains a number 
of consumer organizations already.  These NCUC/NCSG members have not, to my 
knowledge, been consulted or included in the formation of this proposed 
constituency.  Additionally these consumer groups and individual advocates are 
currently discussing the formation of a Consumer Advocacy 
Interest-Group/Constituency within the structure of the NCSG.  The creation of 
a Consumer Constituency external and separate from the efforts going on in the 
NCSG would be duplicative and would be a distraction to the formative efforts 
of the NCSG and any incipient Consumer Advocacy Interest-Group/Constituency.

2.    The membership criteria for this constituency are not clear.  While the 
petition and the charter are clear that industry funded consumer agencies would 
not be eligible for membership it does not place any restrictions on the 
membership basis of the various consumer organizations.  Some consumer 
organizations are predominantly composed of commercial members, while others 
are citizen or non commercially based.  Some are, in fact hybrid and have a mix 
of members.  In my opinion the membership criteria for a constituency with the 
NCSG need to be clear in limiting participation to organizations that are 
predominantly citizen or non-commercial in their membership.  I believe there 
is also room, and need, in the GNSO for consumer organizations that are 
commercial in their membership, but believe that these groups should petition 
to become part of the CSG, and not the NCSG.

3.    The NCSG is still operating and developing under a temporary charter that 
would make it  disruptive to ongoing processes to fold a new Board approved 
constituency into the new stakeholder group.  The NCSG has established 
membership in the NCSG  as basic to the stakeholder group and to 
Interest-Group/Constituency formation.  Membership applications are being 
accepted at this time. Further the NCUC is ready to devolve into a multitude of 
Interest-Groups/Constituencies with the NCSG.  As the only place for Non 
Commercial entities over the years, it has gathered many different groups who 
have many different advocacy concerns.  With the formation of the NCSG, it is 
the intention of many to try and spin out several 
Interest-Groups/Constituencies who can each focus on their own non-commercial 
agenda and participate in the GNSO processes as integral parts of the NCSG.  If 
a new Consumer Constituency is created at this point, it will put a stop to 
this process and force the NCUC to remain a single large constituency.  Not 
only would this be counter-productive, it would help to foster some of the old 
rivalries between the ALAC/Staff sponsored CC and the NCUC - rivalries that it 
is necessary to move beyond.

4.     It is my personal opinion that even if the final status of the permanent 
NCSG charter were to require Board approved constituencies as opposed to 
Interest-groups, it is important that a new group show its commitment to ICANN 
and the GNSO before its existence be formalized.  I would expect any group that 
was being proposed to have already created a GNSO presence with mailing lists, 
statements on substantive issues and general participation in the life of ICANN 
and work of the GNSO.  To date all that has been seen of the CC are the two 
leaders, and while they have participated in some working groups either in 
their own personal capacity or as ALAC representatives, there has been no 
apparent attempt on their part to bring the greater group of prospective 
members into the discussions and there have been no visible contributions from 
a consensus voice of the proposed membership in the CC.  I think that approving 
a constituency before we have seen them take an active interest in the 
substantive work, not just the process of becoming a constituency, is to put 
the cart before the horse.

The NCSG has established membership criteria that make it  possible for 
consumer groups, and individual consumer advocates to join the NCSG directly 
and to begin to make substantive contribution to the GNSO  policy process 
immediately.   It is my fervent hope that  the consumer groups in the NCSG, 
including those already in the NCUC, and those who are part of the CC 
application, will form together to create an Interest-Group/Constituency for 
non commercial consumer advocacy.  But for the reasons enumerated above, I 
request that the Board not approve this constituency at this time, but rather 
encourage them to join in the effort build the NCSG from the bottom-up.

Thank you

Avri Doria
Adjunct Professor
Luleå University of Technology

* While the status of the NCSG charter is still in flux, and given the 
discrepancy between the NCUC's  bottom-up plan  for a charter that resembles 
the charters in the Registries' and Registrars' SGs that includes Interest 
Groups instead of formal Constituencies and the ICANN Policy Staff's intention 
that the NCSG be organized along the same lines as the CSG with strictly 
delineated constituencies, it has become the practice of the NCSG Executive 
Committee to refer to Interest-Groups/Constituencies to cover this final status 
dichotomy.  It is the intention of the NCSG-EC in its work to date that within 
the NCSG, formal constituencies like the NCUC and Interest-Groups, of which 
there are several in the early stages of formation, will be treated as having 
the same status with regard to Executive Committee and Policy Committee 
participation and in all other relevant aspects.  As part of the ongoing 
charter work, definition of the internal structure of the NCSG is in progress, 
and consumer groups are encouraged to participate with us in the bottom-up 
process of completing the definition of the NCSG.

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