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Summary and Analysis (v2.0) of Public Comments for New Consumer¹s Constituency Petition and Charter

  • To: "consumers-constituency-petition@xxxxxxxxx" <consumers-constituency-petition@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary and Analysis (v2.0) of Public Comments for New Consumer¹s Constituency Petition and Charter
  • From: Robert Hoggarth <robert.hoggarth@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 15:44:45 -0800

Summary and analysis (v2.0) of public comments for:

New Consumer's Constituency Petition and Charter

Comment period ended: 13 February 2010

Summary published: 15 February 2010/16 February (v2.0)

Preparation by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


In June 2008, the Board of Directors endorsed a series of recommendations on 
how to improve the structures and operations of the Generic Names Supporting 
Organization (GNSO). One of the significant drivers of those recommendations 
was the goal of maximizing participation in the GNSO and its policy development 
processes. Among the various recommendations endorsed by the Board was that 
ICANN take steps to clarify and promote the option to self-form new 
constituencies as a means to increase participation in GNSO policy development 

The current ICANN Bylaws provide that any group of individuals or entities may 
petition the Board for recognition as a new or separate constituency, in 
accordance with Section 5(4) of Article X. Such a petition must explain (1) why 
"the addition of such a Constituency will improve the ability of the GNSO to 
carry out its policy-development responsibilities" and (2) why "the proposed 
new Constituency would adequately represent, on a global basis, the 
stakeholders it seeks to represent."

To date, the ICANN Board has received a total of four formal petitions from 
prospective constituencies, including the subject of this forum - the Consumers 
Constituency (CC).  At the direction of the Board, the ICANN Staff developed a 
two-step process for potential new constituencies to follow. The proponent of 
the Consumers Constituency (CC) completed the first step of the process on 28 
February 2009 by filing a Notice of Intent to Form a New Constituency 
 [PDF, 28K]. The proponent of the Consumers Constituency (CC) completed the 
second step of the process- submission of a New Constituency Petition and 
  [PDF, 228K] and Introduction Letter 
  [PDF, 109K] on 14 April 2009.

The Consumers Constituency (CC) proposal was first made available for community 
review and comment on 15 April 2009 (see - 
).  The comments submitted in that proceeding were summarized by the staff and 
shared with the Board and the community (see - 
<http://forum.icann.org/lists/gnso-consumers-constituency/msg00007.html> ).

Subsequently, members of the Board had questions about the proposal that were 
communicated to the Consumers Constituency (CC) proponents by the Staff and 
resulted in the proponents modifying their proposal.  Those modifications were 
transmitted to the Board on 15 September 2009 prior to the community gathering 
in Seoul, South Korea (see - 
<http://gnso.icann.org/en/improvements/newco-process-en.htm> , 
 ).  Subsequently, the Board's Structural Improvements Committee directed the 
Staff to post the revised proposal for this further community review and 
comment period.

Community comment on new constituency petitions and charters is an important 
component of the Board's evaluation of these petitions and will be used to 
inform the Board's decisions to approve or, at its option, to recommend any 
alterations or amendments to the various submissions.


As of the time this summary was prepared, a total of 13 community members 
submitted comments in the forum regarding the revised CC proposal.  The 
contributors, both individuals and organizations, are listed below in 
alphabetical order (with initials noted in parentheses).  The initials will be 
used in the foregoing narrative to identify specific quoted contributions.

Organizations and Groups:

*     At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) (submitted by Beau Brendler)
*     GoDaddy.com, by Tim Ruiz (GDC) (submitted by James Bladell)


*     Beau Brendler and Holly Raiche (BB/HR) (as CC Co-chairs)(submitted by 
Beau Brendler)
*     Eric Brunner-Williams (EBW)
*     Rafik Dammak and Alex Gakura (RD/AG)
*     Avri Doria  (AD)
*     Cheryl Langdon-Orr (CLO)
*     Evan Leibovitch (EL)
*     Milton Meuller (MM)
*     Holly Raiche (HR)
*     Gareth Shearman  (GS)
*     Rosemary Sinclair (RS)  (due to apparent technical difficulties, at the 
time of posting the original version of this summary/analysis document, RS's 
comments had not been fully accepted by the ICANN forum system.  This document 
(v2.0) has been updated to reflect those comments.)
*     Mary Wong (MW) (submitted twice due to technical problems)


This document is intended to broadly and comprehensively summarize the comments 
of the various contributors to this forum but not to address every specific 
argument or position stated by any or all contributors.  The Staff recommends 
that readers interested in specific aspects of any of the summarized comments 
or the full context of others refer directly to the specific contributions.  
All comments can be found in the order they were submitted at 

With one exception, the submitted comments all generally support the concept of 
consumer representation in the GNSO, but reflect different points of view 
regarding the specifics of the pending proposal or the timing of Board action 
on the petition.  Those in support of granting the petition at this time note 
the growing global support for the proposal by established consumer 
organizations, the substantial value a consumers voice would offer to the GNSO 
and the growing length of time the petition has been pending,

Those opposing action at this time assert that even if the Board is inclined to 
support the pending CC proposal, that development of a permanent Non Commercial 
Stakeholders Group (NCSG) Charter should be concluded before consideration is 
given to the forming of any specific NCSG constituencies.  Some express 
specific reasons for rejecting the pending proposal. They assert that premature 
approval of the CC could create difficulties in the relationship of the NCSG 
and any new/future constituencies. In some cases, opponents assert that the new 
CC is not even necessary given the direction that some favor for the NCSG 
organizational structure of the existing NCSG.  Still others assert that the CC 
structure would be duplicative of existing ICANN bodies.

Consumers Constituency (CC) Proposal Opponents:

Mary Wong (MW) "strongly believe[s] that consumers - both commercial and 
non-commercial - are important contributors to ICANN and essential stakeholders 
in it. She does not, however, support the approval of the CC "in the form 
proposed at this time."  She says, "the existing ICANN framework - including 
the NCSG, which has welcomed many new members who represent consumer 
organizations and/or who are involved in consumer policy issues - is adequately 
equipped to ensure that consumer interests are specifically represented."  She 
says, "this is not to say that a better job of outreach and focused discussion 
over matters of concern to all consumers cannot and should not be done; 
however, the establishment of a formal constituency simply in order to do so, 
and at a time when the NCSG Charter is still being finalized, is both 
unnecessary and unwise."

MW says, "it is not clear that a formal, Board-approved constituency is 
necessarily a better vehicle for funneling and representing community concerns 
than a bottom-up, self-organized interest group formed from within a wider SG." 
Noting that the Board has approved the Registry SG which encompasses the 
concept of interest groups, she says, "it seems far more preferable to 
encourage the formation of interest groups by and within the SGs rather than 
further entrench the old constituency model in its organizational framework."

MW says, the proposed CC Charter itself is  "problematic." For example, she 
says, "Many of the structures and processes elaborated on in the Charter (e.g. 
the provision for both an Executive Committee and Policy Committee) mirror the 
structures and processes of the NCSG."  She says, "This additional layer of 
bureaucracy and operational procedure is likely to complicate and confuse both 
existing as well as potential NCSG members, and potentially lead to unnecessary 
delays and complications in SG-constituency relationships."  She is concerned 
that the Charter "still reflects the potential for a one constituency one 
Councilor model."  She is also concerned that "the single criteria for 
organizational membership of the Consumers Constituency is that it is a 
non-commercial entity."  She asserts that "there is no requirement that members 
of the constituency have any link to any consumer-oriented interests or related 

Avri Doria (AD) says she "strongly supports the creation of a Consumer Interest 
Group/Constituency within the NCSG."  She says "the influence of consumer 
advocacy groups, both non-commercial and commercial in ICANN is a critical 
necessity" and "depending on the nature of the final charter of the NCSG," she 
"may support a Consumer Interest  Group/Constituency in getting Board approval 
as an official Board approved  Constituency at some future time."

But, regarding the present CC proposal AD asserts, "the pending proposal should 
be rejected for four reasons. First, AD says, "The proposed constituency is not 
representative of the non-commercial consumer organizations already present in 
the GNSO.  She says, the NCUC contains a number of consumer organizations 
already and those members have not, to her knowledge, "been consulted or 
included in the formation of this proposed constituency."  She says, 
"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."

Second, AD says, "The membership criteria for this constituency are not clear." 
 Echoing MW's concerns she says, "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 

Third, AD says "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." She says, "The NCSG has 
established membership in the NCSG as basic to the stakeholder group and to 
Interest-Group/Constituency formation."

AD says, "the NCUC is ready to devolve into a multitude of 
Interest-Groups/Constituencies with the NCSG."  She says, "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." 
She is concerned that, "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."

Finally, AD says 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."  She says, "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."

AD says, "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."

Milton Mueller (MM) says, "the main problem with the CC application is that it 
is being made before any final charter or structure for the NCSG has been 
ratified by the SIC and the Board, and before the advocates of the CC have even 
joined the NCSG."  MM says, "It is imperative that the CC and the NCSG charter 
be based on compatible assumptions about voting, representation and procedure." 
 He says, "it is imperative that those who want to claim the mantle of 
'Consumer representatives' work together with any and all consumer 
organizations already involved in ICANN and not attempt to create a separate 
island."  He asks the Board to "make it clear to the CC advocates that they 
need to join the NCSG, and make an effort to allow all eligible existing 
organizations within it to join in on its formation, before their application 
will be approved."

MM says, "there are contradictions and incompatibilities between the way the 
NCSG is being set up and the proposed CC charter."  He says, "These issues must 
be resolved before any new constituency is approved." He says, "It is simply a 
matter of following the proper sequence. One must complete the formation of the 
NCSG first, before an[y] new constituency applications are approved."  MM 
asserts, "There are real issues regarding the legitimacy of this group's claim 
to represent consumers."  He says, "There are also important questions about 
the degree to which its backers are part of the noncommercial sector or 
represent business interests." He says, "The major national and international 
noncommercial consumer advocacy organizations, such as the Consumers Union in 
the USA or Consumers International, do not seem to be involved in this effort." 
He says "To date, the advocates of this CC have not contacted the NCSG, nor 
made any effort to join it, nor have they invited the half-dozen or so consumer 
groups already in the  NCUC to participate in their effort."

MM admits that "the size and scope of group backing the CC proposal is a 
secondary issue."    The real issue, he says, "is the contradiction between its 
organizational model and that of the NCSG. He says, "It is important to know 
that the NCSG charter currently being developed by the NCSG and reviewed by the 
SIC envisions a model in which all constituency members must first become 
members of the NCSG, subject to its eligibility requirements, and then go 
through an integrated NCSG voting process  to elect Council representatives and 
form new constituencies."

MM asserts that "if [the Board] approves the CC before the structure of the 
NCSG is set, or if there are incompatibilities between the CC charter and the 
NCSG Charter, they could create confusion and some severe contradictions and 
political tensions in the process of chartering the NCSG."

In their joint comment, Rafik Dammak and Alex Gakura (RD/AG) say they oppose 
the CC charter proposal.  As members of the African Region, their fundamental 
point of view appears to be that the proposed constituency is not 
representative of the global stakeholders it purports to represent and will not 
improve the GNSO in its policy development activities.  They assert that they 
were not consulted in its formation, and express concern that the interests of 
the African Region have not been considered in the development of the 
constituency charter.  They appear to believe that the interest of consumers 
and the African region can best be managed in the context of the present NCSG 
and that the CC proposal will not improve policy development process 
responsibilities relevant to or important to Africa.

Go Daddy (GDC) asserts that "the primary concern in our earlier comments 
remains unresolved."  GDC is concerned "that CC is duplicative of other bodies 
in the GNSO and ICANN."  GDC says the revised NOI[F] and Charter do not 
"present a compelling reason why the issues it seeks to address cannot be 
raised in the context of the At Large community and the Non-Commercial 
Stakeholders Group."  GDC asks the Board to "request further clarification and 
refinement of the membership criteria before approving the proposal."

Eric Brunner-Williams (EBW says the Board should "thank the proposants for 
their efforts and decline the offer to create this particular Constituency."  
He provides some interesting background comments on the original vision of 
ICANN representation and raises some concerns about the overall constituency 
structure, including an expression of regret that the Board did not approve the 
proposal of the City TLD Constituency.

With respect to the pending Consumers proposal, EBW is concerned that the CC 
Charter "proposes, at [Section] 11.2.3, to find funding 'From major actors in 
the industry, including without limitation, registrars, registries, Internet 
service providers, and so forth" and at [Section] 11.2.4, "From the 
Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) and ICANN." He says, "neither of these 
approaches could lead to an independent or sustainable Constituency" and "this 
weakness is not cured by [Section] 11.3, Conflicts of Interest."

EBW notes that the CC Charter anticipates a rather small number of members 
participating in the activities of the Constituency, "as it devotes all of 
[Section] 10 to standards and discipline." He says, "If there are "users" the 
tools to manage their self-expression to their best ends is not a 
'Communications Officer'." He asserts, "this simply can't scale, and seems 
irreconcilable with [Section] 9's statement on outreach, '... to be as 
inclusive and representative of non-commercial Internet users as possible ...'."

CC Proposal Support:

The CC Co-chairs (BB/HR) say, "Our commitment to this constituency has not 
wavered in the year since it was first proposed. Our intent remains the same: 
To create a venue for international organizations, whose primary duty is to 
advocate on behalf of consumers in matters of purchase and trade, to have a 
strong voice in the GNSO, the most active of ICANN's policy making bodies."  
BB/HR assert, "based on ... support from a growing number of consumer 
organizations, we believe the [B]oard should be strongly compelled to approve 
the Consumers  Constituency." They say, "despite that the constituency has been 
in a holding pattern for several months, we have made a solid start in outreach 
and recruiting of organizations.

They note that "formal (written) commitments to join the constituency have come 
from:  Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) / Australia; 
Telecom and Internet Klantenvereniging (TIK) / Belgium; EKPIZO ["The Quality of 
Life"] Consumers Association / Greece; and ZPS Slovene Consumers' Association / 
Slovenia.  Coincidently, addressing MM's earlier-submitted comment, they note 
that EKPIZO and ZPS are full members of Consumers International, "a 50-year-old 
member organization with 220 member organizations in 115 countries, and a 
likely ally in communication and recruitment for the larger organization."

BB /HR explain that in addition to interest expressed by the Consumers 
Association of Canada (CAC), "two consumer organizations in France and Mexico 
have been contacted by the CC's ICANN board-appointed representative, and their 
status should be clear by the Nairobi meeting." They note that if the 
organization from Mexico chooses to join the nascent CC, "the proposed 
constituency would have representation from the North American, European, 
Asia-Pacific, and Latin American/Caribbean regions." They assert this is "a 
remarkable start for a proposed and not formally approved organization." 
Addressing the challenge of recruiting for an as-yet-unapproved body, they say, 
"we seek to remind the [B]oard of the significant challenge involved  in 
recruiting any volunteers, let alone whole institutions with limited resources 
and full policy plates, to a 'constituency' yet to actually be approved, whose 
representational structure is untested, and whose role within a larger group 
(NCSG) remains unclear."

The CC proponents assert that, "as promised in Seoul, we have continued to 
recruit organizations despite a lack of clarity on the proposed constituency's 
future. EKPIZO joined us a short time ago, quite some time after the SIC's 
meeting with the Consumer Constituency's co-chairs. In addition, since Seoul we 
have prepared various Consumers Constituency briefing papers.  BB/HR say, "We 
remain committed to the principles and goals outlined in the revised Notice of 
Intent to Form and look forward to renewed and more effective outreach as soon 
as the [B]oard makes the decision to formalize the constituency's existence."

Commenting separately, Holly Raiche (HR) expands on the recruiting aspect of 
her support for the CC.  She says, "I am in the process of contacting other 
consumer organisations in the UK and Honk Kong, and I know other are doing the 
same elsewhere. As the organisaitons [sic] become aware of the potential impact 
of ICANN policies on the Internet, they become very interested in being 
involved in those policy debates. However, I am faced with the same issue each 
time I am asked how organisations can participate - it is difficult to ask 
organisations to join something that does not exist, particularly where support 
arrangements are not clear and membership not confirmed."

In supporting the CC proposal, ALAC says, "consumer and public interest groups 
must have a representative voice in the GNSO policy-making environment."  ALAC 
comments favorably on "the organizers' efforts to recruit additional 
organizations, including most recently the Greek consumer group EKPIZO, and to 
obtain formal commitments from those who have already expressed interest."  
ALAC notes, "Supporters of the Consumers Constituency include consumer 
organizations and consumer representatives in Australia, Belgium, Canada, 
Greece, Slovenia and the United States. ALAC says it, "strongly encourage[s] 
the Board to approve the Consumers Constituency so its organizers can continue 
to recruit new members to ensure the most solid foundation possible at this 
early stage of a constituencies' progress and give consumer and public interest 
groups a voice in the GNSO  policy development process."[1] <#_ftn1>

Submitting comments in her personal capacity as "an active consumer advocate", 
Cheryl Langon-Orr (CLO) supports the CC petition and characterizes it as "an 
important step forward in assuring a variety of platforms exist within ICANN 
and the GNSO where our interests and objectives can be properly forwarded and 
developed into policy and process outcomes."

In his personal capacity, Evan Leibovitch (EL) expresses support for the CC 
proposal. He says, "In my experience, consumer organizations have approached 
advocacy from a different perspective -- less theoretical and more 
results-driven than that of conventional civil society. As such, I believe it 
is important that ICANN empower this community as a discrete ICANN stakeholder 
group which may define common priorities, tactics and partnerships. Moreover, 
it will bring a much needed perspective directly within GNSO -- that of 
Internet end-users who depend upon a well-functioning domain name-space yet 
neither buy nor sell domains."  EL says, "In discussions within the North 
American Region of ICANN At-Large, I have observed that our participants have 
consistently encouraged ALAC's support of a new consumer constituency. In 
addition, I offer my own personal and enthusiastic endorsement. This can't 
happen soon enough."[2] <#_ftn2>

Rosemary Sinclair (RS) submitted comments that carefully relate the value of a 
new Consumers Constituency to the recent Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) 
document.  Noting her experiences with INTUG, ATUG, APECTEL and OECD-CISP, she 
notes that in the AOC, ICANN has made "key commitments" to "ensure that 
decisions made related to the global technical coordination of the DNS are made 
in the public interest and are accountable and transparent" and to "promote 
competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice in the DNS marketplace." She 
says, "The emphasis on 'public interest' in the AOC makes the development of 
effective public interest advocacy on consumer issues essential for the GNSO." 
She adds that "a formally established Consumer Constituency" would provide a 
structure within ICANN for work on those issues."

RS says delivering effectively on the AOC commitments "will require direct 
input from Consumer Representatives."  She says, "The formation of a Consumer 
Constituency within the NCSG in the GNSO is a very clear signal that [the] 
ICANN Board intends to and is able to meet these important commitments."  She 
notes, "The need for effective advocacy in ICANN policy development on behalf 
of consumers is growing. Consumers are relying on the Internet more and more 
for everyday transactions between themselves and community agencies, government 
services and businesses."  She says, "ICANN decisions must reflect the 
commercial interests of industry and the public interest concerns of consumers 
as users of the DNS."

Evaluating the stated mission and purpose of the proposed constituency, RS 
notes that, "The title 'Consumer Constituency' will provide a ready point of 
entry into ICANN for Consumer Organisations interested in ICANN issues such as 
the development of new generic and internationalized Domain Names, the security 
and stability of the DNS, competition, consumer trust and consumer choice." She 
agrees that, "the right 'home' for the Constituency [is] in the NCSG of the 

Addressing the membership proposal of the CC, RS says, "The Consumer 
Constituency Charter would have to be reviewed to ensure coherence with the 
overarching NCSG Charter when [it] is finalised."  She acknowledges "It is 
possible that some of the existing members of NCSG may wi[s]h to join the 
Consumer Constituency.

She says, "Once a Consumer Constituency is formally established in ICANN, it 
will be easier to introduce Consumer Groups to ICANN and vice versa."  She 
explains that, "at present ICANN presents an imponderable face to outsiders - 
particularly those just realising that participation in the Internet Community 
is a key role in the coming decade and organisations from countries where the 
tradition of Consumer interests is more recent."

RS says, "Constituency Recruitment activities will need support from ICANN due 
to the resource constraints and asymmetry that exists between the commercial 
and non-commercial groups in ICANN."  She says, "Australia provides a good 
model with government funding for an independently chartered organisation 


The ICANN Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input 
regarding the CC proposal and will move forward accordingly.

[1] <#_ftnref>  Since the comments were submitted to the forum by one of the CC 
proponents, AD asks "is it the norm for the co-chair of the proposed Consumer 
Constituency to be the one to send endorsement from the ALAC to the comment 
area."  AD says, "The ALAC chair offered her personal support, but did not pass 
on a formal  ALAC endorsement, so I wonder the extent to which this is an 
endorsement of the currently proposed charter.  Does the ALAC still have 
consensus on this proposal and have they approved Beau Brendler to speak in 
their name?"

[2] <#_ftnref>  Gareth Shearman also offered his support for the CC proposal 
without further elaboration.

Attachment: Consumers Constituency Public Forum Summary & Analysis (v2.0) Feb '10.doc
Description: Consumers Constituency Public Forum Summary & Analysis (v2.0) Feb '10.doc

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