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Freedom to Innovate South Africa response

  • To: gnso-stakeholder-charters@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Freedom to Innovate South Africa response
  • From: Andrew Rens <andrewrens@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 18:05:57 +0200


Thank you for this opportunity to communicate on the stakeholder group
charter. Freedom to Innovate South Africa (FTISA) is an incorporated
(section 21) non profit organisation in South Africa, dedicated to ensuring
freedom to innovate in Africa. We engage in a wide variety of forums to
represent the interests of civil society in South Africa on the norms and
standards which govern ICT. A number of civil society organisations with
whom we work closely, including the African Commons Project have engaged in
the process of creating the NCSG Charter. It has come to our attention that
ICANN has signalled an intention to ignore the NCSG charter drafted by a
wide range of civil society organisations from across the planet, and
submitted to ICANN in March 2009.

This move would undermine the legitimacy of ICANN, especially in the
developing world, for reasons of both process and the ultimate structure.
The process of engagement with ICANN is an extremely costly one for
developing world civil society, since there are so many other calls on
extremely limited resources. To have a such process set aside by fiat calls
into question the commitment of ICANN to consultative processes. The
suggested structure to be put in place instead permits civil society to
participate only through silo's which will render civil society
participation ineffective. We understand that the proponents of such an
approach are various commercial service providers which provide domain name
services, whose capacity to engage in multiple fora far outstrips the
resources of developing world civil society organisations.

For ICANN to adopt a structure which effectively mutes civil society is not
only disturbing in itself, it does nothing to allay criticisms of ICANN as
already embarked on an agenda driven by certain multinational corporations
based in the global North. It also undermines efforts by a number of
organisations in the developing world which have advocated engagement with
ICANN in the face of considerable scepticism. Appropriate participation of
civil society in ICANN is an absolute minimum requirement for civil society
organisations advocating engagement with ICANN, rather than the construction
of alternative organisations by developing world governments suggested by
some critics. In the NCSG Charter ICANN has a model of such participation.
Adopt it.

on behalf of FTISA,
Andrew Rens, Director

Freedom to Innovate South Africa

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