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Internet Governance Project comments on proposed Noncommercial Stakeholder Group charter

  • To: gnso-stakeholder-charters@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Internet Governance Project comments on proposed Noncommercial Stakeholder Group charter
  • From: Brenden Kuerbis <bkuerbis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 12:09:16 -0400

To whom it may concern:

The Internet Governance Project <http://internetgovernance.org> is an
alliance of academics that puts expertise in international affairs,
political science, information technology, public policy, economics,
and other fields into practical action in global governance and
Internet policy.  The IGP is also a member of the Noncommercial Users
Constituency (NCUC).

We are writing to express 1) opposition to the revised Noncommercial
Stakeholder Group (NCSG) charter proposal <footnote 1> prepared by the
ICANN policy staff and Board's Structural Improvements Committee
(SIC), and 2) support for the original NCSG charter proposal <footnote
2>, which was developed in an inclusive and transparent manner by the
NCUC, and supported by over 80 civil society organizations and
individuals in a previous public comment period.

Our position is grounded in two arguments, one substantive, the other

Substantively, the central problem of the ICANN staff/SIC revised NCSG
charter is the primacy it affords Constituencies in the structure of
the NCSG.  Organizing the NCSG and allocating Councillor seats by
Constituency is inimical to consensus based policy making and is to
the detriment of noncommercial interest representation within the
GNSO's policy development process.  It will result in constant
political lobbying by Constituencies, rather than focusing on policy
development work. The original NCSG charter proposed by NCUC
recognized this, and sought to avoid it entirely by creating a
simplified NCSG structure where Constituencies can freely form as
desired thereby protecting minority viewpoints, but its Councillors
are selected directly by the entire Membership. Unsurprisingly, this
simpler, more efficient structural form, first promoted by the NCUC,
has been adopted by the Registry and Registrar stakeholder group
charter proposals. However, only in the case of the revised
Noncommercial Stakeholder Group charter proposal did the ICANN policy
staff/SIC remove it in its entirety without explanation.

Procedurally, it is plainly apparent that ICANN policy staff and the
SIC ignored previous public comment in developing its NCSG charter
proposal.  It is true that ICANN is not bound to recognize any public
comments submitted in a proceeding, as is the case in traditional
government regulatory institutions (e.g., under the APA in the United
States).  However, ICANN's power to regulate, in part, stems from the
public's willingness to accept it as a legitimate governance
institution. It is in ICANN's own interest to honestly support
bottom-up processes of decision making, similar to other Internet
governance institutions like the Regional Internet Registries and the
Internet Engineering Task Force.  By blithely ignoring public comment,
ICANN imperils its own legitimacy in the eyes of the public and its

In light of these concerns, we ask that ICANN immediately drop its
attempt to impose its revised NCSG charter proposal, and instead
reinstate the original Noncommercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) charter
proposal submitted by the NCUC for consideration by the Board.

Respectfully submitted,

Brenden Kuerbis
Syracuse University, School of Information Studies

Dr Jeanette Hofmann
London School of Economics and Political Science
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)

Dr Michel van Eeten
Delft University of Technology

Dr Lee McKnight
Syracuse University, School of Information Studies

Dr John Mathiason
Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship

Dr Milton Mueller
Syracuse University, School of Information Studies
Delft University of Technology

Dr Hans Klein
Hertie School of Governance (Berlin)
Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy

Dr Derrick Cogburn
American University, School of International Service
Syracuse University, School of Information Studies

<footnote 1> 

<footnote 2> http://gnso.icann.org/en/improvements/ncsg-petition-charter.pdf

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