Electronic Frontiers Austalia comments on NCSG charter
I am writing to ask for rejection of the current NCSG charter proposal, and reconsideration of the NCUC proposed charter. Forcing creation of constituencies within the Non-Commercial area, and forcing constituency based voting, forces a highly artificial silo model on an already adequately functioning constituency, and creates not only artificial competition for resources and artificial administrative blocks to effective representation, but more worrying empowers minority constituencies above those with a broader base and more cooperative attitude. Thus it artificially acts to reward those seeking to game the system by creating constituencies, rather than those who choose to engage in broad consensus debate on the policy issues. This is nonsensical, and a recipe for disaster - a system that disproportionately empowers the small and isolated groups above the large and cooperative groups is obviously a recipe to empower extremist views, but this is exactly what the major role for the constituency based EC does in the current proposal. This is not an abstract problem, but rather, one that is clearly already in danger of taking place, and explicitly advocated by those pushing for a constituency based approach. It is understood that a broad range of different types of non-commercial organisations actively involved in the ICANN policy process is desirable, and that separate constituencies may best represent some groups with similar policy interests (and the role of multiple constituencies is part of the NCUC developed charter proposal). But the role of such multiple constituencies cannot be imposed by administrative fiat, but rather should genuinely emerge from policy discussions. Within other stakeholder groups, it is often easy to separate different constituencies on formal grounds, in terms of the form of their contractual relationship to ICANN or similar, and it can be reasonably assumed that the nature of such contractual relationships with ICANN will naturally create constituencies with similar concerns. This does not apply to non-commercial users. Proposed membership of the NCSG is determined negatively, it is defined by what its users are not rather than by what they are. As a result, the NCSG contains a very wide variety of organisations with a wide range of interests within the NGSO policy process. There are not inherent structural lines that form natural constituencies. As a result, dividing NCSG into constituencies would result in constituencies formed not on structural grounds, but on policy grounds. Confusing representative and policy roles is a classic mistake, but one that this NCSG proposed charter would lock in to NCSG working. Creating administrative lock in for such policy divisions is very poor governance, creating artificial incentives to highlight policy divisions. In short, I would argue that the NCSG is inherently less suited to the constituency based silo model suggested in the proposed ICANN charter, and is likely to artificially created divisions, and hinder consensus, and gives incentives to game the system, and rewards groups for falling outside consensus. A more fluid model of constituencies such as suggested in the NCUC proposed charter, in which constituencies arise naturally as a result of the policy process, is far more desirable. In short, Electronic Frontiers Australia opposes the current NCSG charter draft, and considers it likely to create in poor governance of the SG if it continues in its current form.
Regards David Cake Electronic Frontiers Australia