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Summary Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - Role of Individual Internet Users in the GNSO

  • To: "gnso-users@xxxxxxxxx" <gnso-users@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - Role of Individual Internet Users in the GNSO
  • From: Robert Hoggarth <robert.hoggarth@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2008 11:08:18 -0800

Summary and analysis of public comments for:

The Role of Individual Internet Users in the GNSO

Comment period ended: 28 November 2008

Summary published: 1 December 2008

Prepared by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


The ICANN Board asked for additional community input on the appropriate role 
and representation of individual commercial and non-commercial Internet users 
in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Faced with a number of 
different recommendations stemming from various independent reviews and GNSO 
and user-community group efforts, the Board continues to consider this issue 
and believes that comments from the community, especially stakeholders in the 
GNSO, ALAC and At-Large groups, and any relevant applicants for new 
constituencies, would be particularly helpful.

The GNSO Improvements process, currently in the implementation phase and under 
active Board consideration, is driving the urgency of this issue. Failure to 
resolve this matter could adversely affect implementation of the GNSO Council 
restructuring effort and could have wider implications regarding other GNSO 
improvements and the review of other ICANN structures.

In recognition of these implications, the ICANN Board resolved at its 1 October 
2008 meeting to continue community dialogue on this subject. The Board 
resolution states:

It is, Resolved (2008.10.01.14), The Board requests additional community 
dialogue and input on the appropriate role and representation of individual 
Internet users, including individual commercial and non-commercial Internet 
users, in the GNSO. Input from the GNSO, the ALAC and At-Large community, and 
any relevant applicants for new constituencies, would be particularly helpful 
and should address the inclusion of registrants and individual users in the 
GNSO in a manner that compliments the ALAC and its supporting structures, and 
ensures that registrants' and individual Internet users' gTLD interests are 
effectively represented within the GNSO.

In response to the Board's request, the ICANN Staff opened a 30-day public 
consultation forum and invited community comments. Potential commenters were 
asked to consider addressing the inclusion of registrants and individual users 
in the GNSO in a manner that compliments the ALAC and its supporting structures 
and ensures that registrants' and individual Internet users' gTLD interests are 
effectively represented within the GNSO. A summary document was prepared by the 
ICANN Staff to provide background on this issue. It outlined a number of 
potential options being considered by the Board.  A copy of that document is 
available at 


As of the 28 November deadline, a total of 12 community submissions have been 
made to this comment forum. Four (4) of those submissions were on topics 
unrelated to the specific matter at hand. The eight (8) on-point contributions, 
are listed below in alphabetical order (with relevant abbreviations/initials 
noted in parentheses) :

Maxine Bellet
Vittorio Bertola (VB)
Phil Corwin for the Internet Commerce Association (ICA)
Eric Dierker (ED)
Colleen Hitchcock
Alan Levin (AL)
Milton Mueller (MM)
John Nino R. Eslit
Mike O'Connor (MOC)
Joop Teernstra (JT)
Liana Ye  (LY)


This summary is intended to broadly and comprehensively outline 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 
refer directly to the specific contributions.

The vast majority of the comments in this proceeding support a significant role 
for individual users in the GNSO system of governance and it is notable that 
all the comments except from ICA appeared to be submitted by individuals in 
their individual capacities.  The various comments focused on four primary 
areas (1) reactions to the new GNSO structure, (2) the creation of a User or 
Registrant Constituency in the GNSO, (3) the respective roles of ALAC and the 
NCUC, and (4) the challenges of individual user recruitment and participation 

1.   Comments on The GNSO Structure

The ICA has "serious concerns" regarding whether the bicameral approach adopted 
for the GNSO will "institutionalize division and make it more difficult to 
reach consensus positions within the overall ICANN community." In that context, 
the ICA believes the addition of major new alterations in the role of 
individual users within the GNSO and the ICANN community at large can only add 
to uncertainty and make the transitional process more problematic. ICA believes 
that the general approach taken by ICANN should be one of cautious and 
incremental change to avoid the introduction of even greater uncertainty and 

AL says the restructured GNSO Council is itself too complicated for individuals 
to understand and agrees with the Board Governance Committee (BGC) 
recommendation limiting GNSO membership to registrants - not a more expanded 
definition of individual Internet users who are otherwise represented by the 

The ICA "partially" endorses the recommendation of the Report of the Working 
Group on GNSO Council Restructuring (WG-GCR) that the non-contract portion of 
the GNSO be open to membership of all interested parties that use or provide 
services on the Internet, with the effect of permitting greater participation 
by individual Internet users.  But ICA believes this expansion should only 
include individual users with a commercial interest
in ICANN activities.

Overall, ICA says it supports allowing for greater GNSO participation by both
non-commercial organizations and individual commercial Internet users, without
altering the fundamental divisions between the GNSO and the ALAC.

2.   The Creation of a Users or Registrant Constituency in the GNSO

VB says the Board should publicly encourage the formation of an individual gTLD
registrants constituency in the GNSO.  He says non-registrants and the general 
public should continue to be represented by an AC like the ALAC.

MM says it  "makes no sense" to create an "individual's constituency" because 
individuals per se have extremely diverse viewpoints and economics interests. 
MM says it is "false and undesirable" for any collection of individuals to set 
itself up as "the" voice of individual Internet users. Rather, he says, 
individuals can join and take positions within a constituency or, under the new 
stakeholder group model, they can form new constituencies that reflect specific 
policy positions (e.g., a privacy constituency, a Latin American constituency, 

ED calls for the formalization of the ICANN General Assembly as a means to 
serve the interests of individual Internet users in ICANN.  ED says if the GA 
were provided with a secure voting system for internal matters and polling for 
matters to be shown externally it would "provide invaluable insight and 
contributions to ICANN's purpose."  ED notes that the GA has tried to self 
organize in the past without success.  He says ICANN must provide a good 
reasonable structure and the necessary tools "to allow some order to come from 
the Chaos of the individuals so that they may provide you with some credible 
and usable consensual input or output."

AL also believes that individuals who may not yet be Internet users also 
require some representation at ICANN and that they are best represented through 
the ALAC.

JT reminds the Board that an application for an Individual Users' 
Representation on the old DNSO Council was submitted back in 1999. JT 
recommends that the Board (1) make a public commitment to recognize "a real 
Registrant Constituency" as part of the GNSO; (2) provide a budget to promote 
Registrant Constituency membership and (3) allow elected representatives to sit 
on the GNSO Council as paid professionals.

LY proposes that ICANN create an organizational model in which the organization 
hires communication specialists to work in "language areas."  These individuals 
would be permanent employees of ICANN responsible for "filtering" user 
suggestions, complaints, and questions of all kinds. These individuals would 
act as  "tutors of the Internet" with knowledge of at least one language in 
addition to English. They would express their own opinions to clarify issues of 
complexity in various cultural, personal or technology fields.

3.   The Respective Roles of ALAC and the NCUC

According to MM, very few individual Internet users will be able to actively 
participate in both ALAC and GNSO, as both groups can be very demanding. 
However, MM says individuals who can manage to do that, or who want to switch 
from one to the other to follow specific issues and controversies, should be 
able to do so. MM says getting individuals directly involved in the GNSO does 
not detract from ALAC's ability to serve as a more generalized host for the 
organization and representation of individual Internet users worldwide. He says 
ALAC can do many things that GNSO cannot, such as appoint more people to the 
Nominating Committee and participating in non-domain name issues such as IP 
addressing, etc.

VB's comments also support the continued role of an Advisory Committee to 
maintain a direct connection with the Board of Directors for individual users 
of the Internet.

AL agrees that the GNSO should work with the ALAC, the broader At-Large 
community (and any new "non-commercial" constituencies the Board may approve) 
to jointly develop for Board approval an implementation plan for the initial 
composition of a Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group that does not duplicate the 
ALAC and its supporting structures, yet ensures that the individual Internet 
user's gTLD interests are effectively represented within the GNSO.

The ICA believes that the ALAC remains the proper body for representation of
non-commercial individual users and that those users should remain outside the
GNSO framework. The ICA says it has no objection to the creation of a 
comprehensive Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group, as envisioned in the BGC WG 
Report, that would represent the interests in gTLD policy of a wide range of 
non-commercial entities and that would include, but extend beyond, the current 
parameters of the NCUC.

4.    Challenges of Individual User Recruitment and Participation in ICANN:

MOC notes that only part of the answer lies in the structure of individual user 
participation in the GNSO.  He says the eventual success is likely to lie in 
the positive and rewarding support ICANN provides to participants in that 
structure. To address that concern he suggests that ICANN focus on three major 

(1)  Provide a clear "value proposition" for prospective participants - MOC 
notes that the costs of participation in ICANN for an individual can range from 
USD $5,000 to USD $20,000 a year and thus a case for individual participation 
must be "compelling" to encourage attendance and meaningful individual 

(2)  Provide clear paths to meaningful participation - perhaps through the new 
working group process adopted by the Board; and

(3)  Support success - by offering "positive rewards" for helpful contributions 
rather than the current "well-developed system of punishments for mistakes." 
Again, MOC believes the new working-group process may provide opportunities for 

MM says that people get involved in ICANN based on personal or organizational 
connections. This leads them into ICANN from multiple paths. If an individual 
can get involved in ICANN via the GNSO, the Board should leverage that and not 
try to force people into a single channel which will only reduce the number of 
people who get involved.

MM notes that the NCUC has long supported easier access for individuals to get 
involved in the GNSO. He says that starting in July 2008, the NCUC initiated a 
provisional individual membership plan that allows individuals to join the NCUC 
as long as they are not already members of other constituencies and that in a 
few months NCUC membership increased by 30%. The reason is that many people who 
are interested in GNSO issues cannot get their organization to formally join, 
or cannot get their organization to formally designate them as the 
organization's representative. He believes that commercial stakeholder groups 
should follow the same path, and make it easy for individual consultants, 
domainers, etc to join the commercial GNSO groups.


In its 1 October Resolution, the ICANN Board of Directors seemed intent upon 
resolving this issue as expeditiously and practicably as possible in order to 
permit the GNSO Improvements implementation process to proceed effectively and 
efficiently with clear guidance to the community.  In addition to summarizing 
the comments in this forum, the ICANN staff will collect relevant previous 
community comments made on this issue in a variety of public comment and forum 
periods. The Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input and 
move forward with guidance for the community as soon as practicably possible.

Attachment: Summary-Analysis of Community Comments On Role of Individual Internet Users in GNSO 30 November 2008.doc
Description: Summary-Analysis of Community Comments On Role of Individual Internet Users in GNSO 30 November 2008.doc

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