Summary and Analysis of Public Comments for: Revised gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group Petition
Summary and Analysis of Public Comments for: Revised gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group Petition Comment period ended: 10 June 2009 Summary published: 15 June 2009 Prepared by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director I. BACKGROUND As part of the comprehensive GNSO Improvements effort, last August the ICANN Board approved the formation of four new Stakeholder Groups (SGs), including the gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG). These SG structures represent a new concept for the GNSO that was envisioned by the Board Governance Committee GNSO Review Working Group On GNSO Improvements (BGC WG). In endorsing the recommendations of the BGC WG's GNSO Improvements Report <http://www.icann.org/en/topics/gnso-improvements/> , the Board approved the creation of SGs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of GNSO Council operations. Specifically: "To help the Council reach its full potential, ICANN should ensure that this body is inclusive and representative of the broad interests found among the GNSO constituencies and other stakeholders, while limiting its size to enhance its effectiveness and promote efficiency. Balancing all of these factors, and cognizant of the limitations of the current structure pointed out by the [London School of Economics] report, we recommend a reorganized Council that has the potential to be more representative, agile and collegial. Our recommendation is to structure the Council on the basis of four broad stakeholder groups to represent better the wide variety of groups and individuals that compose the ICANN community." GNSO Improvements Report at page 31. The Report continued, "We want to emphasize that a new non-commercial Stakeholders Group must go far beyond the membership of the current Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC). We must consider educational, research, and philanthropic organizations, foundations, think tanks, members of academia, individual registrant groups and other noncommercial organizations, as well as individual registrants, as part of a non-commercial registrants Stakeholders Group. We also want to point out that the effort to have a balance within ICANN between commercial and non-commercial registrants reflects only a sense of equity. We welcome ongoing efforts to forge a stronger partnership between the international business community and ICANN, and would be surprised if Council restructuring were to be viewed as an impediment. On the contrary, we believe that an improved Council will yield concrete benefits for business and other stakeholders. In addition, all stakeholder groups and the constituencies that form them will be expected to conduct greater outreach and seek to recruit a broader, more diverse membership." GNSO Improvements Report at page 32. The BGC WG did not specify a particular formal structure or hierarchy, but it specifically noted that, "The stakeholder groups may function only as a 'caucus,' bringing together like-minded stakeholders to elect representatives to the Council who can represent them. This structure would be fluid enough to accommodate new constituencies or the formation of new interest groups. It will be important for the implementation team to consider how to implement this flexibility within the overall stakeholder structure set forth in these recommendations. Our goal is definitely not to create a new layer of bureaucracy, as we heard concerns about at the San Juan Meeting. Alternatively, if the GNSO believes it is desirable, the four stakeholder groups could take on additional functions, such as trying to coordinate and document positions on policy development questions." GNSO Improvements Report at page 33. The BGC envisioned that Stakeholder Groups would facilitate the creation of new constituencies as well as the growth and expansion of GNSO participants in the policy development process. It noted that, "One advantage of this new model for organizing stakeholder participation is to remove concern that the addition of new constituencies or interest groups could create an internal imbalance in the current composition of the Council. By creating four broad stakeholder groups, the number of constituencies is less important and can increase (or decrease) with time. Indeed, it would be inconsistent with ICANN's processes to try to limit arbitrarily the number of constituencies that people could self-form. Making it easier to form a new constituency can also address any obstacles people perceive in joining existing constituencies. Overall, this approach can encourage the participation of more people in the GNSO. Many details, of course, remain to be worked out concerning the new stakeholder structure for the Council, including the role of constituencies and/or interest groups within them. As noted earlier, we welcome the GNSO working with Staff to develop the appropriate Implementation Plan." GNSO Improvements Report at page 33. A diagram of the restructured GNSO Council structure, showing the context of all four (4) new Stakeholder Groups, including the RySG, can be found at: http://gnso.icann.org/en/improvements/structure-en.htm. II. GENERAL COMMENTS and CONTRIBUTORS As of the 10 June 2009 deadline, only one comment had been made to this comment forum. The commenter was George Kirikos. III. SUMMARY & ANALYSIS In opposing the RySG Petition and Charter, Mr. Kirikos reiterated a theme of "transparency" that he shared in comments submitted in connection with the renewal of existing GNSO Constituency charters (see GNSO Constituency Renewals 2009 Forum <http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200902.html#gnso-constituency-renewals> ). He said, the RySG should maintain public mailing list archives, public budgets and public membership lists. He said meetings should also be archived in MP3 format, and ideally be accompanied by transcripts. Mr. Kirikos suggested that as part of the GNSO Toolkit, "ICANN staff might want to consider electronic voting software such as from www.bigpulse.com for all stakeholder groups and/or constituencies." He noted that proposed RySG membership fees "do not seem to be based on any model as to costs, and seem arbitrary and excessive." He said, "Given any secretariat duties should be tendered to the lowest cost provider, or perhaps even handled via ICANN's GNSO Toolkit, thought should be given to making the membership fees as close to zero as possible, in order to maximize the membership (and thus the representativeness of the group)." Finally, Mr. Kirikos asserted that instead of a "Secretariat" as defined in the RySG proposed charter, "there should be an *elected* position of Secretary, an officer, elected by and from members." IV. NEXT STEPS In addition to the comment in this forum, the Staff will collect relevant community comments made on this issue in other public forums including those held during the ICANN Sydney Meeting. The ICANN Board of Directors will subsequently review the Staff's analysis and comments on the submissions. The Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input and move forward with a decision on the proposed charter as soon as practicably possible.