Comments on the draft ToR for the ALAC Review
please accept my comments to the draft Terms of Reference for the ALAC Review. They are offered in individual capacity and do not represent anyone but me. I think I should also disclose for the record that I have been a member of the ALAC since its inception, and its Chair for over three years, and currently liaise for it to the ICANN Board.
The ToR as drafted are generally agreeable and comprehensive; they carefully cover all known or supposed weak points of the current structure and will without doubt give way to a thorough and demanding investigation. I have some minor suggestions that you might want to consider.
About the rationale, in part I, considering question 4, I think that it would be worth studying as well a symmetric question such as "To what extent has ICANN listened to the advice related to the interests of individual Internet users provided by the ALAC?".
On question 9, I note that a number of other ways already exist for users to provide advice to ICANN, for example public comment periods, public forums, remote participation devices. The unique functions of the ALAC in the ICANN structure are to collate this advice into either collective recommendations, or the statement of the different positions; and to advocate appropriate consideration for such advice. Even if this is not explicitly written in the mission, it is implicit in the choice of having a specific committee rather than just an open email address for general comments. This considered, I would suggest to amend question 9 as "What other ways exist to provide, consider, and advocate advice..."
On question 10, I would note that recommendation #19 of the LSE GNSO Review, as explained in paragraph 4.35, suggests to create a "civil society" constituency in the GNSO, "including the current Non-Commercial Users Constituency, but also ordinary domain holders, and possibly individuals currently represented via the At Large Advisory Committee of ICANN". In other words, as it is written, it says that the new GNSO constituency should include individuals as well, but it does not say, per se, that merging the ALAC and the NCUC is the appropriate way to do that - for example, you might simply allow individuals to join both structures. You should rephrase the question, and perhaps break it in two parts:
- one related to the LSE recommendation, such as "Is it appropriate, as recommended by the LSE GNSO Review, to involve the At-Large community in one GNSO constituency, and if so, how?" (though the "how?" part of the question would fit better in part II);
- one related to the more generic problem of "civil society" participation, such as "What should be the role and relationships of the ALAC in respect to other constituencies which might share similar interests and partly overlap, such as individual registrants and NGOs?"
Finally, in this section I would find appropriate an additional question such as "What kind of added value does the regionalized and distributed structure of the ALAC/RALO/ALS system bring to ICANN?". I personally think that this is both a significant element of cost and complexity that needs specific review, and one of the most important and valuable contributions to ICANN by the At-Large.
Moving to part II, on question 15, "Why are all RALOs not yet established?" could be misread as implying that no RALO has been established yet (that's how I read it initially...). Anyway, given that four of them are finally there, I would suggest to point the question at the real problem, and rewrite it as "Why has a North American RALO not been established yet?".
On question 18, the premise of the question - "Given that..." - seems to imply that the ALAC has more weight than other constituencies in the decisions of the NomCom, due to the fact that it appoints a significant number of NomCom members. However, NomCom members are appointed on a personal basis and do not act on behalf of whoever appointed them. The ALAC has never tried to use its NomCom appointees to influence specific appointments, as it would have been highly inappropriate to do so. While it is appropriate, if you like, to wonder how the number of ALAC appointees to the NomCom influences the NomCom decisions (though I'd see that more suitable for the NomCom review), sincerely I find it somewhat defamating - to the NomCom, to the ALAC and to the integrity of the individual ALAC appointees to the NomCom - to imply that the ALAC has more weight than anyone else in the individual appointments. So I would remove the entire question.
On questions 25 and 26, while one would welcome any good suggestion to that regard, I think that the internal organization and division of labour should be a matter for the ALAC itself, rather than for ICANN to prescribe anything about that.
On question 38, I would note that direct involvement of ALSes and RALOs in the individual decisions of the Committee is only one of the possible ways to ensure that such decisions reflect the views of the At-Large community. In fact, in some cases such involvement might prevent the ALAC from giving timely responses and thus make its actions totally ineffective. I would rephrase the question as "How does the ALAC ensure that their advice reflects the views of the At-Large community, while fitting into ICANN's procedures and timelines?".
I thank you for your consideration and remain available for clarifications if necessary.
Kind regards, -- vb. Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu <-------- --------> finally with a new website at http://bertola.eu/ <--------