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Comments on the draft ToR for the ALAC Review

  • To: alac-review-tor@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comments on the draft ToR for the ALAC Review
  • From: Vittorio Bertola <vb@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2007 12:13:09 +0200

Dear Committee,

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

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/  <--------

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