[ALAC] ALAC & At-Large involvement in GNSO activities

JJS jjs.global at gmail.com
Sat Feb 9 05:08:36 UTC 2013

*Dear Alan & All,*
*like others on the ALAC, I am humbled by your dedication, Alan, in
promoting the interest of the general Internet user. Your experience with
the GNSO is of great value, your analyses have helped nurture awareness
within ALAC and At-Large, and your recommendations have always been
balanced, workable. The insights you have provided amount to a precious
guide to policy development. What you Alan, and others like Cheryl, Evan
and Carlton have done, provided perspective to the newcomer to the ALAC,
when I arrived in late 2010.*
*I would like to connect Alan's long and instructive message to a
discussion going on elsewhere, about the "At-Large Report of the GNSO WG on
Consumer Trust, Consumer Choice, and Competition Workspace". Such a
conjunction prompts me to offer a few remarks:*
*- First, a sociological overview. Since its inception, At-Large and the
ALAC emerged as a top-down response to a strong demand for recognition of
the importance of the user perspective. As commercial interests became more
weighty in ICANN, it became obvious that a new balance had to be struck. It
is this awareness of inadequate representation of the general user which
led the ALAC Review to strongly recommend the inclusion of a user-community
member on the Board, with voting rights.*
*- Second, there is a lesson to be learned from this pattern of evolution.
In the early stages, the ALAC had to prove its "worthiness" by taking up a
more significant share of the community task of providing input to the
Board and reacting to its initiatives. And this was ably done during
Cheryl's tenure as Chair. By the same token, when the ALAC Review
recommended that the Board welcome in its midst a person designated by the
ALAC, that move was finally successful because it was presented as a
recognition of progress already achieved, but also as an "act of faith" (I
remember using the term) in the ALAC's ability to evolve even further. In a
word, the allocation of a voting member seat on the Board marked the
closure of a phase of recognition, and put a seal on the ALAC's legitimacy.
This was the context at the time when Olivier was elected as Chair, and his
leadership has accelerated this progress.*
*- Third, I posit that the period before us is quite unlike the previous
one. In the past, gaining acceptance as an AC has sometimes required us to
relinquish inconvenient principles for the benefit of short-term
practicality. But the challenge the ALAC now faces is quite different: how
to effectively introduce, or better acclimatize, the fundamental notion of
the global public interest, in an organization where commercial interests,
the lawyer class, and the satellites gravitating around them, have gained a
dominant position. This is not to say that the latter are illegitimate; but
it is a question of setting the balance right.*
*- Fourth, if my analysis is not completely wrong, I would suggest that the
ALAC can now afford to concentrate on wider issues, on fostering principles
which may have been neglected, while at the same time pursuing its valuable
work on responding to the Board and neighbours in the ACs and SOs. I admit
this is an important choice, but I believe now is the right time to
formulate the question squarely, and to act accordingly.*
*Best regards,*

2013/2/9 Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca>

> This is a long message, but please take the time to read it.
> This is my seventh year as the ALAC Liaison to the GNSO. It has
> always been a challenge, and has at times been exciting, frustrating,
> productive, discouraging and often satisfying. And I have learnt far
> more on so many levels than I could even start to recount here.
> I take some pride at having initiated two PDPs on behalf of the ALAC,
> and seen them through to create new ICANN policy. One, domain
> tasting, was so successful at killing a distasteful practice that
> most people no longer even remember what it was. The other on
> post-expiration registrant rights was successful in that the
> resultant policy gives registrants some rights to renew gTLD
> accidentally expired domains where they previously had no rights at
> all, but the results were not quite at the level that we had hoped
> for, to some extent due to the limited involvement of At-Large
> throughout the process.
> I, along with Cheryl when her busy schedule has allowed, have been
> regular participants in quite a number of GNSO activities, both
> policy and administrative. Others such as Evan and Carlton have made
> their voices heard as well, and more recently we have seen a few
> others start to participate.
> This note is prompted by a number of issues.
> First, it hopefully will come as no surprise that I do not intend to
> hold the role of ALAC Liaison to the GNSO for Life. It is therefore
> increasingly important to have more people knowledgeable about the
> GNSO and active in its activities, so that when a new Liaison is
> required, the ALAC will have good options for my replacement.
> Second, for several years, the GNSO spent far more time than perhaps
> it should have on its re-organization and reformulation of all of its
> procedures and methodologies. These changes were mandated by the
> Board and the GNSO had little choice but to carry out the re-org, but
> that has now largely been completed. What was a slow trickle of
> policy work when the focus was on administration is now becoming a
> flood. There are currently several PDPs active and more coming down
> the pipe (I am participating in three of them, and I am a vice-chair
> of one). In addition, the GNSO is under increasing pressure to
> develop policy through other means, and neither the community nor the
> Board is comfortable with policy development taking years. The net
> effect is that the work going on at any time is growing, and there is
> pressure to get the work done faster. If At-Large is to be able to
> influence these efforts, it MUST get involved from the very start.
> And it will take a lot more than one or two people. Issuing comments
> and advice at the end of the process is simply not going to allow us
> to properly influence policy outcomes.
> Lastly, the overall character of many discussions in ICANN is
> changing. When I started, the "public interest" was a phrase that
> showed up in an obscure way in the ICANN Bylaws and was rarely
> mentioned. Users who did not register domain names were generally not
> considered to be a factor in decisions. With increased ALAC
> visibility and the Affirmation of Commitment, that has changed. A
> lot! As the one part of ICANN to have the interest of the billions of
> Internet users as its core mission, ALAC and At-Large have an
> opportunity to help drive ICANN in a direction that indeed serves the
> public interest. But we can only do that if we are actively and
> intensely involved in activities outside of our little corner of
> ICANN. We need to be out there, participating and helping to
> formulate the policies that we believe WILL benefit the public
> interest and Internet users. And we need to have the credibility so
> that when we do engage, people listen.
> I will soon put together a list of ongoing GNSO activities as well as
> those that may be starting soon. For a few ongoing activities, it is
> probably too late for new people to get involved. For others, getting
> involved now will be an interesting learning experience. And as new
> projects start up, there will be lots of new opportunities.
> I am prepared to work with anyone who has a true interest in becoming
> active in GNSO policy activities. Some of these topics are complex
> and will take work to understand and eventually to contribute. Others
> will be far easier. But in all cases, helping to formulate GOOD
> policy will be both satisfying and productive.
> Alan
> (also being sent to the At-Large list)
> _______________________________________________
> ALAC mailing list
> ALAC at atlarge-lists.icann.org
> https://atlarge-lists.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/alac
> At-Large Online: http://www.atlarge.icann.org
> ALAC Working Wiki:
> https://community.icann.org/display/atlarge/At-Large+Advisory+Committee+(ALAC)

More information about the ALAC mailing list