[At-Large] ALAC & At-Large involvement in GNSO activities
alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Fri Feb 8 16:05:24 UTC 2013
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.
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