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

Alan Greenberg 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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