[At-Large] Say Whut!

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Dec 14 12:24:43 UTC 2018

A lot of this conversation has devolved into a defence of ALSs, and I am
hoping that that is not the sole focus on comment (positive or negative) on
my larger point. The organizations that are ALSs can and should play a
great role in Internet governance, and can produce some of our best
policymakers and advocates. It is not a coincidence that so many of them
are ISOC chapters, a fact that provides another nexus of participation in

However, I am asserting that dependence on the RALO/ALS infrastructure by
ICANN as the source and destination for ALAC interaction with the world's
end users is absolutely futile.

Let's do the math.

By ICANN's own count
<https://community.icann.org/display/atlarge/At-Large+Structures>, only one
third of the world's countries have at least one ALS. But do the numbers
even deeper. Assume an average membership of 5,000 for each of the 130
ALSs, which based on my observation is REALLY generous. The means a current
MAXIMUM reach of 650,000 people, assuming that all of them are engaged in
their ALS's ICANN activity.

ITU estimates the number of Internet users at 3.2 billion, meaning that
assuming 100% ALS engagement  (which, let's face it, we are nowhere near)
ALAC could be speaking to and hearing from AT MOST 0.02% of the Internet's

Not only is that number really small, but that 0.02% is not the mainstream
of users. ALSs are self-selected as having an interest in ICANN and/or
Internet governance. These groups already have something of a clue about
the issues by virtue of their interest. The *MASSIVE* challenge is to reach
people who are significantly impacted by the tech and the policy *yet
neither are nor should be involved in IG directly*. I am asserting that
ALAC's challenge is to get the this *uninvolved world's* *informed opinion*.

The "*informed*" part means that we need to get useful information out
there, and by that I don't mean just being another channel for ICANN
propaganda, I mean the information WE determine that the public needs to
know even if that knowledge is ignored, hidden by or embarrassing to ICANN
(and there's lots of that). ICANN has a broad communications and PR network
and that's a good place to start.

The "*opinion*" part means going WELL beyond canvassing ALSs, by that I
mean occasional big scale Nielson/Ipsos type global surveys of the public
mood, within the general public that day to day doesn't (and shouldn't need
to) give a damn about ICANN or the DNS. One can have useful and necessary
opinions about what's wrong with the local highway system without being a
road planner, traffic police or auto mechanic.

Looking at this as a RALO/ALS project is thinking WAY too small for ALAC to
be effective in truly representing the public interest to ICANN. We need to
reach out to a global audience of Internet users who will never even think
of owning a domain yet is impacted every day by the decisions made at ICANN
meetings. Abuse, confusion, speculation, the difference between gTLDs and
ccTLDs, how to complain, user's rights, etc. There is plenty of information
that ALAC may determine is useful to the public good that ICANN -- with its
emphasis on the domain-name money path -- may not deem important. Then ALAC
can determine the questions for the surveys, even if honest answers will be
embarrassing. In the interest of transparency this is a huge missing piece
of ICANN's pretence of multi-stakeholderism, and this feedback gives ALAC
huge insight regarding what really matters to the public and where ALAC's
focus should lie.

Does the PUBLIC feel that a new round gTLDs are in its interest? Would it
help or hurt their use of the Internet? Wouldn't that actually be really
useful to know? Wouldn't this input give ALAC the gravitas needed when we
wants to intervene in ICANN in a way that counters the industry inertia?
Even the GAC doesn't have that.

It's not that ALSs (and even RALOs) don't serve a useful purpose. They
don't serve THIS purpose as they are too inside the Internet Governance
bubble. We haven't done nearly enough to reach the opinions of the rest of
the world, and "outreach" efforts attract at best a slightly more-diverse
self-selected elite to the table. That's nowhere near enough and we need to
stop thinking within our little IG bubble.

ALAC desperately needs to escape that bubble for it to be relevant to


- Evan

On Thu, 13 Dec 2018 at 12:47, Marita Moll <mmoll at ca.inter.net> wrote:

> I would certainly echo Suzannah's point. Here in Ottawa we are also trying
> to build our community on the ground.  It is happening but slowly -- one
> person/group at a time. One just has to keep at it. But the ability to
> broaden our reach with technology is crucial. We don't have the funds to do
> a traveling road show. Not everyone is an ISOC chapter -- so ICANN needs to
> make tools like Livestream  available to all groups and individuals in At
> Large who are doing outreach.
> Marita
> On 12/13/2018 12:27 PM, Susannah Gray wrote:
> On 13/12/2018 00:51, Joly MacFie wrote:
> >  ALSes as a conduit to their members
> Slowly but surely, at least here in NYC, the Readout program appears
> fruitful in this aspect.
> - And in San Francisco. As an ALS (San Francisco Bay Area ISOC Chapter) we
> keep our members informed through the Readouts and through updates about
> key ICANN issues on our website/in the Chapter newsletters.
> However getting our members to actually participate is a tough call,
> mainly because it's quite hard to 'sell' At-Large and even harder for those
> with little background knowledge of ICANN to get up to speed quickly enough
> to be able to participate effectively.
> Cheers,
> Susannah
>> Susannah Gray
> President
> San Francisco Bay Area Internet Society Chapter
> www.sfbayisoc.org
> j
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Joly MacFie  218 565 9365 Skype:punkcast
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
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Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
@evanleibovitch or @el56
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