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[atlarge-discuss] Report to the ERC from the ALAC-AG (1/2)

The ALAC Assistance Group of which I am a member, after two weeks of
discussion and hard work, has just released its report - and here it
is. It is thought to be a starting point for public comments -
definitely we as icannatlarge.com should submit our own opinion to the

(Sorry - I had to break the document in two as the list server won't
accept big messages.)

Assistance Group on Proposed Implementation of an At-Large Advisory
(ALAC Assistance Group)

Report to the Evolution and Reform Committee 

August 19, 2002


The ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee (ERC) asked for help in the
form of recommendations for implementing an At-Large Advisory
Committee (ALAC) for consideration by the ERC and the public.  The
recommendations contained in this report are intended to implement the
core values and principles outlined in the ERC's ICANN: A Blueprint
for Reform, which requires ICANN to:

(i)	"Preserve and enhance the operational stability, reliability,
security, and global interoperability of the Internet.
(ii)	Respect the creativity and innovation made possible by the
Internet by limiting ICANN's activities to those matters within
ICANN's mission requiring or significantly benefiting from global
(iii)	To the extent feasible, delegate coordination functions to
responsible entities that reflect the balance of interests of affected
(iv)	Seek and support broad, informed participation reflecting the
functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet, at all
levels of policy development and decision-making.
(v)	Where feasible, depend on market mechanisms to promote and
sustain a competitive environment.
(vi)	Introduce and promote competition in the registration of
domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest.
(vii)	Employ open and transparent policy development mechanisms that
(a) promote well-informed decisions based on expert advice, and (b)
ensure that those entities most affected can assist in the policy
development process. 
(viii)	Make decisions by applying documented policies neutrally and
objectively, with integrity and fairness.
(ix)	Act with a speed that is responsive to the needs of the
Internet while, as part of the decision-making process, obtaining
informed input from those entities most affected.
(x)	Remain accountable to the Internet community through
mechanisms that enhance ICANN's effectiveness. 
(xi)	Act with sensitivity to the public interest and related
governmental concerns, so that the need for direct governmental action
is minimized."

This report also builds upon the ICANN Board's subsequent action on
June 28 in Bucharest, Romania, accepting and endorsing the Blueprint,
and instructing the ERC to take due account of the need to: 

(i)	"devise and incorporate specific measures to ensure, to the
extent feasible, geographic and cultural diversity in all parts of
ICANN structure, which have been key core values of ICANN since its
inception, and remain so today, as expressed in the ERC Blueprint for
(ii)	consider the creation of an At Large Advisory Committee as a
potential vehicle for informed participation in ICANN by the broad
user community; 
(iii)	ensure that the composition and operation of the Nominating
Committee in fact represents a balance among all segments of the
Internet community; 
(iv)	collaborate with critical infrastructure providers and the
technical community to further the establishment of effective working
relationships; and 
(v)	ensure that ICANN's policy development processes enhance and
promote a transparent bottom-up process." 

ALAC Assistance Group

The ERC asked Esther Dyson (a member the ALOC - At-Large Organizing
Committee, and former member of the ALSC - ICANN At-Large Study
Committee) and Denise Michel (coordinator of www.at-large.org,
At-Large Organizing Committee, and former Executive Director of the
ALSC) to identify a small group of individuals to provide assistance
in defining how an ALAC could be created and what it should do. 

Dyson and Michel asked for volunteers from the ALOC, and the ERC
subsequently appointed these individuals, in addition to Dyson and
Michel, to help craft this report as members of the Assistance Group:
·	Gabriel Piñeiro (LatinoamerICANN); 
·	Tommi Karttaavi (ISOC Finland); 
·	Peter M. Shane (InSITeS - Institute for the Study of
Information Technology and Society); 
·	Núria de la Fuente Teixidó (STEC - Sistemas Técnicos de
Enseñanza Consultores); 
·	Edmundo Valenti (Internet Society Argentina Chapter); 
·	Vittorio Bertola (ISOC Italy); and
·	Izumi Aizu (former NAIS member - NGO and Academic ICANN

The Assistance Group encouraged other individuals involved in At-Large
organizing to assist with this effort, and would like to acknowledge
the following individuals for their contributions:
·	Alexander Svensson (Manager, www.icannchannel.de, DNSO General
Assembly Alternate Chair, creator of www.alac.info);  
·	Sotiris Sotiropoulos (ALOC member, and member of
www.icannatlarge.com); and
·	Christian Ahlert (ALOC member, and former NAIS member).

It should be noted that, although individuals' affiliations have been
included for reference, the recommendations in this report reflect the
personal views of Assistance Group members, and do not necessarily
represent the views or positions of any organizations referenced in
this report.  This report is intended to fulfill the ERC's request to
provide ALAC implementation recommendations, as part of ERC's ongoing
process to further develop and seek public input on the Blueprint for
Reform.  It does not represent the Assistance Group's individual
members' endorsement of the current Blueprint for Reform, nor does it
represent its members' preferred approach to individual user
(At-Large) participation or representation within ICANN.  (Many
participants favored direct elections, with differences only on their

These recommendations are the Assistance Group's suggestions on how to
implement an ALAC according to the Blueprint, and are offered for
consideration and use by the ERC.  Soliciting public comments was not
part of our compressed, report-development process. Our process was a
precursor to a public comment process, not a replacement.  We note
that the ERC "strongly encourages public feedback" on specific details
of their implementation efforts and look forward to reading the
public's comments on this report.

The method by which the global Internet community should participate
in ICANN has been the subject of contentious debate since before ICANN
was created (see brief summary in addendum). According to its
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of
Commerce, ICANN, as a private sector, non-profit corporation with
technical management responsibilities for the Internet's domain name
and address system, should have a structure that fosters accommodation
in decision-making among various interests, including individual
Internet users. The stated goal of "At-Large" (individual Internet
users) organizers and organizations is to represent a broad set of
interests, thus helping to ensure that ICANN's policies truly reflect
the needs, interests and rights of a full range of stakeholders. This
in turn will contribute to the stability of the domain name system and
attract broader public support for ICANN over time. 

The Assistance Group agrees with the ALSC's statement that "ICANN
needs to be accountable not just to governments and members of its
existing Supporting Organizations, but also to those who are affected
by its actions. Actions ICANN takes within its seemingly narrow
technical and administrative mission can affect (and generate interest
among) the world's individual Internet users in a myriad of ways.
These users hold a variety of values and interests and represent a
critical voice in how ICANN's actions can and should impact them." For
example, the ALOC, which is encouraging the self-formation worldwide
of "At-Large Structures," is considering/soliciting comment on issues
such as internationalized domain names, the implementation of IPv6,
practices and policies for registering and transferring gTLD's
(including access to, and use of, "who is" data), the fair allocation
of address space, and introduction of new TLDs. (Note:  The ALOC is
but one of several efforts to advance At-Large issues and

Members of the "ICANN community" have been searching for the fairest
and most practical compromise among those who seek global democratic
procedures to realize At-Large representation, those who want ICANN to
be governed by experts in the technical and administrative tasks for
which ICANN is responsible, and those who think it should be managed
by government (-selected) officials. Identifying a mechanism that
would enable all of ICANN's "constituents" to influence its actions
and ensure the "public interest" is represented has proven
challenging.  There remains significant concern in parts of the ICANN
community about the potential destabilizing effects of direct
elections, or even substantial At-Large involvement in ICANN

In contrast, many interested individuals and organizations (including
some members of the ALOC) remain convinced that direct user
representation on the Board is the only appropriate mechanism for full
individual user (At-Large) involvement in ICANN, and they remain
unconvinced that the ALAC approach is the appropriate course of
action, or even the appropriate first step towards an organized and
representative approach for user involvement in ICANN.  

This report does not seek to end these disagreements, per se.  Rather,
we offer for consideration some initial steps that we believe are
consistent with the ERC's reform efforts and that could serve as a
starting point from which to phase-in broader At-Large involvement to
support ICANN's work in the future.  (Should ICANN's reforms take a
different course, some of these suggestions might still be
appropriate, while others could be modified.)

Role and Responsibilities

The Blueprint for Reform proposes two types of entities in a "reformed
ICANN:" Supporting Organizations, which would be organized to address
policy issues for each kind of identifier (e.g. GNSO, CCSO), and
Advisory Committees, which would be structured to provide specific
perspectives or expertise deemed useful to ICANN's activities (e.g.
TAC, GAC).  Based on this structure, and taking into account the
initial reform decisions made by the Board, we recommend the creation
of an ALAC to provide ICANN with advice and information on issues
affecting individual Internet users.  

The establishment of an ALAC should be viewed as a critical first step
towards structured involvement of the individual user community in
ICANN and, in particular, towards a formalized role in ICANN's policy
development process that ensures users' views are taken into account.
Without a structured entity such as an ALAC capable of presenting user
perspectives, a critical group of stakeholders would be excluded from
the reformed-ICANN, ultimately undermining its (and their)

ICANN was created to provide a way for members of the global Internet
community to join to offer input and develop policies in a transparent
manner for the technical management of the Internet's domain name and
address system.  Neither ICANN's current structure, nor the latest
version of the Blueprint for Reform, however, provides for adequate
participation by individuals or representation of their interests. The
existing and proposed Supporting Organizations are structured to
provide expert advice to the Board, and they afford only limited
opportunity for At-Large participation. Governments (and ICANN's
Government Advisory Committee), though useful, are not the appropriate
mechanisms for individuals' participation.

Other alternatives for achieving these goals were considered and
rejected by the Assistance Group.  A "Public Participation Manager,"
while potentially useful in advancing ICANN outreach and public
participation, is a top-down mechanism, limited in scope, and not
suitable for achieving bottom-up, structured user involvement in
ICANN's policy development process (although ICANN will need to hire
staff to communicate with At-Large, and to help foster its members'
participation in ICANN activities).  Placing At-Large solely within
the GNSO would limit At-Large representatives' ability to address user
issues related to other Internet resources within ICANN's purview.
Although gTLD issues figure prominently in individual users' list of
priorities, the At-Large constituency comprises users (either directly
or indirectly) of all Internet resources.  At-Large's place within
ICANN should enable it to address the breadth of issues concerning
this constituency.

Like ICANN's existing and proposed Advisory Committees, the ALAC
should be available to provide advice and guidance to the Board and to
other organizations within ICANN (for the ALAC, this would be based on
its members' expertise in the area of individual Internet users and
their needs and rights).  The ALAC should serve both as a resource
that can be called upon to pursue specific questions involving users,
and as an active "watchdog" ensuring that issues affecting individual
users that might otherwise be overlooked are brought to the attention
of decision makers. The ALAC should work with the ICANN Board to
design and adopt mandatory procedures through which ICANN entities
will provide the ALAC with appropriate notice of upcoming and pending
policy discussions and decisions to ensure adequate opportunity for
At-Large input and ICANN accountability.

Through At-Large Structures and Regional At-Large Organizations
(discussed below), the ALAC should engage in outreach to, and
education of, individual Internet users on ICANN and issues for which
it is responsible.  The ALAC also should involve users and their
representatives in discussion, decision-making, aggregation of views,
and identification of relevant Internet user priorities.  The ALAC
should use on-line mechanisms for discussions and information
dissemination, ensuring broad public access to ALAC activities.  The
ALAC also should provide "virtual meeting points" for geographically
diverse users to come together to discuss individual user issues
within the scope of ICANN's mission.  Encouraging international
participation in ICANN, and ensuring that a productive two-way
dialogue is established between ICANN and the At-Large community also
should be important, priority contributions of the ALAC. 

To ensure the ALAC's incorporation into ICANN and to strengthen the
individual user's voice in ICANN, the ALAC should appoint:
(i)	a liaison to the Board; 
(ii)	five (regional) delegates to the Nominating Committee (the
"unaffiliated public interest persons" seats included in the
Blueprint, chosen to ensure geographic diversity and broad
perspectives); and 
(iii)	liaisons to each of the Supporting Organization Councils and
Advisory Committees. The liaisons should be members of the ALAC and
have sufficient expertise and skill to participate effectively in each
of these bodies. (We also think that, due to the particular importance
for At-Large stakeholders of the policies that will be addressed by
the proposed GNSO Council and CCSO Council, the ALAC liaisons
eventually should be considered for full voting membership in these

Role and Responsibilities - User Involvement

ICANN is, and should be, operated to address issues of global
interests and concerns.  In reality, however, there has been
significantly less participation from the developing areas of the
world in ICANN's various activities and decision-making processes.  If
ICANN wants to fulfill its own mission with global scope, then there
must be proactive institutional measures to extend and encourage
outreach and participation from those developing parts of the world.
We think the ALAC, with its diversity, will be one of the best
institutional setups within ICANN to pursue this important quest for
broader, more balanced and equitable participation and representation
of ICANN.  Therefore, we recommend the inclusion of an outreach policy
and processes as part of the ALAC's mandate in collaboration with
other ICANN community members.

An important element of global participation is the translation and
dissemination of key material and also of receiving and processing
comments from non-English speakers.  The ALAC should encourage and
help guide this activity to facilitate global user involvement.  We
recommend that the proposed "Public Participation Manager" coordinate
with the ALAC in facilitating the receipt and use of public input, and
that the ALAC provide guidance to the Public Participation Manager,
and review his/her performance.

Given the lack of opportunities for *informed participation* ICANN
needs to create mechanisms which provide a sustainable incentive for
Internet users around the globe to participate in a constructive and
informed way, which will help ICANN better understand what individual
Internet users want and need. 
ICANN currently has no mechanism in place to assure an ongoing
dialogue between individual Internet users and their representative
organizations and the Board, which would enhance the Board's "informed
decision making" and increase incentives for internet users to
participate in ICANN's policy-making process.  We suggest that ICANN
(as it has done in the past, but with a more formal "deliberative
platform") experiment with the use of online and other mechanisms to
provide virtual meeting places, and also improve its processes for
soliciting and incorporating public input.  The Assistance Group, or
some ALAC members, will provide the ERC with specific suggestions in
the near future. 

Board Liaison

Some members of the Assistance Group believe that the ALAC should have
a voting liaison to the Board, while others think that, given the
current climate, a non-voting liaison is an important, pragmatic first
step that is needed to allay concerns, instill confidence and trust,
and build a working relationship between the Board and At-Large. The
Board may gain confidence in At-Large representation after observing
the creation and operation of Regional At-Large Organizations and
Councils (discussed below). 
Assistance Group members are in agreement, however, in recommending,
in any case, that ICANN and the At-Large community review At-Large
involvement after a full year and consider providing At-Large with
full representation on the Board.  This conforms to the ERC's
suggestion of an early management review of all of the component
structures of ICANN so that timely adjustments can be made as
experience with the operation of the new organization accumulates.  As
noted in discussions with ERC members, it may be that some of the
conditions considered necessary at the start can be relaxed as the
ALAC gains experience and establishes the constructive record that is

In addressing the purpose and responsibilities of the Board, it should
be emphasized that the ALAC Board liaison does not bear the sole
responsibility for communications with the At-Large community in
either direction.  

Nominating Committee

The ALAC can provide an important contribution by appointing
knowledgeable, skillful delegates to help select Board members.  Since
the Blueprint for Reform did not specify "At-Large delegates" for the
Nominating Committee (NomCom), and since we are loath to significantly
expand the Committee beyond its proposed 22 members due to operational
concerns, appointing the "unaffiliated public interest persons" to the
Committee is, in our view, an appropriate role for the ALAC.  As
discussed below, At-Large organizing efforts should be at a point
where a regionally-based, global structure can be put in place to
support an ALAC and, in particular, to suggest a geographically and
culturally diverse group of high-quality potential Nominating
Committee delegates.  This is also consistent with a regional approach
to At-Large involvement recommended by the ICANN At-Large Study

In its "First Interim Implementation Report," the ERC suggested "Using
the "unaffiliated public interest persons" as guarantors of geographic
diversity, by specifying that each must come from a different region,"
and also stated that "One possible source of some or all of those
[four "unaffiliated public interest persons"] delegates would be an At
Large Advisory Committee…" We endorse this approach.  The ALAC is
potentially the most diverse among the ICANN constituencies.   Since
we suggest a regional approach for At-Large self-organization
(detailed below), we recommend that the four public interest
representatives in the NomCom be increased to five, one per each ICANN
Region, and that they be chosen by the Regional At-Large Organizations
(proposed below).  This would be an effective solution to geographic
diversity of the Nominating Committee, would broaden its membership,
and would ensure the presence of true public interest representatives
in the Committee.

While some may point to the Blueprint's recommendation that other
Advisory Committees have only one delegate on the Nominating Committee
as an appropriate guide for ALAC involvement, it is important to note
the unique characteristics and potential contributions of an ALAC. The
ALAC is proposed as a diverse, globally representative body comprising
individuals knowledgeable about the environment in which ICANN
operates, but who place the interest of individual users (a critical
public interest) ahead of any particular special interest. (Just the
sort of people ICANN would want on a Nominating Committee.) Add to
this ICANN's mandate to involve individual user communities and
promote the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the
Internet, at all levels of policy development and decision-making, and
we see a compelling reason to allow the ALAC to appoint five delegates
to the committee that will, in large part, choose ICANN's
decision-makers. In addition, the ALAC could help ensure that nominees
are drawn from outside the existing ICANN community both culturally
and geographically.  (The rationale for five such delegates is that
each will bring an additional geography/community into the ICANN fold.
Note that these appointees are intended to not be ALAC members
themselves, but rather people selected by the ALAC.) 

We recognize that At-Large and the ALAC is not the embodiment of
"public interest," but rather one element- albeit a very critical one.
Governments, of course, represent the broad public interest, and
other, narrower, constituencies identified to appoint NomCom delegates
also fall within the "public interest" rubric: academic and other
public entities; consumer and civil society groups; and individual
domain name holders.  However, we would suggest that the world's
individual Internet users are, ultimately, the largest, most diverse,
and most important constituency, and the NomCom would not have "a
workable balance among providers, users, technical and public
interests" without a significant number of ALAC delegates. 

Finally, in considering candidates for the Board, the Nominating
Committee should be directed to give proper consideration to the needs
and perspectives of the At-Large community and seek potential Board
members among the global Internet community in the broadest sense.  


The Assistance Group also recommends careful consideration of our
suggestion for ALAC liaisons to ICANN policy-related entities.  Formal
liaisons to SO's and Advisory Committees will be vital to the At-Large
community's ability to understand and contribute to ICANN's policy
making - to provide the individual user perspective at those critical
points in the policy-making process.  The ALAC liaisons can offer
useful insights, and act as conduits for information and assistance to
and from the At-Large community.  Without a seat at the table, it is
unlikely that At-Large would fully achieve meaningful and informed,
bottom-up participation in ICANN's policy-making process. 

As noted, we suggest the ALAC/At-Large eventually have voting
liaisons/members of the GNSO and CCSO Councils.  In the area of TLD
policy development we expect these SO's to be the starting point in
the bottom-up policy development process on issues of particular
interest to, and impact on, the At-Large constituency.  Unless, and
until, individual users have a formal, structured role in these SO's,
including seats on their Councils, the ALAC should have fully
participating liaisons.  Regardless of whether this approach is
accepted, the most critical aspect of ALAC liaisons, is that they be
allowed to speak…and ideally persuade other ICANN stakeholders.

Standards and Criteria 

The Assistance Group agrees with the ERC's assertion that "bodies that
start with commonly agreed, well-defined standards and criteria for
activities are more likely to promote good outcomes regardless of the
personalities or qualities of the particular members."  The following
standards and criteria have been used to guide our recommendations on
the ALAC's structure and membership.  The ALAC should:

·	Be large enough to represent a genuine diversity of interests
and perspectives, but small enough to transact business effectively;  
·	Be structured to guarantee regionally and culturally balanced
·	Be structured, to the maximum extent possible, so that the
predominant voices in choosing its members are those of individual
Internet users or the organizations that represent them;
·	Provide effective, broadly inclusive mechanisms for sharing
information with global Internet users and/or their representative
organizations, and for involving and representing individual Internet
users in ICANN's policy and decision-making activities;
·	Demonstrate that the organizations that select members of the
ALAC actually do represent the populations they claim to represent;
·	Have a geographically diverse membership and be selected
through a process that includes all At-Large Structures
(organizations) that meet specified criteria;
·	Have members who are knowledgeable about the environment in
which ICANN operates, but who place the interest of individual users
ahead of any particular special interests; 
·	Have members who are able to contribute to, and are committed
to advancing, ICANN's mission; members should bring diverse skills and
perspectives to the Committee and be able to work effectively with
other ALAC members to make decisions and conduct Committee business;
·	Have an Executive Committee or Operating Committee that can
steer its formal activities.
·	Operate effective online mechanisms to foster discussion and
collect user input, reaching individuals through (or around) the
governing groups of the At-Large Structures.
vb.               [Vittorio Bertola - v.bertola [a] bertola.eu.org]<------
----------------------> http://bertola.eu.org/ <--------------------------

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