Civic Representation in ICANN: What Now? forum

icann logoWhat: An ISOC-NY Forum
When: Thurs Oct 8 2009 6:45pm – 8:45pm
Where: Warren Weaver Hall NYU
251 Mercer St Rm 317
New York NY 10012
Who: Dr Milton Mueller; Beau Brendler; Danny Younger

On Oct 1 2009 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) entered a new era as its Joint Project Agreement (JPA) with the US Government expired and it became an independent global organization. In this forum we will examine the processes, currently in flux, of how we the people will get to participate in this new paradigm.

The newly coined Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) states that ICANN will “operate as a multi-stakeholder, private sector led organization with input from the public, for whose benefit ICANN shall in all events act.”

Currently there are two mechanisms by which the Internet using public are represented at ICANN: the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC aka NonComm) in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO); and the At-Large community..

The At-Large Advisory Committee was formed, with official liaison status, in 2003 after the ICANN board had dispensed with direct public elections. In 2007 with the establishment of Regional At-Large Organizations (RALO’s). the ALAC became a representative body. RALO membership is open to individuals and organizations – which can apply to become an At-Large Structure (ALS). In 2009 it was agreed that an ICANN board seat be allotted to the At-Large.

The GNSO Council is ICANN’s primary body responsible for policy recommendations for generic top level domains. The board balances the GNSO recommendations with input from liaisons from several advisory committees, including the Government Advisory Committee (GAC), a couple of technical groups, plus At Large (soon to be seated, as mentioned).

Besides the NonComm, other GNSO constituencies are, Business/Commercial, Registries, ISPs, and Intellectual Property. The NCUC, formerly the Noncommercial Domain Holders Constituency, has thus been, since ICANN’s inception, the sole voice of non-commercial users on the GNSO Council. As such it has taken to representing regular internet users’ concerns as well as those of registrants.

Earlier this year ICANN proposed another re-organization, subsuming the GNSO constituencies into two ‘houses’ – Contracted and Non-contracted, each of which is further divided into two stakeholder groups. Contracted has Registries and Registrars; Non-Contracted has Commercial (CSG) and Noncommercial (NCSG). 12 seats on the GNSO Council would be split thus: CSG 6; NCSG 6; Registries 3; Registrars 3.

The former ISP, Business, and IP constituencies are to be folded into the CSG and presumably take two seats each.

On the NCSG front: 3 seats have been allotted to the NCUC and the other 3, pending formation of new constituencies, have been filled by appointees of the ICANN Structural Improvement Committee,

The NCUC has argued against the plan insisting that it will only serve to further balkanize the GNSO process, and that practical policymaking would be better served by ad-hoc working groups rather than the proposed legislative approach.

Other constituencies have come forward with the intent to participate within the NCSG framework, independently of NCUC.

On the At-Large front, it has been pointed out that, unlike the current liaison, a seated board member would not be answerable to the At-Large community.

The three speakers we are bringing together on Oct 8 represent widely differing views on how it is best to proceed in the public interest. It is sure to be a very lively and interesting discussion.

We will webcast and there will be an opportunity for remote participation via a chatroom.

More info:


Dr. Milton Mueller

Milton Mueller is a Professor and Director of the Telecommunications Network Management Program at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. He is the author of ‘Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace’ (MIT Press, 2002) – the definitive account of early Internet governance debates. Mueller was a co-founder of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) and was chair of NCUC from 2003-2005.

Beau Brendler:

Beau Brendler is a journalist and consumer activist who takes a particular interest in Internet affairs. He was a founder and editorial director of before moving to a full time position at the Consumers Union in 2001 where he launched Consumer WebWatch. He now works at NARSAD, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. He is an active member of the ICANN Community and serves on the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) . He has proposed the establishment of a Consumer Constituency within the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).

Danny Younger:

Danny Younger has been involved with ICANN since at least 2001 including active participation on the General Assembly mailing list. He represented ISOC-NY in the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) from 2004-2007. He has for some time advocated for a single Registrants constituency within the GNSO.

More info:
ICANN Structure:
GNSO Improvements Home Page:
NonCommercial Users Constituency:
At-Large Advisory Committee:

About joly

isoc member since 1995

8 thoughts on “Civic Representation in ICANN: What Now? forum

  1. On the At-Large listserv there has been some discussion on the appropriateness of 2 of the 3 non-NCUC NCSG appointees to the GNSO council, as they appear to have strong commercial ties. A response from Robert Gaetano gives some insight into the selection process.

  2. In a msg to the At-Large Community, William Drake clarifies the NCUC position vis-a- vis constituencies:

    NCUC is NOT and has NEVER been against the concept of constituencies, period. The charter NCUC submitted has a page of clear language about the formation and operation of constituencies in Section 2.3.

    A few key bits of note include:


    *Constituencies are self-defined groupings of NCSG members organized around some shared policy goals (e.g. consumer protection, privacy); shared identity (e.g., region or country of origin, gender, language group); type of organization (e.g., research networks, philanthropic foundations) – or any other grouping principle that might affect members’ stance on domain names policy.

    *There is no requirement that NCSG members join a constituency.

    *When at least 3 organizational members or at least 10 individual NCSG members volunteer to join the Constituency on the public list within two months of the publication of the notification of intent the prospective Constituency becomes eligible to schedule a meeting (which can be either in person or online).

    *The eligible constituency holds a public meeting(s) to draft a charter and appoint an official representative of the constituency. The meeting(s) can be online but must be open to observation by the general public.

    *The proposed constituency charter is submitted to the NCSG Policy Committee for ratification.

    *Once accepted by the PC the constituency application will be sent to the ICANN Board for approval. The Board shall also serve as the vehicle for appeals to NCSG decisions on the recognition of a constituency.

    *Constituencies have a right to: 1. Place one voting representative on the Policy Committee; 2. Delegate members to GNSO working groups and task forces; 3. Issue statements on GNSO Policy Development Processes which are included in the official NCSG response, but marked as constituency positions, and not necessarily the position of NCSG as a whole.


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