[IRP] Public Interest Groups in ICANN Appeal to New President For Fairer Treatment For Civil Society

Robin Gross robin
Sat Sep 5 01:40:56 EEST 2009

NCUC Press Release

Public Interest Groups in ICANN Appeal to New President For Fairer  
Treatment For Civil Society

The organization that represents Non-Commercial Internet Users in the  
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) issued an  
open letter to the Board this week, expressing concern about the  
possible failure of ICANN's attempt to balance the representation of  
commercial and noncommercial interests.

California (United States)  ?  ICANN?s Non-Commercial Users  
Constituency (NCUC), a group of 152 non-commercial organizations and  
individuals from 52 countries who represent the noncommercial  
interests of Internet users in ICANN policy development, recently  
appealed to ICANN's Board of Directors and CEO to meet with them in  
Seoul to resolve serious problems with its current plans to alter the  
representation of noncommercial interests in its policy making process.

Specifically, NCUC?s letter expressed concern over ICANN?s adoption  
of a flawed charter for noncommercial users that disregarded the vast  
majority of public comments and concerns expressed by noncommercial  
Internet users.  In late July 2009 ICANN?s Board decided to approve  
the NCSG charter drafted by ICANN staff, rather than the charter  
drafted by civil society in a 7-month long consensus process that  
included a wide variety of noncommercial interests and was submitted  
to ICANN?s Board by the NCUC.

ICANN?s staff did not provide its board with the competing charter  
submitted by NCUC in order to properly inform the board?s decision.   
The difference between staff?s charter and civil society?s charter is  
stark.  Staff?s charter ties council representation and resources to  
arbitrary and more easily manipulated constituencies, while the NCUC  
charter calls for stakeholder group wide elections of its  
noncommercial representatives and other leaders.  NCUC?s charter  
model encourages consensus building among constituencies, while  
staff?s charter model encourages divisiveness and favoritism among  
noncommercial interests.

?ICANN?s decision has resulted in significant damage to ICANN?s  
credibility within global civil society and has fueled further  
distrust towards ICANN?s decision making process,? said NCUC Chair  
Robin Gross.  ?Its treatment of noncommercial users in this instance  
has significantly called into question ICANN?s legitimacy to govern  
and its ability to protect the global public interest,? said Gross,  
Executive Director of digital rights group IP Justice, a NCUC member  
since 2004.

The board?s adoption of the stakeholder group charter is part of  
ICANN?s ongoing effort to re-organize its Generic Names Supporting  
Organization (GNSO), which currently consists of 5 commercial  
constituencies and 1 non-commercial constituency, the NCUC.  ICANN?s  
GNSO is responsible for developing policy recommendations that relate  
to Generic Top-Level Domains (GTLDs) or those domain names that end  
in .com, .net, .edu, and .org.  The GNSO plays an important role on  
Internet-related policy issues since its recommendations affect all  
who own or use GTLDs, including the way domain names can be  
registered, used, transferred, and any applicable fees and associated  
policies regarding the domain names.  The process of changing the  
GNSO?s structure from 6 constituencies to 4 stakeholder groups is  
expected to be complete by the end of October 2009.

In its letter the NCUC states that ?there is a misunderstanding over  
non-commercial representation and participation in ICANN? and NCUC  
calls on ICANN to acknowledge that there has been significant growth  
among noncommercial participants at ICANN recently.  NCUC?s  
membership has grown by 240% since 2008 and now includes 75  
noncommercial organizations and 77 individuals.  An independent study  
by the London School of Economics verified that NCUC has the highest  
number of different people on the GNSO Council of any ICANN  
constituency and that NCUC has the most geographical diversity among  
its membership with members now from 52 different countries.

?NCUC represents an extremely broad range of noncommercial Internet  
users, including educational and academic institutions, human rights  
organizations, libraries, consumer groups, religious organizations,  
bloggers, open source software developers, development-oriented  
groups, arts organizations, and other noncommercial interests,?  
explained Dr. Milton Mueller, an Internet governance expert.  Dr.  
Mueller, now a professor at Syracuse University School of Information  
Studies and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, co- 
founded the constituency in 2002.

"Nonprofits and public interest advocacy groups have an irreplaceable  
role to play in a self-regulatory scheme dominated by business  
interests.  Someone has to look out for the public interest.  If we  
handicap noncommercial voices and divide them into competing silos  
they simply won't be able to participate effectively.  ICANN's  
legitimacy and the quality of its decisions will suffer," explained  
Dr. Mueller.

In order to dispel pervasive myths about civil society?s role in  
ICANN, the NCUC published a ?Top 10 Myths about Civil Society  
Participation in ICANN,? a document that explains why much of what  
ICANN staff and other constituencies have claimed about noncommercial  
participation is untrue.

For additional information on NCUC and noncommercial participation in  
ICANN, please contact NCUC?s Chair Robin Gross or visit NCUC?s  
website at http://ncdnhc.org.

Robin Gross, NCUC Chair                 Milton Mueller, NCUC Co-Founder
Tel.: +1-415-553-6261                        Tel: +1-315-443-5616
Email: robin ? at - ipjustice.org           Email: Mueller ? at ?  

More Info:

Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC):

NCUC?s Letter to ICANN Board of Directors and CEO:

NCUC?s ?Top 10 Myths About Civil Society Participation in ICANN?:

About the Noncommercial Users Constituency:

The NCUC is the home for civil society organizations and individuals  
in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)  
Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).  With real voting power  
in ICANN policy-making and Board selection, it develops and supports  
positions that favor non-commercial communication and activity on the  
Internet.  The NCUC is open to non-commercial organizations and  
individuals involved in education, community networking, public  
policy advocacy, development, promotion of the arts, children's  
welfare, religion, consumer protection, scientific research, human  
rights and many other areas.  NCUC maintains a public website at  


Robin Gross, Executive Director
1192 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA  94117  USA
p: +1-415-553-6261    f: +1-415-462-6451
w: http://www.ipjustice.org     e: robin at ipjustice.org

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