[governance] The frustrating situation with the GNSO

Danny Younger dannyyounger at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 21 08:31:12 EST 2005

I would like to discuss what Wolfgang has called "the
frustrating situation with the GNSO".

On Friday 2 December 2005, the GNSO Council voted to
implement a Policy Development Process on New TLDS. 
This vote started the clock ticking.  Per the bylaws,
the GNSO Policy Development Process requires that all
Constituency Statements 
be submitted to the Staff Manager within thirty-five
calendar days after initiation of the PDP.  

We are now three weeks into the process with these
Statements due in another two weeks.  The issues
involved are rather complex and require a tremendous
amount of discussion and analysis in order to arrive
at substantive policy recommendations.

Yet as I review the available publicly archived
constituency discussion lists, I cannot point to one
single constituency that has even started to talk
about the issues raised by this PDP.

If no substantive work is being done at the ICANN
constituency level on policy matters, then we have a
real problem facing us that needs to be addressed.

As many of you know, the General Assembly is no longer
part of the GNSO structure (it was eliminated by the
Board during their earlier "Reform") -- yet what
remains of the GA discussion list is the only place
within ICANN where thoroughgoing discussion of this
PDP is happening.  Since 5 December there have been in
excess of 250 postings on the topic of the PDP.  The
issues are important to the few of us that remain on
this list and rightfully deserve a full airing.

We are doing this work, even though we have no voting
rights within the GNSO, in part because of the failure
of the GNSO constituencies to get down to business. 
We understand the nature of the GNSO problems, one of
which is "likemindedness" at the constituency level --
if everyone in a group is predisposed to a certain
viewpoint then little debate ever emerges at the
constituency level and rarely does deep discussion on
a topic materialize.  This is a flaw in the system
that had previously been attended to by the existence
of a cross-constituency platform (the GA) which
facilitated lively and volatile debate.

With the GA no longer functioning as a recognized
institution, we now readily see the consequences of
the Board's decision to eliminate this platform -- the
GNSO itself has become a moribund institution.  

If the Constituencies do manage to produce a Statement
within the next two weeks, we all know how this will
happen (and I'll use the Non-Commercial Constituency
as an example although I could just as easily pick on
the BC or ISPC or others):

Someone will suggest to Milton at the last minute that
he prepare a statement, then after a one page brief is
prepared one or two constituency members will send in
a note saying "Great job!" or "Good work" and without
even the benefit of a vote that document will become
the constituency Statement.

Sorry, but that process is just too shoddy.  

ICANN deserves better than what it is getting.  In my
view, the overall problem stems from a flaw in the
GNSO construct that can only be corrected by Board
action.  I look forward to the Board taking action. 
This blight cannot be allowed to continue.

The Terms of reference for new gTLDs

1.  Should new generic top level domain names be
a.  Given the information provided here and any other
relevant information available to the GNSO, the GNSO
should assess whether there is sufficient support
within the Internet community to enable the
introduction of new top level domains. If this is the
case the following additional terms of reference are
2.  Selection Criteria for New Top Level Domains
a.  Taking into account the existing selection
criteria from previous top level domain application
processes and relevant criteria in registry services
re-allocations, develop modified or new criteria which
specifically address ICANN's goals of expanding the
use and usability of the Internet. In particular,
examine ways in which the allocation of new top level
domains can meet demands for broader use of the
Internet in developing countries. 

b.  Examine whether preferential selection criteria
(e.g. sponsored) could be developed which would
encourage new and innovative ways of addressing the
needs of Internet users. 

c.  Examine whether additional criteria need to be
developed which address ICANN's goals of ensuring the
security and stability of the Internet.
3.  Allocation Methods for New Top Level Domains 

a.  Using the experience gained in previous rounds,
develop allocation methods for selecting new top level
domain names.
b.  Examine the full range of allocation methods
including auctions, ballots, first-come first-served
and comparative evaluation to determine the methods of
allocation that best enhance user choice while not
compromising predictability and stability. 

c.  Examine how allocation methods could be used to
achieve ICANN's goals of fostering competition in
domain name registration services and encouraging a
diverse range of registry services providers.
4.  Policy to Guide Contractual Conditions for New Top
Level Domains
a.  Using the experience of previous rounds of top
level domain name application processes and the recent
amendments to registry services agreements, develop
policies to guide the contractual criteria which are
publicly available prior to any application rounds.
b.  Determine what policies are necessary to provide
security and stability of registry services.
c.  Determine appropriate policies to guide a
contractual compliance programme for registry

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