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ALAC Statement on the BGC ALAC Review Mid-Term Report (AL.ALAC/ST.1008/2)

5 December 2008

STATUS OF THIS DOCUMENT: Draft for Community and ALAC Members Review.


BACKGROUND TO THIS RESPONSE: The current text was drafted collaboratively by members of the ALAC and RALO leaders during the Cairo ICANN meeting. It is a response to the request for public comments on the ALAC Review Working Group's Mid-Term report, which may be found in English, Espanol, Francais and other languages.

Comments on this draft should be created by pressing the Comment button above and saving the comment on this page. These may then be incorporated into a final text to be transmitted by the ALAC. Please ensure that you include your name in the comment and any At-Large affiliation you may have.

Statement of the At-Large Advisory Committee on the Board Governance Committee's ALAC Review Working Group Mid-Term Report

At this time, we would like to provide our comments mainly to the “Key Points for discussion” in Page 4 of the Report as they capture the most important issues. We may further work more on the specifics and details later.

First and foremost, we appreciate and commend the high-quality work of the BGC Working Group on ALAC Review. We are not in full agreement of all specifics of the report, but we are pleasantly surprised that the Report showed a deep understanding of the issues, made sensible suggestions and practical proposals that are very valid for us to seriously respond and act on.

1. The ALAC has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure. This continuing purpose has three key elements:

  • providing advice on policy;
  • providing input into ICANN operations and structure;
  • part of ICANN’s accountability mechanisms

We agree.


2. At Large should in principle be given two voting seats on the ICANN Board
3. The ALAC‐RALO‐ALS structure should remain in place for now

The ALAC welcomes the recommendation of the BGC that the ALAC be allocated two (2) seats on the ICANN Board. This development is very useful in projecting to the At-Large community and users in general the value that ICANN places on our engagement in the process and provides a real opportunity to see the views of the community reflected in policy and administration.

When the time comes for this recommendation to be implemented, we would wish that the At-Large community is reserved the right to determine a selection process for these seats with a right of recall embedded.

Effectiveness and participation

4. Educating and engaging the ALSs should be an immediate priority; compliance should be a longer term goal.

We agree that there is a room to improve the participation of ALSs in our RALO and At-Large activities. Therefore, we request that ALAC should be included and considered in all ICANN outreach and education activities, including, inter alia, regional meetings, mutual collaboration with regional liaisons and the fellowship programme.

ALAC also believes that engagement and recruitment of ALSs needs to go hand in hand with compliance. It does not serve our purpose to recruit and develop At-Large Structures (ALSs) that may or may not be legitimate only then later to rule them out. What is required are a number of coordinated actions, activities and events that attract ALSs (and users, for that matter) into ALAC. Paramount among these is to demonstrate that there is an actual purpose to being in ALAC.

We have been working very hard to organize the At-Large Summit – a global meeting of all ALSs to come to one place together.

We also note that it is very important for us to continue our outreach work to recruit more ALSs, and also explore ways to setup a mechanism where individuals who have keen interest in ICANN policy areas while she or he may not have strong interest in joining any of the existing ALSs with good reasons.

We also hope that ICANN continue to provide sufficient resources for our outreach.

5. ALAC should develop strategic and operational plans (including performance criteria and cost information) as part of ICANN’s planning process

We agree that it is of our highest priority to develop Strategic and Operational Plans as suggested in the Report in a proactive manner. We commit to working on the specific details in the coming months. We also note and support that in the Independent Review Report, there were two recommendations. It needs to be conducted in the loop of policy formation and discussion at the initial phase, not forced to run hither and yon trying to comment on 15 different consultations at once. Most critical to strategic planning is making priorities, and these priorities need to be in concert with the priorities of users.

6. More effort needs to be put into developing accurate cost models for At Large activity

Together with the Recommendation 4 of the Independent Review Report “ICANN should implement on activity-based costing system”, we support the idea of having a cost model based on At-Large activities. In fact, we advocate more transparency than current budget information on At-Large activities. We would also like to see clear distinctions made between specific At-Large related costs and general ICANN outreach activity costs which benefits all ICANN constituencies, not specific to At-Large.

We also agree with the comments of BGC WG Report on Recommendation 5 of the Independent Review Report - while we need sufficient resources to support ALAC activities, we would recommend that the specific ways on how to allocate the budget for ALAC activities be remanded to negotiations between the ALAC Chair and ICANN staff.

7. ALAC should be encouraged to make its own choice of tools for collaborative work

We agree with this.

8. The public comment period should be kept at 30 days except in special circumstances, in which case ALAC may request an extension to 45 days

With regard to the policy advice work of the ALAC itself, the committee points out that the very nature of the multi-layer, bottom-up process within the At-Large requires more time to elaborate positions. The ALAC’s specific recommendation for a a 8-week period as a standard practice and 4 to 6 weeks as a fast-track is on record.

The 30 day comment period would be difficult to match as we cannot conduct adequate bottom-up consultations with translation which is critical to reach out to our global At-Large Community. Short circuiting a large part of the community is against the very nature of the At-Large ethic and undermines the very bottom-up policy development process to which ICANN is committed.

9. ICANN should strengthen its translation processes.

We cannot agree more. While we appreciate that considerable resources are allocated for the translation of major languages (Spanish, French regularly and Arabic and Chinese occasionally), there are many other people on the globe whose language is not translated and perhaps now calls for consideration, at least when local conditions dictate.

Relationship with other ICANN entities

10. The ALAC is the appropriate organisational channel for the voice and concerns of the individual Internet user in ICANN processes .

11. Since ALAC is the appropriate channel for the voice and concerns of the individual Internet user, it is inappropriate for other ICANN entities to attempt to claim to represent that individual user voice

The ALAC agrees that it should be the main channel for individual Internet users - from novices to experts, who may or may not be domain name registrants - to participate in the ICANN policy making processes, noting its bottom-up representation process contributes to its legitimacy.

At the same time, the ALAC thinks there is some merit to have Internet users, including individuals, but also academia, domain name registrants and small businesses, acting in their own capacity, represented in the GNSO.

12. Processes for providing advice on policy should be strengthened both within ALAC for the development of policy advice and within SOs for requesting input from ALAC on policy issues

Regarding the strengthening of processes for providing advice on policy the ALAC welcomes the suggestion to improve the interactions between SOs and the ALAC. We appreciate the WG report has proposed the following new practice:

"The WG therefore recommends that the policy development processes of the GNSO, the ccNSO and the ASO be changed so that At Large input is required as part of the process. In addition to requiring this input, there should be the requirement that this input is acknowledged and taken into consideration. Similar acknowledgement should come from the Board when ALAC presents advice to the Board. This is not to say that whatever advice At Large provides must be followed, but rather that the advice should be considered. If the advice is not followed in the development of the policy, a response should be sent to At Large with an explanation, or an explanation should be provided in the policy document."

We also like to ask the Board to implement a similar mechanism used to respond to the GAC advice. Below is the relevant bylaw provision:


j. The advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee on public policy matters shall be duly taken into account, both in the formulation and adoption of policies. In the event that the ICANN Board determines to take an action that is not consistent with the Governmental Advisory Committee advice, it shall so inform the Committee and state the reasons why it decided not to follow that advice. The Governmental Advisory Committee and the ICANN Board will then try, in good faith and in a timely and efficient manner, to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Regarding points 10 and 11, I think the case is overstated. ALAC is /an/ appropriate channel for the voice and concerns of the individual Internet user, but because of its Advisory role, ALAC is not an effective route for participation in many policy-making processes. Opportunities for individuals and their representatives to participate in existing GNSO constituencies and new stakeholder groups are equally important. If other entities have the demonstrable support of representative groups of individuals, they are no less legitimate voices than the ALAC.


contributed by Guest User on Dec 12 10:48am

The BGCWG "believes that At Large be given two voting seats on the ICANN Board", yet you are stating that you welcome "the recommendation of the BGC that the ALAC be allocated two (2) seats on the ICANN Board". Twisting their words... How arrogant of you.


contributed by Guest User on Dec 12 12:02pm

Regarding #2 and while I was party to and actively participated in penning the draft response at Cairo, I hold - and shall continue to assert - a minority view that Board seats would not necessarily give the ALAC a greater voice in ICANN affairs; I said then it was a "wash".

So far as I'm concerned, ICANN is and remains culturally, if not in absolute form, an AMERICAN corporation. It is the nature of these entities to select Board members that represent at all times the interests of the corporation. My views were unexpectedly given comfort in a declaration by none other than Peter Dengate Thrush!

While it is entirely reasonable to suppose that folks elected to the Board from and with the endorsement of the At-large constituency should represent the views of At-large on the Board, it does not necessarily follow that ICANN's - the corporation's - priorities will be those of the At-large community. And if you agree to serve on the Board in the current dispensation, you are duty-bound to vote the corporate ICANN's best interests.

It is always a good thing to be in the room when a decision is imminent because hopefully, an effective advocate could seize the moment to rally others to a cause. At least this is the classic view if the Board was constituted of "balanced sectoral interests". But this latter is not at all evident to me.

Carlton Samuels
Speaking as The UWI ALS

contributed by Guest User on Dec 12 12:44pm