At a glance
In response to a public comment proceeding, the ALAC ratified and submitted a statement on the GNSOReview Draft Report.
· The ALAC supports 32 out of 36 recommendations made in the Westlake Report and chooses "it depends" when indicating the level of support of recommendations #18, #23, #24, and #34.
· Nevertheless, the ALAC is concerned that the vast majority of the recommendations focus on GNSOWorking Groups and suggests making small adjustments rather than taking a serious look at the GNSObicameral structure.
· The ALAC finds the Westlake review with regard to "restructure Council membership and councillor term limits" hasty and poorly researched. The ALAC is also surprised with the following analysis in the review: "The current structure has been implemented relatively recently. It is not broken, and we do not recommend any change at this time."
· The ALAC believes that numerous areas need to be reviewed. Below are few examples:
· The current structure of the GNSO Council provides the ability for a more united vote in the Contracted Parties House while fragmenting the Non-Contracted Parties house to the point of imbalance.
· In contract, the unprecedented growth of Contracted Parties caused by the new gTLD Program has not been addressed. What might have been a homogeneous Stakeholder Group might now be more heterogeneous and the potential consequences of this change have not been studied. For example, city TLDs are an entirely new breed of registry; so are brand TLDs. How does this affect the current status quo? How would city administrators, businesses, and people using city TLDs have their voice heard in GNSO processes?
· What would be the consequence of adding more stakeholders/constituencies in either Contracted Party House or Non-Contracted Party House? The ALAC notes that there are strong indications that none of the stakeholders within the Non-Contracted Party House seem to want a new group.
· Other commenters in the At-Large community have noted that the proposals for more geographically balanced representation appeared to be focused on finding new participants from outside the GNSO's usual territory. A question to ask is how many gTLD registries and gTLDs are domiciled both legally and operationally in each of the ICANN regions both before and after the recent expansion of gTLD space under the GNSO's auspices. The Westlake Review misses the opportunity to potentially reveal a hidden pattern that the GNSO is self-reinforcing the domain name business geopolitically. Westlake's observation that the GNSO's constituencies concentrate in North America and Europe may underpin such hidden pattern.
· GNSO Working Groups are open for all participants including non-GNSO Constituency members, but the GNSO Council, thanks to its very structure, has the ability to affect a Working Group's results. Voting is one of the ways to support or halt recommendations from a bottom-up policy development process.
· The ALAC believes that the complex issues of GNSO structure and processes need to be studied now. The ALAC reminds the Reviewers of the At-Large Future Challenges Working Group R3 White Paperdrafted in 2012 and containing proposals that should be explored.
· Several ALAC members recall that during the first GNSO Review, it was understood that Constituencies and the creation of "Stakeholder Groups" were going to be reviewed at the next iteration. Tragically, this is missing from the current report.
· To be clear, the ALAC is disappointed that the review has not evaluated to what extent the currentGNSO structure meets the needs of the GNSO and ICANN. The structure, with contracted parties representing half of the GNSO Council voting power, was invented as a result of the last GNSO Review, prior to the New gTLD Program and before registries could own registrars. The ALAC is very concerned that the current structure may not be able to adequately address issues where the public interest is in conflict with the interests of contracted parties. This is essential in light of:
· ICANN's increased focus on the public interest;
· The increased desire and need to be demonstrably accountable; and
· The recommendations of the Policy and Implementation Working Group, which will require all policy issues to go back to the GNSO for resolution instead of being addressed at the Board of Directors level where directors have a duty to balance stakeholder desires and the public interest.