- As an ICANN Advisory Committee, the ALAC publicizes, analyzes, and provides advice on ICANN policy proposals and decisions that reflect the views and needs of individual Internet users at regional and global levels.
- The ALAC acts in the best interests of individual Internet users. They include registrants, consumers, and Internet users.
- The ALAC not only advises on the DNS policies developed through ICANN’s Supporting Organizations. It also advises on the work deliverables from ICANN Community, Board, and Staff on a wide range of topics.
- The multistakeholder model of ICANN allows individual Internet users to influence the evolution of the critical logistical infrastructure layer of the Internet. They can do so by engaging in both the policy development process within the GNSO and Cross-Community Working Groups, as well as the advice development activities within At-Large.
- The direct involvement of all stakeholders, especially end users, in the development of ICANN policy is unique in the field of Internet governance.
What are Policy Processes?
Policy is "a course or principle of action, adopted or proposed by a government, party, business or individual" (Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary). Policy development processes generally involve research, analysis, consultation and synthesis of information to produce recommendations.
The multi-stakeholder process of policy making aims to bring together the primary stakeholders such as businesses, civil society, governments, research institutions and non-government organizations to cooperate and participate in the dialogue, decision making and implementation of solutions to common problems or goals.
What are ICANN Policy and ICANN Policy Processes?
ICANN is an example of a multistakeholder model organization. ICANN is composed of different Internet stakeholders from around the world and practices a consensus-based policy development, also known as a "bottom-up" model.
There are multiple kinds of policy within the ICANN world: formal policies related to the global internet's system of unique identifiers (DNS), operational policies, and general practices.
- DNS Policy: developed through formal policy development processes (PDPs), as set forth by the Bylaws.
- Operational Policy: define how ICANN operates as an organization. These policies are not subject to a policy development process (PDP), but community input is generally sought via public comment or other means.
- General Practices: ICANN relies on many established practices that have not necessarily gone through a formalized Board approval process.
DNS policy recommendations are developed by following specific processes in ICANN. They are developed and refined by the ICANN community through its Supporting Organizations (SOs) and influenced by Advisory Committees (ACs) – all comprised of volunteers from across the world – in a "bottom-up", multi-stakeholder, open and transparent process. Each Supporting Organization has its own specific policy development process.
- The Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO) is responsible for developing and recommending to the ICANN Board substantive policies relating to generic top-level domains. Click here to see an illustration of GNSO Policy Development Process
- The Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) is responsible for developing and recommending to the Board global policies relating to country-code top-level domains. Click here to see an illustration of ccNSO Policy Development Process
- The Address Supporting Organization (ASO) is responsible for advising the Board with respect to policy issues relating to the operation, assignment, and management of Internet addresses.
Supporting Organizations form topic-specific teams called working groups to develop policy, while Advisory Committees advise the Board.
- The At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of ICANN, insofar as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users. Click here to learn the details of At-Large Policy Advice Development Process.
- The Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) is responsible for advising the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the operation, administration, security, and integrity of the Internet's Root Server System.
- The Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) is responsible for advising the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet's naming and address allocation systems.
- The Governmental Advisory Committee(GAC) is responsible for providing advice on the activities of ICANN as they relate to concerns of governments, particularly matters where there may be an interaction between ICANN's policies and various laws and international agreements or where they may affect public policy issues.
Why Policy Processes matter to you?
Multi-stakeholder, bottom-up approach is in the center of ICANN Policy Development processes. The policies start out as recommendations formed and refined by the global ICANN community through its Supporting Organizations and influenced by Advisory Committees. This is the kind of approach that ensures interests of different community groups are considered in the policy development processes.
Therefore ICANN encourages participation of end users as well as members of other Support Organizations and Advisory Committees in the policy development process through SO/AC memberships, working group participation, public comments and attendance to ICANN public meetings. End users do not have to be members of the ALAC in order to draft statements expressing their views on policy matters. You, as an end user, have the right to draft statements just like any of ALAC members. Besides becoming members of the At-Large end users may prefer to join the constituencies under Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group of the GNSO and be influential on DNS policy development processes.
You can voice your concerns and interests in the process of policy development to make sure that once the policy is adopted and implemented it serves well to the needs of everyone in the DNS ecosystem. Providing input in the policy processes will eliminate any possibilities of the needs of end users being ignored and interests of other groups being favored over those of end users.
How the At-Large community has contributed to Policy Processes?
While the ALAC does not develop policies directly, it works to publicize, analyze, and provide advice on proposed ICANN policies and decisions that accurately reflect the views and needs of individual Internet users at regional and global levels.
Not just limited to the TLDs related policies created through the formal PDPs in the SOs, the ALAC comments and advises on the work deliverables and decisions from ICANN Community, Board, and Staff in a wide range of topics, ranging from ICANN operational and strategic planning to the organizational review of other SOs/ACs.
For a full list of ALAC advice, search at newatlarge.icann.org/policy-summary.
ICANN Public Comment proceeding is a main channel for the ALAC to provide advice. In addition, the ALAC also provides advice through other methods, such as responding to the input request from other communities’ working groups, writing reports/analysis or sending correspondents on issues with end user impacts, and working collaboratively with other community groups to submit joint advice to the ICANN Board.
Click here to learn more.