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>> ROBIN GROSS: Hello, everyone, welcome. My name is Robin Gross. I'm the moderator for this session. I'm the chair of the noncommercial stakeholder group at ICANN. This is a session on civil society and ICANN and multi‑stakeholderism and the GNSO that specific example. We've got several representatives from the GNSO. We've got representatives from civil society, particularly the noncommercial stakeholder group. We've got representatives from business and government to also add to the experience of working with civil society and the GNSO. Let me start off by giving a basic ‑‑ how does ICANN make policy within the GNSO? So ICANN is an organization that claims to make policy from the bottom up. So how does this happen? Well, there's a number of working groups that get set up, and there are a number of comment periods and people in the community can join the working groups and can participate in the comment periods and provide their various input into how policy is made on very specific issues. The over all structure of ICANN is such that governments participate, business participates, civil society participates, contracted parties participate, and there are different structures.
So in ICANN, governments generally participate via the GAC, the governmental advisory committee. There's At Large, which includes a number of civil society members as well. These are individuals and they also participate as an advisory committee. Then we come to the GNSO which is the part of ICANN that's really supposed to be bottom up from the community. That's where we've got representatives from civil society, from business, from the contracted parties, and we all make up the GNSO together, and we all participate in these working groups and provide comments on specific issues that then go to the GNSO council to get voted on. So the GNSO is basically divided into two houses. It's got the bicameral structure. There's the contracted parties on one side and the non‑contracted parties on the other side. Within the contracted parties, we've got a number of constituencies, the IPS, the intellectual property constituencies and the business constituencies. They participate in the commercial stakeholder group.
Also in the non‑contracted parties house, are the noncommercial users. That's where the noncommercial stakeholder group which consists of the constituencies within it including the noncommercial stakeholder ‑‑ excuse me, the noncommercial users constituency and the not‑for‑profit operational concerns constituency. For short they're called NCUC and NPOC. Basically, the GNSO is made up of these six to seven constituencies that all speed their ideas and their different perspectives into the policy development process. We participate in these working groups and the output of these working groups goes to the GNSO council for voting up or down. If it gets voted up, it goes up to the board of directors to be voted up or down. Once it's approved, it gets implemented into policy for everyone.
Okay. So that's very basic, very basic background. If you're interested in participating, if you're in civil society, if you're a noncommercial user in particular, you may want to think about joining the commercial stakeholders group. Why? What's your interest? Well, if you're concerned about noncommercial interests in the policy development process, things like human rights, things like development issues, freedom of expression, privacy rights, bringing in new and diverse views into the ICANN process, you may be interested in joining the noncommercial stakeholder group. The NCUC, which was the first constituency to represent noncommercial users, and the NPOC, which is our recent addition to the GNSO. So let start will Bill Drake who's the chair of the NCUC constituency.
Down here we've got Stephan Van Gelder, he is with the Commercial Stakeholder Group and used to be the Chair of the GNSO council. To my left we've got Marie‑laure Lemineur, who's the chair for not‑for‑profit operational concerns constituency, NPOC. Immediately to my left is Olga Cavalli. She's part of the Argentinian government so she participates in the GAC, although she used to participate in the GNSO with us as a participant from the NonCom. She was the vice chair of the GNSO. Down here we've got Bertrand de la Chapelle who's on the ICANN board and before that was with the GAC, the Governmental Advisory Board. He's from France so he can help talk about the perspective of both governments and the board and their interactions with civil society and the GNSO. Okay. So now that we've done a quit introduction, let me go back to Bill who's the chair of the NCUC, if you want to give us an overview of the NCUC.
>> WILLAM DRAKE: Hello everyone. I will do that. First, I want to ask a question and then maybe put it into a broader context. So as I look out in the room, I see a lot of ICANN veterans. It would help us to calibrate this conversation if we had a sense. If people could be raise their hand how many of you are basically familiar with ICANN's internal processes of the GNSO. Just so I know. Okay. So it's a mix. So we've got some folks for whom this would be relatively new and some folks who have lived through it directly. So we will try to phrase it in a way that hits the sweet spot between talking to the insiders who are already deep into ICANN and people for whom this is a relatively new thing. Of course whenever you start to approach anything about ICANN, you're immediately hit with a lot of acronyms and strange relationships between organizational units and things like that which can make your head spin.
So let me just back off one step to say why we're doing this and put it into broader context. We talk a lot in the Internet Governance Forum and related processes about the benefits and joys and pains of sorrows of multi‑stakeholder cooperation. Very often, those discussions are fairly abstract. In the IGF after all we're basically having dialogue about a lot of things. We don't talk very often about how does multi‑stakeholderism actually work in decision making processes where things are actually being decided that have real world consequences and where there's actual power and material interests at stake and parties are divided and there's bargaining and negotiations and hard feelings and long processes and all of those kinds of things that go on. So we thought it would be useful to take a look at the case of the role of civil society in the GNSO council as a sort of instance of a larger set of phenomena which is, you know, the challenges of making multi‑stakeholder cooperation work when it's not just dialogue, when we're really trying to do something in the way of adopting policies, et cetera.
We represent civil society, the groups that are here within the GNSO which as Robin was saying, does the policy development process for generic top level domains, the.coms and .orgs and so on as well as ‑‑ of course we have now in ICANN, we have the new GTLD program which starting next year will start to add many hundreds of new extensions into the domain name space. So the consequences of that are fairly significant. So we're actually involved in making decisions around policy selections which then go to the board and so on. We have by the way just to flag the point, among some of the people in the room, I'm very happy to say we have no less than three former chair persons of the GNSO council.
We have Chuck Gomes over here, Avri Dora over here and the current chair of the GNSO council Jonathan Robinson is listening online and we have Stephan Van Gelder, who has been Chair, so we have in this room four people virtually four people who have been in charge of managing the council where all of these different interests are aggregated and have to be fought out over exactly how we're going to do domain name policy. I think we have the basis for some interesting perspective. Briefly, NCUC was the first non‑commercial grouping that was established in ICANN, back in 1999, I suppose when it was actually, the GNSO had a different name ‑‑ the DNSO, the Domain Supporting Organization. It has grown over time. We have now over 300 members about, I, think, 85 or 80 organizational members and a couple of hundred individual members. It has been very concerned over the course of its history in particular with issues of civil liberties. Our community is very globalized. More than 2/3rds of our members are from outside the United States. And yet our major concerns have tended to be around questions of privacy, freedom of speech, things like that but the agenda has grown to encompass many other dimensions as ICANN has grown.
We've got a lot more interested in development and a lot of the geopolitics of internet governance and so forth. So basically all the different aspects of GTLD policy that the GNSO handles. The NCUC tries to represent civil society interests and has been doing that for quite sometime. We should note that there's also the second constituency, the newer constituency which we'll introduce. I have to say that outside the GNSO, we have the At Large structure which is important as well in ICANN. At Large is supposed to represent the interests of individual users. It includes a lot of civil society people as well as commercial users. They have a broader kind of view. They're not just focused on the GNSO like we are. They're involved in the broader range of ICANN activities, including what goes on in the country code and the CCNSO and the GAC and so on and so forth.
So ICANN has many different pieces. Civil society players are spread about in different spots in ICANN. What we're going to try to do here is try to talk about how it really works in the nitty‑gritty on the ground level. By the way, NCUC if anybody is interested to know more, we have a very simple URL which if I could project something on the screen I would, but it's just simply NCUC.org. I see a number of members in the room. Let me hand the mic over. This is awkward that we have to do it this way. Mary, do you want to talk about NPOC?
>> MARY-LAURE LEMINEUR: Thank you, Bill. I don't have much to say now. Robin has already said that our constituency is rather new. We celebrated our 2 year anniversary last June. Sitting here, I'm like the newest recruit because I'm been involved in ICANN for a year and a half. I'm still one of those people who are learning some of the acronyms because it takes quite a long time to get familiar with, you know, all the acronyms and the dynamic within the organization and all the working group and the way you can get involved. It's rather complicated but once you can grasp it, you get basically, I don't want to use the expression that I fell in love with it, but you really get excited and you realize that this is an opportunity to live the experience of the multi‑stakeholder model on a daily basis and we're going to talk a little bit about that. But basically NPOC as Bill said, our members are not not‑for‑profit organization.
We're not allowed in our group to have individual members. It's just organizations. Well, our policy agenda is very much linked to obviously the ICANN agenda. We also have a leg outside ICANN through a partnership that we established with other NGOs and we trained to touch upon other policy issues outside the ICANN worlds. I will give some more information about that later on. So are we supposed to ‑‑ that's your turn.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Okay. Great. Thank you, Marie‑laure Lemineur. Stephan Van Gelder, if you could make give us a quick something about your experience with the GNSO and working with civil society, a quick overview.
>> STEPHAN VAN GELDER: Yeah, Robin, thanks very much. Hello. My name is Stephan Van Gelder, and as a former GNSO chair, what I really wanted to address was both the situation from the view point of the constituency that I represented when I was GNSO chair which was the registrar constituency or stakeholder group as it's now called and the situation as I saw it when I became chair. Now, I should explain that being chair of the GNSO council is much more of a neutral role or supposed to be then being a member of the council representing a constituency or stakeholder group. So once you become chair, you're a representative of the council as a whole. What tends to happen is that you come in as a member of the council representing a group, ready to fight for that group's interest in a multi‑stakeholder environment without having a clear definition of what that means because when you're talking about multi‑stakeholder environment, you're supposed to be talking about an environment that fosters discussion and understanding what the other groups are either talked in, talking about, defending, looking after. So it implies a certain degree of breaking out of your own silo and knocking on other people's doors and trying to understand their points of view and to integrate them into a general view point which can then be used by the council as a whole.
Now, my own personal experiences is that I only really began to do that effectively once I became chair because the role demanded that I be chair of the whole group. It was much easier for me. And I personally ‑‑ I don't know with whether Avri or Chuck or Jonathan will speak to this but personally, I found this a lot more comfortable being in that role, being able to talk to everyone, being able to take time to understand those issue. That's was the point where I felt that multi‑stakeholderism was really working for me because I was actively going out to understand everybody's points of view. So I have to admit that people the people to my left, Bill, Robin and others were a great help in helping me understand the ‑‑ well, civil society's viewpoints.
With my business background, I would say that I probably missed a lot of that before entering the discussion from the view point of being a neutral chair. I think that's relevant to what goes on here at the IGF because I think it's important for people at the IGF to realize that they're also working in this multi‑stakeholder and that also requires everyone to try and maybe go out of their own silos and try and understand what other people's view points are. I'm not entirely sure that it's as easy to do as we all think it is or perhaps we think we're doing it. But certainly I thought I was doing it before and found out that I was probably not doing it as much as I could.
So from that point of view, my experience as chair was extremely gratifying and I felt, you know, I could really feel the benefit of true multi‑stakeholderism in that kind of environment and I believe that civil society is playing a very important role in that model by, you know, making that point as often as they can because a lot of the time they're coming at the debate free of some of the agendas that business people might have. Thank you, very much.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you Stephan Van Gelder. Olga Cavalli maybe you could speak to us next and give us a bit of an overview with your experience in the GNSO and working with civil society.
>> OLGA CAVALLI: Thank you Robin and thank you Bill for the invitation. Thanks to all the friends here from whom I have learned so much and the GNSO. You may wonder why a person who now works for the government was doing in the GNSO. At that time, I was interested in the ICANN construction in general and interested in the policy development process of ICANN because I was working on my Ph.d. which is about internet governance in developing countries. I decided to apply through the NonCom to the GNSO. I friend of mine came to me before and said you should apply for ccNSO and I said no, I want the GNSO because this is where real things happen in ICANN and I was not wrong at all.
The first thing to tell you is that the first e‑mail I got when I was appointed by the NonCom was an e‑mail from a representative of the business constituency saying we shouldn't have NonCom appointees from developing countries. Why do we have them? There's no need for them. I said, wow. This will be interesting and it was. For me, it has been a fantastic learning experience. I have said this to you many times. I really believe that. My English improved a lot. You can be sure about that. I also learned so much from all of you from Chuck, Stephan Van Gelder, Bill, Robin, all of you and the GNSO and I enjoyed my name in the GNSO. As I was kind of ‑‑ I received kind of a reaction from the business part of the GNSO and was so welcomed by the civil society part of it, then I became kind of an advocate of the civil society representatives in the GNSO somehow. And they finally decided to propose me as vice chair and I was elected and I worked with Chuck and Stephan Van Gelder. So this is a little bit of my story. Let me tell you that my experience in the GNSO is fantastic now as my role of GAC representative of Argentina because I understand all the process in other SOs and ACs, are much better than before. So for I think the GAC, that could be beneficial. I don't know if other members think the same but I do believe for me, it's very important. I stop now.
>> BERTRAND DE LA CHAPELLE: Hi, I have never been on the GNSO council or any other structures within the GNSO. I may have to think about where I'm going to fit after I leave the board in a couple of weeks. That's actually the main reason why I accepted to be on this panel was to see what are the various options. Joking, a very private joke, sorry for the people who are not ICANN insiders. I have been in the GAC and even vice chair of the GAC ‑‑ and the GNSO is as you know the structure inside of ICANN has three steps dealing with different issues. There's one, there's the ASO that deals with addresses and most of the processes happen outside of ICANN and what is brought within the ICANN space is relatively little, if any. The CCNSO has a little bit more activity within ICANN but the main objective is to make sure that not too much of community is meddling into the affairs CCNSO; because there are many affairs that they're doing with themselves. The good thing is that they do it on the occasion of ICANN meetings.
The GNSO is the one who has the highest step and the most complex structure. The reason why it has the most complex structure is because everything that is related to Gs is global rules. Guess what, apart from ICANN, there is nothing that produces global rules. Therefore, the extremely complex structure that has been put in place and I recognize that it's not only hard to understand at first glance, but also hard to navigate and function on a daily basis, is dealing with the extremely difficult task of developing rules, principals sometimes but also decisions ‑‑ operational decisions, that deal with the global resource.
I used to call that ‑‑ I still call the domain name space, the semantic spectrum, even if a lot of people cringe about that. It's a quasi regulatory function regarding how you allocate ideally what is a common global resource. The way functions are mostly bases on the so‑called policy development process. The process has been reformed and the structure of the GNSO has been reformed also for a while. One of the biggest changes I think from ‑‑ in the policy development process was a few years ago to move from a so called task force model to a working group model. The task force model led to a situation where as the GNSO itself, the structure, is composed of many different chambers, sub‑chambers, subgroup constituencies without getting into details. The task force model that works before I arrived was mostly composing working groups or task forces with the very precise balance representing the different sub‑constituencies. The move to the working group model is something that is more or less erased this approach and has said when an issue is there, people who are from the different constituencies in the GNSO can participate.
When I was in the GAC, I have tried to push as much as possible for involvement of GAC members in the early stages of the discussions, including in the GNSO working groups themselves. I met a very strong resistance within the GAC for two reasons. One was I think a legitimate reason which is that having crossed the chasm and gone into some of the working groups on some fascinating issues and I love the experience, it is extremely time consuming and the volunteers who are participating in those groups are really dedicating a huge amount of time.
So the argument from a lot of my colleagues who didn't have the chance that I had to be mostly dedicated to internet governance, that was my portfolio, so it was already large with ICANN, ITU conferences, IGF, and so on. All of those mechanisms and processes had nothing to do with the work that most of my colleagues who were in the GAC were also doing back home when they were coming back home from the very interesting ICANN meetings. Some of them are drafting legislation for telecom regulation, others are drafting legislation for accessibility at the local level, whatever. As she was saying this was his hobby job to be the chair of the GAC. It has changed significantly but for a lot of GAC members it is difficult to participate. That's the good reason. The bad reason is that the structure of ICANN has one major flaw, I think. The relationship with the GAC seemed to imply ‑‑ I don't think it's as clear as that ‑‑ but seemed to imply that the relationship with the GAC is only towards the board because it's supposed to give advice to the board. It doesn't say much in the bylaws about how the governments can participate earlier in the processes. For the previous reasons, it's difficult.
But I met another level of resistance that was almost a principle resistance like we're the government, we only talk to the board, you know, which is bad for everybody. It's bad for the GAC because the earlier you can give your input, the better. It's bad for the community in the process because when people have worked a long time and I'm not saying that to flatter but it's a human thing when you've worked a lot of time to produce something and then the comments come at the late stage, it makes it harder for everybody. I'm now speaking on the side of the board because when you receive a situation where a lot of work has been done and then there's another advice that is for whatever reason in contradiction to what the policy development process has produced, it is difficult to arbitrate and it is difficult to handle it at the later stage.
Why am I explaining all of this? It's because the GNSO is the key part that defines global rules. That's what it is created for. What I try to explain to people when they ask how ICANN functions, a lot of people are presenting the structure which is the wrong way to represent ICANN which is to explain how the board is composed. I hate this drawing. The reality is that ICANN is basically fulfilling the functions that exist in governance frameworks or governments at the national level. DSOs are the legislative part. They're the part where the process of drafting the rule is being connected. The staff in its executive function is implementing those things. It can be the INF function, it can be the GTLD program, it can be an everyday thing. The board has a function of validation of the processes on both sides. IE, when a policy has been developed it comes to the board and it is validated by the board after its validated by the council of the GNSO or the others. When a staff makes a decision that needs validation, it comes to the board as well. This is easy to understand.
This turns out that the portion that drafts the legislation, the rules is itself supposed of the SOs plus the SCs who chime in. If the SCs are chiming in on the process early but also at a later stage, it makes it a little bit harder. In addition, the relationship of the civil society is within the GNSO and also through the At Large and second ‑‑ so the position that I've been in, in the GAC, the position that I am now in the board, and the way I look at the GNSO process, is that I think it is currently requesting a tremendous amount of commitment by everybody and the time of everybody is not spent best.
I personally believe that on most issues and as one of the questions that was circulated in advance, there's one thing that I think we should pay much more attention to, is to identify issues earlier and get the whole community to freely discuss the issues in the GNSO space as early as possible, including governments, including At Large and the rest. The notion of birds of feather, the notion of issue framing sessions, before we start the PDP, before we start the issue paper, before we start any formal process, is a stage that we systematically skip and because we skip it we don't frame the issues in the right way. We lose a lot of time and energy afterwards. So my suggestion is to think about the GNSO not only in terms of structures and formal processes, but also as a space that should facilitate as much as possible, a very broad discussion on issues and steer the broad discussion on issues as early as possible and as broadly as possible.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you Bertrand de la Chapelle. Stephan Van Gelder, was there something you wanted to add?
>> STEPHANE VAN GELDER: Thank you, very much Robin. I'm just a small point. I'm fearful that I'll get fired if I don't mention I've just selected to be a NomCom chair elect. It's actually the nominating committee which is a way into ICANN leadership positions from outside of the ICANN community if you will if I can summarize it that way. It's a process which happens every year which everyone is welcome to apply for and is a conduit to board, GNS, CCNSO and ILAC positions. Thanks, Robin.
>> WILLAM DRAKE: Actually, I think we need to back off a further step. Some things might be not entirely clear to folks who live outside the ICANN sphere. We've been talking about the GNSO counsel and so on. We should make clear that each of the stakeholder groups that are involved in GTLD policy elect representatives to this council and the council then votes on motions to adopt positions which then go to the board and so on. It is there that a lot of our fighting and collaboration goes on.
Now, there's also below ‑‑ not below the level of the council, separate from the council there are working groups formed by members of the community to work on particular issues and that goes up back through the council as well. What's important to bare in mind, we've not really kind of made it clear here. I think for a civil society, we are one quarter of this structure. There's the one house which is the contracted parties, the registries and the registrars that are under contract with ICANN, which sell domain names. Then there's the other half of the house which is supposed to be the users. One half of that is business. That's the commercial stakeholder group. It has three constituencies, intellectual property interests, the business constituency, and the internet service providers.
And then the other quarter, that's us. It's NPAC, NCUC, under the leadership of Robin. So we're one quarter of this larger structure. We have six votes. One of the challenges is that on the one hand you've got a structure that more than any other process that I know, gives civil society a very direct possibility to impact decisions on policy by having votes on the decisions ‑‑ being able to help to write the texts that later go through the whole process and up to the board, et cetera. It can really configure things.
At the same time, we're also limited by the rules in some important ways because we can't pass anything on our own just because the six of us happen to agree, we have Wolfgang as a member of the council here for us. Yes, David Cake is here, he's a member of the council for us. Just because we all agree on a position, that means nothing. We're forced to find partners either from the commercial stakeholder group or from the contracted parties to try to push something through. Very often we fail. Very often civil society does not prevail. I would say more often than not business interests tend to predominate in the GNSO because the GNSO, the GTLD space is a space that involves big money, big players, and a lot of high stakes. And we're in there saying, hey, protect civil societies uses of the internet.
Hey, protect privacy and so on. We're often able to get good ideas into the process because we have a formal equality. Even if the big players are more well resourced and more influential, when it comes to being able to participate in the discussion, we each have an equal vote, we each have an equal say, we have the ability to sit next to each other and argue and try to persuade each other. This is, I think, really a key aspect of multi‑stakeholderism and as I say when you care it to IGF and some other environments, you don't see that same dynamic. We are doing serious horse trading, back and forth arguing, long nights, cooperating online, extensively in e‑mail constantly, monthly meetings, et cetera ‑‑ trying to work out and find areas of consensus and dissentious among the parties. So I just wanted to get that on the table. It's a very intensive and unique environment but it's one that actually does impact policy. By the way, there is a background paper on the website for this session if you're interested that lays out some questions and some of these basic points. It has pointers to the websites of the organizations involved.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thanks, Bill. Before we go to the questions, I think some folks here wanted to weigh in.
>> MARY-LAURE LEMINEUR: Yeah just to what Bill said about we can't pass something on our own. That's the beauty, I would say, of the model because it's about power sharing. It's a system where there is check and balancing. It's what the multi‑stakeholder model is about so I would say and no one is more important than the other one. We have to negotiate to get together and simply negotiate.
>> OLGA CAVALLIi: Thank you, Robin ‑‑ one of my outcomes after the four years in the GNSO and I think it's a general comment about ICANN is that GNSO are original balance, kind of desperate. The resistance about comments and opinions from people from developing countries is that it's ‑‑ you can feel that and being a NomCom chair, I encourage NomCom to select members who are relevant participants that can handle the language. Its not easy if English is your second or third language, then you have to be sure that you select them for the GNSO, I mean it. It's real challenging. It's talking on the phone and long calls and extremely complex conversations so if your english is not good enough, it's extremely complex to participate in a real relevant way to make a real ‑‑ contribution. Thank you so much. It's the jet lag that enables my Spanish not my English. So that is also needed by ICANN. ICANN is going through this internationalization process so that is ‑‑ and I have a question for the two civil society and NPOC ‑‑ how many of those 300 members are from Latin America for example?
>> MARY-LAURE LEMINEUR: Thank you. Before answering, I would like to say you just raised a very important issue actually a first draft report, assessing the GNSO that had been released and one of the weaknesses that has been emphasized in the report is that within the GNSO, most region underdeveloped region not represented and there are many. Most of the participants are from the United States and from Europe. So what I would like to add is that as a civil society I'm feeling that we are contributing to have some sort of geographic balance because we just went through a process of election of GNSO councilors and we actually had two candidates from Africa, one from the northern part of Africa, one from sub‑Sahara, and one of them was elected, actually. So think that's one of the contributions to the GNSO council.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: Okay. I'm looking at the list of our members here. It appears that about 15 of our 85 or so organizational members are Latin‑American, the largest number are Brazilian but there are several from Argentina, Peruvian and some others. Overall, some 2/3rds of our membership is not from the United States. So we're definitely the most ‑‑ I would say NPOC and NCUC along with At Large, that is to say the nonbusiness parts of ICANN are by far the most internationalized parts of ICANN. There's no question about that, which I think is an interesting dynamic. You know we have a number of other people here who we might want to ask Avri or David or others. We have so many ICANN people in the room, including as I say, several former chairs. I don't know if you want to get them involved.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Well, I was going to go into the questions but if you guys wants to speak up, please do. David, if you want to contribute.
>> DAVID CAKE: Well, I want to say that I'm David Cake from electronic frontiers Australia, currently, ICANN GNSO councilor for the noncommercial stakeholder group. What I was saying about that question about the international nature, I think the NCSG is the only part of the GNSO council that actually has rules in place to ensure that we're not all from the one region and we have people ‑‑ we currently have councilors from every ‑‑ we have one from Brazil, currently and one from ‑‑ yeah, we just selected one from Africa. So we do try to be international.
I just wanted to say one of the things ‑‑ it's very easy ‑‑ one of the great things about being in the GNSO council and being involved in the multi‑stakeholder process is as Stephan Van Gelder kind of alluded earlier, your colleagues from other stakeholder groups are constantly schooling you and things and teaching you a lot of ‑‑ and several ‑‑ and one of the things that has been made clear to me by some of my councilor colleagues is how very important it is to distinguish between ‑‑ we always talk about the GNSO when we mean its GNSO council but they're not at all the same thing. The GNSO council is a figure head. It appears to be very important because it meets very publically and has elections and we get to see it on a big stage and make ‑‑ and have public meetings, but the real work of the GNSO council is a management body for the GNSO. It is not the GNSO and the real work. The real reason why it all works is the working groups. T
he working groups they work so well because unlike ‑‑ I mean, the GNSO which often has to vote and do a lot of procedural stuff, often it really is subject matter experts getting in there together and digging in and adding their perspectives and this is part of the GNSO ‑‑ when we talk a lot about multi‑stakeholderism but a GNSO group is the place to experience it. You'll be sitting there with a lawyer and technical expert and somebody who understands the process of registrar and working on the same thing. It works very effectively when it does. That's the comment that I want to make for the room about how it works in process. It's really the working groups that are the magical part, I guess.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Okay. Thanks first, we've got ‑‑ okay. You have a remote? Okay. Who else wanted to peek? I've got Avri, Stephan Van Gelder, Bertrand de la Chapelle, this gentleman. That would be great. And then may be we get into the questions, Avri.
>> AVRI DORIA: First, I'm going to read a couple of the comments that I have. So I have one from Jonathan Robinson, who's the current chair of the GNSO council and there are two comment here. Part of it goes to what David was saying. Voting on the outcomes takes place in the GNSO council, much of the hard work takes place in the working groups which are open to all. That was an important consideration then registry stakeholder has three councilors from three distinct regions by latitude, Americas, EMEA, and Asia. So there is some diversities beyond just the civil society quadrant. I guess now that I've got the microphone, I did want to comment on a few things and just by way of background, I did serve five years in the GNSO council and have been insane enough to get elected to go back into it.
So I actually really find it a worth while place to be for some reason. But ‑‑ and indeed I do echo the comments of it sort of being a core in a sense or very much one of the engines where a lot of energy of ICANN comes from a lot of the crises of where ICANN comes from. One thing that I wanted to point out that you talked about civil society being one quarter and then we look at the rest of it and sort of what are the other three quarters? We've gotten very used to saying well, you know, half of them, two of the other quarters are people who have contracts with ICANN. Okay. And then we have another quarter that has ‑‑ are people that are the commercial users and registrants with ICANN.
Okay. So it looks like well, that's a fair balance, right? There's one quarter and a quarter and another two. You can also look at it and say there are three commercial quarters and one civil society quarter. That's always one of the things that I like to point out. I also wanted to go back slightly in history because when I started in the GNSO council, there was actually an active liaison with the board who participated in all of the meetings, who commented. We would get communications from the GAC ‑‑ I mean, it as a liaison from the GAC. We would get comments from them. We would respond to these comments. And then at a certain point, we weren't really doing what those comments had requested. So the liaison sort of stopped and that's when the philosophy of well, we can't really work with the GNSO, we have to work with the board, but when I first came into this GNSO, that notion hadn't quite gelled and the liaison was active and the relationship between the two was active but my impression was that we didn't do what we were supposed to do so the liaison became more of a liability then a benefit. So yeah, that was pretty much what I wanted to say.
>> ROBIN GROSS: All right, thank you. Sir, did you have a comment that you wanted to make? I'm sorry. Okay. So Stephan Van Gelder, while we're figuring this out here why don't you go ahead.
>> STEPHANE VAN GELDER: Thanks, Robin. Picking up on a couple of points that have been made. We could devolve this discussion into a technical debate about the GNSO which probably wouldn't be interesting to most. Another way of looking at it is to try and be forward looking and see how with the understanding that there's an impending GNSO review coming up, how the GNSO might evolve to better take into account multi‑stakeholderism and the variety interests that are represented on the council. I mean, one of the things that David said was something that I heard a lot as chair and that I actually felt pressurized as chair a lot about which is the conflict between the GNSO community and the GNSO council which I've never understood to be honest.
think yes, the GNSO council is the place where there are rules and procedures to ensure that there is a certain amount of representation of the different groups. There's no such rules and procedures in the GNSO working group level, anybody ‑‑ most working groups, anybody can go in. So you can get working groups that are actually very lop‑sided compared to the council, and you can get working groups that work very well. Looking forward, I think the questions we want to ask ourselves are, how can we steer the GNSO council review so that there's better representation then in the current system which most people ‑‑ the bicamerals are two houses as described earlier. One which is ‑‑ yes, Avri, it is three parts to one commercial to noncommercial but one house is strictly contracted with ICANN.
So currently, the structure is a bit strange. How can we steer that review to make sure that everyone feels that they are better represented, I think, is the key issue in front of us to really make sure that multi‑stakeholderism principle works and works effectively so that the effective contributions of civil society, business, be it contracted with ICANN or not, is truly felt through these processes. Thank you.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. Bertrand de la Chapelle, did you have a commend.
>> BERTRAND DE LA CHAPELLE: Actually, it's going exactly in the direction of Stephan Van Gelder. I was actually wanting to ask a question which is related to the purpose of the meeting we have today. I'm a little bit unclear about what we're trying to achieve here and what is exactly the purpose. Going with what Bill was saying, if the room had been mostly full of people who are not familiar with ICANN, it would have been mostly an outreach and engagement system. There's a lot of ICANNers who are here, not all of the room, but a lot of it. We are as usual, it's very natural. We're transporting ICANN somewhere else. We're transporting ICANN and it is not your fault because ICANN is faulty as well. Every year, the open forum of ICANN is turning into an internal ICANN discussion. Whatever the hot topic of the day in the ICANN space is at the moment, becomes the hot topic that we deal with there.
In going with what Stephan Van Gelder is saying, I would suggest that it is an interesting question to at the IGF, discuss what changes in civil society participation when it is a part of a decision making structure versus a decision shaping structure. Participation civil society at the IGF is extremely easy. Everybody is open, equal footing, talking, it's like an open forum. Your cue for the mic, no problem. The question of civil society participation in decision making processes is raising extremely important questions that are not only within ICANN but are more general regarding representation. Representation is an argument that is thrown at anybody promoting the multi‑stakeholder model, as a criticism saying, who does this guy represent? They're small groups, they're kind of ‑‑ can a single individual represent anything?
Most of the structures even within ICANN are open to organization as you said. What about absolute individuals? Where do you fit as an absolute individual in ICANN. It's not easy not in a structure. You can speak, you can talk, you can comment but it's not that easy to be ‑‑ yeah, okay but that's the only place where you can go which means that there is now an outreach, Bill was mentioning, organization. But the participation of individuals is an element that is important as well. What I wanted to say is there's a fundamental contribution that people in NCUC and NPOC, can make within the whole debate of the IGF regarding what are the challenges, and what are the specific challenges related to decision making? How do you cope with the question of weighted voting and how do you compose the different groups, is the current balance fair, not fair? Who decides the balance?
I was in the work ‑‑ I participated when I was in the GAC, the working group in the GNSO that discussed the restructuring and led to the two houses. It was decided relatively quickly as those in the group know. The end result is that it is a structure that has a great facilitation to be ‑‑ sorry for the pun, a little bit like sovereignty in international organizations. It's preventing anybody from the other house to do anything to your house, just like, I'm China, I don't want the United States to do anything to my ‑‑ so you're separating sovereignties just like the international organizations are separating sovereignties. The move to the working group model is something that's strongly in favor of cooperation. I was before in another panel on workable model for a corporation and the distinction of something that is based on allocating specific seeds to specific voting procedure to specific sub‑constituencies, always ends up in a fights of oh, I got to see that.
You got more type of relationship where there's a distinction between a group and another one preventing interaction between them. What are the lessons that you all or we all take from participating in decision making on how to surmount non‑consensus without having to kick it up to another thing and among other things, put it on the board table where there's voting. What is the difference between multi‑stakeholder decision making and multi‑stakeholder decision shaping? That's one thing I would like to discuss.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. Let me just make sure I've got a cue here. I've got Peter and then a gentleman here and then Marie‑laure Lemineur and Bill and does somebody else want to get in the cue ‑ and then Chuck.
>> Peter: I never served in the GNSO. I served in the trenches for the CCTLE. I've had an opportunity to help design and resign and criticize the GNSO. I've got a slightly more pragmatic one that you could perhaps note and come back to. It really sort of starts one probably my first law of ICANN which is price of self regulation is the result of vigilance and tireless diligence. The amount of work that's involved is unbelievable. Keeping up because every one of those members of the community can throw things up and does. Everyone one of the groups inside the GNSO can be developing its own agenda. And then the board throws things and the GAC throws ‑‑ so how do you cope? How are you coping with that? Is there a system for getting more workers into the GNSO and is there more ICANN as a corporation can do. I'm thinking of basic recruiting.
This is a really important set of workers and there doesn't seem to be much of an HR approach to looking after the workers and recruiting them and looking after them. I wonder if you've got thoughts about that and a specific subset of that is would paying ‑‑ and I fought quite a long battle eventually successfully just as I was leaving to get remuneration for board members. The same principle in my mind applies even more strongly in the working groups of the GNSO. Would that make a difference if there are compensation systems and forget about designing one now. But if there was some sort of compensation, would it make recruitment and would it make the work somehow more bearable? You know, as a result of either of those or the absence are you seeing volunteer fatigue and if you are what are you doing about it? Thanks.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Is there anyone who wanted to respond to Peter's questions before we move on in the cue?
>> STEPHANE VAN GELDER: Thanks for affording me the privilege of being on the panel and able to cut all across the tube. Certainly a lot of very important points there which we ‑‑ or certainly a lot of people have had to graple with the pay issue is one is one that ‑‑ sorry, compensation is one that's very close to my heart. I've long argued that the amount of time the board members spend doing their jobs and the quality that we now search for in board members, this obviously bridges both my GNSO positions and the NomCom now. If you're looking for quality candidates in the GNSO or anywhere else in the community at board level, certainly, you need to ask them to almost take up a full time commitment.
So how can you balance that with their needs to either have another job or be at a high enough level to be able to work and fulfill that commitment? One of the answers has been compensation. I'm not sure ‑‑ certainly, if there is compensation for GNSO people, then I'll certainly put in an application for my back pay. If that doesn't come, I'm not sure more seriously that compensation is the right signal because it brings with it a whole set of challenges on the motivations that people, you know, have for coming in and doing their job. So it's very difficult balance to strike. On the one hand I believe you need to be able to compensate for people for their time otherwise, to put it bluntly, you don't get enough quality in the candidates.
On the other hand, if you do start compensating, you do end up with people you're not really sure why they're there or if they're there for the right reasons, I should say. But bare in mind that at the crux of this issue is the one that we were talking about earlier on about is this model effective? Currently, and this is one of the things that Avri said. The reason that you have so much business interest especially contracted business interest is because frankly, it's those people's jobs to be there. They already get paid to be there. So, you know, they are in essence, being paid to be active community volunteers. The only people who are doing this out of their own free time are the civil society people. I think, you know, that's an important point to make.
So, you know, Peter as usual made some very good and challenging points. It's difficult to answer them. Recruitment certainty just to spend a very short amount of time on that. Volunteer burn out is a clear issue and it's linked to the compensation because you're burning yourselves out trying to do two things at once. Certainly if you're on the leadership team, trying to balance an everyday job with GNSO council leadership is hell.
You know, it's just ‑‑ it really is difficult. So I don't have the answers but certainly problems that we had to grapple with.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. Olga Cavalli, did you want to comment.
>> OLGA CAVALLI: Just a quick reaction to Peter's comments and Stephan Van Gelder, I fully agree. I don't have any answers but my experience in sharing working groups is that they're open to the ICANN community but when the time comes very few people participate. Sometimes these working groups are captured by some people. Maybe they have more time or special interests. So it is a model that looks nice because it's more open and more interactive into the ICANN community but at the same time it can be captured and endangered. So workers in the GNSO as Peter mentioned is an important issue to solve.
>> MARY-LAURE LEMINEUR: Thank you. Back to your question, Bertrand de la Chapelle, at least a civil society to me, coming back to the IGM is like going back to school. It's like thinking hearing, listening to new trends, you know, sharing information and going to ICANN and being involved in working group is going a step further. It's getting to work and actually being involved in the process where you have to take decision you have to negotiate with people and develop policies.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you, William Drake.
>> WILLIAM DRAKE: I wanted to speak to the resource issue. I think it is really important what Peter asked them. Civil society people are there on their own. We have organizational members and some of those organizations have staffers who have a portfolio of different processes they follow and maybe doing ICANN work is a piece of somebody's portfolio. So you've got a piece of ‑‑ I small piece of some staffer's labor. A lot of the other people that you got in civil society where you're really doing the stuff are various individuals.
Now, Bertrand de la Chapelle was saying before, you know, questions of accountability and so on. Well, we have elections. I mean, she was elected, I was elected, all of these people were elected by our peers So even though we don't come from a centralized formal organization, our legitimacy and accountability comes from the fact that we had 170 people cast votes and this is who won and so on, okay? But getting people to put the time and energy into the ICANN process either as an individual or as a staffer of an organization is very, very difficult because it is much more labor‑intensive then a lot of other processes that you could participate in. Everything is very irritative. Everything is on going. It's not like if you go into say the OECD process and join the civil society advisory group there, or you go into an IGF thing or something, you know the activities are all geared around a particular meeting and then you're done.
In ICANN everything is ongoing multiyear work programs that just never end with continuing iterations over and over. People fry out. The other problem is that you have to convince them that this is so central to the work that they do, the values that they hold, the things that advocate for, that it's ‑‑ that it merits being moved up their agenda relative to everything else. So if somebody is a human rights worker and they want to do digital human rights they're looking out in the world and they're saying governments are adopting censorship policies all over the world and they're filtering in this and that. You say to them yes, and you should worry about the domain system. For a lot of them that doesn't seem like the most primary issue. I am a human's right person. I am a person who's worried about developing country and access. I am a person who's worried about excessive intellectual property claims.
All of these kinds of things and I don't' the DNS as my first stop in terms of the hierarchy that's important. So the challenge for us to say is well, wait. In fact all of those issues play out in the domain name space. Privacy is a big factor in the way the domain name space works. Intellectual property considerations are highly configurative of everything going on in here. So trying to connect the dots so that people will see that in fact, the work had a ICANN is doing is integral to the larger tapestry of internet governance problems that you're working on and to convince them that they should stick with it and put in a large amount of volunteer labor. This is very hard. Inevitably, we often here from our business partners, you know, the civil society guys sometimes in spurts they come and work hard. Then they disappear. We don't know where they are. We don't have enough of them in this particular working group or whatever. It's hard for people whose job it is to track this stuff to realize that you're asking volunteers to do this out of the love of the issues.
So it's a very special challenge and I think the people that are willing to commit to it are fairly crazy but actually, the process is sufficiently interesting and important that once you get into it, it becomes slightly addictive. We all unfortunately, I will say because half this room is ICANN regulars and half is not, the regulars, we've got like this weird addiction. I'm sorry, I don't know how else to explain it. Some of my friends who come from outside of ICANN, they say why do you do this stuff? But it's like, you know, if you stop doing it, you start Jonesing for it.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thanks. Chuck, do you have a comment you want today make? Oh, I'm sorry ‑‑ after this gentleman here.
>> PRANISH: Hello my name is Pranish. I work for the Center for Internet in Society in India. Well, my question is that there's been a fair amount of discussion around diversity and representation today. Why is that important in GNSO itself? So is it important which region of the world you're from, whether you're from a developing country or not what your gender is because I can understand IDNs as a relatively limited part because there are other stakeholders that represent it. So as it's in everyones interest to have more IDNs in a sense, right? So are interests really aligned along those lines or are they aligned along which commercial stake community you belong to whether you're government or civil society. Because around privacy, IP, et cetera those are divided.
So why is diversity important is one question and if representativeness and diversity is indeed important then did the GNSO group review that we heard about, I think, did that go into that at the working group level as well or what exactly was the ‑‑ I'm sorry, I haven't heard the report, I should.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. Is there anyone on the panel that wanted to respond to this? Yes, Olga Cavalli.
>> OLGA CAVALLI: My concrete answer is look at the GNSO at the legitimacy of the results. How many applications you have from Latin America, 24. From Africa, you have 17 from other parts the world, 100. So this means these regions are unaware of that process. This means internationalization of ICANN and GNSO. I've been participating very actively and we need more people from other regions. You need balance and the region activity in the community of ICANN but it's not a problem only from the GNSO it's from ICANN.
I think Stephan Van Gelder said something very interesting, those companies that's are interested have their own employees actively participating and then there is civil society and other people, part of the community that try to participate. I can tell you that I can provide several ways of dual participating remotely or through fellowship or other fundings. It's a matter of motivating ‑‑ Peter said GNSO workers. I like that concept. You need more people from different parts the world. So all of this comments and issues are broad to the discussions. Now we have problems with develop countries not being happy with many outcomes and I won't enter into this because it's an issue of another panel.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Can someone get Rafike the mic. Oh, I'm sorry.
>> RAFIKE: So I want to reply to why we need diversity. Why we need it. It's not just for the sake to have diversity but why like when Olga Cavalli talked about the problem, it was the NCIG at that time we advocated why we have these expensive fees to apply for new GTLD and then we push it within GNSO. It was not easy in that time. It ‑‑ we do create a working group and to have recommendation and asking and advocate the board to have ‑‑ it is not just about the fees but to provide a lot of support and so on.
Because we have the diversity, we have people from developing countries who are sensitive to this issue, we can't advocate. So that's why we need diversity it's not just to have from similar region. It's up to us because we're maybe sensitive to other issues so we can bring them to GNSO council. So, yeah.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Great. Now could we hear from Chuck and then we've got Marie‑laure Lemineur.
>> CHUCK GOMES: Thank you. I'm going to come back to the comments that David made because I think they're really critical to a lot of what we're talking about. Before I do that let me say that what I'm going to say doesn't detract from any of the needs or issues that other people have raised. What David said was that the real focus should be on the working group level. I hope we haven't discouraged too many new people from joining working groups or getting involved in the GNSO today. The issues that everybody is talking about are real. They're very real, okay? So I don't want to minimize that.
I've experienced them first hand. But the focus really should be on the working group level where it is open to everybody. Individuals are welcome there just like organizations. That's where the real work goes on. Now, our focus continues to be and we've talked about getting away from that over the years but we've never really succeeded. Like David said, the council is suppose today manage the policy development process, they're not making policy. How can they help the working groups do better? How can they make sure there's full representation? How can they make sure where there are problems in getting participants, how can they motivate that? In the end, when voting really occurs at the council level, it should be, was the process followed, were all stakeholders that are impacted, were they involved and if not, were efforts made to do that? If the council was doing that and by the way, it was no different then when I was chair of the council.
So I was no better than anybody else. If that's really what the council did, it probably wouldn't be as popular to be on the council, because there's not as much power and glory associated with that. But in fact, I think that might really be a function that could really benefit and help the working group model which is where policy is really developed.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Marie‑laure Lemineur.
>> MARIE-LAURE LEMINEUR: Yes, thank you. Going back to the diversity question. We should not forget also that ICANN has been accused or labeled from you know, from its beginning as a U.S. focused based organization. So it has been a very strong criticism and there is right now a new process and the new CEO, as well as all of us, we try, you know, to have on board more people and open offices all over the world. So this diversity and geographical representation is very ‑‑ it's a key factor in the sense that it can make ICANN a more international organization ‑‑ internationalized organization not international organization.
And also, the working group level I would like to describe very briefly my experience because we just ‑‑ Avri and myself, as well as two other colleagues from NCSG, we belong to ‑‑ we've been participating in the working group for almost a year about who is ‑‑ it has been a very, very interesting experience. My first working group first time I participated and this is how work should. You have to be on the conference call every week for at least an hour. You have to do the readings in between, you know, the sessions if you want to ‑‑ you know if you want to do a serious job. If you want to be very active. The level of participation is really up to you. I mean it depends on the amount of time you have and the passion you have. Really. It's up to each person. I remember that we started out, we were roughly, what, 30 members and we ended up, I mean, like 10 to 12 really like the most active members. It has been very interesting time consuming.
Interestingly enough, the four of us from the NCSG group, we joined the subgroup within this working group on data protection and privacy because this was sort of the issue that was most interesting to us. We wanted to fight about, you know, some ‑‑ we wanted to make a point. I think at the end, I think the pressure and our presence in the working group, we ended up ‑‑ I'm pretty pleased with the reports and the recommendations and I think ‑‑ and then we reach a full consensus but we were around and every week and we went on and on and on and having background discussion and debates and open ones and thanks to our presence, maybe some thing went in the report that without us, wouldn't have been agreed on.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. I think we've got one final question here and we'll go to final comments from the panel.
>> MARY-LAURE LEMINEUR: Thank you. I'd like to go back to something that Rafike said. I'm not quite sure I understood what he said but I'd like to ask her a question. You mentioned the importance of having a developing country representatives to push for some issues such as price of the. Price for developing countries is something quite sensitive. It means for us inclusion into the process. I wonder sometimes if the organization performs a public function because we know it's a corporation. Does the organization as a hole see itself as an organization that performs a global public function and has a public role because sometimes I think that, yes, we're talking about internationalization so I think that note, this rule is evident.
But at some point, I don't understand because if this role of this public role of global public role is relevant, then why not prices are an issue in spite of the fact that people are not there actually pushing for it because it should be an issue. We don't need to have advocates for that if you're an organization that performs a global public function. A couple of years ago, I asked that question in a panel about ICANN, if there has been some study of impact of the new GTLDs in developing countries before launching the program. The answer from a developing country representative in ICANN was that, actually, we did not carry out that study before put that in place. I find that ‑‑ so I just would like to understand how the organization sees itself. That was Marie‑laure Lemineur.
>> BERTRAND DE LA CHAPELLE: If I may chime in on the question that she's asking. When we say ICANN we conflate a lot of things. What is the ICANN that you're talking about? Now, the decisions that the board makes, they're the decisions that the staff makes, although they shouldn't be making decisions normally but in some cases they do. They are policies that are developed by the organization in the GNSO. They are positions by the governments. All of these pieces are ICANN as a whole. The organization is and I would label it on a personal basis. It is a global public interest organization. That's what the system is about. The question you asked is a very, very important question.
In Singapore, when the final vote on the UGTLD program was made and the whole room was applauding and I believe voted in favor of the program, afterwards, I went to almost all the friends that I know in the community who were applicants and so on and I said raise your right hand and repeat after me. I solemnly pledge to respect the letter and the spirit of the new GTLD applicant guidebook and to make sure that all people that I see not following these things, I will encourage them to be faithful to whatever they've decided. Guess what, more than 90 percent of the people that I asked that from made the pledge without any problem. I won't quote names. I remember four people who didn't want to make the pledge. This system doesn't function because the staff is in charge of the global public interest. It is not because the board is in charge of the public interest although it is a part of it. It is also because the participants not because they're kind, you don't build a policy system on the goodwill or the kindness but because the participants because the way the process functions are encouraged to incorporate the global public interest in the way they discuss and negotiate.
When you negotiate exclusively, your interests versus somebody else's interest, anybody who's not in the room will not be part of the discussion. If as I mentioned earlier, the early stages are sufficiently open, sufficiently comprehensive, sufficiently, in depth, to formulate the problem or the question in a term that's really encompassing the interest of everybody. Then the discussion afterwards will be working better. I would be the first to agree that the way the discussion the new UGTLD program has been started probably didn't spend enough time early on to examine what we all collectively want to do with this and where the global public interest approach was. The end result is thanks to the multi‑stakehold process, it's much better than what any other process run by governments or by business alone or by even civil society alone would have been. But still, it could have been better.
But it is the whole system and the procedures that guarantee the global public interest. Contrary to what ‑‑ sorry to be long but contrary to what Steve sometimes says in public forum, and we have friendly discussions, there's no definition of the public interest neither at the national level or global level. But at the national level, the constitutional processes are supposed to be balanced in order to produce something that is accepted by that community as being the outcome of the national interest. It's voted into law. Likewise, at the international level, for the limited range that we're talking about, the procedures of ICANN, have to be constructed in a way that guarantees that everybody feels that the outcome of those procedures is sufficiently representing the global public interest.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you, Bill.
>> WILLAM DRAKE: We need to move towards wrapping it, but actually the conversation is getting interesting. Actually the first ICANN meeting I went to as a councilor as a GNSO councilor, all green behind the ears, was Mexico City in 2009. There was this big debate going on in the sort of session about this notion of what is the public interest. I remember that a lot of the private sector people are just expressing exacerbation in saying, I couldn't know why we're talking about this. I don't know what this is supposed to refer to. This was my introduction. I thought, you know, this is an organization that is seriously conflicted. The reality is that it's a complex organization that reflects the totality of different players that have stakes around DNS issues. A lot of the people that come into the process are there for the money. There's no question. There are folks who are all about the Benjamins. They're there to buy and sell domain names and so on and so forth. There's also a lot of other people who view it as a global public policy, public interest organization that's establishing rules that shape the numbering and name system upon which we all rely and feel very strongly about trying to make sure that that's done in a way that balances the diverse interest of commercial and noncommercial and other players.
So you can't reduce it to one ‑‑ you can't reduce a big community down to one vision as to, you know, in a totalizing way. There are people there who have one kind of conception of the process. There are people who have another kind of conception of the process. Every ICANN meeting is as big as an IGF meeting. You go it's 1,500 people, 2,000 people. They're there for a week working hardcore none stop. They're serious about the stuff and they have different motivations. But as long as the leadership of the organization fundamentally sets out predicate that this is an organization that has these broader responsibilities not just to the community but to the world, and that is articulated by the CEO and the senior staff and the board of directors and the leadership and the other bodies. Then, I think, you know, even ‑‑ you could get over the fact that a lot of people are just there for the money. You could still effectively have good policy outcomes that are in the public interest and there are ways to try to shape things and make things better.
The price thing was an example, you know? Not to belabor the point but yes when it started out it was 185,000 for everybody to make a pitch for a new gTLD and it was civil society actors and us and ALC, At Large community, and later GAC people who said we should have a program to provide assistance to developing countries. As it happened the program turned out to not be well executed and implemented but there was an effort. That changed minds, too. People learned that we have to take these considerations into account more. So I think it's a learning organization as well. It's not, you no, an organization that doesn't look at its own experience and try to recalibrate with what's going on. We're constantly trying to improve. I think that's a good thing. I just want to point out by the way if anybody is interested in more substantive discussion because we've talked mostly process here. Most NCUC has a workshop at 11:00 o'clock on the topic of closed generic TLDs which is a very controversial issue as many my know.
>> ROBIN GROSS: Thank you. We're a of couple of minutes after now, so we're going to have to bring this to a close. I wanted to thank all of our panelists for participating and our audience participants as well. And for those who might be interested in getting involved and getting engaged with civil society at ICANN you may want to consider joining the noncommercial stakeholder group. It's a good opportunity to get engaged in the policy development process. So with that, I think we can wrap it up and thank you all.
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