At Large Structures in ICANN get together for the first time

By EDRi · March 11, 2009

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Deutsch: [Erstes Treffen der At-Large Structures ICANN |]

For the first time in ICANN history, at the 34th International ICANN meeting
in Mexico City the representatives of 88 At-Large Structures (ALS) from five
Regional At-Large Organizations representing ICANN’s global At-Large
community came together to discuss the main ICANN policies and ALS’s role in
ICANN institutions.

The first-ever gathering of the representatives of individual Internet users
(At Large Summit – ATLAS) participating in ICANN was an opportunity to
make direct recommendations in relation with ICANN policy, by developing a
public statement on 5 key-areas where five working groups with ALS members
have identified the major issues as brought up by the Internet user
representatives. Four EDRi-members (Netzwerk Neue Medien – Germany, FITUG-
Germany, ISOC Bulgaria and APTI Romania) part of the European At Large
Organization (EURALO) participated in the working groups.

The first working group focused on engagement in ICANN recommending the
consultation of regional ALSes for the most effective ways to reach
communities and end users and to use the multilingualism best practices of
other international organizations, such as the UN.

The second working group discussed the future structure and governance of
ICANN, as capture, internationalization and the continued funding of ICANN
are among the more important governance issues now facing the institution.
The group suggested a number of actions to provide safeguards against
capture. They have also underlined that “given the economic and social
importance globally of a safe and stable Internet, the process of
internationalization of ICANN must safeguard the global/worldwide role of
ICANN regarding domain names and numbers identifiers and promote larger
participation from all stakeholders globally.”

The new gTLDS (generic Top Level Domains) and IDNs (internationalized domain
name) was the main focus of the third working group, highlighting that the
current fee schedule for the new gTLDs is a clear barrier to the entry of
potential applicants, especially those who have no interest in monetizing
the TLD and those initiated in the developing and least developed countries.
The group also suggested opening a third round of gTLD applications, with a
fixed deadline, that will be subject to the string contention dispute
mechanisms described in the current guide. The ALSes expressed their concern
that the proposed “Legal Rights” objection protocol exceeded the existing
territorial and class-of-goods limitations contained in the current
international trademark treaties. They suggested that ICANN should not
engage in any trademark protection regime which extends beyond existing
international treaties; doing so in effect turns ICANN into an unauthorized
treaty organization.

Working group four debated the hot topics of transparency and accountability
and issued reconsiderations regarding the development of a budget for each
ICANN entity (including At-Large) according to their mandates including
staff costs. The budgets should be made public with the annotation of
substantive ICANN documents under consultation to indicate the origin of
support or dissent for specific proposals.

The members of ALSes also envisaged “that in order to give ICANN a clearer
image of a multi-stakeholder organisation, including Civil Society, the
composition of the Board should be re-balanced to afford a greater
visibility and representation of the Civil Society as represented by the At
Large Community. ALAC proposes that the ICANN Board should include two
voting Directors nominated by the At Large Community.”

New DNS security issues that fall within the ICANN’s Mandate formed the core
of the debates in the fifth working group and urged ICANN to support the
industry efforts to accommodate DNSSEC and its provision in a more secure
environment and to proceed in the process of having the root signed in a way
that provides integrity and is globally accepted.

The ALSes also initiated a series of thematic sessions on the topics
interesting for its members, but also other ICANN constituencies. The
session on the Internet rights and principles noted that “ICANN still
lacks a coherent and systemic approach to evaluate the impact that its
policy decisions have on rights in general, be them human rights, consumer
rights or other founding principles, as internationally recognized and/or
defined in the major national legislations.”

A hot topic was privacy and the Whois database, where the Internet users
representatives highlighted the ICANN’s inability to progress and to make
policies compatible with the various national laws. It was suggested
that ICANN should cease aiming at a single global policy and accommodate
national differences instead, depending on the country of the registrar and
registrant, explaining the differences in privacy regulation between Europe
and US.

The sessions discussed the issue of respecting freedom of expression when
selecting new gTLDs. The ongoing policy provision that allows ICANN to
reject applications based on morality-based objections was criticized.

The participants supported the idea of a standardized statement of
registrant rights (Registrants Rights Charter) to be compulsorily shown by
registrars (and resellers as well) when a registrant buys a domain name.
Participants agreed to work further on a proposal for its substance as well
as means to include the charter into ICANN’s policy body as a follow-up to
the meeting. The process is open and anyone can join.

Another Thematic Session highlighted the failure of ccTLDs as regards the
identity control of registrants and registrars. A second aspect was the
abuse of the weakness of registrars in the GTLD space giving the spammers
and other criminals, free way to do what they want.

At the end of this ICANN meeting, the announcement of Dr Paul
Twomey, the President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN that he would not
seek renewal of his contract at the end of 2009, was acknowledged by
the ALSes as a starting point for further activities and challenges.

At Large Summit (Atlas) Declaration Mexico (4.03.2009)

At-Large Summit Successfully Concluded (5.03.2009)

Registrants Rights Charter – draft

ICANN’s President and CEO Announces Departure (2.03.2009)

Briefing Note – Overall Summary of the Mexico City Meeting (5.03.2009)