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ALAC Public Forum Presentation

1 November 2007
By Jacqueline Morris

The outgoing ALAC Chair, Jacqueline A. Morris, made a presentation at the Public Forum at the 30th ICANN meeting in Los Angeles. It’s reproduced here for your information. In general, there was mention of policy positions on IDNs, gTLD, the GNSO reform, the RAA, Ipv4 to v6 transition, and more. There were updates on the ALAC’s organisational transformation, as well as its relationship with the RALOs.

ALAC has been undergoing a lot of change in the past year. We are definitely living in interesting times! We’ve had a turnover of almost the entire ALAC, with only 2 members at this time having had more that 1 years’ experience on the ALAC. We’ve moved from working in English only to working consistently in English, Spanish and French! We have had a lot of cultural adjustment to make, and this is ongoing. Growing pains, indeed! It has been painful, and I am sure there are more painful steps to be undergone, but I believe the worst is over. I truly believe in the potential of the At Large to make valuable input into ICANN policies and processes, and to advise the Board on behalf of Internet users. I hope you all share my belief!

There’s still a need to review the mission of the ALAC, and put new goals in place. For the past year, our focus has been on ending the Interim ALAC and forming the real ALAC. This has finally been achieved. All that remains is for the APRALO to have their signing ceremony, postponed to February in Delhi by circumstances. But they are all up and running.

We thank all the members of the ALAC (past and present) and of the ALSes who have worked so hard to make this a reality. The ALAC would greatly appreciate continued involvement in At Large from those of us who are moving on. The knowledge and experience of the past will be invaluable to the ALAC as it moves forward.

What we’ve done recently…

The ALAC on Sunday went through a one-day strategy session, including team-building and SWOT analysis. This was very useful, as we have five new members appointed by NomCom taking their seats at the end of this meeting, and only 2 of 15 members of the ALAC will have been there for more than one year at the conclusion of this ICANN meeting, so this is the full transition.

Therefore, this meeting was designed to facilitate building the new team. We think a common vision of the ALAC by its members is vital to move forward successfully and that vision was shared by all as the outcome of the session.

The Secretariats of the RALOs have also been meeting in LA, as you may have read in yesterday’s ICANN Newsletter. About that story, I will simply paraphrase Mark Twain and say that the rumors of ALAC’s discontent and predicted death have been greatly exaggerated.

The Secretariats have had a very productive meeting. They have set up systems for cross-regional coordination and information sharing. We do not want the regions to function as silos, but rather to have a truly global organisation. To this end, the At Large is currently working on a proposal to have a Summit of the regions.

Despite all this work being done on organisational issues, we still have managed to develop some policy positions. (with the able and invaluable contribution of the At Large members, and I want to single out to thank for their incredible work – Hong Xue, Danny Younger, John Levine and Vittorio Bertola)

We have developed policy on IDNs, via an At Large working group. This has been provided to the Board.

On IDNs in brief,

The ALAC emphasizes the pressing need from the user community for IDNs. We support a balanced and effective fast-track approach for implementation of IDN ccTLDs. We welcome the new PDP proposal from the ccNSO and reiterate our strong commitment to bring the individual users’ voices to this policy-making process. ALAC has submitted to the Board the status report on IDN ccTLDs issues, which contains our recommendations on the principles, policies and implementation of IDN ccTLDs. We primarily recommend that implementation of IDN ccTLDs comply with all the technical standards to ensure the interoperability and security and selection and accreditation of any IDN ccTLD be subject to sufficient, transparent and effective consultations in the pertinent ccTLD user community.

Given that the IDN test is going on and the IDN protocols are being reviewed, we are keen to know whether there is a timeline for implementation of IDN gTLDs under the auspices of the new gTLD process.

Finally, ALAC has organised an IDN workshop from the users’ prospective, at the IGF, in collaboration with the ccNSO, GAC and ICANN Staff .

We have developed, via working groups, policy positions on several other issues (maybe some of you attended Danny’s excellent presentation on the RAA yesterday). Those are expected to be approved by the ALAC in the very near future, and will be officially transmitted as advice to the Board.

in brief on the RAA

While the ALAC regards the synthesis of public commentary on Registrar Accredition Agreements to be a good start, we are concerned that a number of proposals made by the at-large community and consumer organizations, intended to make more concrete some specific contract enforcement provisions between ICANN and registrars, along with compliance with the agreements themselves, have been classified “unfeasible” or outside ICANN’s scope (Section F).

A number of provisions in section F were suggested to give consumers assistance, direction and help in choosing a registrar; means of redress when disputes arise; objective and public data detailing registrar problems; and some assignation of responsibility on registrars to provide security enhancing and stability (for example, DNSSEC). Perhaps somewhat predictably, the classification of at-large and user comments on the RAA into what probably will be done, might be done through other means or venues, and what probably is not going to be done, seems to go easy on registrars while still leaving substantial gaps in the registrar agreements for abuse of the user community.

Section F, item 21 states, “We ask ICANN staff to prepare a summary of the current practices, fees and burdens imposed on registrants by a significant sample of registrars. (The ALAC is ready to ask for an Issues Report if necessary).” We have not yet determined if this step is necessary.

In response to the GNSO’s recommendations to the Board on new gTLDs, At-Large convened a workgroup under Danny Younger to draft a response. Working in record time, this group put together a position paper. Although not yet a formal ALAC position, the ALAC, in conjunction with the RALO’s, is reviewing this position and will be sending its formal position to the Board shortly.

Another major item is the GNSO, and we believe that there are three issues related to this new document.

1. There is a discussion on whether At Large should be represented on the GNSO which ends with the statement that users could participate in the commercial or non-commercial groups “depending on how they viewed their registration”. Surely the BGC understands that not all users have their own registrations. Something over 1 billion of then are just “users”.

2. The argument is made that since the ALAC/At-Large exists to advise the Board, they do not need a presence on the GNSO. This presumes that it is adequate to be reactive to GNSO policy drafts. In reality, inputs received during comment periods do not have a good record of making it into next revisions unless there are strong advocates for it. The move to working groups which can include individuals may help this, but a vote on the GNSO council will still be an effective mechanism for helping to ensure that end user needs are addressed during the policy creation process instead of after.

3. The new Board Governance Committee proposal does not mention Liaisons, apparently because the BGC did not see any reason to change things. But the report does explicitly say that there should be regular contact between the various SO and the ALAC and mentions telephone conference calls between the Chairs. If such calls make sense, certainly the corresponding Liaison should also be included.

Our Issues report request on Domain Tasting is moving through the GNSO AND THE ALAC HAS CONTINUED TO PUT MUCH EFFORT INTO THIS PROCESS..

We continue to build relationships both with other groups within ICANN and without. Our statement on IP v4-v6 in the ASO yesterday was well received.

I repeat it here

We are aware that sometime within a few years the current pool of IPv4 addresses will expire, which may have a significant impact on the use of Internet by broad public.

We ask the global address allocation registries to make sure that the allocation of the remaining pool of IPv4 addresses be done in a fair and equitable manner. The challenge here is what exactly we mean by “fair and equitable” – and we understand that this requires an open and inclusive policy development process. We respect the work done by the RIRs so far and we are willing to actively participate more.

We are concerned about the potential creation of a “black market” of the IPv4 addresses and call for a rational way to make a secondary market a reality. We also call for a reasonable way of recollecting the unused IPv4 address blocks.

We also like to call for more outreach work initiated by the address community to make sure that the issues are understood clearly and the solutions are communicated openly.

We understand that the best solution to this challenge is to make a smooth and orderly transition to the broad use of IPv6. There are several challenges and tasks to make that to happen:

- Organize awareness campaign for the need for timely transition

- Avoid media scares by providing accurate information to wider public

- Make sure all “public sites” by governments and commercial service providers implement IPv4-v6 dual capacity in a timely manner

- That measures be taken to help developing countries to prepare for the transition in a timely and affordable manner

- Prepare a timeline under which we can operate the transition program, such as outreach, technical assistance and other preparation in a timely manner so that suitable, reliable and effective planning can be made

In sum, the ALAC has gone through a very difficult transition and has come out ready to take on its responsibilities as an Advisor to the Board, with the input of the user community. We have, through our ALSes, several million members, and we are working to

  1. Educate users on the issues
  2. Bring their concerns to the Board
  3. Advise the Board on the user perspective in policy issues
  4. Work with ICANN staff to make ICANN more user-friendly, including multi-lingual documents and other tools to allow users to participate without the need to learn English

This is my last presentation to you as Chair of ALAC, and I wish to say – it’s been a very interesting experience, I learned a lot, and I enjoyed most of it. I will definitely stay involved in ICANN and the ALAC in any role required. I’d like to introduce you to our new Chair (as of Friday), Cheryl Langdon-Orr from the Asia Pacific RALO. Please wish her a very successful tenure.



Jacqueline Morris