If you work for a company that depends on the Internet and you are reading this blog, you are likely already aware that ICANN, and its work coordinating the Internet's unique identifiers, matters to you.
The issues you care about may range from enhancing network operations and devising new ways to connect online with partners and clients, to protection of intellectual property and mitigation of abusive practices. You may even be in the business of domain name sales and services, or be the domain name portfolio manager for your company.
But how can you get involved? How can you meaningfully advance the interests of your business in a diverse community that includes not only companies like yours but also, technologists, governments, and civic organizations from nearly every country?
You're not alone in facing these questions. We're hearing them more and more often: "How can I get involved? How can I do so efficiently?"
Good News: There are a growing number of ways your company can engage. You don't need to dedicate vast amounts of time or resources to participate; you can engage at a level that makes sense for you and your business. ICANN's Global Stakeholder Engagement team, working with private sector leaders in the community, is here to help you find the right path to participation.
Learning the Basics
If you are just getting to know ICANN and its issues, here are three ways to build a base of knowledge before becoming active in its work.
- The Beginner's Guide to ICANN is one of many online courses you can find on the ICANNlearn platform. Click on "Introductory Courses" to find it.
- Webinars for business newcomers take place before each of ICANN's public meetings. The most recent webinar just took place last weekend. You can watch the recording.
- The Business Digest is a 10-page guide with highlights of policy developments from the most recent ICANN meeting, written in business-friendly language and available in multiple languages. Try reading the most recent edition or scanning a few of them.
Lending Your Voice
Your professional experience will bring a lot to the table. When you are ready to become active in ICANN circles, check out the list of options below ranging from less to more time-intensive. I hope you'll see these as your first steps on a fruitful journey as an ICANN stakeholder:
- Join the conversation and follow the latest ICANN news via social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
- Become active in a business association that follows ICANN. Every region of the world has associations focused on Internet, ICT, or e-commerce issues. Examples such as AFICTA, WITSA, and e-instituto provide a conduit for members to follow and weigh-in on ICANN matters.
- Make a connection. Whether you are a multinational corporation, a small business owner, an Internet Service Provider, a web services consultant or a network security engineer, there is likely someone with a similar profile to yours already active in ICANN. Email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will locate a contact person who shares your interests.
- Provide your opinion. One of the easiest ways to engage at ICANN is through providing a public comment on policy development. Anyone can submit a comment, regardless of expertise or years of experience. Go to www.icann.org/public-comments for a list of policies currently open for public comment, find a topic that affects you or your work, and let fellow ICANN stakeholders know what you think about the policy.
- Join a working group. Volunteer working groups develop much of ICANN policy. Many of these working groups are open to anyone. Much of this work is conducted through mailing lists and teleconferences, minimizing the need to travel to participate. Also, there are regular "newcomer sessions" in the form of online webinars that provide an ideal starting point for first-time volunteers. Visit www.icann.org/policy to learn more.
- Attend a meeting. ICANN holds three public meetings a year where policy is developed and discussed. These meetings are free and open to anyone. Almost all of the meeting sessions are open to the public and available to be streamed online in multiple languages. Listen and participate remotely, or better yet, join in person. Visit www.meetings.icann.org for more information. The next ICANN meeting is next week! View the schedule and find remote participation options here. The business engagement team is holding a welcome reception for business stakeholders on Monday February 9, if you are interested in participating find more details here.
- Join a Constituency or Advisory Committee. These formal groupings of ICANN community members guide the policy process. Those focused on the coordination of domain name policy are in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Within the GNSO the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG) may be of particular interest. The CSG consists of three constituencies: 1) the Business Constituency, 2) the Intellectual Property Constituency, and 3) the Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers Constituency. Other groups such as the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) and At-Large Advisory Committee also rely on business members or followers.
Still not sure what to do? Send an email to email@example.com and a member of our team will get in touch with you. I look forward to beginning this journey with you.
Christopher Mondini is VP, ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement for Global Business