The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the world's oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society. ACM is an international organization with over 80,000 computing professional members in more than 100 countries. Founded in 1947, ACM serves as a forum for, and uses the Internet to promote, the exchange of information, ideas and discoveries to advance arts, sciences and applications of information technology.
ACM's Committee on Internet Governance (ACM-IGC) has carefully reviewed the two proposals for Non-Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency (Non-Commercial Constituency) of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) set out on the ICANN website and finds itself unable to support either proposal. Because there is merit in both proposals, ACM-IGC submits this Compromise Proposal to clarify the goals and purposes of the Non-Commercial Constituency and to bring together the groups organized by ISOC and the ICIIU, with ACM-IGC and others, to form the Non-Commercial Constituency as a united group at ICANN's upcoming meeting in Berlin, May 25-27, 1999.
ACM-IGC submits that the goals of the Non-Commercial Constituency should be made explicit and clear to all who review its organizing documents. In light of ICANN's creation of no less than six other constituencies to represent commercial entities and commercial activities within the DNSO [two specifically commercial constituencies: Commercial and business entities (Business Constituency) and Trademark, intellectual property, anti-counterfeiting interests (Trademark Constituency), and four technical constituencies comprised largely or entirely of commercial entities: ccTLD registries, gTLD registries, ISPs and connectivity providers, and Registrars], ACM-IGC believes the Non-Commercial Constituency has a special place in the DNSO. It must provide the voice and representation for organizations that serve non-commercial interests and provide services such as community organizing, promotion of the arts, children's welfare, pure scientific research, and human rights. These organizations are otherwise entirely unrepresented in the DNSO.
ACM-IGC recognizes that the Non-Commercial Constituency envisioned here may not yet have a significant number of members willing to participate in this process. Many of the organizations eligible to join are unaware of ICANN and its processes. ACM-IGC believes that these organizations, with their unique and distinct uses of the Internet and the domain name system, will soon be very interested in participating in Internet Governance issues, including the DNSO and ICANN. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the Non-Commercial Constituency be kept open for them.
ICANN cannot allow the Non-Commercial Constituency to serve as a catch-all for all organizations that do not fit into another category. There is ample room within the DNSO for representation of general business and business legal interests. It is inappropriate to include within the Non-Commercial Constituency organizations that primarily or largely serve the interests of another constituency, even if the organizations are not-for-profit in structure and are themselves engaged in non-commercial speech on the Internet. For example, a non-commercial organization devoted primarily to lobbying the U.S. Congress for commercial entities must be excluded from membership in the Non-Commercial Constituency. Similarly, a non-commercial organization that exists to create and promote Internet policies for registrars and registries must also be excluded. The interests of both such groups lie with other DNSO constituencies, namely the Business Constituency and the various registrar and registry constituencies.
ACM-IGC notes that these recommendations will leave some organizations without representation in the DNSO because of the narrow membership rules being set by other constituencies. Some organizations may promote intellectual property interests but fail to meet the minimum membership of the Trademark Constituency; others may promote commercial interests yet not be incorporated or meet the other membership criteria of the Business Constituency. In such circumstances, these organizations must seek to change the membership criteria of the most directly applicable constituency or appeal to ICANN. ACM-IGC underscores that the Non-Commercial Constituency is not designed and must not become a catch-all or default constituency. Organizations promoting the interests of business, trademark, registrars and registries are not properly included within the Non-Commercial Constituency. The Non-Commercial Constituency provides a voice in the Names Council for a unique group those who provide the Internet with communication regarding non-commercial activities, communities and needs and with so much representation for commercial entities this non-commercial voice must not be diluted or weakened.
Because ICANN has not clarified where individual domain name holders belong in the DNSO, and because individuals are clearly not represented in any other constituency, it appears that individuals are being sent to the Non-Commercial Constituency. Although we accept this as a short-term expedient, in the long run, ACM-IGC believes that the Non-Commercial Constituency is a poor representative of individuals.
First, individuals are registering domain names in large numbers. Although individuals are often categorized as consumers in the passive role of browsers (to sites such as e-commerce sites), ACM-IGC finds that these stereotypes are inaccurate. Individuals in the millions are registering domain name for use with personal speech, family web sites, community organizations, and their own small businesses. While Network Solutions, Inc., does not keep figures on the breakdown of domain names registered to individuals, the large and growing number of domain names issued to individuals in the gTLDs probably make this group the largest class of domain name holders.
Second, the activities of individuals on the Internet make them a unique category because their work covers the gamut from non-commercial to commercial activity. Further, unlike any existing constituency in the DNSO, individuals use of domain names often changes over time as a personal web site evolves from showing the non-commercial interests of the domain name holder to promoting the commercial businesses, writings or services of the individual. Individuals have a task unlike any other constituency to preserve the rights of individuals to obtain domain names and to ensure that domain names can continue to be used for the variety of commercial and non-commercial purposes available today.
It is the strong opinion of ACM-IGC that individuals need their own constituency within the DNSO to represent their unique experiences and needs. While the interests and voices of individuals may occasionally overlap with the interests and voices of large non-commercial organizations and educational institutions, most often they will not. Further, ACM-IGC submits that the relationship between individuals and the Non-Commercial Constituency is much farther apart than that of the Business Constituency and the Trademark Constituency. ACM-IGC proposes that ICANN immediately create for individuals their own constituency with the full standing of the other constituencies. In the meantime, in order to avoid disenfranchising individuals, we propose to temporarily incorporate them into the noncommercial constituency.
ACM-IGC recommends that Membership in the Non-Commercial Constituency be limited to organizations who serve non-commercial interests and provide services such as community organizing, promotion of the arts, children's welfare, pure scientific research, and human rights. Membership should also include entities which support the organizations above with services such as education, advocacy and funding.
As a temporary measure, ACM-IGC recommends that individuals who are holding a domain name for their own personal speech, or the speech of their families, be admitted to the Non-Commercial Constituency for the purpose of organizing and advocating their own constituency.
ACM-IGC submits that large organizations and small organizations should have full and fair representation into the decision-making processes and elections of the Non-Commercial Constituency.
ACM-IGC recognizes that balancing the voices of the many potential members of this Constituency will be challenging. Large organizations must have a full and fair voice because they speak for very large groups. Smaller organizations must have a full and fair voice because they represent a wide array of non-commercial activity on the Internet.
To accept the variety of organizations who should be members of this Constituency, ACM-IGC recommends dividing the membership of the Non-Commercial Constituency into two subgroups:
Large Organizations: Organizations meeting the membership criteria and goals for promoting non-commercial activity on the Internet as set out in Section IV above, incorporated as a not-for-profit entity, and, for membership organizations, having a current membership over 1000 people or, for nonmembership organizations, having 200 or more employees (such as a not-for-profit university).
Small Organizations: Organizations meeting the membership criteria and goals for promoting non-commercial activity on the Internet as set out in Section IV above, operating on a not-for-profit basis for the benefit of more than one individual or family, and whose membership is under 1000 or, for nonmembership organizations, having less than 200 employees.
ACM-IGC envisions that most large organizations will have worldwide chapters, schools within a university, numerous special interest groups and other subdivisions. ACM-IGC recommends that these subgroups of the larger organization be represented by and participate in the Non-Commercial Constituency under their parent in the Large Organization subgroup. Creating a single point of representation for a group will avoid giving any one Large Organization a disproportionate voice in this Constituency's discussions and decisions.
While the Non-Commercial Constituency may develop many ways of arriving at consensus and providing input in the domain name policy discussions of the larger DNSO organization, it will need clear voting principles and mechanisms to elect the three (3) Names Council representatives allocated to each constituency by the ICANN Bylaws. In keeping with the Organizational Principles set out in Section V, the Non-Commercial Constituency must find a way to provide large and small organizations with a full and fair vote for election of Names Council members and other decisions.
ACM-IGC welcomes the opportunity to work with ISOC, the ICIIU and
others to develop the mechanisms for full and fair voting. For
purposes of discussion, ACM-IGC submits the following ideas to the
non-commercial community. ACM-IGC recommends that the Names Council
representatives from the Non-Commercial Constituency be elected by the
large and small organizations as follows:
- one Names Council representative by the Large Organizations,
- one Names Council representative by the Small Organizations, and
- a third Names Council representative elected from a slate of nominees submitted half by the Large Organizations and half by the Small Organizations and with voting on this joint slate weighted by an algorithm that balances combined number and size of the large organizations with combined number and size of the small organizations.
IN THE FIRST ELECTION AND THE FIRST ELECTION ONLY, because
individuals will be a part of the Non-Commercial Constituency, ACM-IGC
recommends that the Names Council Representatives be elected in the
- one Names Council representative by the Large Organizations,
- one Names Council representative by the Small Organizations, and
- one Names Council representative by the individuals.
We recommend this measure solely because individuals will not otherwise have a vote for Names Council Representative. Upon organization of a constituency for individuals, the Representative elected by individuals should immediately become the Representative for the new individuals constituency and the Non-Commercial Constituency should elect a new Representative.
ACM-IGC recommends that a three-person Credentials Committee be created to handle questions and concerns about membership. Eligible representatives for such a committee must be people familiar with the wide range of noncommercial activities on the Internet. For the first Credentials Committee (since questions are likely to be raised regarding membership from the outset), ACM-IGC recommends that one representative each from ISOC, ICIIU and ACM-IGC serve. ACM-IGC also recommends that every two years the Credentials Committee be reelected in its entirety in a one organization, one vote proceeding.
In this Compromise Proposal, ACM-IGC does not seek to set out a
full set of procedures for the Non-Commercial Constituency. Rather,
ACM-IGC has tried to set out a vision for the Non-Commercial
Constituency and a guideline for its membership and voting processes.
ACM-IGC hopes that this middle ground will bridge the basic
differences between the two existing proposals. Further ACM-IGC would
like to work with both ISOC and ICIIU and others on the remaining
details of voting and substantive procedures so that together we can
present one Non-Commercial Constituency to be chartered by ICANN.
ACM-IGC looks forward to working with all both groups and others by
email and in Berlin to move forward together.
Respectfully Submitted to ICANN and the Internet Community,
ASSOCIATION FOR COMPUTING MACHINERY, INTERNET GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
Dr. Milton Mueller, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, Director
Lawrence Lessig, Harvard University
Randy Bush, Network Startup Resource Center, Verio