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C35. Describe in detail the mechanisms you propose for ensuring that the policies and practices followed in your operation of the .org registry are responsive to and supportive of the noncommercial Internet user community, and reflect as much as possible of its diversity as possible. Your description should include any affiliation you propose with representative noncommercial organizations and details (including proposed bylaws or other chartering documents) regarding any governing or advisory groups that you propose.
RegisterOrg’s mission is to transition the existing .org domain into a globally identifiable top-level domain (TLD) that is recognized as the preeminent resource for noncommercial Internet users—the core constituency of the .org domain. In order to respond to and support the noncommercial Internet community, RegisterOrg’s bid to operate the .org registry aims to:
RegisterOrg’s parent company, Register.com, is an established registrar that provides registry services to ccTLD operators around the world and backend technical services to RegistryPro, the operator, through its Registry Advantage division, of the .pro TLD. Hence, RegisterOrg will draw upon the experience, financial stability, and technical capability of its parent company to create a viable and sustainable registry. RegisterOrg’s proposal incorporates a multifaceted approach to accomplishing its mission:
· RegisterOrg will disburse two-and-a-half million dollars ($2,500,000.00) between two .org-registered foundations with global, noncommercial constituencies, whose work will contribute to our mission. This contribution will seed the growth of a robust .org community by encouraging technology capacity building on an international scale, global policy awareness, education and participation, and technology innovation to benefit the .org user community.
· Relying on the partnerships formed with the technology seed money, RegisterOrg will create a .org Community Portal, a central place where all users may engage in dialog about registry issues and find information and links to Web sites about global Internet policy development and Internet governance, as well as resources to help .org registrants build their Web presence and better communicate with their target audiences.
· RegisterOrg will run the .org registry in the most efficient and technically proficient manner, bringing to bear the experience of its parent company, Register.com, in the domain name system to benefit the noncommercial community.
Technology Seed Money
By disbursing funds to the foregoing entities, both of which have a demonstrated ability to reach out to and work with the non-profit sector on a global scale, RegisterOrg will provide the broadest range of services possible to support the noncommercial user community. Through these organizations, RegisterOrg can involve an existing network of noncommercial groups in establishing .org as a resource for all noncommercial users. A description of the partners we have selected follows below, after a brief explanation of why we believe their efforts will be generally supportive of and responsive to both the policies and expansion of the .org community. RegisterOrg believes that the missions of the selected organizations are consistent with the principles of promoting broad participation by noncommercial organizations in online policy-making, improving worldwide access to and use of the Internet by noncommercial organizations, and encouraging technological innovation to foster the continued growth and development of the Internet.
How Funding Benefits the Noncommercial Internet Community
Additionally, while access to the Internet is increasing, so is the imbalance between resources for the rich and the poor, the powerful and the marginalized. The challenge is to bridge this widening gap and find a means to provide access in a constructive way to ensure equal digital opportunities for all. Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be a valuable tool to widen civic participation, support community services, and help non-profits overcome obstacles to economic development. RegisterOrg believes that the .org registry should be the civic space on the Internet, and that the domain will become increasingly valuable as more people around the world obtain access to and participate in its online community.
Just as the lack of technical knowledge is a barrier that prevents non-profit organizations from getting online, the lack of knowledge of Internet policy keeps many non-profit and individual domain holders from participating in key policy debates. To best serve the noncommercial user community, it is imperative to expand the understanding of key Internet policy issues and their significance within the community, and, perhaps more essentially, issues raised by Internet governance of domain-name registration and management. In addition, it is equally important to broaden the involvement of noncommercial Internet users outside of the United States and Europe.
Moreover, a direct investment in the tools, applications and models that can provide increasing functionality to non-profit organizations online is critical to the creation of a robust community of noncommercial participants. The development and advancement of Internet technologies is a creative and collaborative process. Its history demonstrates that much innovation occurs outside of corporate settings; grants for private research enable creative research that may not otherwise be possible.
The Benton Foundation’s Digital Divide Network and
The Benton Foundation was founded by William Benton in 1948. Benton, a United States Senator, UNESCO Ambassador, and University of Chicago Vice-President, was a champion of free speech and civil liberties. His lifetime preoccupation was how to apply his understanding of, and belief in, what he termed “the high significance of the media of communications” to education and citizenship. Today’s Benton Foundation continues that legacy as a laboratory for exploring the potential of new communications technologies and techniques to help solve social problems. Thanks to the Foundation’s efforts, ordinary citizens can gain greater understanding of topics ranging from children’s issues to campaign finance reform, locate arts programs in their communities, or to find out how schools are being wired for new technologies.
Digital Divide Network (www.digitaldividenetwork.org)
The Digital Divide Network plays host to DIGITALDIVIDE, the Internet’s largest e-mail forum for discussing the digital divide. With over 3,000 participants from over 50 countries, DIGITALDIVIDE is a robust online community where citizens from around the world tackle this complex issue from a variety of professional and cultural perspectives. Currently, approximately 25% of list traffic is generated from outside the United States.
Additionally, DDN serves as the coordinator of ConnectNet, a database of 20,000 libraries, community technology centers, and other facilities offering free public Internet access and IT training. Accessible via the Internet and a toll-free telephone number, ConnectNet directs users to the most convenient Internet access points in their community. Utilized by the general public, as well as researchers and funders, ConnectNet is America’s leading directory of organizations bridging the digital divide.
Over the course of the next year, the Digital Divide Network will go through a major reorganization in order to forge greater ties with our diverse community of users. In early 2003, DDN will re-launch as the Digital Opportunity Network. The new Web site will continue to reflect the basic principals of the current DDN, but with a broader range of content and tools. The Digital Opportunity Network will emphasize partnership building and collaboration, featuring online resources and applications crafted by leading technology assistance providers and capacity building organizations.
As part of this effort, the network will feature Benton’s popular capacity building resource, Strategic Communications in the Digital Age. One of the most widely utilized online resources for nonprofit IT capacity building, Strategic Communications will be integrated into the network to provide our users with a greater range of capacity building tools. Additionally, the network will feature a variety of content focusing on government policies that facilitate digital opportunity, as well as analysis of high-speed broadband applications and their potential to improve quality of life in communities around the globe.
Digital Opportunity Channel (www.digitalopportunity.org)
Five days a week, the Digital Opportunity Channel highlights the latest news in the world of IT and global development. It also publishes weekly features highlighting IT success stories around the world, as well as analysis of policy and practice trends. Additionally, the channel features a campaign section, produced by OneWorld partners in the Netherlands, tracking the latest national and international campaigns promoting digital opportunity.
Because the channel was developed based on a set of decentralized editorial principles, DDN hopes to bring in other partners to manage other sections of the Web site, based either on topic or geography. For example, the channel’s design would allow a coalition of NGOs in Bangladesh to edit a section of the Web site dedicated to the latest news and features of interest specifically to Bangladesh, published in English, Bangla, or any other language they prefer. And because all content published in the channel’s database is tagged by both geography and topic, similar groups in other countries could easily access one another’s content and collaborate online. The Digital Opportunity Channel, therefore, will evolve into an international community of NGOs and individuals, interacting with each other on a global, national, and regional scale.
In the near term, the channel is seeking out partners to manage content regarding specific subtopics of the channel, such as e-government, literacy and emerging technologies. Additionally, the channel is partnering with ITrainOnline.org, a coalition of leading capacity building organizations around the world, working together to share multilingual capacity building resources and applications. The channel is also entering into discussions with the Education Development Corporation (EDC), manager of the Internet’s leading e-mail discussion for global development, the GKD discussion list. The channel seeks to partner with GKD and utilize the discussion group as the channel’s official forum for development issues, to be promoted jointly with DDN’s current DIGITALDIVIDE discussion group.
Despite the fact that the Digital Opportunity Channel is less than one month old, the channel has received tremendous feedback from around the world, as well as submissions from numerous practitioners eager to publish their experiences and research on the channel. Designed with the future in mind, the Digital Opportunity Channel has the potential to serve as a virtual base of operations for both global dialogue and global action, bringing together a diversity of organizations interested in working together to provide digital opportunity for all people, no matter their culture, location or circumstance.
The Open Society Institute’s Information Program (www.soros.org/internet)
The OSI Information Program is based on three premises:
Knowledge is not sufficient to create open societies. But given adequate economic resources and a serviceable legal and institutional environment, access to knowledge in all its forms is possibly the single most important factor in determining the success or failure of an open society. Over the past five years or so, the predecessors to the Information Program have done much to provide open access to knowledge and information in previously closed societies. The Internet Program has helped to introduce Internet connectivity in more than 35 countries, and has been at the forefront of funding for Internet policy for human rights and independent voices online.
The mandate of the OSI Information Program is to assist with the more equitable deployment of knowledge and communications resources —providing access to content, tools and networks —for civic empowerment and more effective democratic governance.
A secondary mission of the program is to enhance the effectiveness of other OSI/Soros foundations programs through the use of knowledge media and ICTs (Information and Communications Technologies). Initiatives in related areas such as economic development and e-commerce, distance education, public health, or culture are pursued in close partnership with other OSI programs.
Program Areas and Strategic Objectives
A policy component aims to develop an environment that makes it possible for civic actors and governments to take advantage of the democratic capacity of ICTs in the following ways:
The OSI Information Program has funded numerous projects worldwide, including: Global Internet Policy Initiative, ASPiration, Global Internet Liberty Campaign, European Internet Policy Organization, Internet Society Training Workshop for Developing countries, Compumentor, and Npower. Additionally, OSI’s Information Program has developed long-standing partnerships with numerous international organizations, including Association for Progressive Communications, OneWorld, Consumer’s Unions, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and iTrain Online. Additionally, the Information Program sponsors a “New Opportunities Fund”—a grant program that makes small and medium-sized grants available exclusively for pilots and models that could form the basis of new network-wide projects. Grant areas include: e-democracy, e-government, distance education, intellectual property conservancies, socially responsible design initiatives, orphan technology redeployment, and accessible technologies.
The Community Portal could also be used to facilitate virtual registry discussions about the state of the registry, policy, and other efforts to improve access to Internet resources. By utilizing the Community Portal, Internet users who are often unable to participate in remotely located meetings may be able to listen and communicate (through e-mail questions or statements).
Other uses of the Community Portal that may promote user participation in registry policy or definition include:
Ultimately, the Community Portal would contribute to the development of a .org brand by providing support to the .org community, and serving as a gateway to resources critical for developing a robust noncommercial Internet community. The idea is designed not only to appeal to Internet-savvy registrants who are already involved in policy-making issues, but to reach out to others who may benefit from developing an online presence or who are looking to find ways to broaden their reach.
.org Registry Policy
RegisterOrg’s view that flexible registry policy should be maintained was also espoused by the Names Council final report on divestiture of .org (the “Names Council Final Report”). RegisterOrg also concurs with the following policy findings of the Names Council Final Report:
RegisterOrg as a Commercial Operator
RegisterOrg will directly serve the public interest through its funding partnerships, which will create an alliance with a global network of non-profit organizations and resources that are critical to developing a robust .org community. Additionally, as set forth above, RegisterOrg will engage in policy outreach through communication with the community through its Web site.
RegisterOrg believes that while the .org registry operator will be an essential architect of the global .org community, equally important will be its responsiveness to sponsoring registrars and end-users as its customers. As a commercial operator, RegisterOrg will value the servicing of its customers as its foremost priority. Ultimately, customer satisfaction, as well as policy and marketing outreach, will be essential in growing the base of registrants for the Registry. In this way, the aspirations and self-interest of the .org community and RegisterOrg as a commercial entity are closely aligned. This commercial philosophy has fueled the continuous financial success of Register.com (RegisterOrg’s parent) since its inception as the first commercial competitor to VeriSign/Network Solutions. Moreover, as a commercial operator, RegisterOrg will have the management depth, financial capitalization, and customer service orientation to build, service, and grow the .org domain while serving the interests of the noncommercial constituency.
Consequently, we believe that RegisterOrg’s approach is superior to proposals that would designate a non-profit to set the registry’s policies while delegating all of the technical aspects of running the registry to a commercial third party. Ultimately, in order to ensure the stability of the .org registry, and continued financial viability of an operator, we believe that .org should be operated by a commercial entity that can manage the registry in an efficient and technically proficient manner.
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