GNSO Reform: Analysis of the two NCSG charter proposals

The impending reform of the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO) at ICANN, and specifically the approval of a charter for the new Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) is now in full swing. Last month, IP Justice's and current NCUC Chair, Robin Gross submitted the NCUC's proposed charter (and accompanying executive summary and chart) for the NCSG to the ICANN Board. According to Gross, the proposal was developed with the input of numerous noncommercial organizations (including IGP), as well as consultations with ICANN Board members and other stakeholders. In contrast, a small band of supporters of the censorship oriented group CP-80 sought to upset this consensus effort by submitting a competing charter proposal.

Now IGP's Milton Mueller has submitted comments to ICANN analyzing the two charter proposals, identifying the shortcomings of the CP-80 proposal and addressing their critique of the NCUC proposal. In his comments, Mueller details six different scenarios where CP-80's constituency-silo structure breaks down and could weaken the effectiveness of noncommercial interests within ICANN. More generally, he identifies that such a structure's problems come specifically from hardwiring Council seats to Constituency groupings. The constituency-silo structure runs the risk of creating small, but powerful, decision making structures that are easy targets for capture. The NCUC proposal would avoid this problem entirely by making Council representatives directly elected by the broader NCSG membership. (BTW: A similar “de-linking” of Council seats and Constituency grouping is contained in charter proposals submitted by the Registries and Registrars for the contracted parties side of the reformed GNSO.)

Mueller also refutes claims being made by supporters of CP-80 that the NCUC's proposal for an integrated voting model concentrates all of the NCSG’s power in the hands of a simple majority. “This claim is false. It is based on a misrepresentation of the NCUC’s proposed voting procedure.” Mueller argues that given vote allocations and regional diversity requirements, “it is not only possible, but likely, that candidates with less than majority support would be elected to the Council.”

In summary, Mueller recommends that the NCUC proposal be approved by the Board. Mueller concludes that,

The CP80 proposal was not drafted in a way that optimizes the functioning of the NCSG. Rather, its main purpose seems to have been to ensure that CP80’s own Cybersafety Constituency would be guaranteed a Council seat. By focusing on this narrow objective, the CP80 proposal ignores many important priorities and contains many structural flaws.

Read the entire comment.

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