The following message was posted today on the ICANN public comments board.
My name is Laura DeNardis, Executive Director of the Yale Information Society Project, an intellectual center at Yale Law School which examines the implications of the Internet for law and society. I wish to express my concern that the Noncommercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) charter developed by civil society has been supplanted by a top-down charter prepared by ICANN staff members. The originally proposed charter was spearheaded by well-respected Internet governance stakeholders from civil society in a lengthy, grassroots process with significant global public input.
Furthermore, and whether or not this was ICANN’s intention, allowing a public comment period on the ICANN staff-developed charter is being construed as an attempt to paint a veneer of legitimacy and grassroots participation on a fundamentally non-democratic document. This same type of top-down tactic has appeared many times in the history of the Internet and, with the world watching, has almost always failed.
ICANN has sought to reflect democratic values such as accountability, transparency, and grassroots participation. Whatever has transpired to reach this point on the NCSG charter, I urge ICANN to consider the following four actions:
1. (Legitimacy) Withdraw the staff-prepared charter
2. (Grassroots process) Reinstate the charter developed over a lengthy grassroots process by civil society
3. (Accountability) Submit this legitimate charter for further public comment
4. (Transparency) Provide to the public some explanation of how the civil society charter came to be supplanted and ask those who influenced this decision to come forward and make public their concerns.
It’s the 21st century. Noncommercial Internet users simply must have a voice in ICANN policy-making.
Respectfully submitted, Dr. Laura DeNardis
Dr. Laura DeNardis
Yale Information Society Project
Lecturer in Law
Yale Law School
127 Wall Street
New Haven CT 06511