ICANN 58: My journey with NCUC

by Sze Ming, April 2017

Fate with NCUC

I have been working with Digital Rights and Internet Governance related subjects ever since 2015 when I started my second career with Sinar Project. Throughout the years I had also the chance of meeting different experts and people who working in the same field from other countries.

Last year spring, I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to attend RightsCon in Silicon Valley, San Francisco. This was the first time I was introduced to NCUC, by accident, and then I was invited to join the NCUC-mailing list.

IGF Mexico

December last year, I was invited to join CitizenLab delegates to IGF in Mexico. At the last day of the event, I visited again NCUC booth and I met Renata Aquino Ribeiro, Tatiana Tropina, Rafik Dammak and more of the NCUC dedicated members. Later, I was introduced to the a series of NCUC initiatives for engagement and I was then inspired to apply for NCUC mentee programme to ICANN 58.

So, what is NCUC?

The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) bottom-up policy making organ, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). With real voting power in ICANN’s policy making and Board selection, the NCUC develops and supports positions that favor noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet.

What I do in NCUC before ICANN 58

Very much lucky, I successfully got my mentee’s application approved by the Executive Council (EC), which patiently guided me on next steps. With this opportunity, finally I was able to join the Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services (RDS) working group, the community that I was expecting to be an active participant for so long, since I’m very interested in privacy issues.

As a newcomer to NCUC and RDS working group, thankfully, I got a very experienced mentor, David Cake to coach and guide me during my participation in the working group work process. From a zero knowledge on the RDS process position at the beginning, by joining the remote meetings and discussion on mailing list,  I am now able to understand how the system and services work, and trying to give my little contribution to the community.


ICANN 58 was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in March. It was a super hectic schedule to me as a newcomer, I was guided by our NCUC assigned mentor, Aarti Bhavana, to choose the sessions that related to what was I doing in the working group. Then, I was decided to join only RDS working group meeting, DNSSEC, Open Data Initiative and Public Forums.

Other than joining the sessions, I was invited to do a short presentation as a NCUC mentee during the NCUC Constituency day together with Aarti and another friend, who also a mentee. I was glad that I had this opportunity to share my experiences with NCUC and encourage the fellows to join the community and participate in ICANN meeting process.

Biggest takeaways

I was attending ‘Towards Data Driven ICANN’ session in the last day of the event. The discussion on open data and privacy did really open my eyes. NZRS presented the data and evidences on the importance of keeping the dataset accessible and usable for public uses.

There is also a main recommendation made to ICANN:

“ICANN should establish a formal initiative, perhaps including a dedicated data scientist, to facilitate quantitative analysis, by staff, contractors and the community, of the domain name market and, where possible, the outcomes of policy implementation. This department should be directed and empowered to identify and either collect or acquire datasets relevant to the objectives set out in strategic plans, and analysis and recommendations coming from review
teams and working groups.”

Some people who are not in the ICANN community, like me, do not realise that ICANN has it own Open Data Initiative’s plan for some time! See the presentation here: http://bit.ly/2pKckJI

Lastly, how should we ensure ‘open data by default’ while protecting the user’s privacy? The question left open ended, and of course everyone is free to give their suggestion and idea to ICANN. So I will continue to engage and learn and hope to keep on sharing my insights too.



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