Table of Contents

1. Executive summary

2. Review Recommendations

3. Review Process & Public Comments

3.1. Webinar and Workshop

3.2. Public Comments

4. Purpose and scope of the Review

4.1. ICANN Bylaws: framework for periodic Reviews

4.2. ​Scope of present Review

5. Methodology

5.1. ​Survey & Face-to-face interviews

5.2. ​Structure of the report

5.2.1. Recommendations and Implementation Guidelines

6. Interviews & Global Survey: main findings

6.1. Achievements and scope for further improvement

6.2. Results of global survey: response rate

6.3. Overview of findings

6.3.1. Level of active engagement in At-Large

6.3.2. Participation in ICANN cross-constituency work

6.3.3. The role of At-Large in question

6.3.4. Perception that At-Large leadership is unchanging

6.4. Hypotheses considered

7. ​Mandate & Purpose of the At-Large Community

7.1. ​Survey & interview findings

7.2. At-Large accountability processes

7.2.1. Maintaining influence in the ICANN multistakeholder system

7.3. Dual “bottom-up” and “top-down” function of At-Large

8. ​At-Large and wider ICANN system

8.1. ​Survey & interview findings

8.2. ​​The advisory capacity of At-Large

8.3. At-Large policy-advice function within ICANN

8.4. At-Large role in “Outreach and Engagement”

8.4.1. Priorities for outreach

8.4.2. ICANN cooperation in “outreach and engagement”

8.5. Cross constituency coordination: At-Large Liaisons

8.6. ​Mission overlap with NCUC & NPOC

8.7. At-Large as part of the post IANA transition “Empowered Community”

9. ​ICANN Support Staff

9.1. Survey & Interview findings

9.2. At-Large support staff roles

10. Organisational effectiveness of At-Large

10.1. ​Survey & interview findings

10.1.1. An organisation designed to fail?

10.1.2. ALS Accreditation

10.1.3. RALO Leadership / Structure

10.2. ​At-Large Structures (ALSes)

10.2.1. ALS Membership: ITEMS census

10.3. At-Large Leadership Team (ALT)

10.4. Role of ISOC in At-Large

10.4.1. At-Large and ISOC: common objectives?

10.4.2. The contribution of ISOC to At-Large

10.4.3. Opportunities for joint outreach and engagement activities

10.5. ​At-Large seat on ICANN Board of Directors

10.5.1. Responsibilities of the At-Large appointed Board Director

10.5.2. Appointment of the At-Large Board Director

10.5.3. Alternative mechanisms for the appointment of the At-Large Board Director

10.5.4. The question of a second At-Large seat on the Board

10.5.5. RALO elections

10.5.6. ALAC elections

10.6. At-Large working methods

10.6.1. Working Groups: excessive focus on internal processes

10.6.2. Working Group Mailing Lists

10.6.3. At-Large Website

11. Regional & Global At-Large meetings

11.1. Survey & Interview findings

11.1.1. At-Large F2F meetings during ICANN Meetings

11.1.2. ATLAS Meetings I & II

11.2. ATLAS meeting strategy

11.2.1. Sustainability of the current global ATLAS meeting strategy

11.2.2. Annual At-Large Regional meetings to replace ATLAS meeting

11.3. Non-ICANN regional events

12. At-Large funding issues

12.1. ​Survey and interview findings

12.2. Travel funding

12.2.1. Allocation of travel funding slots

12.2.2. Funding to attend RALO AGMs

12.2.3. At-Large travel funding from the wider ICANN perspective

12.3. ICANN /At-Large funding programmes

12.4. Creation of a new funding mechanism for At-Large

13. Proposal for an “Empowered Membership Model”

13.1. ​Rationale

13.2. The EMM: Definitions and Implementation Guidelines

13.2.1. At-Large Membership

13.2.2. Involvement in “Outreach and Engagement” activity

13.2.3. Participation in ICANN Working Groups

13.2.4. Role and selection of Rapporteurs

13.2.5. Voting rights for RALO/ALAC elections

13.2.6. Composition of the ALAC

13.2.7. Role of the NomCom

13.2.8. ALAC term limits (no change)

13.2.9. Creation of an At-Large Council of Elders (CoE)

13.3. Impact of the EMM on travel support

13.4. How the EMM differs from the status quo

13.5. Measuring the impact of the EMM: Performance Metrics

14. Outcomes of the 1st ALAC Review (2008)

14.1. Notable outcomes

14.2. Review process & recommendations

14.3. ​ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC improvements

14.4. ​Independent Review of the ICANN Board, BGC

14.5. ​Analysis: Impact of Westlake recommendations

15. Selected references

16. Annexes

16.1. Responses to Public Comments on the EMM

16.1.1. Shift to individual membership and implications for existing ALSes

16.1.2. Merging of ALAC and RALO leadership roles

16.1.3. Use of random selection for appointment of At-Large leadership positions

16.1.4. Strict term limits for At-Large leadership positions

16.1.5. Perceived risk of capture

16.1.6. Appointment of Liaisons by the NomCom

16.2. FAQ: the function of ALSes in the EMM

 


Tables


 

Table 1.             Review Recommendations .............................................................................................................................................

Table 2.             EMM Recommendations ................................................................................................................................................

Table 3.             Participation of At-Large members in other ICANN SOs & ACs ......................................................................

Table 4.             Participation of At-Large members in constituencies of the GNSO ..................................................................

Table 5.             Survey Findings: Perception of the mission of At-Large ........................................................................................

Table 6.             ALAC responses to ICANN Public Comments as % of total, 2012 - 2016 .....................................................

Table 7.             ICANN Supporting Organisations: support staff ...................................................................................................

Table 8.             ALSes by Global Regions

Table 9.             Number of ISOC Chapters in five global regions ....................................................................................................

Table 10.         List of active At-Large Working groups (January 2017) ......................................................................................

Table 11.         History of travel support for current ALAC and RALO leadership ................................................................

Table 12.         ICANN funding mechanisms for end-users ...........................................................................................................

Table 13.         EMM functional aspects and associated recommendations ...............................................................................

Table 14.         Comparison of the EMM and current At-Large Community ............................................................................

Table 15.         Westlake Consulting Ldt. Review Recommendations ........................................................................................

Table 16.         Westlake Review: WG Recommendations .............................................................................................................


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Participant in the African School of Internet Governance,

Durban – South Africa, October 2016

1.                Executive summary

This report covers many aspects of the mission and purpose of the At-Large Community, its accountability towards Internet end-users, and its organisational effectiveness within ICANN. It is the result of a year-long Review of the At-Large Community, called for by ICANN Bylaws, carried out between May 2016 and April 2017.

Over 100 face-to-face interviews were conducted with members of At-Large and the wider Internet Governance ecosystem. Reviewers attended ICANN meetings 56, 57 and 59 and five non-ICANN regional Internet Governance meetings. A global survey was conducted with over 250 responses, and extensive documentary research was carried out on the origins, purpose and organisational structure of At-Large. 

Our Review findings are both encouraging and an urgent call to action. Encouraging as there is evidently widespread support for the mission of At-Large to contribute to ICANN policy-making processes through the provision of advice that takes into account Internet end users’ interests (few people doubt that the At-Large Community has a vital and continuing purpose within ICANN). But a call to action as the At-Large Community is often perceived to be run by an unchanging group of individuals whose commitment to upholding end-users’ interests is sincere, but who have struggled to make contemporary end-user input into policy advice processes a reality.

Since the last Organisational Review in 2008, the At-Large Community has grown and gained in legitimacy within the ICANN multi-stakeholder system. The organisation now claims over 200 At-Large Structures (ALSes), spread more-or-less evenly around the world, and it would appear that At-Large advice weighs more heavily than was previously the case in ICANN policy-making process. In this regard many acknowledge the role and dedication of the volunteers that make up At-Large in building the Community up over the years, despite financial constraints, and a politically challenging environment.

Yet despite the individual strengths of its leaders, and their commitment to defending end-user interests, there is a widely shared perception that At-Large has turned in on itself; that the community has become excessively focused on internal, procedural matters to the detriment of its policy-advice and “outreach and engagement” functions. Newcomers find it difficult to get involved, global awareness regarding the organisation is poor, and it would appear that internet end-users do not properly understand the role played by At-Large within ICANN. 

As At-Large enters a new stage in its evolution - as a member of the post-IANA transition Empowered Community - there are organisational reforms, notably concerning the way in which the At-Large Community works with and engages Internet end-users in its policy-advice processes that seem essential.

Early drafts of this report contained 16 recommendations including an all-encompassing package of organisational reform entitled the Empowered Membership Model (EMM) . Aimed at removing barriers to entry for end-users, and enhancing the At-Large Community’s powers of representation and accountability within ICANN, the EMM builds on many functional and organisational aspects of the current organisation.

In addition, the model includes a number of organisational reforms that have been conceived to empower end-users. These are:

  1. Simplification of membership criteria. All Internet end-users with an interest in ICANN’s mission will be able to learn about and quickly become involved in At-Large policy advice processes, without having to become a member of an At-Large Structure (ALS).
  2. New opportunities are created for the rapid (dis-intermediated) engagement of 10 suitably qualified end users as “Rapporteurs” in policy-advice and related outreach & engagement activities, transferring existing travel slots to them.
  3. RALO and ALAC leadership roles are merged, with much greater emphasis placed on RALOs channelling end user input into WG processes within ICANN. 
  4. Current Internal At-Large WGs are abandoned and their creation in the future is strongly discouraged. At-Large is oriented towards policy work and outreach to new members.
  5. Electoral processes are simplified, enhancing the legitimacy of At-Large leadership and increasing overall transparency and accountability.
  6. Under the direction of the ALAC, ICANN staff are to be more proactively engaged in support of the Community’s policy work, as well as providing essential administrative support.
  7. “Outreach and Engagement” activities will seek opportunities to raise awareness about the role and function of At-Large and ICANN among end users as well as getting them engaged in policy processes.

Reviewers are confident that the implementation of the EMM will be cost-neutral for ICANN, and that it can be achieved with minimal disruption to the At-Large Community.

As part of the standard ICANN Review process, early drafts of this report were submitted for Review Working Party and “Public” Comment. In addition, Reviewers organised a public Webinar and an open Workshop, during ICANN-58, to explain the main features of the EMM model to a wider audience.

 

Fifteen extended individual and joint comments were received during the public comment period - and many other comments besides - which have served to highlight areas of agreement and inevitable disagreement with our findings. All comments were carefully considered during the drafting of this final report, and some have served to correct misconceptions and/or improve the rationale behind our findings and recommendations.

 

This fully updated Final Report contains a list of recommendations which Reviewers believe reflect the needs of At-Large Community and for which there is sufficient community consensus. There were some cases where agreement with the current At-Large leadership was not reached, but which Reviewers strongly believe need to be implemented in the interests of the At-Large Community and the ICANN organisation as a whole.

 

 


 

2.                Review Recommendations

Table 1 below lists the main recommendations that appear throughout the report. Each recommend-ation is preceded by a short description of the problem or issue that was identified and a link to the page in the report where a full rationale is provided. For each recommendation we have provided a rough indication of the level of Community support expressed during the Public Comment period [1] .

Note that whereas Reviewers sought to make recommendations that reflect the needs and concerns of the At-Large Community and wider ICANN organisation, it was not expected that we would achieve full Community in every case. Hence, there are a number of recommendations for which there is currently only a low level of Community support, but which we have maintained because we believe they reflect the best interests of the Community in the long term.

Following the Public Comment period, a number of changes were made to the wording of certain recommendations. Two new recommendations were added and two draft recommendations were merged. As a result, the sequence numbering of recommendations has changed .

Table 17.          Review Recommendations

Issue identified: Quality vs quantity of ALAC advice produced.

Recommendation # 1: (p. 26 Error! Reference source not found. ) ALAC should be more selective in the amount of advice it seeks to offer, focusing on those issues which might have the greatest impact upon the end user community, and going for quality rather than quantity. ALAC should develop a more transparent process for distinguishing between different types of advice, and publish that advice on the At-Large website.

Community support (Draft Rec # 2): Moderade/high

Issue identified: At-Large has struggled to reflect/process end user-opinion; barriers to individual participation; unchanging leadership group; resistance to real reform.

Recommendation # 2: (p. 27 ) At-Large should adopt the proposed Empowered Membership Model (EMM) with a view to removing the barriers to participation for ordinary end-users, and encouraging greater direct participation by At-Large members in At-Large policy advice and related “Outreach and Engagement” processes.

See Table 2 . for list of associated EMM Recommendations

Community support (Draft Rec # 3): Moderate/high

Issue identified: Staff resources are disproportionately concentrated on administrative support. Staff should have greater capacity to support preparation of policy advice.

Recommendation # 3: (p. 33 ) At-Large Support Staff should be more actively involved in supporting the policy work of the ALAC, drafting position papers and other policy related work based on ALAC input. Staff competencies should be adjusted accordingly.  

Community support (Draft Rec # 4): Moderate

Issue identified: Leadership Team (ALT), which is not mandated by ICANN Bylaws, concentrates in the established leadership too many decision-making and other administrative powers which should be spread among the members of the ALAC.

Recommendation # 4 (New): (p. 43 ) The ALT should be dissolved and its decision-making powers fully restored to the ALAC.

Community support: N/A – New recommendation

Issue identified: Uneven contribution of At Large to coordinated ICANN strategy for ‘Outreach and Engagement’. Missed opportunities for coordination with other constituencies and ICANN staff.

Recommendation # 5:  ( p. 45 ) At-Large should redouble efforts to contribute to meetings between ICANN Senior Staff, ISOC and other I* organisations to develop a joint strategic approach to cooperative outreach.

Community support (Draft Rec # 5): High

Issue identified: Election processes are excessively complex and have been open to allegations of unfairness.

Recommendation # 6: (p. 48 ) At-Large should adopt a simpler and more transparent electoral procedure for the selection of the At-Large-appointed member of the Board of Directors. Two alternative mechanisms are proposed (Section 10.5.3) both of which would be an improvement over the current process.

Community support (Draft Rec # 6): Moderate/low

Issue identified : Excessive amounts of At-Large Community time spent on process and procedure at expense of ALAC’s mandated responsibilities to produce policy advice and coordinate outreach and engagement activities. Too many internal working groups are a distraction.

Recommendation # 7:  (p. 53 ) At-Large should abandon existing internal Working Groups, too many of which are currently focused on process, and a distraction from the actual policy advice role of At-Large. Their creation should in future be avoided. If absolutely necessary, any such group should be strictly task/time limited and policy focused, or its role taken on by volunteer pen holders assisted by policy capable staff.

Community support (Draft Rec # 7): Low

Issue identified : Social media and other Internet-based tools could be used more effectively, and at minimal cost, to continuously survey and channel end-user input into ICANN policy making processes.

Recommendation # 8: (p. 54 ) ALAC should use social media more effectively to engage with end users (e.g. via Twitter  / Facebook polls, etc.). These polls should not be binding in any way, but the ALAC could use them as a gauge of end user opinion.

Community support (Draft Rec # 6): High

Issue identified: Need for increased At-Large Community awareness and staff training regarding the use of social media.

Recommendation # 9: (p. 55 ) ALAC should arrange for the designation of one of its support staff as a part-time Web Community Manager  who will be responsible, inter alia, for coordinating outreach via social media (Rec 8). These responsibilities could be allocated to an existing member of staff.

Community support (Draft Rec # 9): High

Issue identified: There are a multitude of communications channels used by At Large. This has led to fractured and undocumented communications.


Recommendation # 10: (p. 55 ) ALAC should consider the adoption and use of a single Slack-like online communication platform. An instant messaging-cum-team workspace (FOSS) alternative to replace Skype/Wiki/website/mailing list.

Community support (Draft Rec # 10): High

Issue identified: While broadly popular, Global ATLAS meetings every 5 years have been difficult to organise and short on effective results. More frequent regional meetings would be more effective in encouraging both policy input and outreach while familiarising more of At Large with workings of ICANN.

Recommendation # 11 : (p. 60 ) At-Large should replace 5-yearly global ATLAS meetings with an alternative model of rotating annual regional At-Large Meetings, held in conjunction with regular ICANN meetings.  Regional meetings should include an Internet Governance School element.  Participants should include all qualified ALMs. 

Community support (Draft Rec # 11): Moderate

Issue identified: ALAC input to a coordinated ICANN Outreach sub-optimal.

Recommendation # 12: (p. 61 ) As part of their annual outreach strategies RALOs should continue to put a high priority on the organisation of and participation in external events in their region (IGF, RIR ISOC, etc.).  CROPP and other funding mechanisms should be provided to support the costs of organisation and participation of At-Large members.

Community support (Merge of Draft Recs 1 & 12):: High

Issue identified: Need more systematic RALO participation in regional events

Recommendation # 13: ( p. 66 ) In the interests of transparency, a clear indication of all opportunities for At-Large travel funding support and the beneficiaries thereof, should be published promptly and in one place on the At-Large webpage.

Community support (Draft Rec # 14): High

Issue identified: Lack of transparency regarding travel funding opportunities and who benefits.

Recommendation # 14: (p. 67 ) The ALAC should initiate discussions with the ICANN Board of Directors with a view to gaining access to a share of gTLD Auction Proceeds to be used in support of end user and broad civil society engagement in ICANN. Such a mechanism could replace the existing operational expense incurred by ICANN to support the At-Large Community.

Community support (Draft Rec # 15): Moderate / high

Issue identified: Need for an innovative approach to funding a revitalised At-Large.

Recommendation # 15: (p. 72 ) Using the same qualification system as for policy rapporteurs, (para …) ALAC should select 5 rapporteurs to contribute to ICANN’s plans for a demand driven multi sectoral approach to outreach, and learn from the work of the ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement group. Rapporteurs would serve for one year (3 meetings) to encourage turnover and more genuine grass roots input.

Community support: N/A – New Recommendation

Issue identified: Absence of consistent performance metrics.

Recommendation # 16: (p. 78 ) ALAC should adopt a set of metrics that are consistent for the entire At-Large Community to measure the implementation and impact of the EMM and track the continuous improvement in the performance of the At-Large Community.

Community support (Draft Rec # 16): high


Table 2 contains a list of EMM Recommendations associated with Recommendation # 2 regarding the adoption of the Empowered Membership Model. See section 13.2 for a contextualised list of EMM Recommendations, including associated definitions.

Note that the previous Draft for Public Comment contained a list of “Implementation Guidelines” in connection with the EMM. Taking into account numerous comments, Reviewers opted to replace the former implementation guidelines with EMM Recommendations that are more specifically linked to functional aspects of the EMM.   

Table 18.          EMM Recommendations

EMM Recommendation, Point 1: At-Large should remove the current criteria for At-Large membership, notably the requirement to join an ALS in order to become an active policy contributor to the At-Large Community. All internet end-users with an interest in ICANN’s policy development function or outreach should be able to become involved in the activities of At-Large in the same way.

EMM Recommendation, Point 2: ALAC should define a set of metrics for assessing the level of active engagement of “policy advice” or “outreach and engagement” ALMs. Active ALMs should be provided with funding to attend regional meetings including   AGMs, Internet Governance Schools, and the rotating regional ATLAS meeting when it occurs  in their region.

EMM Recommendation, Point 3.1: ALAC should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the role and function of Rapporteurs. Rapporteurs will initially be appointed for 1 year. Renewable once for Policy input rapporteurs. Outreach Rapporteurs will serve for one year only to improve throughput. Calls for expressions of interest from qualified ALMs should be issued 6 months before their year of service 

EMM Recommendation, Point 3.2: Using the same qualification system as for policy rapporteurs, ALAC should select 5 rapporteurs to contribute to ICANN’s plans for a demand driven multi sectoral approach to outreach, and learn from the work of the ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement group. Rapporteurs would serve for one year (3 meetings) to encourage turnover and more genuine grass roots input (Recommendation # 13).

EMM Recommendation, Point 4:   At-Large should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the appointment of RALO leaders and their corresponding responsibilities on the ALAC. ICANN Bylaws should also be updated accordingly.

EMM Recommendation, Point 5: At-Large should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the functioning and membership of the CoE.

EMM Recommendation, Point 6: ALAC Rules of Procedure should be updated with addition of a new procedure regarding the appointment by the NomCom of 5 ALAC members who will also act as Liaisons.

EMM Recommendation, Point 7: ALAC Rules of Procedure should be updated with the addition of new procedure regarding the use of random selection for the appointment of key At-Large leadership positions.

 

 


 

3.                Review Process & Public Comments

Throughout the Review process Reviewers took part in regular exchanges with the At-Large Review Working Party. A first draft for Review Working Party Comment was issued on 5 December 2016. A second draft for Public Comment was issued on 31 January 2017.

3.1.                               Webinar and Workshop

In addition to the standard Review process the ITEMS Review team agreed to the organisation of a public webinar [2] , and volunteered the organisation of  a workshop [3] that was held during the ICANN-58 meeting in Copenhagen. These two events were aimed at raising awareness about the Review process and explaining the rationale behind the main conclusions of our report, and key aspects of the proposed Empowered Membership Model (EMM).

.

3.2.                               Public Comments

Fifteen comments were submitted during the Public Comment period which ran from 31 January to 25 March 2017 [4] .

There were three categories of commenter:

             Individual commenters (x4)

             Grouped comments from ALAC, individual RALOS, and a joint RALO statement.

             Official statements from other ICANN constituencies.

Comments were considered individually and then by category, acknowledging differences of perspective and opinion between At-Large insiders and commenters from the wider ICANN system. Where there was agreement between commenters in support of draft recommendations, Reviewers considered that no action needed to be taken.

Where there was pushback, reviewers considered ways in which certain aspects of the report could be modified or corrected, or more rationale provided in cases where it was considered that the original recommendation should be maintained.

The table below indicates levels of support for the 16 draft recommendations by individual members of At-Large (x3), the ALAC (15 members) and the RALOS (multiple commenters).  It is indicative only but suggests that there is already significant Community acceptance of the majority of Recommendations.

 

4.                Purpose and scope of the Review

This Review, conducted between 1 May 2016 and 30 April 2017, is the second review of At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the broader “At-Large Community”, as called for by ICANN Bylaws.

The first Review, conducted by Westlake Consulting Ltd., in 2008, focused primarily on the ALAC, the 15-member committee that represents and coordinates the activities of the At-Large Community which, at the time, was still in its early infancy.

The purpose of the current Review is to focus to a much greater extent on the broader At-Large Community currently made up of some 200 At-Large Structures (ALSes) and individual end-users.

4.1.                               ICANN Bylaws: framework for periodic Reviews

Section 4.4 of the ICANN Bylaws pertaining to the review of ICANN Structures and Operations states that:

(a) The Board shall cause a periodic review of the performance and operation of each Supporting Organization, each Supporting Organization Council, each Advisory Committee (other than the Governmental Advisory Committee), and the Nominating Committee (as defined in Section 8.1) by an entity or entities independent of the organization under review.

The goal of reviews shall be to determine:

  1. whether the organization, council or committee [under review] has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure.
  2. if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness, and,
  3. whether that organization, council or committee is accountable to its constituencies, stakeholder groups, organizations and other stakeholders.

The Review process is overseen the Board Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) chartered, since July 2015, to “assess whether ICANN has made progress in achieving key organizational objectives and whether its organizational structure is effective and relevant to its mission.”

4.2.                               ​Scope of present Review

The scope for the present Review is further specified in the terms of reference (ToR) which state that it shall focus particular attention on:

  1.       Improvements resulting from recommendations from the previous review, and,
  2. Components of the At-Large Community - ALAC, Regional At-Large Organisations (RALOs) and At-Large Structures (ALSes) in accordance with the ICANN-provided objective and quantifiable criteria.

Accordingly, the present report focuses mainly on functional and organisational aspects of the At-Large Community. Outcomes of the Review conducted in 2008 by Westlake Consulting are covered in Secti on 1 4 .

 

5.                Methodology

5.1.                               ​Survey & Face-to-face interviews

Over 100 face-to-face interviews have been carried out at ICANN meetings 56, 57 58, in Helsinki, Hyderabad and Copenhagen, and five global Internet governance events co-organised by or involving numerous members of the At-Large Community.

A global survey of the At-Large Community was conducted between mid-September and 9 th November 2016. The survey was targeted at the following respondent categories:

           Members of the At-Large Community

           Representatives of the broader ICANN system (ICANN SOs and ACs)

           ICANN Board of Directors

           Academics

           ICANN staff

           End-users and the representatives of the broader Internet governance ecosystem.

5.2.                               ​Structure of the report

The main sections of this report follow the same structure as follows:

           Subsection 1: Survey & Interview findings

           Subsection 2: Documentary research and analysis

           Subsection 3: Recommendations

A Chatham House rule has been used regarding the attribution of quotes. Comments are only attributed by geographic provenance or organisational affiliation. Details that may allow individuals to be identified have been removed, except in cases where respondents have specifically requested to be identified.

5.2.1.           Recommendations and Implementation Guidelines

Throughout the report Recommendations that are highlighted in blue. A summary of Recommendations is included in Table 1 above. As summary of EMM Recommendations, which are a subset of recommendations linked to Recommendation 2 regarding the adoption of the EMM, are listed in Table 2 above.


6.                Interviews & Global Survey: main findings

6.1.                               Achievements and scope for further improvement

Since the last ALAC Review (Westlake Consulting Ltd., 2008) the At-Large Community has progressed in a number of areas. The Community is more international, its membership base has grown, and it has devolved certain functions to the regional level in a way that has reinforced its legitimacy among Internet end-users and accountability within ICANN.

The Community appears to be more coordinated and methodical in respect of its core mission to develop advice in connection with ICANN policy development processes and related activities; and considerable effort has gone into multiple “outreach and engagement” activities resulting in an increase in ALS membership levels in the five global regions.

From a procedural and organisational point of view, the At-Large Community’s Rules of Procedure (RoP) have been fully updated. These include notable improvements such as a more systematic approach to the preparation of At-Large advice, new provisions regarding the planning of meetings and the recording and archiving of At-Large decision-making processes; and clearer rules regarding the election of RALO and ALAC positions, the ALAC Chair and the members of the At-Large Leadership Team (ALT).

In contrast to the situation eight years ago there is more widespread use of online tools such as Adobe Connect for remote participation meetings; simultaneous translation from English into French, Spanish and Portuguese is offered during regular RALO conference calls; and interpretation into seven languages is frequently provided during in-person meetings of the At-Large Community during ICANN meetings. There have also been significant improvements to the At-Large website, notably with the creation of a Wiki; and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, are in wider use.

In terms of global outreach and engagement, there have been notable achievements that can be directly or partially attributed to At-Large including the establishment of the ICANN Academy, the spread of Internet Governance Summer Schools in many parts of the world, and a move to multi-annual budgeting for At Large activities which has improved planning.

These achievements suggest that the At-Large Community has the human resources and organisational capacity to adapt and carry through certain important reforms when necessary. This is an vital quality for an organisation like the At-Large Community, and one which Reviewers hope the Community will be able to harness in years ahead as it embraces further much needed reform. Despite the progress of recent years there are still many areas, notably regarding its mission to represent the interests of Internet end-users, where considerable work to improve the overall effectiveness and accountability of the organisation needs to be done.

6.2.                               Results of global survey: response rate

As part of this Review a global survey targeted at the members of the At-Large Community and wider ICANN system was carried out. Initially scheduled to run for five weeks, closing on 21 October 2016, it was kept open for an additional three weeks, to close on 9 November, the final day of the ICANN-57 meeting in Hyderabad.

On closure the survey had received 242 complete responses, including 211 responses via the main version in English, 15 responses via the French version and 16 responses via the Spanish version. There were responses from 74 countries worldwide as represented on the map below, darker shades of blue correspond to higher response rates.

 

 

 

Figure 1: Heatmap: responses to global survey

Source: ITEMS International, 2016

 

  1. At-Large respondent profiles

The largest group of respondents to the survey were representatives of At-Large Structures (110 responders / 45.1%), followed by Internet end-users non affiliated to ICANN (25%), the representatives of other ICANN SOs and ACs (20%) and ICANN Board Directors (2%).

It should be noted that survey results presented in this report distinguish between the responses of different respondent groups.

 

 

There was an even distribution of responses from the five global regions (Chart representing At-Large Community respondents only).

We note that respondents that identified themselves as members of the At-Large Community are in a slightly more favourable female:male ratio (≈ 40:60) than for all respondent categories (≈ 30:70) (including ICANN Staff, Board, the representatives of the other ICANN SOs and ACs, and the representatives of the broader Internet governance ecosystem).

Finally, of the respondents who identified themselves as members of the At-Large Community, by far the largest group (close to 50%) participate in At-Large as the representatives of ISOC chapters (See Section 10.4 for our assessment of the role and influence of ISOC in At-Large).

6.3.                               Overview of findings

Interviews and results of the global survey highlight sharp differences of opinion within At-Large itself and across ICANN’s main stakeholder groups.

At-Large is revealed as a heterogeneous community with a wide range of interests and motivations for participation. However, we have identified a number of overarching issues that are of most concern to Community members. These relate to:

           The purpose of At-Large and how well that purpose is being met;

           Why the At-Large Community does not function as well as originally intended;

           Ways to reform At-Large processes, and;

           How to allow greater end user participation in ICANN policy making.

6.3.1.           Level of active engagement in At-Large

Over 75% of At-Large survey respondents consider that they are either “very” or “quite active” in At-Large discussions (defined as “participation in weekly, monthly or bi-monthly conference calls, and contribution to mailing lists”).

6.3.2.           Participation in ICANN cross-constituency work

The following tables indicate that At-Large members are active in a number of other ICANN policy-making structures. The results of the survey suggest that the SO in which most At-Large members are active is the ccNSO. This result was contested by At-Large leadership, who maintain that the gNSO is the SO with most active participants. However, the numbers are sufficiently large to be within a comfortable margin of error.

Table 19.          Participation of At-Large members in other ICANN SOs & ACs

Survey [At-Large respondents only]: Are you / your ALS currently involved in the policy development of the following structures within ICANN’s Support Organisations?

Address Supporting Organisation (ASO)

17%

Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO)

39%

Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO)

31%

 


 

Table 20.          Participation of At-Large members in constituencies of the GNSO

Table 4: Survey [At-Large respondents only]: Are you / your ALS currently involved in the policy development of the following structures within the GNSO?

Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)

26%

Not-for-profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC)

23%

Business Constituency (BC)

4%

Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC)

8%

Internet Service Provider and Connectivity Providers (ISPCP)

8%

Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG)

0%

Registrar Stakeholder Group

6%

Other

21%

Source: ITEMS Global Survey of At-Large, 2016

6.3.3.           The role of At-Large in question

In response to a survey question regarding the most fitting description of At-Large, close to ⅓ of all At-Large respondents (30%) chose the statement “The At-Large Community is made up of ALSes and individual RALO members that mainly act in their own interests”. The number of other respondents, including members of the Board and the representatives of the other Supporting Organisations and Advisory Committees within ICANN, that chose this statement was close to double (58%) (see full results in T able 4 above). 

Table 21.          Survey Findings: Perception of the mission of At-Large

Survey question: In your opinion which of the following statements most accurately describes the role played by the At-Large Community within ICANN?

At-Large respondents

Board + SOs & ACs

“The At-Large Community is made up of ALSes and individual RALO members that mainly act in their own interests.”

30%

58%

“The At-Large Community is made up of At-Large Structures (ALSes) and individual RALO members that engage in ICANN policy development processes on behalf of Internet end users worldwide.”

29%

13%

“At-Large is the body within ICANN that allows all Internet end-users to engage in ICANN policy development processes in an equal and non-discriminatory fashion.”

16%

6%

“The At-Large Community is made up of At-Large Structures (ALSes) and individual RALO members that effectively engage with the global community of Internet end-users in a bottom-up, consensus-driven fashion.”

16%

13%

“The elected members of the ALAC have a mandate to speak in the interests and on behalf of end users in ICANN policy development processes.”

9%

10%

 

 

These results reinforce the view heard repeatedly in interviews that the At-Large Community is largely made up of individuals and/or the representatives of ALSes that are more concerned with pushing their own agendas than striving to “represent the interests” of the global Internet end-user community. Our Review team remains neutral, however, regarding the results of this this question, and acknowledges that the actions of ALSes “acting in their own interests” may not be at odds with mission of At-Large to act “in the interests” of the end-user community.

6.3.4.           Perception that At-Large leadership is unchanging

In face-to-face discussions and in the online survey, the ITEMS team heard repeatedly that most At-Large activities and decision-making processes are highly centralised and dominated by a core leadership group. This was identified as problematic by a significant number of interlocutors. While “capture” is a heavily connoted term to use to describe such a phenomenon, there is a widespread perception of leadership immobilism, which has had a negative effect on the performance and image of the organisation.

The perception that At-Large leaders are involved in a game of Leadership position “musical chairs” is also widespread or, as these survey respondents representing different functions and/or stakeholder groups within ICANN put it:  

“Term limits are a solution for ossified leadership. But the main issue is the perpetual game of musical chairs among the same group of people. This prevents upward mobility from the RAL Os and ALSes (ICANN Staff)

Or:

“More candidates? I can only think of a handful of people associated with At-Large Leadership over the ten plus years I've followed ICANN.” (NCSG Member)
 

Or this from an At-Large member:

“It feels like ALAC/RALO leadership are "royalty" and the rest of the community are "peasants". This gap needs to be narrowed so that it is not top down but more bottom up.” (LACRALO Participant)

Or this from a GNSO member:

“There has been little change in actual overall leadership because the same few               people just get shuffled around between different roles [...] The ALAC needs to ensure it rotates leadership, as the appearance is that they actually only represent a few individuals who have participated for forever and do not actually represent users interests. (GNSO Participant)
 

This is only a selection of similar views shared with the Review Team.

6.4.                               Hypotheses considered

Over the course of the Review we heard from many people about the challenges faced by At-Large, both in representing end-user interests in policy advice processes, and in effectively engaging end-users in policy work. During the documentary research and analysis phase we considered three hypotheses. These were:

  1. ICANN Mission: ICANN’s narrow policy remit in connection with the DNS, and the legal and technical complexity of the issues that are discussed within ICANN may, in part, explain the relatively low level of effective end-user engagement within At-Large.
  2. People, Power and Politics: It is possible that At-Large has not attracted higher levels of end-user participation because established leaders have monopolised positions of power, blocking rotation while limiting the introduction of fresh thinking.
  3. At-Large Organisational Structure: It is possible that At-Large organisational structure has become too complex. As such it has become a barrier to effective end-user involvement. It may be that the current ALS / RALO / ALAC model is not/no longer fit for purpose.

Our view is that the challenges faced by At-Large Community are most likely a combination of all three hypotheses. Hence our Review focuses on organisational, mission-related and, structural aspects of the At-Large Community.

7.                ​Mandate & Purpose of the At-Large Community

In this section we consider whether the At-Large Community has evolved in a way that is consistent with ICANN Bylaws, and whether any amendments to the Bylaws may be necessary as the Community grows and adjusts to the changing environment within ICANN.

The mission and purpose of the At-Large Community is described in Section 4 paragraph a of ICANN Bylaws:

(i) The At-Large Advisory Committee (“At-Large Advisory Committee” or “ALAC”) is the primary organizational home within ICANN for individual Internet users. The role of the ALAC shall be to consider and provide advice on the activities of ICANN, insofar as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users. This includes policies created through ICANN’s Supporting Organizations, as well as the many other issues for which community input and advice is appropriate. The ALAC, which plays an important role in ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, also coordinates some of ICANN’s outreach to individual Internet users.

This paragraph covers the four key responsibilities of the At-Large Community, that are:

  1.            To serve as a “primary organisational home” for individual Internet users.
  2. To coordinate with the other Supporting Organisations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) to ensure that end user interests are taken into account.
  3. To conduct outreach activities to raise awareness about ICANN activities among end users.
  4. To serve as an important accountability mechanism for the ICANN organisation as a whole.

 

7.1.                               ​Survey & interview findings

The results of the survey reveal mixed perceptions and sometimes contradictory perceptions regarding the mandate and purpose of At-Large.

All survey respondents were asked if the current population of ALSes is truly representative of global end-user opinion. The results are presented in the figures below:

These results indicate that 50% of all At-Large respondents and around 75% of Board + SO & AC respondents do not think that end user opinions are adequately represented by the current group of At-large Structures. 

From the above graph we see that only 4% of At-Large respondents themselves “absolutely agree” that current ALSes are truly representative. This was quite an alarming finding for our Review team, and one that points to an issue that calls for significant attention.

 

When asked about the effectiveness of the At-Large Community in engaging end users, opinions inside and outside of At-Large vary considerably. Just over 60% of At-Large respondents and 25 % of SO / AC representatives replied that it had been “somewhat effective”, but only 2% of SO / AC representatives thought that it had been “very effective”, and around 45% that it had been “very ineffective”.

The purpose of At-Large and ALAC is to provide policy advice to the ICANN Board. When asked if this advice is heeded within ICANN, a large majority (around 80%) of both At-Large and wider ICANN respondents consider that it is “absolutely” or “somewhat” taken into account. 

So the perception is that the At-Large community via the ALAC does have a significant degree of influence on ICANN policy.

7.2.                               At-Large accountability processes

At-Large is described by ICANN Bylaws, and on its own website, as a community that “acts in the interests of Internet users” . It is a community that contributes, in its advisory capacity, to the elaboration of “policies that influence the technical coordination of the Domain Name System”, and one that “works to ensure that the Internet continues to serve the global public interest.”

The At-Large Community was set up within ICANN with the intention that it should serve as an important accountability. But how well has At-Large been able to fulfil this role? Is the Community truly accountable to the global community of Internet end-users whose interests it is supposed to represent? Is it structured in such a way that will allow it to scale its operations in line with the exponential growth in the number of Internet users worldwide? Indeed, is the Community effectively serving its purpose to increase overall ICANN accountability?

For supporters the At-Large Community has come a long way over the past eight years. There are now over two hundred At-Large Structures (ALSes) around the world which have an important role to play in grassroots outreach activities. There are a larger number of global events organised or co-organised by At-Large, creating more opportunities for engagement. The proliferation of Internet Governance Summer Schools is viewed as having a positive impact in terms of raising awareness and attracting new talents. There are clearer Rules of Procedure about how to get engaged as a volunteer, and the recently redesigned At-Large website helps guide end users in relation to their specific area of expertise.

But detractors question whether considerable resources and volunteer time spent on the organisation of numerous At-Large “outreach and engagement” activities have actually resulted in enhanced end-user input and accountability for At-Large or the ICANN organisation as a whole. In their eyes these activities have not resulted in improvements in the way end users are able to engage in policy advice processes. Despite the relatively extensive global network of ALSes that has been put in place, and despite the number of events that are being held worldwide, the return on investment in terms of end-user engagement has been poor. At-Large advice still tends to be developed by a relatively small number of At-Large old timers. Actual end-user engagement remains low.

7.2.1.           Maintaining influence in the ICANN multistakeholder system

In the course of the Review we heard various accounts of how the At-Large Community has had its powers of representation within ICANN’s cut back over the years. There is a certain militancy among certain long-term members of At-Large who appear to view their involvement as part of a long-term struggle to gain back some of the power that was lost in the early days of ICANN.

Originally, nine of the seats on the ICANN Board were slated to be held by “At-Large” members. The rise of Registries, Registrars, stakeholder groups, and Intellectual Property stakeholder groups, however, has resulted in a shift of powers over the years due to resource imbalances between Stakeholder Groups. This evolution has diluted the voice of end users to the barest minimum.

In terms of accountability the elected officers the ALAC should, in theory, be accountable to the ALSes that voted them into office and can vote them out at the next election. Whether or not this is the case, however, is open to question. The proposed Empowered Membership Model  ( Section 13 )  will, we believe, contribute towards closing the gap that separates ICANN from ordinary end-users with an interest in contributing to policy-development processes.

7.3.                               Dual “bottom-up” and “top-down” function of At-Large

ICANN’s At-Large Community was conceived with a two-way function:

i)         to provide “bottom-up”, consensus-built advice representing the interests of global community of Internet end-users; and,

ii)       to ensure a downward flow of “outreach and engagement” activities aimed at raising awareness about ICANN among end users, and getting them engaged in policy processes.

Few contest the idea that the At-Large network needs to be nourished through a regular outflow of appropriate information. What we have found, however, is that whereas this may be happening in a more coordinated fashion than a few years ago, this strategy does not appear to have yielded significant results in terms of increased end-user input in policy-advice processes.

Reviewers observed how different divisions within ICANN are regularly involved in awareness-raising or “outreach and engagement” activities in many countries around the world, including the organisation of regional ICANN events and participation in other Internet Governance fora. These activities should be ideal opportunities to raise awareness about the role and function of At-Large. Yet this does not appear to be happening in a systematic or coordinated way. It would appear that many opportunities to create synergies and leverage considerable ICANN funding for “outreach and engagement” are being missed.

During the course of this Review we noted that certain events (e.g. Regional IGF meetings) have been organised involving members of the ALAC. However, there have been missed opportunities to inform the wider At-Large community. Such activities could be used more effectively as opportunities to further the “outreach and engagement” activities of ICANN as a whole to increase impact upon the At-Large Community.

8.                ​At-Large and wider ICANN system

8.1.                               ​Survey & interview findings

Collaboration between At-Large and other SOs and ACs is a cross-cutting theme that was discussed at length during interviews and survey responses. Most interviewees support greater involvement of At-Large members in non-At-Large ICANN WGs so At-Large has greater knowledge and input before they are faced with a decision point on the provision of advice to the Board or other ICANN constituency.

Survey respondents had mixed views about current levels of participation of At-Large members in policy development activities within ICANN:

 

“To break the cycle and make At-Large an effective contributor to ICANN policy development like the other SOs and ACs, more At-Large members need to have the exposure to other groups' policy activities with the necessary encouragement, support, and guidance.”  (ICANN Staff)

“The issue is the documents produced under discussion in the OTHER SO/AC. Necessary to start the discussion of an At Large line at an early stage. Asking At Large to respond to public consultations is TOO LATE in the PDP and other procedures. “ (EURALO  Participant)

“At-Large Community members, especially the ALAC members, need to go outside their own bubble and observe and/or participate in the activities of other SOs/ACs. Unlike other SOs and ACs, most At-Large activities are focusing on process related matters and outreach & engagement activities, which are not related to policy at all. “ (ICANN Staff)

8.2.                               ​​The advisory capacity of At-Large

As an Advisory Committee the ALAC has distinct powers within ICANN from the three Supporting Organisations (SOs) - the ccNSO, the GNSO and the ASO - that are specifically tasked to “develop policy”.

It would appear that the ALAC, with input from the broader At-Large Community, has been reasonably effective in producing advice in significant quantity in connection with policy work being developed in other parts of the ICANN system.

However, there is a wide perception that this advice, while formally welcomed by the Board of Directors, is not always heeded. This is a cause of some frustration within the At-Large Community.

Moreover, there was much criticism from other SOs that while ALAC advice tended to be somewhat shallow and generic, ALAC leadership could rapidly develop a firm view at very short notice when required. This surely could not represent bottom-up grassroots opinion.

8.3.                               At-Large policy-advice function within ICANN

As part of this Review we have looked into the different ways in which At-Large produces advice, and the how advice is subsequently taken into account by the Board or other constituencies within ICANN.

The Policy Advice page of the At-Large website contains an archive of 364 pieces of “Advice” that have been developed between 2003 and 2016. This is an impressive output, but one which appears to make no distinction between the different types of advice that At-Large offers.

This advice covers all types of statement including:

           Responses to ICANN Public Comment proceedings.

           Responses to input requests from GNSO Working Groups.

           Unsolicited advice submitted by the ALAC to the ICANN Board of Directors on issues they have identified as important to end users.

           Short-form correspondence sent by the ALAC Chair on behalf of the ALAC.

           Long-form documents, such as the White Paper on Future Challenges “Making ICANN Relevant, Responsive and Respected” and the Second At-Large Summit (ATLAS II) Declaration .

The At-Large website provides details of the process that is followed when a new Public Comment is opened, a process that is summarised as follows:

Source : At-Large: “How does the ALAC develop policy advice”

The period to provide a response to Public Consultations is 40 days which is seen by many members of the At-Large Community to be too short. The Community often struggles to get advice produced in time.

According to the ALAC, the amount of advice it produces in the form of responses to Public Comments has been in a steady decline over the past five years, from a 56% in 2012 to 35% in 2016.

Table 22.          ALAC responses to ICANN Public Comments as % of total, 2012 - 2016

Source : ALAC during Public Comment period

However, we are of the view that At-Large members and participants in the broader ICANN would benefit from a clearer distinction between the different types of advice that are produced, especially between responses to calls for Public Comment and Consensus-built advice on issues that are likely to impact the global community of internet users.

We have heard from several members of At-Large, and senior ICANN staff that if At-Large advice were produced in a more consistent manner it would save significant volunteer time and might result in greater attention from the ICANN Board of Directors and other constituencies within ICANN.

 

Recommendation # 1:   ALAC should be more selective in the amount of advice it seeks to offer, focussing upon those issues which might have the greatest impact upon the end user community, and going for quality rather than quantity. ALAC should develop a more transparent process for   distinguishing between different types of advice, and publish that advice on the At-Large website.

 

 

Rec.#1: Response to Public Comment

There was general agreement with our draft recommendation. The ALAC indicated that, to a certain extent, this is already the status quo. However, Reviewers were repeatedly informed of concerns regarding the quantity and quality of advice produced by At-Large. Many commenters call for a clearer process regarding the identification, attribution of responsibility (pen holding) and drafting of position papers, responses to Public Comments and other advisory functions. Consequently, we have slightly modified the wording of Recommendation # 2 to specifically recommend the definition of a clearer process “for developing and distinguishing between different types of advice, and archiving them appropriately on the At-Large website”.

 

Recommendation # 2: At-Large should adopt the proposed Empowered Membership Model (EMM) with a view to removing the barriers to participation for ordinary end-users, and encouraging greater direct participation by At-Large members in At-Large policy advice and related “Outreach and Engagement” processes.

 

Rec.#2: Response to Public Comment

There is a broad consensus that reform of the At-Large Community - in particular regarding the way in which end users can become involved in policy advice processes - is a necessity. The EMM initially provoked strong reactions within At-Large, however, opinions became more favourable as the model evolved, notably taking into account Community considerations. Several stakeholder groups within ICANN are strongly supportive of the model. Clearly, there is still some opposition to the model, from individuals who fear the consequences of a switch to an individual end-user based organisation (or who have a vested interest in the status quo). We address specific concerns in the relevant sections of this report and maintain this key recommendation with a change to the wording since the Draft Report for Public Comment.

 

8.4.                               At-Large role in “Outreach and Engagement”

Reviewers considered the role and effectiveness of the At-Large Community in “Outreach and “Engagement” activities around the world. We obtained records from the RALOs on the different types of “Outreach and Engagement” activity which they or their member ALSes

are regularly involved in. These fall broadly into four categories. 

           RALO General Assemblies

           Showcases of ALSes

           Organisation of Internet Governance Schools

           Organisation / participation in regional conferences (RIR, Internet governance ecosystem).

From what we have been able to gather, it is clear that considerable resources and volunteer time have been spent on the organisation of a large number of events worldwide, many of which have served to raise awareness about ICANN’s policy function, and opportunities for end users to become involved. As a result, in recent years, the At-Large Community has been able to expand its global presence and influence among certain segments of the population with an established interest in internet governance issues.

Members of our Review team attended the the NARALO General Assembly in New Orleans (March 2017) and the Indian School on Internet Governance in Hyderabad (October 2016). We observed how community outreach was organised during the EuroDIG (June 2016) and LACRALO (September 2016) meetings, and Prior to our involvement in the Review process, we participated in a large-scale Showcase in Marrakesh (March 2016).

These events all attracted a significant number of individuals, representing different sections of civil society, and each has informed our thinking about the need to preserve the general emphasis on proactive outreach and engagement activities.

As a result the proposed Empowered Membership Model (See section 13) seeks to encourage certain current practices by creating additional incentives (travel support and voting rights) for well-performing ALMs. Underperforming ALMs will not be penalised or decertifiedbut they will have no specific advantages.  

8.4.1.           Priorities for outreach

As part of our Survey, respondents were asked whether the At-Large Community should put a priority on increasing the participation of certain target groups. The results are presented in the chart below.

Figure 1 [Survey   Question ] As part of its strategy to increase the skill set and number of ALSes, that make up the At-Large Community, what priority should be given to boosting membership levels for organisations in the following sectors?

Part of a coordinated, ICANN led approach to outreach should involve a more effective focus on priority targets. Consumer Protection groups are one such sector, which has been recommended by many both during our survey and in our interviews (See chart above).

8.4.2.           ICANN cooperation in “outreach and engagement”

There are some good examples of cooperation between the At-Large Community and ICANN regional staff with regard to outreach and engagement. Twos examples: ICANN’s Singapore office works well with APRALO and APNIC; and some good work is being done by the existing ALS network in LACRALO, but these are not the only ones.   

There is a positive dynamic in place which can be summed up as follows:

  • ALAC has a real contribution to make in the organisation of regional events (and is already doing so in eg APRALO and LACRALO regions).
  • The organisation of regional events should (and in some cases already does) involve other I* organisations; particularly ISOC and the RIRs.
  • Those ALSes which are already demonstrably operating well should be encouraged.
  • All RALOs should proactively contribute to the development of the new programme of Demand led Engagement being developed by the ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement Team (GSE).
  • Among other things GSE produces Core material which can be adapted to meet RALO’s needs.

However, Reviewers were struck that significant levels of grassroots activity have not translated into a corresponding influx of newcomers in the policy-advice activities. The “return-on-investment” in terms of increased numbers of end-users engaged in policy process has been underwhelming. Consequently, Reviewers believe the At-Large Community needs to focus more attention on redressing the balance of its engagement in both the top-down “outreach and engagement” and the bottom-up “policy-advice” components of its core mission.

We believe the At-Large Community would benefit from a more systematic use of metrics to measure and continuously update its global “outreach and engagement” strategy. In particular, we believe the Community should go to greater lengths to ensure that all funded events (Showcases, Regional ATLAS and participation in external regional meetings etc.) represent a genuine cost-benefit for the Community, and the ICANN organisation as a whole, notably in terms of capacity building and the engagement of newcomers. Costly events that do not result in tangible benefits for the Community should be dropped.

8.5.                               Cross constituency coordination: At-Large Liaisons

Formal coordination with other entities in ICANN is done by the use of appointed Liaisons - to the GNSO, GAC, SSAC and the ccNSO. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, joint sessions during ICANN meetings with the Board, ccNSO and GAC are held to share perspectives on ongoing issues.

According to the ALAC Internal Rules of Procedure, responsibilities of each Liaison of the ALAC are [5] :

  • To participate diligently in the meetings and activities of the body he/she is appointed to serve as Liaison to;
  • To communicate and advocate the positions of the ALAC to such body;
  • To report to the ALAC the current and upcoming activities of the body he/she is liaisoning to, as far as this is possible under the timing and confidentiality constraints of such body;
  • When this is possible under such constraints, ask  the ALAC for advance instructions on matters that are going to be discussed by such body.

During the course of the Review, we followed one particular interaction between the Registry/Registrar Stakeholder Groups and ALAC, both of whom are eager to understand each other’s functioning and positions. This led to a productive meeting in Hyderabad, at the end of which both parties appeared to have a better mutual understanding, and hopefully other such joint meetings will be held at future ICANN meetings.

While there is no formal Liaison structure between At-Large and the ASO, the regional make-up of the ASO leads to the most collaborative relationships that At-Large has with any other ICANN structure. If our census is correct, three out of the five RALOs have an MoU with ICANN to collaborate with their respective RIR (EURALO and LACRALO being the exceptions [6] ). These are essential outreach and engagement relationships that are as fruitful as any we have seen during our review.

Our survey question asked respondents for their own thoughts on how the role played by the At-Large Community with the other SOs and ACs, and the ICANN Board of Directors could be enhanced. The following are a sampling of responses:

“This small group elected or otherwise, hardly represents neither the ALS membership nor the individual Internet user. ALAC should prioritise the orchestration of a widely based ALS membership participation in all aspects of ICANN. From this point of view, At Large meetings in ICANN are a diversion. All those folk should not be talking to each other. They should be talking to the OTHER SO/ACs.”   (EURALO participant)

“The ALAC's role should be one of coordination in two respects: 1) encouraging direct user participation and engagement in existing ICANN policy process, public comment periods, etc.; and 2) identifying areas where user research would add meaningful data to discussions in the other SO/ACs and the board. In this model, the ALAC would not need to substitute the judgment of a small number of eccentric individuals for the broad opinions and needs of worldwide Internet users.” (GNSO Participant)

Increase direct discussion of current policy issues. Reduce all procedural and electoral discussion.  (EURALO Participant)

There should be some significant time offered for policy topics to be discussed. (EURALO Participant)

More focus on policy issues, less on procedural issues, and more opportunities for discussion rather than presentations.   (APRALO Participant)

A majority of comments in reply to this question suggested greater direct participation from At-Large folks in ICANN policy processes, as the only way that members of the At-Large community can become involved in actual policy development is by joining the different Cross Community Working Groups or GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Groups.

8.6.                               ​Mission overlap with NCUC & NPOC

In the course of this Review we have noted that there is a widely held perception of duplication, even of outright competition between At-Large and the GNSO’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) - and to a certain extent, with the Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC). Even for ICANN insiders the differences between the two types of organisation are not always clear.

For the purposes of clarity, we would see merit in clearer definitions of the functions of these different parts of the ICANN system. These should emphasize what differentiates At-Large from these constituencies, namely:

  • The role of the ALAC is to provide advice on policy and other issues being discussed within ICANN that have implications for end users. 
  • The role of NCUC and NPOC, as constituencies of the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) within the GNSO, is to provide policy advice related to work of the policy-development function within the GNSO.  

Competition between At-Large and the NCSG should be discouraged and there should certainly be no overlap in terms of financial support. (We are conscious of suggestions that there has been some "Forum Shopping").

It appears that while many agree that individuals and NGOs should be able to participate in both At-Large and GNSO structures, there is somewhat less enthusiasm for this type of double participation when framing the question in terms of providing input via both channels. Responses are fairly evenly mixed as to whether this is appropriate.

Our Review Team considered at length the respective roles of At-Large and the NCSG but concluded that beyond the need for more transparency in the presentation of their respective roles there was no need for further action. 

 

8.7.                               At-Large as part of the post IANA transition “Empowered Community”

In the latest ICANN Bylaws the idea of a post IANA transition “Empowered Community (EC)” has been put in place as a further accountability measure for ICANN.  The ALAC is currently a member of this “Empowered Community” which has yet to be put to the test.  While there is no history of Empowered Community activity for ALAC to be reviewed, we have noted that the ALAC Rules Of Procedure put in place the mechanisms required to participate. 

 

9.                ​ICANN Support Staff

The At-Large Community is unique in its entirely volunteer and “unsponsored” [7] nature. As a result ICANN staff plays a critical role in support of the Community which, in turn, is largely appreciative.

However, we have found there are strong differences of opinion around certain issues, notably the degree to which staff should be involved in policy support work. While some believe that more support should be provided regarding the drafting of policy documents, especially given the time and financial constraints of most At-Large volunteers, others are ideologically opposed to staff involvement which they view as unacceptable “top-down” interference in what is supposed to be a “bottom-up” policy advice mechanism.  

9.1.                               Survey & Interview findings

At-Large respondents are generally positive about At-Large staff support and performance. Consistently, 70+% of At-Large respondents report that staff:

  • provides useful clerical and logistical support to the At-Large Community
  • provides useful support in the planning and organisation of meetings.
  • plays a useful role in the coordination of Working Groups
  • operates in a neutral and fully transparent way in support of the At-Large Community.
  • ensures that key At-Large documentation is available in a timely fashion in multiple languages.

However, the results of our interviews and survey clearly reveal an ideological rift between those who would like to see a more active contribution by staff in policy development, and those who believe that policy development is the exclusive purview of the At-Large Community.

The two side of the debate about staff involvement in policy work are typically expressed as follows:

“Staff should remove themselves from the decisions that are the community's own. (former LACRALO Leader)

Or:

“At-Large staff is comprised of a set of highly-capable and educated individuals who could provide more direct support in development of At-Large position papers. That is, if given the opportunity [...] The fear of 'ICANN staff' takeover is highly exaggerated.” (LACRALO Participant)

The following comments in answer to an open question on how the supporting role played by ICANN staff could be improved further illustrate the divergent opinions regarding the function of At-Large Staff. 

For some, staff support is too heavily focused on logistical support;

“There should be more than one person concentrating on policy. This is a single point of failure -- when this person is on holiday, everything stops. We have too many call coordinators/clerical/runners and not enough staff that actually can help the community in drafting documents. (At-Large member, Europe region)

“In terms of Staff support for RALO activities, the current situation is far from ideal. Most At-Large staff are heavily involved in handling administrative and logistics tasks. The number of Staff members who have an interest or expertise in policy-related issues is close to none.” (At-Large leadership)

For others, it would be preferable to have a staff with a greater ability to deal with policy issues;

“At-Large staff as a whole is really doing a great job (although some individuals are more professional than others). All individuals should have comparable administrative skills which our community could rely on. Capacity building may be necessary. Most of the times they seem totally overworked, not only during meetings.” (At-Large member, Europe region)

“Generally speaking our Staff is wonderful. However, to improve the support provided by the staff, I think we should make all our staff members work at the same level.” (At-Large member, Africa region)

And for others, there is no issue with staff:

“At-Large staff do their work very well” (At-Large member, Africa region). “They are already doing a great job” (At-Large member, Asia region), “They listen!” (At-Large member, Europe region).

Despite these differences of opinion, when asked if “At-Large Staff are employed to their full capacity”, At-Large respondents overwhelmingly agree that they are.

9.2.                               At-Large support staff roles

As part of this review we obtained a list of the six staff positions that make up the At-Large support team. We represent this team as follows (noting that there is no formal hierarchical structure between staff members).

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Source : ITEMS International based on information provided by ICANN

 

We also obtained data from the Secretariat regarding how many staff positions were dedicated to At-Large, compared to other SO/ACs. These figures are as follows: 


 

Table 23.          ICANN Supporting Organisations: support staff

 

Full-time equivalent position (FTE)

ccNSO

3.0

GNSO

7.5

ASO

0.5

ICANN Advisory Committees

 

At-Large

5.5

GAC

4.0

RSSAC

2.0

SSAC

3.5

 

At-Large has 5.5 FTEs engaged (one more than when we started our review [8] though the policy capable input has been reduced by 0.5). Many commentators suggested that their functions could be altered so as to allow staff to contribute to the policy work of At-Large, without violating the neutrality inherent in the role of the secretariat [9] . Of those who chose to comment on how the supporting role played by staff could be improved, a majority suggested that staff could play a greater supporting role in policy analysis. Less attention should be paid to administrative support, and regular tasks such as internal briefings, management of internal Working Groups etc. We anticipate that implementing the new EMM model we propose will free up significant administrative staff time.

 

Recommendation # 3: At-Large Support Staff should be more actively involved in supporting the policy work of the ALAC, drafting position papers and other policy related work based on ALAC input. Staff competencies should be adjusted accordingly.  

Rec.#3: Response to Public Comment

There is broad consensus in support of this recommendation.

 

10.                Organisational effectiveness of At-Large

The appropriateness of the current organisational structure of the At-Large Community is a matter of significant disagreement within At-Large and the broader ICANN community.

For some, mostly within the At-Large leadership group, the organisation is performing as well as can be expected, in difficult financial and organisational circumstances, and in a politically hostile environment. Having had its powers and influence cut back in the early days of ICANN, the organisation is increasingly a force to be reckoned with in the eyes of the other SOs and ACs, and the ICANN Board of Directors. There is a strongly held view among such individuals that the current organisational structure, while far from perfect, has shown a certain robustness and stability, and therefore shouldn’t be tampered with. 

But for others the At-Large organisation is failing to live up to its mission to act in the interest of end-users. Either by design or as a result of poor management - or both - At-Large has not been able to effectively engage with many end-users, nor to truly represent their interests within ICANN. For many, the organisational structure is at fault. The At-Large Organisation has become too complex, with too many functional layers (End-user > ALS > RALO > ALAC>ALT) that have, over time, become barriers to effective engagement. The solution to At-Large’s problems are to be found in simplifying the overall administrative structure.

One way or another the current structure of At-Large has not led to the emergence of a dynamic membership base in which end-users are engaged and their voices effectively heard. Instead it has allowed At-Large to become progressively paralysed with internal processes, to the detriment of actual work on policy development or the providing of advice. For this reason we believe At-Large needs to consider a profound reform of the RALO / ALS structure.

10.1.                               ​Survey & interview findings

What we have heard repeatedly in our interviews, and in many survey responses, is that the At-Large RALO / ALS structure is not, in its current form, adequately suited to the purpose and mission of serving Internet end-user interests. For the most outspoken critics of At-Large, the system it is “inefficient”, “arcane”, “lacking in transparency”, or “broken”.

During face-to-face interviews the issue of the complexity of the RALO system was regularly raised.

“The RALOs should be disbanded and the ALSes should be seen as mechanisms to raise awareness and help educate users about key ICANN topics rather than as representing the users themselves. (Some groups, such as ISOC, embrace this mission already).”  (GNSO Participant)

“The current system is very complicated and creates a lot of barriers for engagement from members in ALSes and individual RALO members. [...] Such a complicated structure also makes the RALO leaders and the ALAC members (10 selected by RALOs) the monopoly of knowledge, experience, resources, and perks. Due to these benefits, the same 'old' people tend to stay in the positions of power, and are reluctant make room for the 'average' ALS members to assume those positions. Since the usual suspect have been in At-Large for a long time for those unpaid volunteer leadership positions, ALS representatives and members either don't dare or don't care to challenge them.” (ICANN Staff)

This is not to say that there is not widespread support for the mission of At-Large. As noted above a significant majority of our survey respondents (70%) agree that The At-Large Community is a vital part of the ICANN system, without which end users would have no say in important policy matters in connection with the DNS.”  The problem is the organisational structure that has been put in place to achieve this goal.

10.1.1.           An organisation designed to fail?

During our interviews it was put to us by two prominent members of the At-Large Community that it was “designed to fail” from the beginning, so that the net effect of the current ALS system would be to disenfranchise end users. 

“At-Large is an organisation that was designed to fail. When we keep this in mind then you can say the organisation works very well. Of course you need Civil Society organisations within an organisation like ICANN. But the At-Large structure is built in a manner that is so complicated that you end up just managing yourself. It seems intentional almost - to keep us at a low level. “Keep them busy”. It's a widely shared impression - that we were created to keep ourselves busy.” (Leadership Member,  At-Large Community) 

This sentiment was echoed by John Palfrey writing about the broader ICANN system, in the Harvard Journal of Law, in 2004 [10] .  

The first principles on which ICANN was founded are the seeds of its fundamental problem: if its legitimacy was truly meant to come from the Internet user community through its founding principles of openness and representation, its history and structure set it up to fail on its own terms.

Reviewers were struck by the use of the phrase “an organisation designed to fail” coming from several members of At-Large, including members of current At-Large leadership. We have not found evidence to suggest that the Community was deliberately “designed to fail” or even to underperform. Yet this strongly held minority view does, in our view, bring into sharper relief the question of the appropriateness of the current organisational structure of At-Large to achieve its mission. The EMM, on the contrary, is a simplified and streamlined organisational structure for the At-Large Community which we have specifically designed to succeed.

10.1.2.           ALS Accreditation

Listening to interventions at ICANN meetings reinforced our view that the current requirement of ALS membership in order to get fully engaged in At-Large policy advice and other processes, constitutes an unhelpful filter between the legitimate voices of end-users and the ICANN multi-stakeholder model which genuinely wants to take them into account.

A vivid example of this occurred on a single day at ICANN-57 in 4 different sessions, where multiple end users complained that they had difficulty joining At-Large or felt they were completely barred from participation because they were not part of an accredited ALS.  This is one of the barriers to entry that we address in our recommendations.

Responses to a series of questions on this topic bore out this perception. Just 14% of survey respondents say that Individual end-users of the Internet are able to participate in At-Large processes without difficulty. And only 26% say that ALS members are able to participate in At-Large processes without difficulty.

To the question “How well has the At-Large Community succeeded in its mission to engage end users in ICANN policy processes?” survey respondents views are in the chart below:

The above graphic indicates that most respondents (26% of ICANN outsiders, 35% of ICANN SO and AC respondents and 63% of At-Large members) are of the view that At-Large has been somewhat successful with regards to its mission to engage end users. However, when the figures are aggregated there is an almost perfect split between those who tend to agree that the organisation has been ineffective, and those who think that it has been effective.

A large number of respondents suggested that the problem is not in types of ALSes, but rather in the fact that At-Large hierarchy itself is a barrier to participation by end users. 

Below are just a few of the more constructive comments.

“There should be more straightforward mechanisms for individuals to directly participate in ALAC. Surprisingly, it is easier for an unaffiliated individual to directly participate in various policy development processes and public comment periods as individuals than it is within ALAC itself, due to the need to intermediate through ALSes and RALOs.” (GNSO Participant)

“not all Ralos allow individuals to participate directly as other do. I believe a standard rule should be put in place to harmonize the RALOs procedures.” (ex-ALAC Member)

“ the mission and the structure of the ALAC need to be substantially reformulated in order to allow Internet users to be meaningfully represented. [...] The ALAC should be seen as a coordinating body rather than as a voice for the Internet user. There is no evidence that the views of the small number of individuals that participate in the ALAC represent the opinions or interests of Internet users worldwide.” (GNSO member, NA region)

10.1.3.           RALO Leadership / Structure

The purpose of the RALOs is poorly understood and the nine-step criteria for becoming an ALS seems more like an obstacle than a mere formality for engagement. No doubt as a result of this complex hierarchical structure, the At-Large Community has seen sluggish growth and a high level of inactivity or disengagement as well as volunteer “burn-out”.

As noted above, the current system of RALOs comes under significant criticism from many parts of At-Large and the broader ICANN system, it is often described as “broken”, “in need of profound reform” or an “artificial construct unfit for purpose”.

Reviewers heard repeatedly the opinions below from At-Large and the broader ICANN community:

“Too much emphasis is placed on RALOs as top-down gatekeepers and not as bottom-up At-Large Community. RALOs are politicised so that certain fractions have "their" persons elected to leadership/ALAC positions and block persons not in their political fraction results in disenfranchisement. RALO leaders therefore tend to work/promote their "persons" and not interact with persons they don't care about. RALOs also do not promote At-Large WGs so persons' involvement in WGs are not acknowledged or recognised, hence being a demotivating factor for volunteers to give their time and energy when they are not being acknowledged or recognised in the RALO.”  (At-Large Participant)

“Operationally, each RALO seems to be in its own universe and operates differently. From effective with much communication to leaders operating as autocrats with no one really caring what they do. Each needs its own form of improvement tailored to its own situation. (At-Large senior leadership)

“The RALOs should be disbanded. They serve no useful purpose and discourage participation by individual users… The current byzantine structure of the ALAC is not conducive to effective representation of Internet users within ICANN.   It should be replaced with a simpler model with fewer self-appointed representatives of users.” (GNSO member)

While 25% of At-Large respondents strongly agree that RALO leadership is “effective in organising ALS activity at a regional level”, survey results show that 42% either disagree “somewhat” or “strongly” that RALO leadership is effective in this task.

Similarly, only 23% of At-Large respondents agree strongly that the RALOs are run in an accountable and transparent way while 34.5% somewhat agree, another 31% somewhat disagree and 11.5% strongly disagree with the idea that RALOs operate in an accountable and transparent way.

Each RALO has its own history, style of operations and members which creates a unique dynamic. Based on research and interview discussions there does not seem to be a standard accountability mechanism for RALOs besides elections.

On the central question of RALO effectiveness in carrying out their main task, only 14% of all respondents strongly agree that at the regional level the RALOs effectively coordinate end-user input into ICANN processes, while an exact same number felt the opposite.  Nearly 50% of respondents “somewhat agree” that RALOs are effective at coordinating end user input.

These numbers reinforce the views taken from interviews that the multiple levels of hierarchy in At-large serve as intermediate barriers to more effective end user participation in ICANN. 

In terms of actual policy development effectiveness, only 24% of At-Large respondents absolutely agree when asked;  “Are there adequate means in place for the RALOs to collaborate with the ALAC in the development of policy advice?” 

We have seen this at several ICANN meetings, where the time spent discussing policy input seems minimal compared to the time spent on internal administrative matters. This is a main focus of our recommendations and the new suggested model of working.

Suggestions for improving RALOs range from calls to eliminate them altogether to ‘doubling down’ on the current structure with a much greater push for involvement, engagement outreach and participation at grassroots level, which could involve a significant outlay of resources on the part of ICANN.

While eliminating RALOs is an interesting idea it would require significant changes to ICANN Bylaws and run the risk of loss of Regional diversity within At-Large.  At this stage in the Review process, and given that there is a mediation process ongoing in one of the RALOs, we are not in favour of this option.

However, one interesting alternative is to reinforce the outreach function of RALOs to create a light-touch mechanism which channels carefully selected information about the work of ICANN to a wider end-user audience. Such a mechanism could also funnel interested end users to non At-Large policy processes within ICANN. This type of change has been mentioned by a significant number of commenters in long form survey responses and forms part of the proposed EMM.

10.2.                               ​At-Large Structures (ALSes)

The At-Large Community currently consists of 211 At-Large Structures, spread more or less evenly around the world. As shown in the table below the distribution of ALSes within the countries that make up the global regions ranges from 35% in Europe (which counts 51 countries and territories) to 100% in North America (which counts 3 countries).  This representation does not take into account the membership size of ALSes, which varies considerably.


 

Table 24.          ALSes by Global Regions

 

ALSes

Countries

N° of Countries in Region

Regional coverage (%) - at least 1 ALS per country.

Africa

45

27

54

50%

Asia Pacific

46

26

50

52%

Europe

38

18

51

35%

Latin America & Caribbean

53

21

35

60%

North America

29

3

3

100%

Total

211

 

 

 

 

In recent years considerable resources and volunteer time have been spent on “Outreach and Engagement” activities to increase At-Large’s membership base. It would appear, however, that the emphasis has been place on the quantity rather than the quality of ALS input, and working towards the goal of one ALS per country. This has resulted in an increase in membership (211 in December 2016). However, as a recent NARALO audit and our own informal survey have both shown, a significant proportion of these are inactive.

10.2.1.           ALS Membership: ITEMS census

As part of this Review we carried out our own census of the At-Large Community with a view to gaining a better understanding At-Large membership, notably with respect to:

           Overall membership size

           Number of active ALSes in each region

           Number of ALSes in each region that are ISOC chapters

Lists of ALSes within each region were sent to the leaders of the five RALOs who were asked to provide details regarding the organisation type of ALSes (ISOC chapter, Internet user associations, consumer associations, computer clubs, academics, etc.) and to make a self-assessment of the level of active engagement of their membership.

This census does not claim to be scientific but the results, as shown in the figure below, suggest that a significant proportion of ALSes (around 45%) are either hardly active or even completely inactive.

Source: ITEMS International based on RALO self assessments (November 2016)

The following map is based on the data collected. It is a partial representation of the reality of ALS engagement around the world as it is based on the self-assessments of RALO leaders who may have different interpretations of the criteria for evaluating effective levels of engagement. It also only represents levels of active engagement in At-Large activities (participation in conference calls etc.) as opposed to other forms of grassroots engagement with end users.

To create the map each ALS was given a score of 0 to 3 corresponding to their level of active participation in At-Large processes. The number of ALSes was then added up in each country and an aggregate “score” was used to create a lighter or darker shade. Hence the map takes into account the frequency of engagement but does not factor in any measure of quality of engagement and is therefore only indicative. 

Darker shades of blue suggest higher levels of ALS activity in that country or territory. Territories shaded pale grey currently have no ALS activity.

Source: ITEMS International census (2016) based on input from RALOs

 

10.2.2.           At-Large membership criteria, a barrier to engagement?

Currently, the At-Large Community is structured in such a way that certain activities - mainly

related to policy advice - require formal membership status, while others - mainly related to outreach or ‘organisation building - don’t.

 

Source : At-Large website, January 2017

Hence, for getting involved in outreach activities the procedure is fairly simple and anyone can participate on exactly the same terms. But effective participation in policy advice work, on the other hand, is considerably more complex. For this it is necessary to be a member of an accredited At-Large Structure which, around the world, may have very different membership criteria. Alternatively, if a prospective member does not have access to an ALS in his/her country or region, or does not wish to join an existing ALS, they may apply to create their own ALS. However, this implies a lengthy, 9-step accreditation process [11] :

  1. Online application form, including additional relevant documentation.
  2. Due diligence conducted by ICANN staff (references, interviews, financial viability etc).
  3. RALO to review application.
  4. Regional Secretariat to provide ALAC with its view on application.
  5. ALAC to decide whether or not to vote on application using 2 possible voting mechanisms.
  6. Vote held in respect to Step 5. Decision to accredit an ALS subject to review as provided by ICANN Bylaws, Article IV, Section 2. Notification of applicant.
  7. Decision to decertify an ALS shall require ⅔ majority of ALAC.
  8. Informal advice and support to be provided to organisations seeking accreditation on an ongoing basis.
  9. ICANN Staff to ensure that process to accredit, or not to accredit, an ALS shall take not longer than 90 days.

As part of this Review we have identified the complexity of the criteria for effective participation in At-Large policy advice work as a significant barrier. Such a lengthy and complicated process of accreditation is, in our view, bound to dissuade potential newcomers. With so many levels of validation, it is also prey to being co-opted by RALO leaders or other decision-makers within At-Large.

We have noted that three out of the five RALOs do currently allow some form of individual membership but only by grouping such individuals together to form one ALS [12] . However, this cannot be said to have increased direct grassroots participation. This view was reinforced during a session in Hyderabad during which a member of one of these individual end-user entities, asserted that he was at a loss to know what opportunities were available as a member. 

Reviewers are of the view that barriers to effective membership of At-Large should be reduced to a strict minimum to provide a stimulus for newcomers. Membership should be streamlined and rapid, and all members should be able to become involved on exactly the same terms. It is to this end that we have developed the EMM as a way to facilitating membership, disintermediating engagement and, ultimately, empowering end users.

10.3.                               At-Large Leadership Team (ALT)

In early drafts of this report we reserved our judgement upon the merits of the At Large Leadership Team. We recognise the desirability of an agile top level decision-making group, but does this not undermine the bottom-up ethos of At-Large? We received significant push back from the RWG on this issue, but much of this was from members of the existing ALT mechanism. 

The At Large Leadership Team is an ad hoc group (not chartered in the By-Laws) that often takes substantive decisions that should be made by ALAC. While we recognise the natural inclination to create small executive teams within any larger structure we were not convinced that such an elite group was compatible with the fundamentals of a bottom up approach to policy making.

There is inevitably a balance to be drawn between the good work and commitment of an experienced few against the need to ensure a regular inflow of new ideas and new young people who can truly represent the views of current generations of end-users. Our recommendations are designed to encourage this last, but we are aware of the risks of losing experienced hands. Hence our Implementation Guideline for the creation of a "Council of Elders" which will keep some of the experienced operators in play and provide a valuable source of mentors and will ensure continuity in the process.

 

Recommendation # 4 (New): The ALT should be dissolved and its decision-making powers fully restored to the ALAC.


 

Response to Public Comment

Rec. # 4: New Recommendation / No public comment

 

10.4.                               Role of ISOC in At-Large

During the Review we sought to understand the nature of the relationship between the At-Large Community and ISOC, since such a large share of ALS membership (⅓ globally) is made up of ISOC chapters. The table below summarises the membership size and level of active engagement of ISOC chapters in each global region and reveals that ISOC chapters make up between 17% (LACRALO), 11% (EURALO), 31% (NARALO), 44% (AFRALO) and 46% (APRALO) of total ALS membership.

Table 25.          Number of ISOC Chapters in five global regions

RALO

 

Total ALS Membership

Proportion of ISOC Chapters

Proportion of ISOC members that are “very” or “somewhat” active in At-Large

AFRALO

45

20 (44%)

13/20 (65%)

APRALO

46

21 (46%)

12/21 (57%)

EURALO

38

11 (29%)

4/11 (36%)

LACRALO

53

9 (17%)

6/9 (66%)

NARALO

29

9 (31%)

7/9 (77%)

At-Large total

211

70 (33%)

42/67 (63%)

 

This impression of a dominant position of ISOC Chapters within the At-Large membership was reinforced by the results of our survey, in which close to 50% of respondents that identified themselves as belonging to At-Large also indicated that they were representatives of an ISOC chapter. 70% indicated that they were the elected Chair or President of their Chapter, and 30% that they were members.

10.4.1.           At-Large and ISOC: common objectives?

The history of At-Large and the way in which ISOC Chapters have come to represent such a significant proportion of the global At-Large Community is well documented.

Traditionally, ICANN and the Internet Society (ISOC), and indeed all the I* organisations, share common goals such as reaching out to end-users around the world, improving understanding of, and participation in policy and standards processes that affect individual Internet users.  So it seems natural that ISOC chapters should be involved in At-Large [13] .

ISOC chapters globally have diverse interests. Not all of them are allied with ICANN’s mission. In 2009, ISOC leadership concluded that it was up to individual chapters to decide if they would apply to become an At-Large Structure. As a result, today, ISOC chapters apply to the At-Large, just like any other entity, to become a member but the accreditation process is easier and faster because they already have ISOC credentials and share a main objective with ICANN, that of ’Internet for everyone’.

10.4.2.           The contribution of ISOC to At-Large

The reasons for collaboration between At-Large and ISOC seem obvious given the partial overlap in their respective missions and shared focus on end-user interests.

Yet, in spite of the apparent potential for mutual benefit in terms of outreach and engagement, our findings are that the contribution of ISOC Chapters (as ALSes) to the At-Large Community has been disappointing, not least in terms of numbers of people that are active in policy advice processes, raising global awareness about At-Large, and the opportunities for end-users to get involved.

The impact has been less than what might be expected from a global organisation of 80,000 members, 113 chapters around the world and a mission to “provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy”. The global presence of ISOC and active engagement of ISOC members in related issues has not translated into a truly active membership base for At-Large.

While it is positive to note that 63% of ISOC chapters that make up the current At-Large membership base are “very” or “somewhat” active in At-Large activities, this means that the remaining 37% are either “hardly” or completely inactive.

We have noted current efforts by certain RALOs to decertify certain underperforming ALSes, including ISOC chapters. We agree that more active participation should be encouraged.  Recent experience in NARALO suggests that an audit of active membership could reduce headline numbers by 25% or more. The “numbers” rather than “quality” approach has clearly not achieved the overall objective of channelling the views of grassroots end-users into the ICANN system. 

Even though, ISOC senior executives regularly participate in ICANN meetings it is surprising to us that more opportunities have not been created to engage in joint strategic planning between At-Large and ISOC.

10.4.3.           Opportunities for joint outreach and engagement activities

Since the start of this Review we have followed a number of global “outreach and engagement” activities organised by ISOC, including the “Intercommunity” interactive global webcast organised on 21st September 2016. This type of global event, using state-of-the-art webcasting technologies would have been an ideal opportunity for At-Large to communicate to a global audience and possibly engage new members.

 

Recommendation # 5: At-Large should redouble efforts to contribute to meetings between ICANN Senior Staff, ISOC and other I* organisations) to develop a joint strategic approach to cooperative outreach.

 

 

Rec.#5: Response to Public Comment

There is generally strong Community support for this recommendation. The main objections come from the GNSO’s Intellectual Property (IPC) and Business Constituencies (BC) that do not favour enhanced cooperation with other global internet governance bodies. However, our view is that as it is through  the ICANN Advisory Committee that end-users’ interests are represented, it is very much in the interests of the At-Large Community - and the ICANN organisation as a whole - that such collaboration is pursued and strengthened. Through such collaboration At-Large will be able to benefit from the effect of synergies and maximise its impact in terms of “outreach and engagement” which is part of its core mission.

 

10.5.                               ​At-Large seat on ICANN Board of Directors

Reviewers considered the the role played by the At-Large-appointed member of the ICANN Board of Directors (Seat 15), the relationship and accountability of the At-Large Board Director vis-à-vis the At-Large Community as a whole, and the process whereby the At-Large Board Director is elected.

10.5.1.           Responsibilities of the At-Large appointed Board Director

ICANN Bylaws state that the At-Large appointed member of the Board of Directors is primarily expected to act in the interests of the ICANN organisation, not in the interests of internet end users.

Directors shall serve as individuals who have the duty to act in what they reasonably believe are the best interests of ICANN and not as representatives of the entity that selected them , their employers, or any other organizations or constituencies.

We were reminded on several occasions by the current board member that her obligations are first and foremost to the ICANN organisation.

10.5.2.           Appointment of the At-Large Board Director

During the Review process Reviewers were able to observe the process for the nomination, election and eventual appointment of a new At-Large Board Director. This followed the announcement, at the end of the ICANN-57 meeting in Hyderabad, that the sitting At-Large Board Director would not be seeking re-appointment [14] .

The process for conducting a new Board Director election cycle was announced in October 2016, although we understand that the process was formally started a month earlier with the seating of two internally appointed supervisory bodies; the Board Member Selection Process Committee (BMSPC) and the Board Candidate Evaluation Committee (BCEC) [15] . This was the first stage of an electoral process which appears to us to be excessively complex and dominated by At-Large leadership.

According to At-Large documents available online, the BMSPC is tasked with overseeing the entire selection process for the At-Large Board Director, including the development of the selection timeline and the election culminating the process. For its part the BCEC is tasked with delineating candidate requirements and expectations, as well as identifying, compiling, and evaluating the initial slate of applicants for the Board Director position.

We note that the 16-member BMSPC and the 16-member BCEC were largely seated by members of At-Large leadership.

The table right indicates that:

           The BCEC was seated with three members of the current ALAC and five RALO leaders.

           The BMSPC was also seated with three members of the current ALAC and five RALO leaders.

We also note that, according to At-Large Rules of Procedure (Section 19.10), “the electorate for the final election will be the fifteen ALAC Members plus the five RALO chairs.”

This gives the somewhat troubling impression of an electoral process whose electorate is entirely made up of At-Large Leadership positions, including members of the very bodies that are charged with defining the rules, and providing independent oversight mechanisms for elections. 

We have been told, in discussions with At-Large leadership that the current electoral process for the appointment of the Board Director has been carefully developed “following a bottom-up consultation process”.

We have not been able to verify this. However, even if it is the case, we are of the opinion that such an electoral system with such a conspicuous overlap between the electorate and members of the bodies tasked with monitoring and overseeing the smooth running of elections, cannot be entirely neutral and serve the best interests of the At-Large Community.

For this reason we believe the At-Large Community would benefit from the adoption of a much simpler, and transparent electoral mechanism leading to the appointment of a Board Director  with enhanced accountability to the community of Internet end users.

10.5.3.           Alternative mechanisms for the appointment of the At-Large Board Director

We believe the At-Large Community would benefit from the adoption of a simpler and more representative electoral system in which enfranchised end users (those that are recognised as having been active in policy advice activities or “outreach and engagement” activities) are allowed to vote. In this section we provide two alternative models for the appointment of the At-Large Board Directors.

Both models involve Random Selection [16] which we view as an effective means for ensuring that:  

           all appropriately qualified applicants (following ICANN guidelines for Board eligibility) have an equal chance of being appointed to the Board seat.

           attempts by national, commercial or other interest groups to game or gain undue influence over elections are effectively combatted.

 

Option 1 : Election by randomly selected At-Large electorate

In this model the ALAC is tasked with overseeing the entire electoral process, thus eliminating the need for the BCEC and BMSPC. Any member of the ALAC that wishes to apply for the Board position is required to recuse him/herself from any decisions regarding the election.

Candidates for the position of Board Director can self-nominate or be nominated in the same way that they can today, i.e. by using existing Expression of Interest and other published documentation for nominations.

The ICANN NomCom is tasked with drawing up a shortlist of qualified candidates in conformity with Section 7.3 of ICANN Bylaws ( Criteria for Nomination of Directors ) [17]

An election is organised with an electorate composed of the members of the ALAC + a fixed number of vote-empowered At-Large members from within each region (e.g. 20 voters per region) selected at random . The total electorate would number 115 versus 15 today. The winner of the most votes out of the 115 wins the election.

Option 2 : Random selection from a shortlist of approved candidates

In this model there is no election. Direct suffrage is replaced by the random selection of candidates for the Board that have been shortlisted by the NomCom.

As above, the staff is tasked with overseeing the electoral process, and candidates can self-nominate or be nominated in the same way that they can today.

Likewise, the ICANN NomCom, in coordination with the ALAC, is tasked with drawing up a shortlist of qualified candidates in conformity with Section 7.3 of ICANN Bylaws ( Criteria for Nomination of Directors ) [18] .

The main feature of this model is the use of random selection to determine the winner of the appointment to the Board seat. The “winner” will be selected at random from the slate of applicants that are considered by the NomCom to be properly qualified for the position.

Recommendation # 6: At-Large should adopt a simpler and more transparent electoral procedure for the selection of the At-Large-appointed member of the Board of Directors. Two alternative mechanisms are  proposed (Section 10.5.3) both of which would be an improvement over the current process.

 

Rec.#6: Response to Public Comment

There was strong At-Large Community reaction to the original recommendation, especially regarding the use of random selection and the powers that would be entrusted to the NomCom. However, we believe strongly that At-Large would benefit greatly from a simplified electoral system that gives all suitably qualified and vetted candidates the same opportunities to be appointed. We have clarified our original recommendation and provided additional rationale in the document, including two alternative electoral mechanisms.

 

10.5.4.           The question of a second At-Large seat on the Board

Not surprisingly, the issue of At-Large Community representation on the Board is viewed very differently within At-Large and among the other ICANN constituencies. These differences of opinion can be summarised as follows:

Those in favour of an additional At-Large Board Director

The At-Large Community, representing the interests of the global community of Internet end users, should have at least the same voting power (2 seats) on the ICANN Board of Directors as the main stakeholder constituencies within ICANN - the GNSO, the ccNSO and the ASO. Currently, with just one voting seat on the Board of Directors, the At-Large Community is not recognized, at the level of the Board, as having the same rights of representation. This relegates the Community to a second tier position compared with the other constituencies, which is both unfair and inconsistent with ICANN’s mission to be fully accountable to end-users. 

Those against an additional At-Large Board Director

The At-Large Community already has significant - and sufficient - power at the ICANN Board level with one voting seat. This is more voting power than the three other Advisory Committees (GAC, RSAC, SSAC), which have non-voting seats. The creation of an additional seat would give At-Large an unfair advantage in Board level decisions which would not sit well with these other stakeholder groups. Moreover, the At-Large Community wields power in a different way over the Board, notably through the appointment of 5 out of the 15 voting members of the NomCom.

During the Westlake Review, there was considerable discussion regarding the creation of a Board seat for the At-Large Community. In the end the Reviewers recommended against the creation of a voting Board seat, recommending instead to maintain the non-voting “Liaison” seat that was in place at the time. However, a Review of the ICANN Board [19] that ran almost simultaneously to the Westlake Review recommended in favour of the creation of a Board Seat with full voting powers for the At-Large Community. It was this recommendation that was ultimately followed and which resulted in the creation of Seat 15 on the ICANN Board of Directors.

We are not convinced of the need for a second At-Large seat on the ICANN Board of Directors and hence do not recommend its creation.

10.5.5.           RALO elections

At this stage in the Review process, given that there is an ongoing mediation process, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on specific RALO elections at this time. In general, however, what we have found is that there are mixed opinions regarding RALO elections being democratic and transparent as one can see from the following pie chart.

A number of strong opinions were offered regarding term limits for RALO Leadership however as can be clearly seen below.  An overwhelming number of respondents either agree strongly or somewhat that RALO terms should be limited.

10.5.6.           ALAC elections

Elections of ALAC Committee Members are mostly seen as democratic and transparent, a large majority of respondents responded positively to a question on the transparency of elections.

In this regard Section 4 paragraph b of ICANN Bylaws states that:

              The ALAC shall consist of (i) two members selected by each of the Regional At-Large Organizations ("RALOs") established according to paragraph   4(g) of this Section , and (ii) five members selected by the Nominating Committee. The five members selected by the Nominating Committee shall include one citizen of a country within each of the five Geographic Regions established according to   Section 5 of Article VI .

Term limits for ALAC Committee Members

An overwhelming number of respondents (90%) agree that term limits should be in place for ALAC members, which is not surprising considering the many times we heard that there needs to be greater turnover in At-large leadership.

Terms of the current ALAC are staggered so that half of the ALAC is newly seated annually according to the ICANN Bylaws.

In this regard Section 4 paragraph c of the Bylaws states that:

  • The term of one member selected by each RALO shall begin at the conclusion of an ICANN annual meeting in an even-numbered year.
  • The term of the other member selected by each RALO shall begin at the conclusion of an ICANN annual meeting in an odd-numbered year.
  • The terms of three of the members selected by the Nominating Committee shall begin at the conclusion of an annual meeting in an odd-numbered year and the terms of the other two members selected by the Nominating Committee shall begin at the conclusion of an annual meeting in an even-numbered year.
  • The regular term of each member shall end at the conclusion of the second ICANN annual meeting after the term began.

10.6.                                 At-Large working methods

10.6.1.           Working Groups: excessive focus on internal processes

Our Review Team heard repeatedly that At-Large is too focused on internal processes.  We looked at the number of active internal At-Large Working Groups and found that there are considerably more process-focused WGs than policy WGs. 

This was observation was reinforced, during the three ICANN meetings we attended, during which it was apparent that a majority of At-Large meetings were spent debating internal and procedural matters. 

The following chart represents the current breakdown of At-Large Working Groups according to thematic focus - Outreach & Engagement, Process or Policy.

The same date is presented in the table below.


 

Table 26.          List of active At-Large Working groups (January 2017)

Source : At-Large Website “Current Volunteer Opportunities, January 2017”

It appears to us that these internal WGs take up a significant amount of volunteer time that could be more productively spent on policy work.

Not convinced that the current internal Working Group model is an effective mechanism for engaging end-user input into ICANN policy-making processes, we are recommending a freeze on the creation of internal At-large Working Groups. 

While we expect push back on this profound change to the way in which At-Large currently coordinates volunteer time, we are confident that our Empowered Membership Model will result in increased levels of ICANN Working Group participation by members of the At-Large.

It is intended to serve as a stimulus to the At-Large Community to re-focus attention on its core mission, leaving all other activities to one side. It will also serve to break the perception that the community is “keeping itself busy” through the creation of internal WGs.

Recommendation # 7:   At-Large should abandon existing internal Working Groups, too many of which are currently focused on process, and a distraction from the actual policy advice role of At-Large. Their creation should in future be avoided. If absolutely necessary, any such group should be strictly task/time limited and policy focused, or its role taken on by volunteer pen holders assisted by policy capable staff.

 

Rec.#7: Response to Public Comment

There was strong At-Large Community push back on our proposal to eliminate all internal At-Large Working Groups as a means of concentrating At-Large Community time and input on its main mission, i.e. (i) direct engagement in ICANN Policy Development WGs and (ii) various “outreach and engagement” activities.

In early drafts we recommended an outright removal of and ban on the creation of new internal WGs. Our rationale was that too much At-Large Community time has been spent on internal WGs, too many of which deal with procedural and/or organisational matters. We came to the conclusion that WGs are symptomatic of the way in which At-Large has become excessively inward-looking to the detriment of its core mission.

However, this was perceived by a number of commentators to be excessive, potentially leading to the removal of an internal organisational mechanism that has proved useful in some circumstances. We acknowledge Community feedback on this issue and concede that a small number of internal WGs (3 or 4) may have had a useful function within the Community.

Accordingly, we have reworded this Recommendation in a way that leaves the Community the option to maintain a small number of internal WG that are exclusively focused on ongoing policy matters within ICANN. We stand by our original recommendation that all procedural and/or organisational Working Groups should be disbanded once and for all.

 

10.6.2.           Working Group Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are used extensively by At-Large as the main means of communication between the members of the At-Large Community as a whole, the members of the ALAC, individual RALOs, the members of Working Groups or various ad hoc discussion group.

As part of this Review we have signed up to several lists. We have observed that over 100 lists have been created by the Community, covering various issues and subscriber populations:

           2 At-Large wide lists

           2 ALAC lists

           9 RALO lists (including lists in different languages)

           19 Working Group lists

           34 ad hoc lists (mostly inactive) that are created for specific events

The use of mailing lists is standard practice for many technical / policy / standards-making organisations like ICANN, and the Mailman tool used by At-Large (and the rest of the ICANN community) is universally trusted and reliable.

However, for many within At-Large, this type of email-based communication is antiquated and may, in some cases, constitute a barrier to engagement.

There are many within At-Large who would favour more modern forms of communication including popular Social Media based platforms. This view view was summed up by a member of At-Large

“It’s 2016 and the entire At-Large Structure is still dependent on email lists for its communication”. This cannot be an effective mechanism for moving forward as a community. There needs to be far more effective means of drawing intelligence up from the worldwide community of Internet users whose interests the At-Large structure is supposed to represent.”  (At-Large participant)

This sentiment was also echoed by these participants in a Twitter exchange during the ICANN meeting in Hyderabad;


 

Recommendation # 8: ALAC should use social media more effectively to engage with end users (e.g. via Twitter  / Facebook polls, etc). These polls should not be binding in any way, but the ALAC could use them as a gauge of end user opinion.

 

Rec. # 8: Response to Public Comment

There is strong Community support for this recommendation.

 

10.6.3.           At-Large Website

Throughout this review we have made extensive use of the At-Large website. The site contains a considerable volume of Information on the origins, purpose and organisational structure of At-Large, current volunteer opportunities, upcoming events and elections etc. Its homepage is welcoming and, for a certain kind of use, is reasonably user-friendly. We also gather from regular users that the recent re-design is a significant improvement from the previous version.

The site provides useful information, and appears to conform to standard web-design practice with relatively easy 1 or 2-click access to key information about At-Large and its role within the broader ICANN system. Navigation throughout the rest of the site is reasonably intuitive, and we note that many pages are available in multiple languages. For newcomers to At-Large our view is that it is a well-designed and useful site.

However, the site has some limitations for researchers (like ourselves) with an interest in  deeper-level archived information. For this kind of information running keyword Google searches if often more effective than relying on the site’s internal search engine.

This was brought up as an issue in interviews and during the survey, e.g. this participant in the GNSO:

“As with most ICANN websites, there's a real risk of information overload for people interacting with the site or the Wiki for the first time. Search functionality needs to be improved (most people probably fall back to third party search engines) and the structure should better allow for key issues to be highlighted.”

There also appear to be a significant number of broken URL links which can lead to frustration. To verify this we ran a simple “Link Check” which revealed over 100 major broken links across 3000 pages. In the course of interviews several members of At-Large, including current leadership, have suggested that At-Large could much make better use of web technologies such as Twitter and Facebook, to channel end-user input.

Given the importance of the website as the first port of call for most people with an interest in ICANN, we recommend that ICANN Staff create a part-time position of Web Community Manager in replacement of one of its logistical support staff).

Recommendation # 9 : ALAC should arrange for the designation of one of its support staff as a part-time Web Community Manager  who will be responsible, inter alia, for coordinating outreach via social media (Rec 8). These responsibilities could be allocated to an existing member of staff.

 

Recommendation # 10: ALAC should consider the adoption and use of a single Slack-like online communication platform. An instant messaging-cum-team workspace (FOSS) alternative to replace Skype/Wiki/website/mailing list.

 

Rec. # 9 & 10: Response to Public Comment

There was moderate to strong Community support for these recommendations.

 

 

 

 

11.                Regional & Global At-Large meetings

 

Global ICANN meetings and participation in various regional meetings (IGF, RIR, Regional ccTLD meetings) that bring together key stakeholders of the global Internet Governance ecosystem, are cornerstones of At-Large’s strategy to engage with end-users face-to-face. At roughly five-year intervals At-Large also organises large-scale ATLAS meetings that bring together the representatives the entire At-Large Community.

In this section we consider how effective these meetings have been, both in terms of channelling end-users input into policy development processes, and raising awareness about ICANN-related matters, and the sustainability of the At-Large Community’s meeting strategy in the long-term.

As part of this Review we have considered ways in which At-Large’s global meeting strategy could be enhanced, notably with a view to maximising the overall cost-effectiveness of meetings, and impact in terms of outreach, capacity building, policy input and training. We consider separately:

           ICANN meetings (3 per year)

           Regional meetings at which At-Large is represented (IGF, RIR and other Internet Governance meetings)

           Large scale At-Large summits (ATLAS)

As part of this Review our team has participated in two ICANN meetings and four regional events. These were:

           African Internet Summit, Gaborone - Botswana, 29th May to 10th June 2016

           EuroDIG, Brussels - Belgium, 9-10th June, 2016

           LACNIC / LACNOG, San Jose - Costa Rica, 26-30th September 2016

           InSIG, Hyderabad - India, 31 Oct-2 November 2016

Prior to our involvement with this Review, members of our team also participated in many ICANN meetings, including the ICANN-50 meeting in London where we were able to observe the organisation and scale of the ATLAS II meeting.

11.1.                               Survey & Interview findings

Once again, our interview and survey findings highlight a strong divergence of views regarding the value of the different types of meeting that are organised by At-Large, and raise a number of questions about strategic options for the future.

11.1.1.           At-Large F2F meetings during ICANN Meetings

As expected At-Large participants feel that ICANN meetings are the most useful interactions they have with their peers. A consistent 70+% of At-Large think these face-to-face meetings are an “ideal opportunity for end-users to participate in the development of policy advice”, the meetings “deal with policy issues that matter to end-users” and ”meetings are relevant to my concerns as an end user”. 

This generally favourable impression of ICANN meetings, and the value added they provide, is summarised by this member of the Community.

              “F2F meetings are more profitable than remote meetings because we have a chance to share views more easily during and after the meetings. The extra work done during F2F meetings is then more valuable to ICANN and the community. But funding remains the big challenge.”  (At-Large Participant)

Nevertheless, there is some criticism within the At-Large Community regarding the way meetings are planned and run. Some question the way in which issues are presented and discussed, others the way in which issues are prioritized in a top-down fashion.

“[There is a need for] more preparation in advance, more practical experience apart from webinars and calls. The information is not easy to digest, so it is necessary to find an easy and simple way to transmit the information and, importantly, why it is important to end users. Not everyone is involved with ICANN or knows why it should matter to them.” (Member of LACRALO)

11.1.2.           ATLAS Meetings I & II

While the Mexico (2009) and London (2012) ATLAS Summit meetings have been generally welcomed as successful events, our survey highlighted many criticisms about their organisation, the formulation of recommendations, and the speed with which recommendations were implemented.

“ATLAS II Recs were created during first 2 days of the meeting. As a result, many participants were not really well briefed and prepared, resulting in many recommendations which sounded good but were not really on target. But we were committed to "implement them". ”(At-Large Participant)

“A much better structured ATLAS. And the emphasis should not be on recommendations. It should be on bringing all the ALAC participants up to speed on issues, with an emphasis on developing an understanding of the main issues, and resulting recommendations that are few in number, addressing the main issues and implementable.”  (At-Large Participant)

“The 55 recommendations from ATLAS 2 was delegated to the Working Groups to provide detailed implementation strategies. This went from 200 people on the first day-meeting  to less than 10 people on the last day, provide interpretation and suggestions. The list overlaps and should have been reduced to 10 or 12 recommendations which have address the core issues. “ (At-Large Participant)

[Survey Question] How would you rate the overall quality/relevance of the ATLAS Meetings you have attended?

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While it appears that satisfaction levels were higher with the London Atlas meeting it may be that attendees of ATLAS I in Mexico City have left At-Large or that memories have grown hazy over time.  

A close examination of the ATLAS II recommendations, (finally recommended by ALAC to the board for implementation on 7 November 2016, after two years of work), demonstrates that the quality of recommendations is not impressive. Nor is the speed of their subsequent implementation.

  [ Survey Question] ATLAS Recommendations. Has proper attention been given to the follow-up of ATLAS Summit recommendations?

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11.2.                               ATLAS meeting strategy

A broad consensus of opinion favours some sort of global get-together like the current ATLAS meetings. However, our consultations and the survey results, suggest that a revised approach would have more impact upon the two primary objectives of recruiting and involving more grassroots support, while transmitting to a wider audience the overall functions and responsibilities of ICANN.

We recognise that, roughly following the 5-year sequence, the next global ATLAS meeting has been tentatively scheduled in 2019. However, we believe that a more cost-effective and sustainable way of encouraging participation by a wider and more representative global body of end-users would be facilitated by a pragmatic change to a systematic regional approach. This is intended to reinforce the current practice of ad hoc At Large meetings in the regions and to better accommodate the increase in global participation which should result from implementation of our proposed EMM model ( Section 13 ).

11.2.1.           Sustainability of the current global ATLAS meeting strategy

Our Review team can see the merits of ATLAS meetings, notably as a means of creating a sense of community and common cause among ALSes, but we have concerns about the sustainability and long-term financial viability of the model.

ATLAS meeting arrangements cover travel, accommodation and other participation costs for one representative from each ALS in the At-Large Community (currently a little over 200). The size of each meeting is directly proportional to the number of ALSes. This model is bound to come under strain if, as we expect, the number of active participants in At Large increases over time.  We question whether the model can scale to accommodate perhaps double or triple this number. 

For this reason, as part of this Review, we have considered how a shift away from from 5-year global ATLAS meetings to more regular “Regional ATLAS Meetings” could positively impact the At-Large Community. By concentrating financial and human resources on the organisation of more regular regional events associated with ICANN meetings we believe At-Large could achieve greater leverage from available funds, and benefit from the synergies that can be created by partnering with existing regional structures.

11.2.2.           Annual At-Large Regional meetings to replace ATLAS meeting

Taking into account the views of interviewed Community members and the recent changes in ICANN’s overall meeting strategy, we recommend the organisation of one annual large-scale rotating regional At-Large meeting to be organised in conjunction with the largest annual ICANN meeting (Normally meeting C but could also be meeting A to ensure equitable geographical rotation.).

A suggested model is set out below. This would involve reinforcing the capacity of the RALOs to organise large-scale regional events at regular intervals (every two or three years in each region).

This could be tried for three years and subsequently reviewed to decide whether a full ATLAS style global summit is still merited.

1)     Organisation and regional rotation of events

           One annual regional gathering of At-Large participants normally linked to ICANN “C” meetings (i.e. those designed to encourage outreach) but with flexibility built in to ensure equitable regional coverage.

           ICANN Regional Hubs and the regional centres of other I* organisations should be fully involved in the organisational effort, which should be planned well in advance. (See also S ection 8.4 on revised approach to Outreach).

           All ALMs in the region should be invited with a pre-agreed number sponsored.

           During these regional meetings ALAC should help organise Internet Governance Schools, in association with ICANN and appropriate I* organisations, together with local ALMs. (The recent SIG held pre-Hyderabad and well organised by APRALO with local ALSes provides a good model).

           Regional meetings should be structured to ensure that participants can generally spend half of each day participating in ICANN meetings to familiarise themselves with the multi-stakeholder model  and broader policy issues.

           ICANN outreach programs in the regions should be targeted to promote these regional meetings of at-large, and their accompanying Internet governance school modules.

Rec. # 9 & 10: Response to Public Comment

There was strong Community support for this recommendation.

 

2)     Process for developing recommendations

           Structured process to invite and produce recommendations.

           Incremental approach in preparation of recommendations. Driven by themes set by ALAC, designed to address topical issues, while encouraging bottom-up ideas.  

           Regional Meetings to initiate a small number of recommendations to encourage bottom-up traditions.

           Where appropriate, a small number of global recommendations (we suggest five) may be agreed and submitted through ALAC to the other regions for timely comment and return to ALAC for implementation, ideally within 12 months of initial authorship.

           Thus an opportunity for grassroots to address cross-cutting issues every 12 months rather than every 5 years.

           Implementation of  recommendations to be closely monitored by At-Large support staff. 

 

 

Recommendation # 11: At-Large should replace 5-yearly global ATLAS meetings with an alternative model of rotating annual regional At-Large Meetings, held in conjunction with regular ICANN meetings.  Regional meetings should include an Internet Governance School element.  Participants should include all qualified ALMs.

 

Rec. # 11: Response to Public Comment

There was strong Community push back on the original formulation of this recommendation, but the ATLAS system was only supported by those who have participated in it.  We have revised the recommendation to emphasize the practical advantages of more frequent regional meetings.

 

11.3.                               Non-ICANN regional events

During the Review our team attended the EuroDIG, African Internet Summit (AIS), LACNIC/LACNOG and Indian School on Internet Governance (InSIG) meetings.

Our observations of the way these meetings were organised, the quality of presentations and impressive levels of attendance in each case, have informed our thinking about an enhanced At-Large regional meeting strategy.

All four events were organised in cooperation with a number of institutional partners and financial sponsors. With varying degrees of financial and logistical support, AFRALO, APRALO, EURALO and LACRALO were all involved as partners.

It was clear to us that such regional meetings offer significant opportunities to promote the basic bottom up ethos of At-Large, and also the outreach ambitions of ICANN as a whole. 

These opportunities can be summarised as:

 

           Opportunity to leverage limited funds for “outreach and engagement”: Partnering with leading regional events on Internet governance is an effective way for At-Large and the RALOs to maximise the use of limited funds to raise awareness about the role and function of At-Large.

           Opportunity to increase participation in At-Large: Of the several hundred participants in meetings like EuroDIG, other regional or global IGF meetings and joint RIR/NOG meetings (and similar meetings around the world), many have a focus on policy development in connection with the DNS. This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the role and function of At-Large and engage end-user input.

           Opportunity to engage in “bottom-up” policy development / advice : The regular gathering of several hundred participants with expertise in policy and regulatory aspects of the Internet provides At-Large with an exceptional opportunity to engage in “bottom-up”, regional-level discussions on policy issues. Events like these should be used to a greater extent as the first stage in a truly bottom-up, consensus-driven process of policy development.

           Opportunity to maximise impact of limited travel funding for Regional events : RALOs participating in such events can use CROPP and other funding programs to cover the travel costs of five participants.

 

 

Recommendation # 12: As part of their annual outreach strategies RALOs should continue to put a high priority on the organisation of and participation in external events in their region (IGF, RIR ISOC, etc).  CROPP and other funding mechanisms should be provided to support the costs of organisation and participation of At-Large members.

 

Rec. # 12: Response to Public Comment

There is strong Community support for this recommendation. A slight rewording was made for the sake of clarity.

 


12.                At-Large funding issues

The issue of At-Large funding has come up at regular intervals, in different ways, throughout the Review process. There are many recurring questions, often asked rhetorically:

           How much funding support does/should the At-Large Community get?

           Does ICANN have a “moral” obligation to support the At-Large Community?

           Are travel support funds used in a manner that’s fair and transparent?

           Are certain members of At-Large benefiting more than others?

           Are funds for “outreach and engagement” used in a cost-effective manner?

           Are all regions being treated equally and/or in a manner that is proportional to their populations?

           What is the “returns on investment” of the various At-Large activities? Metrics?

           Given limited resources, are At-Large’s funding priorities right?

           Are At-Large operations financially sustainable? If ICANN financial support is removed, would At-Large cease to exist?

Given that At-Large consists exclusively of volunteers, the issue of funding cannot be avoided. It is an issue which to a large extent defines what At-Large is, who participates, and how the organisation has evolved over time into its current structure. 

It may be beyond the scope of this Review to look deeply into the issue of funding and how decision-making processes that have financial consequences for the organisation are conducted.

However, there are various issues including travel support, the costs of meetings (including regional and ATLAS meetings), and the priorities that are given to certain types of event (e.g. At-Large Showcases) that are often decided by the Community itself, that warrant some attention.

12.1.                               ​Survey and interview findings

Funding for At-Large activities, largely travel support is one of the rewards for being actively involved in ICANN policy processes. While this is not the only reason that volunteers become involved, it is one of the motivations for continued involvement over time. 

Fully ⅔ of At-Large survey respondents have been funded to attend ICANN meetings at some point in time:

The following comments illustrate the sensitivity of the funding issue with At-Large and the wider ICANN system.

Prioritizing improvements to outreach and remote participation (which actually invite broad participation including by new members) versus funding in-person participation by a small few. (GNSO Member, USA)

“(There should be) More focus on policy development instead of show cases and travel funding.” APRALO Member

Their "outreach" is limited to these ICANN funded "showcases" which amount to not much more than a cocktail reception with some local entertainment.” (GAC Member)

“Its nothing but rotations among a small group of people to various chairs and vice chairs all to secure travel funding to attend ICANN meetings. Same cast of people, just serving in different chairs from year to year.” (Member of GNSO)

For some respondents, At-Large financial resources would be better spent on end-user based research:

“Reallocate money spent on the small pool of ALAC members who consistently get funding to carry out actual user surveys on relevant topics, with the expectation that this should inform both GNSO policy and ALAC positions.” (Member of GNSO)

For a small (but vocal) minority funds should even be reduced unless the Community can prove that it is truly accountable:

“[There should be] a reasonable scale-back of resources provided to ALAC, particularly travel funding, unless they can demonstrate to the community in a verifiable way that it does, as it claims, represent millions of end users, and that it derives its agenda from and has some measure of accountability to those users. (GNSO, USA)

Or, in a more accusatory tone:

At-Large is a self perpetuating gravy train. (Member of APRALO)

12.2.                               Travel funding

The issue of travel funding for the At-Large Community and the extent to which the most active members of the Community are largely dependent on funding inevitably raises a number of questions about the way in which limited travel funds are used.

According to ICANN official guidelines the At-Large Community has 27 travel slots [20] . These guidelines specify that for the At-Large Community:

This number includes 15 ALAC members, 2 Regional Leaders * 5 RALO’s plus 2 Liaisons to GNSO and ccNSO. The two liaisons are nonvoting members. This support includes the costs for air travel, lodging, and a per diem amount set for each city. At-Large supported members receive economy class level of airfare, except for the Chair who is eligible to receive air travel at business class.

During our research we have observed a close correlation between the level of funding provided by ICANN to participate in ICANN meetings - currently 27 travel slots - and the level of active participants - currently around 30 people. This is understandable since end-users, unlike other ICANN stakeholders, do not typically have the financial resources or backing to take part in regular international meetings. However, this situation has prompted us to question whether the impartiality of the advice that is developed by the At-Large Community can be wholly guaranteed. Is it possible that members might be reluctant to “bite the hand that feeds them”? 

We have not found any evidence to suggest that advice has been compromised by travel support or lack thereof. However, we do note that from meeting to meeting limited travel slots tend to be allocated to a similar group of people as presented in Table 9 above. This indicates that all travel slots are currently taken up by ALAC and/or RALO leadership positions, leaving no room for other members of the community to benefit.

12.2.1.           Allocation of travel funding slots

Current practices within At-Large mean that anyone in a Leadership position, i.e. the 15 members of the ALAC + 10 RALO leaders (2 from each region) are given regular travel support to attend ICANN meetings. Since the At-Large Community currently has 27 travel slots this means that there are only ever at best 2 travel slots available for non-leadership positions. In practice we have observed that these 2 additional slots are usually given to Liaisons or other At-Large Leaders from within the RALOs.

See section Section 11.3 below on the impact of the EMM on At-Large travel allocations.


FY14 Community Travel Support Guidelines: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/travel-support-guidelines-fy14-02aug13-en.pdf

 

 

Table 27.          History of travel support for current ALAC and RALO leadership

Source : ITEMS International using public ICANN data

Note : the columns in the middle of the table correspond to ICANN meetings 35 to 56 (the only meetings for which data was available at the time of submitting this report). Cells with a figure 1 in them indicate that the person received At-Large funding to attend that meeting.

12.2.2.           Funding to attend RALO AGMs

ICANN fully funds 5 RALO AGMs over the course of four years, then each RALO has a “quiet year” in which they prep for ATLAS. At the end of the 5th year the cycle repeats. The 2017 NARALO AGM was held in conjunction with the ARIN meeting. As a result, cross-pollination of At Large members into ARIN processes was effective. There were many people present who never go to ICANN, so the AGM audience is more representative of the real At Large grass roots. 

12.2.3.           At-Large travel funding from the wider ICANN perspective

Other parts of the ICANN system are sometimes critical of the way ICANN pays for At-Large participation in ICANN meetings. One argument that is prevalent in the GNSO is that since Registrars and Registries pay to be part of ICANN it is natural for them to have a voice at the table of ICANN discussion.

But it is an argument that doesn’t hold water for many within At-Large who counter that Registrars and Registries are paying with end user money. Therefore end users also need to have a funding mechanism to participate in meetings. And that funding mechanism may well be ICANN itself. Otherwise their interests will be overlooked. Travel funding for At-Large is essential to support the Multi-Stakeholder Model. ITEMS Review Team would support a properly justified expansion of travel funding going forward.

An analysis of meeting attendance data by At-Large from 2003 to 2017 shows that the majority of those involved in At-Large attend fewer than the 18 meeting limit we have proposed as part of the EMM, but there is a significant number of people (20 out of 104 attendees - 20%) who have attended more than 18 meetings. These numbers do not account for trips taken by the same set of people which were funded by NomCom, the ICANN Board or other sources. 

Source: Alan Greenberg data analysis Jan 2017

 

12.3.                               ICANN /At-Large funding programmes

In addition to direct travel funding for At-Large leadership, there are a number of other funding sources available to At-Large participants (CROPP, Mentorship, NextGen and Fellowship programs, as well as Fiscal Year requests). These are listed in the table below.

These programmes provide welcome additional funding to support the non-leadership members of the At-Large Community. However, we have found that information regarding access to these sources of funding is not easily accessible.

In the interests of transparency, we are recommending that this type of information is presented promptly in a much clearly fashion on the At-Large website.


 

Table 28.          ICANN funding mechanisms for end-users

Funding programme

Main features

Fellowship programme

Seeks to create a broader and more diverse base of knowledgeable constituents with priority given to candidates currently living in underserved and underrepresented communities around the world.

NextGen programme

For individuals who are interested in becoming more actively engaged in their own regional communities as well as taking part in the future growth of global Internet policy.

Mentorship programme

System whereby mentors who can select 2 Mentorees each. Controversial process. No transparency on selection of Mentorees. Suspicion of cronyism.

CROPP Programme

Mechanism whereby 5 people in each global region can obtain travel funding to attend a regional meeting. Good idea but controversial selection process. Lack of transparency leading to significant frustration   and concerns about inter regional favouritism in some RALO’s

 

 

Recommendation # 13: In the interests of transparency, a clear indication of all opportunities for At-Large travel funding support and the beneficiaries thereof, should be published promptly and in one place on the At-Large webpage. 

 

Rec. # 13: Response to Public Comment

There is strong Community support for this recommendation.

 

12.4.                               Creation of a new funding mechanism for At-Large

It is generally recognised that given its exclusively volunteer make up, At Large has a unique dependence upon ICANN funds. This is not of course a new problem, but in current circumstances, and without wishing to stray beyond the scope of this Review, we would suggest that one way of contributing to the resolution of this problem would be to give At Large access to some of the auction funds generated by the new gTLD program.

During this Review some have argued that these revenues derive ultimately from the global community of end-users who are the clients of traditional and/or new TLD registries. The gTLD program gave Registries the opportunity to increase their TLD portfolios and diversify their businesses, creating significant new revenue streams.

According to this view, it is entirely appropriate to consider ways in which the At-Large Community can benefit from these revenues (especially if a second round of applications for gTLDs is envisaged).

We would argue that there may never be another moment in ICANN’s history where the imbalance between Stakeholder Groups can be redressed as easily as at this one. It seems that now would an opportune time for At-Large to be partially funded or supported via some sort of long-term funding mechanism. 

 

Recommendation # 14: The ALAC should initiate discussions with the ICANN Board of Directors with a view to gaining access to a share of gTLD Auction Proceeds to be used in support of end user and broad civil society engagement in ICANN. Such a mechanism could replace the existing operational expense incurred by ICANN to support the At-Large Community.

 

Rec. # 14: Response to Public Comment

There was moderate Community support for this recommendation and broad rejection of it from the representatives of other Stakeholder Groups within ICANN. This section of the report has been revised to take into account Community feedback, and we maintain the Recommendation as we see this as a viable, novel and entirely justified means of creating a new funding facility to support genuine end-user input in ICANN processes.

 


13.                Proposal for an “Empowered Membership Model”

13.1.                               ​Rationale

One of the main findings of our Review, is that the overall mission and function of At-Large is largely supported within the At-Large Community itself and the broader ICANN system, yet the community has struggled to effectively engage end-users, and/or ensure that more end-user voices are brought into ICANN policy-making processes.

Taking into account the views of many individuals from within At-Large, the broader ICANN system and beyond, the proposed Empowered Membership Model draws on many features of the current organisational structure of the At-Large Community. It provides a solution for reducing bureaucracy, facilitating access for end-users and increasing the accountability of the At-Large Community, and it is a model which the Community should be able to implement with minimal disruption and at minimal cost.

As shown above, the EMM has been designed specifically with a view to removing what Reviewers have identified as the main barriers to participation in the current organisational structure.

The most notable features of the proposed EMM are:

           Overall organisational simplification with two functional layers as opposed to the current four. The conflation of the RALO and ALAC leadership functions resulting in a more streamlined organisational structure that is more closely connected with end-user concerns.  

           Removal of the current requirement to become a member of an At-Large Structure (ALS) in order to become actively engaged in At-Large policy-advice or “outreach and engagement” activities.

           Any Internet end-user with an interest in ICANN’s policy development remit will be able get involved in At-Large activities with greatly increased speed and facility. There will be no difference in membership criteria across regions.

           New “Rapporteur” roles are created to allow end-users to become more easily involved in policy-advice activities.

13.2.                               The EMM: Definitions and Implementation Guidelines

The following table defines the main conceptual aspects of the EMM followed by a corresponding EMM Recommendation.

Table 29.          EMM functional aspects and associated recommendations

1 - At-Large Member (ALM)

Definition: Any individual Internet end-user, or representative of an end-user association, may request membership of the At-Large Community. ALMs will have the option to become involved in “policy advice” or “outreach and engagement” activities, or both . There are no basic criteria for becoming an At-Large Member (ALM).

EMM Recommendation, Point 1: At-Large should remove the current criteria for At-Large membership, notably the requirement to join an ALS in order to become an active policy contributor to the At-Large Community. All internet end-users with an interest in ICANN’s policy development function should be able to become involved in the activities of At-Large in the same way.

2 - “Active” membership

Definition: A set of criteria will be used to recognise “active” ALMs. The main criteria will be proof of a sustained contribution to the work of an ICANN WG/CCWG or “outreach and engagement” activity f or at least three months . Eventually a peer review mechanism could be used. Qualified ALMs will earn voting rights within the At-Large Community and be eligible for appointment as Rapporteurs. Voting rights will apply to the election of RALO/ALAC leadership positions, and for the Board seat should our optional Recommendation # 6 be accepted.

EMM Recommendation, Point 2: ALAC should define a set of metrics for assessing the level of active engagement of “policy advice” or “outreach and engagement” ALMs. Active ALMs should be provided with funding to attend regional meetings including AGMs, Internet Governance Schools, and the rotating regional ATLAS meeting when it occurs  in their region.  

3 - “Policy” and “Outreach and Engagement” Rapporteurs

Definition: ALMs that have been actively involved in the work of ICANN WG/CCWG and/or outreach activities for at least 3 months may volunteer to become a “Rapporteur” for their WG. Rapporteurs will be responsible for reporting on the work of their WG/CCWG to the ALAC. At-least 10 Rapporteurs will be given travel funding to attend ICANN meetings in order to report on the work of their WG.

EMM Recommendation, Point 3.1: ALAC should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the role and function of Rapporteurs. Rapporteurs will initially be appointed for 1 year only. Renewable once for Policy input rapporteurs. Outreach Rapporteurs will serve for one year only to improve throughput. Calls for expressions of interest from qualified ALMs should be issued 6 months before their year of service.  

EMM Recommendation, Point 3.2: Using the same qualification system as for policy rapporteurs, ALAC should select 5 rapporteurs to contribute to ICANN’s plans for a demand driven multi sectoral approach to outreach,  and learn from the work of the ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement group. Rapporteurs would serve for one year (3 meetings) to encourage turnover and more genuine grass roots input (Recommendation # 13).

4 - Merging of RALO and ALAC leadership functions

Definition: Under the EMM RALO and ALAC leadership positions are conflated, i.e. RALO leaders become the representatives of their region on the ALAC.

EMM Recommendation, Point 4: At-Large should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the appointment of RALO leaders and their corresponding responsibilities on the ALAC. ICANN Bylaws should aso be updated accordingly.

5 - Council of Elders (CoE)

Definition : The Council of Elders (CoE) is a Council of experienced members of the At-Large Community that are term-limited having spent two terms on the ALAC. The CoE is designed to allow the At-Large Community to hold on to individuals that represent the institutional memory of the organisation. Members will serve for one two year term and be funded to attend one ICANN meeting, normally in their region, each year.

EMM Recommendation, Point 5: At-Large should update its Rules of Procedure to include a new procedure regarding the functioning and membership of the CoE.

6 - Appointment of SO/AC Liaisons

Definition: Under the EMM the NomCom shall be responsible for appointing 5 members of the ALAC, four of whom will have a Liaison function with the ccNSO, the GNSO, SSAC, ASO and the GAC.

EMM Recommendation, Point 6: ALAC Rules of Procedure should be updated with addition of a new procedure regarding the appointment by the NomCom of members who will also act as Liaisons.

7 - Elections: use of Random Selection

Definition: Random Selection should be used in specified elections (Board seat, CoE and Rapporteur positions) as a means of ensuring greater transparency and accountability.

EMM Recommendation, Point 7: ALAC Rules of Procedure should be updated with the addition of new procedure regarding the use of random selection for the appointment of key At-Large leadership positions.

 


 

13.2.1.           At-Large Membership

Membership of the At-Large Community should be open to all internet end-users with an interest in the mission of ICANN with the sole exception of individuals or entities who are voting members of other ICANN constituencies. Participants shall be called At-Large Members (ALMs) .

The procedure for becoming a member is simple and uniform across all global regions. Individual Internet end-users wishing to become an ALM should contact their RALO whose primary function is to provide them with:

           information on the advisory role of At-Large within ICANN.

           a list of current opportunities to become involved in policy advice in connection with ICANN’s policy remit.

           opportunities to become involved in grassroots “outreach and engagement activities”

ICANN staff should coordinate with RALO leaders in all regions to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information about active Constituency and Cross-Constituency Working groups.

As part of the “Welcome Packet” ALMs will be directed to ICANN Learn [21] and other existing capacity building programs.

RALO leaders and staff will explain that the most appropriate way of learning about and contributing to the work of ICANN will be to participate remotely in its work. End users (ALMs) can also join an ICANN Working Group directly if they can navigate the system by themselves.

Staff should develop mechanisms to determine membership based on length of time subscribed to and active participation in ICANN WGs and/or RALO outreach activity.

13.2.2.           Involvement in “Outreach and Engagement” activity

As part of this Review our objective has been is to propose a properly coordinated mechanism with built-in incentives for different sectors within the I* community and among ICANN staff to cooperate in getting the right messages out to the At Large Community in an effective and appropriate way. We see this as an important contribution in the development of a revitalised and truly global grassroots At-Large community. Key elements as follows:

           Newly created Outreach rapporteurs (ideally one per region) will advise on needs of their region and help adjust for their region the core messages developed by ICANN.

           One obvious example is to build on the current pilot scheme to quickly put out an info package after each ICANN meeting. (It is not for us to write policy, but this seems an excellent basis upon which to build more effective outreach in the regions).

           Mechanisms to identify and interact with ALMs, knowledgeable on ICANN topics that can start contributing in WGs/ TFs

           Greater university and college involvement would help to engage with academia

           More effective focus upon other target groups. (8,4,1 above)

ALMs that are primarily interested in grassroots “outreach and engagement” activities should receive assistance from Outreach experts among ICANN staff via printed materials, videos etc to assist them in organising events including workshops, webinars, blogs aimed at raising awareness about ICANN and At-Large activities. Qualified “Outreach and Engagement” ALMs will be invited to  the proposed Regional ATLAS meetings, and  enfranchised to participate in At-Large leadership elections.

 

Recommendation # 15 (New):  Using the same qualification system as for policy rapporteurs, (para …) ALAC should select 5 rapporteurs to contribute to ICANN’s plans for a demand driven multi sectoral approach to outreach, and learn from the work of the ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement group. Rapporteurs would serve for one year (3 meetings) to encourage turnover and more genuine grass roots input.

 

Response to Public Comment

Rec. # 15: New Recommendation / No public comment

 

13.2.3.           Participation in ICANN Working Groups

ALMs with an interest in policy development will be instructed about how to participate in the work of one (or more) ICANN Working Groups (step 1 in the illustration below). Participation in ICANN Working Groups is voluntary and can be done via mailing lists, other digital means, conference calls, and physical participation in ICANN meetings. Active participation refers to the criteria for ALMs to obtain voting rights in certain elections within the At-Large Community as described elsewhere.

13.2.4.           Role and selection of Rapporteurs

 

ALMs that have been active f or at least 3 months will have the opportunity to volunteer for a “ Rapporteur ” position (step 2 in the illustration above). Rapporteurs will be appointed for three consecutive ICANN meetings. 

The role of “Policy” Rapporteurs is to report to the ALAC on the status of WG/CCWG work, and the need, if appropriate, to provide policy advice. The role of “Outreach and Engagement” Rapporteurs is to contribute to contribute to ICANN outreach strategy and disseminate the result in their regions.

All Rapporteurs should report on a regular basis after every WG/CCWG meeting. Rapporteurs that are eligible for travel support will be expected to participate in ICANN meetings where they will formally report to the ALAC.

ALMs that wish to apply for a Rapporteur positions should provide an Expressions of Interest (EoI), accompanied by a statement of competence to fulfil the role. If there is only one volunteer for a vacant Rapporteur role, that person will be appointed to the position by default. If there is more than one volunteer for a Rapporteur position a random selection mechanism (e.g. RFC3797) will be used by ICANN support staff to determine who is appointed.

The maximum term for a policy input Rapporteur will be 6 consecutive meetings (2 years). After this a two-year “cooling off” period will be imposed except in respect of an upward progression through At-Large, to a seat on the ALAC. Outreach Rapporteurs will be limited to one term of one year (3 ICANN meetings) to increase throughput.

Initially, Rapporteurs for up to 10 WG’s will be eligible for travel support. (The number of travel slots may increase in the future as a function of the overall number of cross community working groups created, and if additional funding is approved).

All ALMs who participate in WGs may be expected to act as a Rapporteur, funded or not.

13.2.5.           Voting rights for RALO/ALAC elections

Enfranchised ALMs, i.e. ALMs that have earned voting rights through active participation WG or “Outreach and Engagement” activities, will be invited to participate in elections for their RALO representatives on ALAC.

The criteria for eligibility to vote in elections for RALO/ALAC leadership positions will be to demonstrate active participation in the work of an ICANN WG/CCWG for at least three months , or evidence of active “Outreach and Engagement” activity.

ICANN support staff should determine voting eligibility according to the criteria set by ALAC and described above.  ALMs activity will be monitored on both policy input and outreach activities (step 3 in the illustration above). ALM’s can qualify for voting rights through their performance in either or both input and or outreach. Staff resources will be released due to reduced work on internal WGs.   (see Recommendation # 7) 

On the policy side this can be done by ICANN staff members organising the various Adobe calls. Simple presence on calls and active participation (contributions) should be recorded.

On the “Outreach and Engagement” side, simple criteria can be evolved to monitor the performance of participating ALM’s, EG  organising outreach /  capacity building activities as well as attending Internet  related-events.

There will be a marginal increase in the workload of   staff monitoring the WGs of other ACs and SOs where ALM’s participate. ALAC support staff will need to liaise more closely, but  they need to be better informed on the detail of broader policy activity under our recommendations so this will be a positive development.

When an ALM is deemed not to be meeting basic criteria for voting eligibility, their respective RALO and ALAC should be informed. Decisions on disenfranchising ALMs will be for the ALAC to take action to first warn, and then exclude inactive ALMs from voting rolls.

Elections should be conducted electronically using the current e-voting platform used by ICANN (Big Pulse or tally.icann.org or similar).

Voting rights will be valid for 18 months but we do not see a need for any overall time limitation if the criteria for active participation continue to be met.

13.2.6.           Composition of the ALAC

Under the EMM, the 15 person ALAC will be made up of 2 directly elected Members from each global region (e.g. RALO Chair + Vice-Chair or Chair and Secretary) + 5 members nominated by the NomCom. The main difference with the current composition of the ALAC is that ten regional seats will be filled by the Chair + Vice-Chair of the RALOs in each region.

ALMs must be qualified as active for at least one year (12 months) before they can run for an ALAC seat.

13.2.7.           Role of the NomCom

The five members selected by the Nominating Committee shall include one citizen of a country within each of the five ICANN Geographic Regions.

The five NomCom appointees to the ALAC will each be assigned a 2-year Liaison role to one of the main ICANN SOs/ACs (ccNSO/GAC/SSAC/GNSO and Customer Standing Committee).

This will require further reinforcement of the criteria used to fulfil some specialized roles communicated to the NomCom. NomCom appointees to the ALAC sho uld be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of At Large activity and its role in ICANN before being considered for appointment to the ALAC.

13.2.8.           ALAC term limits (no change)

An ALAC term will continue to be for two years. Members may seek re-election only once for a second two-year term.Having served two terms, ALAC members will be obliged to stand aside for a period of two years from all At-Large positions with the exception of the ICANN Board or CoE

ALAC terms will be staggered, as described in the current By-Laws.  To avoid dominance of travel slots by a small group of people, individuals should be restricted to an overall total of 18 At-Large funded participation trips to ICANN meetings.

13.2.9.           Creation of an At-Large Council of Elders (CoE)

The imposition of term limits, and an enforced "stand down" period are designed to mitigate the situation where a small number of individuals dominate the At-Large process and to encourage newcomers who might better reflect the views of end users, particularly at the grassroots level.

It would be a waste to lose some of the considerable expertise amassed by many among the current At-Large leadership. We therefore recommend the creation of a six person "Council of Elders"  which term limited members might join. If there is a surfeit of candidates in any given year, CoE selection will be done by a random selection process.

Elders would serve for a single period of two years and each be eligible for two expenses paid trips to an ICANN meeting during this period, normally to meetings within their region. Their role would primarily be to encourage the next generation through outreach and mentoring processes. Elders would also be available to the wider ICANN community within their region for related purposes (e.g. as trainers in regional Schools on Internet Governance).  CoE would be expected to attend ALAC meetings remotely during their term to give historical perspective.

After the 2-year period of CoE membership those “Elders” may, or course, choose to be regular ALMs again. They would then be eligible for Rapporteur duty or to run for an ALAC seat as long as they have not completed 18 total at-large funded trips.

13.3.                               Impact of the EMM on travel support

The EMM will introduce a fundamentally different mechanism for the allocation of travel support. Over time, the At-Large Community could work to increase the number of travel slots available for “qualified” members of the community. For the time being we propose:

           10 slots for the RALO members of the ALAC

           5 slots for the NomCom member of the ALAC (Liaisons)

           2 slots for Council of Elders

           Up to 10 slots for At-Large Members attending ICANN working groups as Rapporteurs  5 for Policy input and 5 for outreach. 

The effect of the EMM will be to modify the way in which the current funding model disproportionately benefits leadership positions, leaving no room for ordinary end users. The EMM has been designed to increase end user participation and attendance at ICANN Meetings.


 

13.4.                               How the EMM differs from the status quo

Table 30.          Comparison of the EMM and current At-Large Community

Current At-Large Community (Status Quo)

 

Empowered Membership Model

 

ALT

Selected from current ALAC Members, the ALAC Leadership Team (ALT) is tasked to support the Chair, ensuring the ALAC can focus on the most appropriate issues with minimum of administrative overhead.

 

ALT

Reviewers found no compelling reason to retain this elite structure. We share the concern of some on the ALAC that it has come to dominate ALAC decision-making. We recommend removal of the ALT and its decision making powers restored to the ALAC. (See Recommendation # 4 ).

 

 

ALAC  

The roles of the ALAC are: i) to consider and provide advice to the Board. on ICANN the activities of ICANN as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users; (ii) to play an important part in ICANN’s accountability mechanisms; (iii) to coordinate some of ICANN’s outreach and engagement efforts to individual Internet users.

 

ALAC  

In the EMM the roles of the ALAC and the RALOs are conflated, i.e. elected RALO leaders will automatically become the regional representatives on the ALAC. The role of the new ALAC is to provide advice to the Board based on feedback from “WG Rapporteurs/Liaisons” and other At-Large Members who are active in cross -community and policy WGs.   ALAC decisions to be based on rough consensus where possible and adhere to current voting rules of procedure when consensus cannot be found.  

 

 

5 x RALOs

 

As information conduit and facilitators, RALOs disseminate information from ICANN, promote the participation of their members, and channel the regional user point of view to ICANN. Each RALO is governed by its own mission and organizing documents, including a Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN.

 

 

5 x RALOs

RALOs to have reinforced two-way function in terms of outreach (top-down) and channelling of end user input (bottom-up). RALO officials to act as mentors for end users interested in ICANN policy making, and to steer them to the appropriate ICANN WGs. RALO Leaders are the regional representatives on the ALAC. RALOs will also be responsible for organisation of regional meetings,   and regional “ATLAS” meeting and relations with other related regional organizations. Only ALMs active for 12 months or longer may run for an ALAC seat.

 

 

At-Large Structures (ALSs

ALSes are independent organizations that form the ground-level of the current At-Large organisation; the entry point for end-users. ALS accreditation recognizes that ALSes meet ICANN criteria for involving individual Internet users at the local or issue level in ICANN activities, and for promoting individuals’ understanding of and participation in ICANN.

 

At-Large Members (ALMs)

The EMM focuses on direct input from end-users (ALMs). Any end-user with an interest in the policy work of ICANN or in Outreach activity can contact their local RALO to enquire about WG volunteer opportunities. In signing up to a WG and/or outreach/capacity building activities end-users will automatically become an ALM. ALMs will become eligible for selection as Rapporteurs and acquire voting rights to elect RALO/ALAC leaders after several (3) months of active WG participation.


 

13.5.                               Measuring the impact of the EMM: Performance Metrics

Ultimately the success of the EMM will be judged on whether it makes At-Large a more active, knowledgeable contributor to ICANN policy making. We do not anticipate participation in At-Large to increase by orders of magnitude, but instead expect a steady but significant rise in  the number of ALMs.

Our Review team recommends the systematic collection of data with a view to measuring the impact of the proposed EMM. Metrics for the continuous evaluation of the model should include:

           Total number of At-Large Members in each region.

           Total number of active ALMs in each region.

           Number of ALMs active in ICANN WGs and policy advice work.

           Number of ALMs active in “Outreach and Engagement” work.

           Number of ALM participants in At-Large meetings (Regular ICANN meetings).

           Number of ALM participants in At-Large regional meetings (Rotating Regional ATLAS).

           The results of policy advice work (quantity not necessarily metric of success).

           Number of “Outreach and Engagement” activities organised in each region.

The regular collection of data is essential for assessing the impact of the EMM in the short, medium and long-term. We would recommend that data is collected by ICANN Support Staff

across all working groups in cooperation with RALO leaders using consistent criteria across all regions.

This information will allow the At-Large Community and future Reviewers to assess the impact of the measures we propose against a clear set of benchmarks, and be used as the basis for a review of strategic priorities.

 

Recommendation # 16: ALAC should adopt a set of metrics that are consistent for the entire At-Large Community to measure the implementation and impact of the EMM and track the continuous improvement in the performance of the At-Large Community.

 

Rec. # 16: Response to Public Comment

There is strong Community support for this recommendation.

 

 

 

Review of the At-Large Community

 

PART II

 

Outcomes and analysis of the 2008 ALAC Review

 

 

 


 

14.                Outcomes of the 1st ALAC Review (2008)

The first independent review of the ALAC was conducted by Westlake Consulting Ltd. between February and July 2008 [22] . The final report was submitted to the ICANN Board of Directors on 28 July 2008. The report contained 24 recommendations (see table below).

14.1.                               Notable outcomes

  1.                 Establishment of ICANN Academy (2012)

First proposed by a Work Team within the At-Large Improvements Implementation Project, in 2010, the establishment of an ICANN Academy can be seen as a direct result of the Westlake Review in 2008. The ICANN Academy, consisting of a 20-hour lecture programme for newly-appointed ICANN leaders, derives many of its features from the International Summer Schools on Internet Governance which are themselves seen as successful At-Large initiatives. The ICANN Academy is intended to build on and adapt the Summer School model “in order to meet ICANN’s current and future needs”. We also note that the Academy now includes a new course on Chair Facilitation Skills Development.

  1.                 International Summer Schools on Internet Governance

The first Summer School on Internet Governance was organised by the University of Meissen, Germany, in July 2007. It was set up in the wake of a UN report which highlighted the absence of academic research and training on Internet Governance. This and subsequent schools, set up on a similar model, have become an important extension of the At-Large Community. They serve to identify and train newcomers to the world of ICANN, many of whom have gone on to become active members of the community.

  1.                 Annual and multi-annual budgeting of At-Large activities

Since 2013, ICANN publishes annual and multi-annual budgets that specify allocations for the At-Large Community. This positive development is a direct outcome of a Westlake recommendation and an important step forward in terms of planning of At-Large activities and financial transparency. In particular the process of multi-year budgeting has made it easier to plan ahead regarding the organisation of RALO General Assemblies and ATLAS Summits. We note in this regard the the ICANN CFO, Xavier Calvez, makes regular presentations, during ICANN meetings, on aspects of ICANN operating budget that concern At-Large, and that the At-Large Community duly provides a formal written statements following the publication of Operating Plans and Budgets

  1.                 Creation of At-Large seat on the ICANN Board of Directors

Although the previous reviewers did not specifically recommend the creation of an At-Large member of the Board of Directors, this was an eventual outcome which came into effect in 2012.


 

14.2.                               Review process & recommendations

Westlake Consulting’s recommendations were given an initial evaluation by a specially convened Board Governance Committee ALAC Review which published its final report in January 2009. We summarise their conclusions in the right hand column below.

Table 31.          Westlake Consulting Ldt. Review Recommendations

Westlake recommendations

BGC ALAC Review  WG evaluation [23]

WLC Rec # 1: That the number of NomCom appointees to the ALAC should be increased from five to seven, and that this structure should specifically be revisited at the next triennial review taking account of the then existing Geographic Regional Structure of ICANN

Rejected

WLC Rec # 2: That all members of the ALAC (and, ideally, of the RALOs) should be given clear position descriptions.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 3: That the current distribution of the RALOs be left unaltered until at least the next ALAC review.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 4: That ICANN should implement an activity-based costing system in order to improve resource management.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 5: That ICANN should provide further resourcing to support the ALAC, to the extent of (up to) one new employee per region.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 6: That the ALAC Chair negotiate an annual support agreement with ICANN staff, setting out agreed expectations and performance indicators.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 7: The ALAC position on the Board should remain that of a Liaison, with rights to full participation and information, but no voting rights

Rejected

WLC Rec # 8: That the term of appointment of the Board and other Liaisons be extended to two years, subject to the ALAC retaining the 'right of recall' under the Rules of Procedure, Rule 11 Recall Votes.

Rejected

WLC Rec # 9: That ICANN staff should create a brief and multi lingual guide to ICANN and the ALAC, aimed at individual Internet users and ALSs

Accepted

WLC Rec # 10: That the ALAC should develop:

-           A simple annual Statement of Intent which specifies the current issues and priorities, objectives and activities for the next 12 months, and defines measures of success for each of the activities and objectives. This document should be strongly aligned to ICANN’s Strategic and Operational Plans and be published on the ALAC website;

-           Before the next ICANN annual planning cycle, the ALAC should develop a Strategic Plan of its own (complementing the broader ICANN Strategic Plan).

-           Following the development of this Strategic Plan, the ALAC should then generate an annual Operating Plan which cites the activities and resources required to support the Strategic Plan during that year (also complementing the corresponding broader ICANN Strategic and Operating Plans and fitting the same planning cycle).

Accepted

WLC Rec # 11: That the term of appointment of the ALAC Chair should be extended to two years.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 12: That the ALAC should explore ways to differentiate between organizations that genuinely represent individual Internet users, and are therefore ALS candidates, as opposed to those which may be a better fit with the NCUC

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 13: That the ALAC should publish on its website trends in the average time taken from receipt of an ALS application to decision.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 14: That regular ALS compliance reviews be conducted and the non compliance provisions be applied as appropriate.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 15: That ICANN should develop clear sanctions for non compliance. These might include: ineligibility for ICANN travel funding; loss of voting rights; or being suspended until the matter is remedied.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 16: That any outstanding issues relating to Ombudsman reports 05

1090 and 06 317, should be dealt with as soon as possible by the ICANN Board or the ALAC (as appropriate).

Rejected

WLC Rec # 17: That the ALAC should develop a clearly defined process for the engagement of the At Large community in developing policy positions.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 18: That the ALAC should use multi lingual wikis rather than the current email lists to allow the At Large community to more easily observe and participate in the development of policy positi

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 19: That ICANN should increase the public comment period to 45 calendar days in order to allow a greater time period for At Large community consultation in all regions

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 20: That the ICANN Board should amend the Travel Policy to pay for accommodation expenses (including breakfast and internet access fees) and where practicable accommodate At large members at or very near the main conference venue. The per diem amount (to cover other appropriate daily expenses) should also be available as a cash advance for those that require it.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 21: That private email lists should be used only for appropriate non

public discussion.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 22: That ICANN should continue to work on its language policy, including translation and other services.

Accepted

WLC Rec # 23: That ICANN staff should manage and maintain content of the various ALAC wikis.

Partially accepted

WLC Rec # 24: That the ALAC should replace email lists with wikis for policy discussions in particular and continue the evaluation of Web based tools to facilitate discussion and collaborative working.

Partially accepted

 

14.3.                               ​ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC improvements

On receipt the initial BGC ALAC Review Working Group’s final report [24] , it is our understanding that the recently formed Structural Improvements Committee (SIC),  deemed the Westlakes recommendations to be “un-implementable” [25] .

As a result a new ALAC Review Working Group was formed, tasked according to its charter, to “ensure that the evaluator's final report (independent review) contains the data and information needed to conduct the work of the BGC and the WG, and (primarily) to advise the BGC on whether any change is needed for At-Large”.

This Review WG undertook to conduct a separate process resembling, in our opinion,  a ‘review of the review’ in order to formulate a new set of recommendations that could be more readily implemented.

On 9 June 2009, the ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC improvements published its final report [26] . This report contained 13 recommendations which were intended, in effect, to supercede Westlake’s 24 recommendations. These are summarised in Table12 below.

 


Table 32.          Westlake Review: WG Recommendations

ALAC Review WG Recommendations

Correspondence with Westlake Review

(ITEMS opinion)

Implementation status

(according to At-Large implementation team) [27]

WG Rec # 1: The ALAC has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure. This continuing purpose has four key elements:

           providing advice on policy;

           providing input into ICANN operations and structure;

           part of ICANN’s accountability mechanisms

           an organising mechanism for some of ICANN’s outreach

The section of the ICANN Bylaws that deals with ALAC should be changed to reflect this purpose.

None

Completed

WG Rec # 2: At-Large should be allocated two voting seats on the ICANN Board

Profound modification of WLC
Rec # 7

Completed

WG Rec # 3: The ALAC RALO ALS structure should remain in place for now

Modification of WLC
Rec # 3

Completed

WG Rec # 4: Educating and engaging the ALSs should be an immediate priority; compliance should be a longer term goal.

Merging and significant modification of WLC Recs #
14, 15 & 17

Completed

WG Rec # 5: ALAC should develop strategic and operational plans (including performance criteria and cost information) as part of ICANN’s planning process.

Merging and simplification  of WLC
Recs # 4, 6 & 10

Completed

WG Rec # 6: More effort needs to be put into developing accurate cost models for At-Large activity.

Profound modification of WLC
Rec # 20

Completed

WG Rec # 7: ALAC should be encouraged to make its own choice of tools for collaborative work              

  Merging and significant simplification of WLC Recs #
18, 21, 23 & 24

Completed

WG Rec # 8: The public comment period should be kept at 30 days except in special circumstances, in which case ALAC may request an extension to 45 days              

Significant modification of WLC
Rec # 19

Completed

WG Rec # 9: ICANN should strengthen its translation and interpretation processes.

Acceptance  of WLC
Rec # 22

Completed

WG Rec # 10: ALAC as the representative body for At-Large is the primary organisational home for the voice and concerns of the individual Internet user in ICANN processes, although ICANN’s multi stakeholder model provides opportunity for individual users to choose to participate in many other ways in the ICANN process.

This is not a recommendation. Vague connection with  WLC
Rec # 12

Completed

WG Rec # 11: The WG suggests that there needs to be a clear statement from the Board that recognises the place of At-Large as the primary organisational home for individual Internet users, and that clarifies the relationship between ALAC and the User House currently being developed within the GNSO

Modification of  WLC
Rec # 12

Completed

WG Rec # 12: ICANN should develop a mechanism for allowing the voice of those recognised bodies who represent consumer interests to be heard at critical points in key decisions and to provide input into policy processes.

None

Completed

WG Rec # 13: As the provision of advice on policy is part of ALAC’s purpose, ALAC should strive to provide policy advice on any issues that affect individual Internet users. Processes for providing advice on policy should be strengthened within ALAC for the development of policy advice, within SOs for requesting input from ALAC on policy issues and from SOs, ACs and the Board to provide feedback on how ALAC advice has been used.

None

Completed

 

14.4.                               ​Independent Review of the ICANN Board, BGC

The most consequential modification of Westlake’s initial recommendations concerns the creation of an At-Large voting Board member, something they clearly never recommended.

We note that a concurrent independent Review of the ICANN Board of Directors carried out by the Boston Consulting Group, and submitted in November 2008, confirmed the ALAC WG’s recommendation to “provide ALAC with the right to nominate one or two voting Board members”. [28]

We note that no corresponding recommendations were made by the Working Group regarding four Westlake recommendations, even though it would appear that they were initially given a favourable appraisal in by ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC Improvements (Final report, Jan 2009) [29] . These are:

           WLC Rec # 5 concerning the ICANN resourcing to support the ALAC

           WLC Rec # 9 concerning the creation of a multilingual guide to ICANN and the ALAC

           WLC Rec # 11 concerning the term of appointment of the ALAC Chair

           WLC Rec # 16 concerning outstanding issues relating to the Ombudsman

Yet, in the case of WLC Rec # 11 concerning the term of appointment of the ALAC Chair, this came into effect with an update to the Bylaws in 2012. This reform was implemented even though it was not listed as one of the recommendations of the Review Working Party.

This would suggest the absence of a systematic approach regarding the elaboration of a definitive set of recommendations. In the case of WLC Rec # 11 it was maintained and even implemented without having been shortlisted by the Review Working Party.

It would also suggest that the At-Large Community reserves the right to fundamentally reinterpret Review recommendations, ignore others, and implement variants or recommendations in a way that best suits the Community.

In the case of WLC Recs # 2, 5, 9 & 16 they were dropped for no obvious reason that we have been able to determine, even though they had initially received a favourable appraisal.

14.5.                               ​Analysis: Impact of Westlake recommendations

In their final report, the authors of the ALAC/At-Large Improvements Implementation Project established that all 13 improvement implementations had been 100% completed.

We have been able to verify that this is, indeed, the case.

Even though we have significant concerns about the process that was followed for the previous Review process, we acknowledge that the reforms that resulted from it were needed, and that they have had a certain beneficial effect for the At-Large Community.

Rec # 1: ICANN Bylaws

The amending of ICANN Bylaws regarding the At-Large Community has resulted in clarifications, notably regarding the role of Liaisons. It has led to a clarification of the role and mission of At-Large as the “primary organizational home for individual internet users”. It has put greater emphasis on the “important role” that the ALAC has to play in ICANN’s accountability mechanisms.It has given At-Large a more clearly defined mission to engage in educational programmes aimed at ALSes in coordination with other parts of the ICANN system.

Rec # 2: Board Member

The creation of a voting Board Member was no doubt seen as a positive development for At-Large, and served to elevate the voice of end-users to the same level as the other Advisory Committees within the ICANN system.

However, as noted we have concerns about the the way in which successive At-Large staffed Working Groups were able to transform Westlakes’s original recommendation concerning a non-voting Liaison to the Board, into this very different (albeit better) reform.

The justification was explained as follows:

“Our report corrects a flaw in the Westlake report. That report contained a recommendation that the ALAC be permitted to designate two people who could observe and speak to the board but who would not have the rights, particularly voting rights, and duties of full board members. That recommendation was based on a presumption that presence of full board membership would deny the ALAC's choices freedom to consider the interests of the public. [30]

However, we believe this is justification for an unacceptable distortion of Westlake’s original recommendation, and we would not like to see any of the conclusions or recommendations resulting from the current review process treated in the same way.

Rec # 3: ALS / RALO Structure

It would appear that this recommendation was made in order to maintain the RALO / ALS structure on which the At-Large Community had been built in a manner which ensured that it “does not present obstacles to effective community operation and development”.

Rec # 4: ALS “Education & Engagement”

This recommendation was intended to improve the quality of information provided to ALSes. It would appear that it was made in response to a direct demand on the part of ALSes for better information about the role and function of At-Large and the opportunities for active engagement. It also sought to address the role play by ICANN support staff in the preparation and dissemination of information/pedagogical materials.

Whereas this recommendation is presented by At-Large as having been “implemented”. We have noted that a considerable number of  outreach and engagement efforts have been undertaken. However, we are of the view that further work should be done in this area. We shall return to the issue of outreach in our final report.

Furthermore, for the outsider looking in it is not clear whether it is staff or the community that is responsible for the provision of information. We have gathered that a large part of this recommendation concerned the role played by staff in “helping to develop material that explains policy issues in ways that makes sense to the individual end-user.

Rec # 5: ALAC strategic and operational plan

Although, as noted, this recommendation is announced as as having been “implemented” we have not found any evidence that the ALAC or wider At-Large Community has actually developed a formalised short, medium or long-term strategic and operational plan.

In October 2008 we note that the Board Governance Committee ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC Improvements recommended that: “ALAC should develop strategic and operational plans (including performance criteria and cost information, as part of ICANN’s planning processes)”, however, it is not clear that ALAC has followed through on this.

In 2014, ALAC did submit a statement on ICANN’s Vision, Mission and Focus Areas for a Five-Year Strategic Plan which concerns the At-Large Community. However, this does not amount, in our view, to the type of document that was envisaged by the original recommendation, the focus of which would be on At-Large Community.

Rec # 6: Cost Models

This important recommendation specifically called for more effort to be put into developing accurate cost models for At-Large activity. 

We note that the ALAC provides advice, on an annual basis, regarding ICANN Operating Plan & Budgets which cover all the constituencies within ICANN. We have also obtained from ICANN’s Chief Financial Officer detailed Travel Reports dating back to 2008. These have allowed us to conduct our own assessment of the main beneficiaries of travel funding within At-Large (see Table in Section 10). [31]

Information regarding the overall costs associated with At-Large can be obtained. However, these do not amount, in our view, to “cost models” in the sense normally used by many organisations in which they are commonly used for strategic and operational planning purposes. Cost Modelling is typically used as an aid to decision-making processes within organisations, notably regarding strategic planning, and is frequently factored into business plans, budgets, and other financial planning and tracking mechanisms.

Rec # 7: Communication tools

The At-Large Community uses a variety of Communication tools including Mailing Lists, Social Media (Twitter and Facebook). However, it would appear that there is a heavy reliance on English-language mailing lists which may be alienating for many in the global population of end-users. Moreover, although Twitter and Facebook are used as promotional platforms, these and other social media are not used to their full potential, e.g. to conduct global polls or other data collection exercises.

Rec # 8: Public Comment Period

Westlake initially recommended extending the Public Comment Period to 45 days. This was rejected by the BGC WG who proposed a counter-recommendation to maintain the Period at 30 days except in special circumstances, in which case the ALAC may request an extension to 45 days. We have been able to ascertain that this is the procedure that is, in fact, being followed by At-Large. However, so far we have not been able to verify if this has been formally established by the community as a rule of procedure. There is no mention of this provision in ICANN Bylaws or the “ALAC Rules of Procedure. [32]

Rec # 9: Translation and Interpretation services

We have been able to observe that key At-Large documents are regularly translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

Rec # 10: Home of individual Internet Users

We have been able to observe that key At-Large documents are regularly translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

Rec # 11: Board statement regarding Rec. 10

Noted.

Rec # 12: Input from Consumer Representatives

Not been able to verifiy.

Rec # 13: Policy Advice Mechanisms

We have been able to observe that a formalised policy advice mechanism has been put in place.                            

15.                Selected references

 

Bildt, Carl & At-Large Membership Study Committee (2001): Final Report on ICANN At-Large Membership

McLaughlin, A. ed. Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society (2003): The Virtues of Deliberative Policymaking: A Response to Public Participation in ICANN.

Mueller, Milton: MIT Press (2002) Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace.

Palfrey, J., ed. Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society (2004): The End of the Experiment: How ICANN’s Foray into Global Internet Democracy Failed.

Westlake Consulting Ltd. (2008): Independent Review of the At-Large Advisory Committee


 

16.                Annexes

16.1.                               Responses to Public Comments on the EMM

16.1.1.           Shift to individual membership and implications for existing ALSes

The implications of a transition from a structure (ALS) to an individual (ALM) based membership organisation was widely commented on; some fearing the uncertainty this may cause in terms of the numbers of individuals that get involved, and the associated risk of capture; others welcoming the opportunity to open up the organisation in a way that is intended to increase participation, and enhance overall accountability.

We have argued (and remain convinced) that efforts to recruit more end users into At-Large have been largely hampered by the requirement for members to join an ALS, and the excessively complex procedure for ALSes to become accredited in the first place. It is not easy, in the present situation, for individual end users to become involved in At-Large.

We acknowledge that a number of ALSes around the world have been involved in effective “outreach and engagement” activities in their regions, but we have also discovered that a significant number are completely inactive. Some ALSes are large which hundreds of members. Others are tiny with almost no members aside from the Chair. Yet all are empowered in exactly the same way. Representation is skewed and the At-Large Community as a whole is not benefiting.

On the implementation of the EMM existing ALSes will be required to inform their members that they can each now apply to be an ALM and how they can qualify for voting rights, and to be considered for a Rapporteur position. ALS members will have the right to go for ALM status or to remain part of a group represented by one individual ALM. The group will however have no advantage over a single member ALM.

The EMM has been designed to normalise and streamline access by individual end users, while maintaining a similar function for ALSes (ALMs that represent a membership-based grassroots organisation). This feature of the EMM is a cornerstone of the present Review.

16.1.2.           Merging of ALAC and RALO leadership roles

We understand the objection that some have to the merging of these two roles.  We feel that much of the objection is based on misunderstanding of the newly revamped role of RALO Leaders.  We anticipate the outreach and engagement role of RALO leaders will be largely delegated to other ALMs from the region.  The RALO leaders will play an overall coordinating role in terms of outreach in the region, but are not expected to do all the outreach events themselves.  With staff taking a greater role in helping ALMs/Liaisons/Rapporteurs drafting policy inputs, the elected ALAC will hopefully have a more focussed workload as well. 

16.1.3.           Use of random selection for appointment of At-Large leadership positions

Many comments have been made about the use of random selection in the EMM, and the effect this will have on election results. 

The EMM seeks to find a balance between voting rights and efficiency.  Random selection is used as a  method of selection for certain roles.  We heard a great deal of opposition to the use of randomness,, but the current selection method already contains a random selection method that may already play a role in who sits in Board seat 15.

16.1.4.           Strict term limits for At-Large leadership positions

Several commenters have pushed back on our recommendation to impose stricter term limits as a means of encouraging a faster turnover of At-Leadership positions. They argue that the problem for At-Large is not how to remove old-timers but rather how to encourage newcomers to come up the ranks and take their place. There are, they argue, very few volunteer candidates for most Leadership positions which partly explains the slow rate of turnover.

While we accept that it takes an unusual sort of person to take on the responsibilities of an At-Large Leadership position on a voluntary basis, we remain convinced that  an At-Large organisation that truly represents the interests of end users must be structured in such a way as to  allow for rapid mobility and accession to leadership positions. Stricter term limits are part of this.

Nonetheless, we fully acknowledge the need to maintain institutional knowledge and the experience of long-term members of the community. We have proposed the creatio n of a Council of Elders for this purpose.

We have also added a requirement that ALMs be active for 12 months before they are eligible to stand  for an ALAC seat.

16.1.5.           Perceived risk of capture

Several commenters referred to what they perceive as the potential risk of capture that the proposed Empowered Membership Model (EMM) presents. Their concerns are that the EMM bears certain conceptual similarities to the original model for At-Large engagement (2001), in which end-users had significant powers, including voting rights which they could use to influence elections to the ICANN Board of Directors. This resulted in what some have described as a failed experiment in Internet governance democracy [33] .

In our view   these concerns are misplaced. We have researched the earlier At-Large experiments in end user engagement and participation in electoral processes within ICANN, and taken into account the lessons learnt. The EMM has been specifically designed to reduce the barriers to engagement of end users in At-Large and wider ICANN processes while, at the same time, mitigating the risk of capture by any interest group, country or region.

Hence, while the At-Large organisation as a whole will be more open to individual end-users wishing to get involved, voting powers will only be given to members (ALMs) that can demonstrate active involvement in ICANN Working Group or Outreach activity over a minimum period.

16.1.6.           Appointment of Liaisons by the NomCom

As part of the EMM  model we recommend that the five ALAC  members appointed by the NomCom  should, in addition to their role as ALAC  members be  required to take on the role of Liaison to the five main ICANN groups that we have identified. constituencies. During the initial consultation with the RWP it was suggested that these candidates might not have sufficient experience to fulfil these influential Liaison roles.

We considered this point carefully and examined the current criteria used by NomCom  in the  selection process. These already make specific reference to the possible requirement for appointees to take on additional responsibilities, but we agree that they could usefully be expanded to accommodate the requirements of the EMM and have included this suggestion in our report.


 

16.2.                               FAQ: the function of ALSes in the EMM

Note: Submitted in response to Review Working Party questions, January 2017.

 

1) Will the EMM eliminate the current At-Large membership structure based on ALSes selected according to Board-approved criteria?

Yes and no. The main focus of the EMM is on active  membership. The current mechanism of participation in At-Large, based on ALS accreditation, will be replaced with a simpler “At-Large Membership” mechanism. This system is intended to streamline and simplify  individual end-user participation.  Within the EMM, members of ALSes will have the option of becoming individual ALM’s with only minor changes to the way in which they currently engage and interact within At-Large. The level of engagement will remain  up to the individual. Existing ALSes may choose to select a person to  represent them, however, in such cases that group would have the same voting rights as any other ALM. 

2) What will be the criteria for becoming an At-Large Member (ALM)?

Anyone with an interest in ICANN’s policy development remit, will be able to participate in At-Large policy advice processes as an ALM. The two channels for membership are: (1) joining an ICANN policy development WG, or (2) being active in RALO outreach .

3) Does the ALM mechanism build on the mechanisms already in place within certain RALOs to allow individual end-user participation?

Some RALO’s have introduced mechanisms to allow individual end user participation. We think this should become universal. There will no longer be complex criteria for individual membership. The EMM will introduce a simplified and uniform process for becoming an ALM.

4) In the EMM what is the difference between an individual ALM and an ALS that is made up of a group of people?

The only difference between an ALM and an ALS is that ALMs merely represent themselves as individual users whereas ALSes represent larger groups of end users. Otherwise individual ALMs and organisational ALMs (currently called ALSes) will have exactly the same rights of representation within the new At-Large.

5) What voting rights will ALMs have in RALO / ALAC elections?

ALMs that have participated in one or more ICANN WG groups for at least three months will be eligible to vote in RALO / ALAC elections In addition, ALMs who regularly participate in RALO outreach activities will also be eligible to vote in elections. 

6) What will the role of RALOs be in raising awareness about ICANN-related policy issues and channeling ALM input into At-Large policy advice processes?

As part of the EMM, RALO representatives will have two main responsibilities:   (1) to act as a conduit for end-user input into ICANN policy advice and policy development processes; and (2), to facilitate the wider ICANN outreach program by channelling appropriate information about the overall system to end users, whether or not they are formally part of At Large.

We envisage a significantly more active “two way street”, involving much more effective collaboration with both ICANN staff manning the existing Outreach Hubs, and other ICANN constituencies .  We set out these ambitions in Chapter 9 of our report and will revert to the subject in a later draft.

7) What opportunities will there be for ALMs to participate in ICANN WG activities?

Any ALM can participate as an individual in any ICANN WG. ALMs wishing to participate in the At-Large movement, and to be selected as a formal Rapporteur to the ALAC, should contact their RALO to register their interest.

8) How will the system of WG Rapporteurs work?

A WG Rapporteur is an ALM appointed to report to the ALAC on the work of his/her WG. ALMs having participated in a WG for more than three months will be eligible to volunteer for  appointment as a Rapporteur to one of the list of up to 10 ICANN WG’s selected by ALAC. This list of WGs will be regularly reviewed by the ALAC.

9) Which ALMs will be eligible to apply for travel funding to attend At-Large regional and/or global events?

Rapporteurs will be eligible for travel funding for up to three consecutive ICANN meetings. We have suggested an alternative model of annual regional ATLAS-like meetings. ALMs from the region involved can expect to be invited to these meetings subject to budgetary arrangements to be negotiated.

10) Will ALMs be eligible to apply for At-Large leadership roles?

Yes. Furthermore, if elected to a leadership position in their RALO they would be ALAC member.  As described above ALMs who have been active for 12 months can be eligible to run for the ALAC.

 

 


[1] This indication is based on the summary of Public Comments prepared by ICANN support staff.

[5] Source: At-Large Rules of Procedure: https://community.icann.org/display/atlarge/Obligations+and+Requirements+of+ALAC+Liaisons#

[6] We understand that negotiations are ongoing between EURALO and RIPE, and between LACRALO and LACNIC. Signature of the MoU between LACRALO and LACNIC has been delayed until the ongoing mediation process has been resolved.

 

[7] Unlike participants in other parts of the ICANN community, At-Large volunteers do not benefit from corporate sponsorship and/or various other forms of financial and fiscal advantages to become active members of the Community.

[8] We note that a new Member of ICANN Staff, Evin Erdoğdu, was appointed in January 2017 so the total would now appear to be 6.5.

[9] The issue of s taff neutrality issue can be relatively easily dealt with and has been successfully resolved elsewhere in ICANN – e.g. the GNSO

[10] Palfrey, John. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology (2004), The End of the Experiment: How ICANN’s Foray into Internet Democracy Failed. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:2643642  

[11] From At-Large website: How to get accredited as an ALS. https://atlarge.icann.org/get-involved/about-als

[12] Such end-user associations allow members to participate in regular At-Large activities but prevent members from becoming enfranchised. During elections each End-User Association (ALS) only has one vote.

[13] Although the At-Large Community is made up of a large number of ISOC Chapters, it is clear that many Chapters around the world decided not to become an ALS because their activities are not adequately reflected by At-Large. There may be various reasons for this including the fact that ISOC has a much wider mission than domain name identifiers and that adhering to At-Large as an ALS may be seen as a drain on a chapter's resources for a very small segment of Internet Governance. We have heard from senior ISOC representatives that many Chapters prefer not to apply as an ALS because of the drain on their resources. Many consider that domain names issues are of secondary importance to other issues such as net neutrality, connectivity, capacity building etc..

[14] Announcement from Rinala Abdul Rahim to the At-Large Community, 17 Nov. 2017: http://atlarge-lists.icann.org/pipermail/euro-discuss_atlarge-lists.icann.org/2016-November/004621.html

[16] Random selection or “sortition” is a mechanism for the random appointment of political officials that originates in  the Ancient Athenian democratic tradition. The rationale for using sortition is the idea that “power corrupts.” For this reason ancient Athenians often resorted to choosing political representatives by lot. The use of sortition was regarded as a principal characteristic of true democracy . The principles of sortition are used in many political administrations, and multilateral organisations, including in the Internet Governance ecosystem (e.g IETF).

[17] ICANN Bylaws, Section 7.3:  https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/governance/bylaws-en/#article7

[18] ICANN Bylaws, Section 7.3:  https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/governance/bylaws-en/#article7

[19] Boston Consulting Group (2008): Independent Review of the Board of ICANN https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/report-02nov08-en.pdf

[21] ICANN Learn website: http://learn.icann.org/

[22] Westlake Consulting Ltd’s  final report is published on the ICANN website at: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/summary-alac-independent-review-25jul08-en.pdf

[23] Final Report of the ALAC Working Group on ALAC Improvements, 28 Jan. 2009: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-report-alac-review-28jan09-en.pdf

[24] Following a Board resolution at the Lisbon meeting in March 2007, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) adopted a Working Group model to facilitate the review process. According to this Working Group’s charter, which was approved the Board,  ALAC Review WG was formed to ensure that “the evaluator's final report (independent review) contains the data and information needed to conduct the work of the BGC and the WG, and (primarily) to advise the BGC on whether any change is needed for At-Large.”

Large.  https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/midpoint-consultation-report-21oct08-en.pdf

[25] Comment made by ALAC Chair during open session to present interim findings of present review, during ICANN-57 Hyderabad.

[26] Final Report of the ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC improvements https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-report-alac-review-09jun09-en.pdf

[27] On 8 June 2012 the ALAC ratified the ALAC/At-Large Improvements Implementation Project: Final Report in which it was established that all 13 improvement implementations had been 100% completed.

 

[28] Boston Consulting Group (Nov. 2008) Independent Review of the ICANN Board Final Report. https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/report-02nov08-en.pdf

[29] https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-report-alac-review-28jan09-en.pdf

[30] Final Report of the ALAC Review Working Group on ALAC Improvements (9 Jun 2009): https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-report-alac-review-09jun09-en.pdf

[32] ALAC Rules of Procedure, Approved 30 June 2016: http://tinyurl.com/ALAC-RoP-2016-09  

[33] John Palfrey. 2004. The end of the experiment: How ICANN's foray into global internet democracy failed. Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 17(2): 409-473.