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Civil Society Statement - CSIF  
CivSoc of CPSR
    Civil Society Statement 
    on ICANN Elections

    Approved in Principle at the Yokohama Forum
    13 July 2000 in Yokohama Japan



Earlier draft

Yokohama Forum

The Civil Society Statement is also posted on the website of the 
Civil Society Internet Forum (CSIF)

"This draft document articulates a civil society perspective on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and identifies issues for the upcoming At Large elections.

Civil society is a third sector of society alongside the state and the market. The values underlying civil society include freedom of association, freedom of expression, participatory democracy, and respect for diversity.  A vigorous civil society is an important counter-balance to government and business.  The growing global integration of markets and coordination of governments creates the need for a corresponding global civil society.

Technical coordination of the Internet’s core resources has unavoidable social, economic, and political consequences.  The At Large elections present a welcome opportunity to achieve balance on ICANN’s governing Board and to promote democratic governance of Internet technical coordination.

 *  *  *  *  *

This document is the product of individuals and organizations from around the world.  The secretariat for this document is Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) working in the Internet Democracy Project.  The document is published at:

Guiding Values

1. ICANN must be representative.
   (Principle 4 of the White Paper.)

2. ICANN must be transparent.
   (Article III of Bylaws.)

3. ICANN must use bottom-up processes.
   (Article 3 of White Paper).

4. Intellectual property rights should not be privileged over other rights.

5. ICANN should strive at all times to minimize or avoid policy-making on non-technical topics.

6. The domain name space is a globally-shared public good with public and private functions.

7. Artificial scarcity in domain names and centralization in DNS administration should be avoided.

8. ICANN should respect privacy.

9. Costs should be minimal and equitable.

Issues in the ICANN Elections

1. ICANN must be representative.

ICANN currently suffers from a democracy deficit. Since its creation in 1998 and continuing to the present, the commercial sector has had disproportionate representation. Five of seven constituencies in the DNSO are commercial in nature. At Large directors have not yet been elected, and all nine of them will not be elected before 2001.

  • All nine At-Large Board seats should be filled by election, in accordance with the ICANN bylaws.
  • Any policies passed by a Board that is not fully representative should be subject to an annual vote of reauthorization (“sunset provision”).
  • ICANN should embrace the membership provisions of its bylaws. Election procedures should be made more open, barriers to candidacy reduced, and full rights of membership should be recognized. Provisions that attempt to weaken the legal rights of members should be removed from the by-laws (e.g. Bylaws Article II.1: [Members] shall not be members as defined in the [relevant law of non-profit corporations.]”)
  • Internet users in many developing countries have Email but not web access. ICANN membership should be possible (and easy) with just an Email connection.
  • The Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) should restructure its constituencies to reduce the disproportionate representation given to business and intellectual property interests.
  • The Board should encourage the addition of new constituencies to the DNSO in order to provide balance.
  • The DNSO should incorporate an Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency.
  • Membership rules of constituencies should ensure some minimum representation of developing countries (e.g. 10%).

2. ICANN must be transparent.

Information-sharing should be maximized before, during, and after all ICANN decisions.

  • ICANN should make available records of the process of all decisions, except those pertaining to personnel or to the negotiation of contracts.  Confidential salary data should be available in aggregate form.
  • The cash flow structure of ICANN should be made public, consistent with the highest standards of auditing.
  • ICANN should accompany its decisions with a written explanation of how the action fits within its scope and how the decision was created by a transparent process  based on the consent of a majority of participants.
  • ICANN should provide translations in at least five languages of all information it has produced for the public domain.  It should provide simultaneous translations in meetings and real time minutes.

3. ICANN must use bottom-up processes.

ICANN is in danger of becoming an organization whose policies and practices are determined by its staff. ICANN needs to rededicate itself to its original conception as a decentralized, bottom-up organization.

  • Consistent with practices in other rule-making bodies, ICANN procedures should allow adequate time for diffusion and commentary of proposed decisions.
  • ICANN staff should scrupulously respect all procedural safeguards, checks, and balances.
  • Consistent with practices of non-profit management and in order to maximize democratic accountability, the Board seat reserved for ICANN’s President should be eliminated.
  • The ICANN Board should not select a new President until after the first round of At Large elections.
  • No person or entity that played an active role in the creation of ICANN should obtain benefit from ICANN or be a party to a contract with ICANN until 24 months have elapsed after that role has ceased.
4. Intellectual property rights should not be privileged over other rights.

U.S. policy on DNS has been predominantly oriented towards commerce. Internet policy principles were drawn from the “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce” (July 1, 1997), and the lead U.S. agency has been the Department of Commerce.  However, Internet policy should be equally guided by other relevant principles, such as that of the European Convention on Human Rights(“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression” -- Article 10.)  DNS-related policy made by ICANN and/or the U.S. government should not favor property rights over other rights.

  • Technical coordination should not be leveraged to expand the scope of intellectual property rights (IPR).
  • When technical coordination unavoidably intersects public policy areas, ICANN should be equally mindful of rights, laws, and norms protecting free expression, privacy, the public domain, and noncommercial use.
  • Following the At Large elections, the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) passed in 1999 should be evaluated and put up for a vote of reauthorization.

5. ICANN should strive at all times to minimize or avoid policy-making on non-technical topics.

The power over Internet users inherent in DNS administration should not be used to make public policy.

  • ICANN’s bylaws should explicitly recognize limitations on its powers in order to guard against expansion of mission ("mission creep").
  • IP address management and DNS root server management need not be combined in the same organization.  Separating these functions in two organizations would help decentralize authority.
  • ICANN must not be used as an instrument to promote policies relating to conduct or content on the Internet.

6. The domain name space is a globally-shared public good with public and private functions.

The assertion that “the [domain] name space is a public resource” (by ICANN’s Governmental  Advisory Committee) provides a basis for excessive state control. Likewise, the natural monopoly model of country code TLD (ccTLD) registries creates an opportunity for excessive control.

  • Assertions of governmental control over zones in the domain name space need explicit justification.
  • Public resources in the domain name space need not be under the control of national governments.
  • Multiple, parallel, and possibly overlapping TLDs registries for supra-national, national, sub-national, regional, cultural, linguistic, and other social and political groupings should not be excluded from the root. This is the basis of a vibrant civil society.

7. Artificial scarcity and centralization should be avoided.

Control points and artificial scarcity in DNS create barriers to Internet access and foster regulation of users.

  • The single DNS root leads to excessive administrative centralization. ICANN should support the evolutionary development of the DNS away from a centralized architecture.
  • ICANN should encourage the interconnection of the DNS with alternate name spaces (conditional upon equitable terms of access.)
  • Scarcity in domain names creates opportunities for control. Expansion of the domain name space through the creation of new TLD registries should be ICANN’s highest priority.
  • Expansion of the Internet domain name space should be as unconstrained as is technically feasible.  Expansion through decentralization of the root and growth in top level domains is especially desirable.
  • The use of domain names as a marketing device to index content creates excessive value in domain names and creates disincentives to innovation. The technical evolution of DNS should not be unduly inhibited by its use as a marketing technology by commercial users.
  • Technical changes proposed above should not endanger the technical stability of the Internet.

8. ICANN must respect privacy.

  • ICANN's policies and internal procedures should adhere to Fair Information Practices, based on the OECD Privacy Guidelines (see
  • ICANN's policies for domain name and address management should not discourage the adoption of genuine privacy enhancing techniques or undermine the right of anonymity.
  • Member voting should be by secret ballot.

9. Costs should be minimal and equitable.

Similar services delivered in different parts of the world can have different cash values.   Likewise, users’ ability to pay can vary dramatically.

  • ICANN’s costs should be distributed in a manner that corresponds to the costs caused by different users. Many costs have arisen from the high priority given by ICANN’s Board to address the concerns of commercial Internet users.  Costs assessed to those users should reflect this.
  • ICANN should at all times strive to minimize costs.  For example, rather than holding Board meetings in first class business facilities, ICANN should use facilities more typical of non-profit organizations.
  • Independent audits of ICANN should employ the highest standard of evaluation from those available for non-profit, private, or government organizations."


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