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At ICANN’s 45th international meeting in Toronto in October 2012, ICANN’s Intellectual Property and Business Constituencies sent a letter to ICANN to request that additional changes be made to the policies for new top-level domain names. Despite the fact that the current policy had been long finalized via a painstakingly arduous consensus process in which all stakeholders compromised and ultimately reached unanimous agreement, nonetheless the IPC and BC sent a letter to Fadi Chehade, the new CEO, and the ICANN Board of Directors with 8-points for consideration and policy modification. Many of these points were the same requests the intellectual property/ business community has made before. Unfortunately, the key aspects of most of the 8-points sought to ...
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ICANN organized a meeting on 15-16 November 2012 in Los Angeles, the Trademark Clearinghouse policy negotiations, to consider the 8-point policy requests sent by the Intellectual Property and Business Constituencies to the ICANN board and senior staff at the October 2012 Toronto ICANN meeting. I participated in the LA policy meeting on behalf of noncommercial users and below is my personal evaluation of the meeting and initial reactions to the output of the meeting...
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* NCSG is concerned by proposals from the IPC and BC to change consensus policy and re-open previously settled policy matters on Rights Protection Mechanisms for new tlds. * The proposal under discussion does not reflect the hard-won balance found in the current consensus policy, nor the traditional limitations that exist in trademark law. * The proposal removes matters from the negotiated RAA and registry agreements into a vague 'backdoor process', and binds ICANN to unlimited compliance obligations. * Both the substance of the proposals and the manner of presenting it directly to ICANN without a proper policy process undermine our shared desire to create a truly ...
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European privacy authority, the Article 29 Working Party, asks ICANN to hear from privacy officials in the course of its policy development process. Presently, ICANN only hears from law enforcement agencies and thus lacks the balanced input required for governance.
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Cyber-Security Expert Ron Deibert and new ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade Address Non-Commercial Users Policy Conference on Eve of ICANN #45 - Public interest groups involved in ICANN will gather for the event, "ICANN & Internet Governance: Security & Freedom in a Connected World" on Friday 12 October at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada. Sponsored by the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), the voice of civil society in ICANN, the policy conference will focus on key ICANN policy issues like the need to promote both cyber-security and human rights in the development of global Internet policies. The event kicks-off with a morning address from cyber-security expert Ron Deibert, Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies ...
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The comment was filed in response to requests from the International Olympic Committee and Red Cross groups who have asked ICANN to grant them the exclusive right to use in domain names several hundred words that these groups claim are their "exclusive property". Despite their grossly exaggerated legal claims and overblown fears, these groups lobbied the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) at ICANN to put pressure upon the ICANN Board and GNSO Policy Council to create such unprecedented rights over the use of words in domain names...
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NCUC's letter requests that privacy experts and officers review and consider the privacy impacts of ICANN's new contracts – in particular the summary of the negotiating team’s responses to law enforcement demands for collecting and providing personal information about Internet users.
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Today I write to express my personal disappointment with the way ICANN has mis-handled this request for special rights to prohibit the use of certain words in domain names which are desired by politically powerful, but ultimately arbitrary, interests. Unfortunately, this case represents another clear example of ICANN departing from its own established policies and stated principles of bottom-up governance to demonstrate that it is not quite ready to be a legitimate global governance institution that can be trusted to manage the security and stability of the domain name system in the public interest...
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ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) today sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives to express concern over the harmful impact from proposed legislation in the US Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The House Judiciary Committee will likely vote on SOPA tomorrow, and if it passes there and moves to the full US House for approval, the US Congress will take the Internet a significant step backwards, ushering in a new "digital dark ages" of Internet censorship.
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Forty-five civil society groups concerned about efforts to ratchet-up the enforcement of intellectual property rights beyond healthy levels sent a letter to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) this week to their express concern on WIPO's continued promotion of a "maximalist" agenda with respect to intellectual property rights. The civil society letter reminded WIPO that this approach undermine's development dimensions and subordinates fundamental rights including freedom of expression on the Internet. The public interest groups cite the lack of transparency in WIPO decisions and its lack of balancing other public interest concerns in its approach.
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The European Union's highest court issued a key legal ruling overturning a Belgian law that would have required Internet service providers to monitor all Internet traffic passing through their systems with the goal of protecting copyright holders' rights. In a closely watched case, the European Court of Justice struck down a Belgian court ruling from 2007 that forced ISPs to monitor their customer's Internet usage and prevent any unauthorized file-sharing. The European Court of Justice ruling is significant because it upholds fundamental human rights such as privacy and the right to receive and impart information against the consistent ratcheting up of intellectual property rights and enforcement mechanisms at the national level. The high court recognized that a fair balance must ...
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By Robin Gross (Published by APC) - ICANN occupies a unique role in that it manages a global public resource (the internet’s domain name addressing space), but it shares this responsibility between businesses, governments, and civil society participants from many nations. It represents a unique blend of “multi-stakeholderism” governance: the different parties that will be impacted participate in the decision-making process, and policies are determined based on consensus. This paper investigates ICANN’s processes, the role of civil society within decision-making, and highlights lessons learned from this multi-stakeholderism experiment as well as reccomendations for future similar initiatives...
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ICANN should bake-in to its internal policy development process, consideration of the various interests and stakeholders that can together reach what can be called the 'public interest'. Consider principles that we agree help us to achieve what we think is the 'public interest,' like openness and promoting freedom and making sure the Internet enables education, communication, innovation, exploration ...
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Statement in public forum regarding ICANN Board response to "scorecard" of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) on trademark protections for new generic top-level Internet domain names. The GAC is pressuring the ICANN Board to dramatically expand the rights of trademark owners after heavy lobbying by trademark industry of governmental representatives who participate at ICANN.
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IP Justice signed comments from a number of San Francisco civil liberties organizations concerned about the draconian new proposal to turn local SF arts organizations into surveillance mechanisms for law enforcement. This proposal harms civil liberties like free expression and privacy and it will harm the local arts communities who will be forced to spy on their patrons if enacted. The comments are from PrivacyActivism, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, IP Justice, Patient Privacy Rights, the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Chip Pitts of Stanford Law School, Beat the Chip, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee
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"Unfortunately ICANN’s lack of commitment to internationally recognized fundamental rights and freedoms threatens the healthy growth of the DNS and the global public interest. ICANN’s structure must be rooted in a firm foundation and a legally enforceable obligation to uphold basic rights. Today more than ever, we see the promise and the power of a free and open Internet to empower citizens and strengthen democracies. And we recognize the critical need to ensure the Internet remains an engine of human progress and freedom. Respect for human rights in the policies governing the DNS is critical to furthering the global public interest..."
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The Internet Governance Project has published a very important petition against a governmental power-grab over of the Internet's Domain Name System. Governments are pushing ICANN for a "veto" right to prevent any top-level domain "for any reason". Sign the petition to support multi-stakeholder bottom-up consensus policy at ICANN instead.
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IP Justice submitted brief comments today to ICANN regarding its plan for introducing new Top-Level Domains (TLDs). Specifically, IP Justice raised concerns about policy proposals that threaten freedom of expression on the Internet and seek to expand ICANN's mission to include ensuring "Morality and Public Order" (MAPO) and preventing "terrorism" through personal background checks. IP Justice believes both of these ICANN proposals are mis-guided and will harm the healthy development of the Internet and the global public interest.
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IP Justice is deeply concerned that ICANN is insufficiently accountable to relevant non-commercial interests. Certain interests, such as business interests (in particular the trademark and domain name industries) are over-represented at ICANN both in structure and in practice. On the other hand, non-commercial interests and individual Internet users are not given the appropriate representation, although some improvements have been made in recent years. There is a real worry that ICANN is an "industry organization" and works predominantly for trademark interests and the domain name industry. Too often non-commercial concerns are ignored by ICANN; without any real "muscle" behind non-commercial interests, ICANN has little incentive to protect those interests in its policy development process...
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The full consolidated text of the ACTA agreement, dated July 1st 2010 from the Luzern round of negotiations, including the name of the negotiating parties along with their positions. Sourced from the civil liberties committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament.
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A gathering of over 90 legal academics, practitioners, and public interest organizations from 6 continents met at American University Washington College of Law last week to draft an Urgent Communique concerning the public interest aspects of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The international experts found that ACTA is a deeply flawed proposal created by a deeply flawed process that threatens to undermine fundamental freedoms at the global level. IP Justice participated in the meeting and endorsed the Urgent Communique, which was signed by ......
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Please consider endorsing the International Civil Society Declaration, which was the result of a meeting in Washington, DC (16-18 June 2010) of over 90 academics from 5 continents, public interest organizations and other legal experts concerned with the public interest aspects of ACTA. ACTA is a dangerous proposal to radically expand intellectual property rights at the global level. The draft agreement has been negotiated in secret, without inclusion of developing nation perspectives, and without any participation from civil society or regard for the global public interest. ACTA specifically targets the Internet and regulates the flow of information in a digital environment. ACTA would create significant negative consequences for fundamental freedoms, access to medicines, innovation, the balance ...
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ICANN's transparency commitment demands the adoption of a principle of default openness for all Board communications except in those specific instances where it is over-ridden, in writing, by the principle of personal privacy or an explicit requirement of confidentiality. It is especially critical that policy matters and the contributions of supporting organizations and advisory committees be presented to the Board accurately and completely. While we appreciate the need for staff to summarize matters that are often complex, we must stress the importance of ensuring that these summaries accurately report the relevant facts and positions. Openness and public review will minimize inaccuracies, facilitating the role of staff while enhancing public confidence in the Board's decision-making process....
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IP Justice supports the swift adoption of the decision of the Independent Review Panel (IRP) by ICANN and the inclusion of the applied for .xxx domain name into the root. This IRP decision should not be, and cannot be, a referendum on pornography as some comments urge. This decision is only about ICANN's accountability mechanism - its means of correcting its past mistakes, and in particular its mishandling of the .xxx domain name application...
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The Copyright for Creativity Declaration embodies a new approach to European copyright - an approach where everyone benefits, innovation is fostered, creativity is incentivised and rewarded and access to the fruits of the European creative spirit is improved for all Europeans. IP Justice is proud to be among the original signatories to the Declaration and encourages others to consider signing the Declaration.
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United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report: Who's been naughty and who's been nice to US intellectual property interests (according to the USTR)? 2010 Country "Watch" Lists.
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After 2 years of secret negotiations and numerous complaints about the lack of transparency in the treaty drafting process, on 21 April 2010 the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) finally released a draft of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Most early fears about the draft treaty have been confirmed in the release...
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The proposed global treaty to address intellectual property rights in a digital environment spurs letters, petitions to US Obama Administration to open the process to public view. The public interest and the concerns of developing countries and small business have been left out of international treaty negotiation process to date providing a skewed proposal, a new leak has confirmed.
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Two international intellectual property policy groups IP Justice and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in the United States Supreme Court in the Bilski v. Kappos case dealing with software patents. The US Supreme Court's decision in this case is expected to be a landmark decision on the limits of patentability on abstract ideas....
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While many are dancing in the streets over today's decision by the US Government to loosen some of its ties to ICANN as its a single governmental authority, I'm not convinced this decision will change much on a practical level. The Affirmation of Commitments was signed today by ICANN and the US Government to replace the Joint Project Agreement, and expand oversight to a more international community. Unfortunately ICANN still lacks any framework for meaningful accountability to the public. And recent efforts seem to indicate noncommercial interests are being systematically squeezed out of ICANN, which is dominated by lobbyists from big business and special interests. Adding more governments to ICANN's accountability framework is good on ...
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I had a conversation recently with a person who had been actively engaged at ICANN in its early days but became disillusioned and disengaged after a few years because his participation lead him to the conclusion that ICANN staff manage the organization's board of directors and the "community" via the GNSO and the At-Large Advisory Committee. He said the staff intentionally worked to stir up divisiveness between community participants in order to justify adopting the staff's own agenda. Before I even had the opportunity to say my first word about my own experience with participating at ICANN, this person who hadn't even been at ICANN in nearly 10 years spoke my thoughts and described my own experience about ...
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The organization that represents Non-Commercial Internet Users in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) issued an open letter to the Board this week, expressing concern about the possible failure of ICANN's attempt to balance the representation of commercial and noncommercial interests.
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GNSO Chair Avri Doria joined ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) to support civil society at ICANN in its struggle for a stakeholder group charter that is drafted in a bottom-up fashion and considers the needs of noncommercial users of the Internet. Although not a card-carrying member of NCUC before now, Doria had been a long time supporter of civil society at ICANN with strong ties to noncommercial users and individual Internet users. Doria had been appointed to serve three terms on the GNSO Council from ICANN's Nominating Committee (first was a partial term) and she was elected to Chair the GNSO Council thrice..."
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ICANN Staff and the commercial constituencies at ICANN have been busy spreading mis-information about civil society participation at ICANN - largely to keep civil society and noncommercial interests marginalized. For example, ICANN is not allowing the noncommercial users to elect their representatives on the GNSO Policy Council and will instead "appoint" representatives, unlike all the other constituencies at ICANN. Here are a few of the top myths spread about civil society at ICANN and the truth about these myths.
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This letter comes from nearly 150 individual and organizational members of ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC). It is also endorsed by public interest groups outside of NCUC. We are all deeply concerned about the July 30, 2009 ICANN Board decisions regarding the restructuring of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). We believe that the Noncommercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) chartering process has been seriously flawed on both procedural and substantive grounds. We appeal to you to address these problems before permanent damage is done to ICANN’s reputation, to the GNSO reform process, and to the interests of noncommercial users of the Internet....
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Public comments on stakeholder group charters are in - again. Comments submitted to ICANN were overwhelmingly in favor of reinstating the consensus charter submitted by noncommercial users. The Internet Governance Project asks "Is ICANN Listening?" to civil society yet.
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Longtime ICANN participant Harold Feld's amusing tale of Scooby Doo and the Mystery Crew go to ICANN. "...recycling the same tired plot line of ICANN staff and Business & IP constituencies trying to limit the ability of the Non-commercial User Constituency (NCUC) to “cause trouble” — especially those meddling civil society do-gooders Milton Mueller and Robin Gross. Season after season, we get to see the same accusations that NCUC is “divisive,” or “not representative” or other code words for “Goddam it! Get those $#@! civil society groups out of our club house!!!!”...."
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The public is invited to send an email to ICANN on the subject of the injustices of the draft charters proposed for the noncommercial and commercial stakeholder groups in the new GNSO. ICANN will accept public comment on the subject until 23 July. Send a comment to ICANN by sending an email to email@example.com.
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Public Interest Organizations Thank US Senators Lieberman and Cornyn for Sponsoring Bill to Improve Public Access to Research Funded By Tax-Payers. IP Justice, Knowledge Ecology International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, OXFAM, Essential Action, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, are part of a broad coalition of groups ....
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"Icann is full of people who work for corporations and think that Icann should be run like one. When I try to remind people that it is a not-for-profit public benefit organisation, they look at me like I am mad. Icann is dominated by commercial stakeholder groups" said Robin Gross, a cyberspace rights lawyer, and executive director of IP Justice, an international civil liberties organisation. "In Iran the protesters were able to communicate with the outside world because of proxy servers that allowed them to remain anonymous. But there are working groups within Icann working to prevent anonymous proxy servers because they might interfere with trademarks."
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The message is clear. ICANN has forgotten who it works for - us - Internet users - including noncommercial users. Now is the time to remind ICANN that it must be accountable to the global public interest or it has no business in Internet governance. Tell ICANN to listen to noncommercial users and not to impose the stranglehold charter on noncommercial users against our will. Thomas Jefferson noted that the exercise of political power without the consent of the governed is illegitimate. ICANN's attempt to impose a governance structure on noncommercial users against our will calls into question ICANN's legitimacy to govern; it undermines confidence in ICANN's commitment to democratic values; and it ...
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IP Justice submitted comments today in opposition to the proposals contained in the "IRT Report" a proposal from ICANN's Intellectual Property Constituency to create new trademark rights to domain names that do not exist in law. ICANN's Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) also filed comments with ICANN discussing thesubstantive problems with the proposal and also the procedural concerns, which led to the creation of a one-sided report....
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Dozens of civil society organizations from all corners of the globe signed a statement submitted to ICANN's Public Forum supporting the proposal to form a Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) from the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC). Supporters of NCUC's petition include non-commercial organizations such as Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, FreePress, European Digital Rights Initiative, ARTICLE 19, EPIC, Rits-Brazil, Alfa-Redi, Association for Progressive Communications, African Commons, Internet Society of Mauritius, UWI At-Large, ICT Consumers Association of Kenya, Knowledge Ecology International, Privacy International, Yale Law School Information Society Project, and dozens more...
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ICANN is accepting comments from the public on the proposed censorship constituency until 5 April 2009. SCO Group Chairman Ralph Yarro III, the ultra-conservative behind what Business Week dubbed "the most hated company in tech" (SCO) for stealing the computer code of thousands of Linux open source programmers is now behind efforts to flood ICANN with identical form letters encouraging the adoption of Yarro's "Cybersafety" Constituency during the Public Comment Period. The proposed "Cybersafety" Constituency claims to be concerned with "safety", but in reality is just a couple of anti-porn extremists in Yarro's flock who see ICANN as an opportunity for control of the flow of information on the Internet. The proposed constituency is run by CP80, ...
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The essential elements of this proposal are: Noncommercial stakeholders join the NCSG directly, and the NCSG keeps track of membership and administers voting for Council seats by the membership as a whole. The NCSG is administered by an annually elected Chair and a Policy Committee. The Policy Committee is composed of the 6 elected GNSO Councilors and one representative from each Constituency. There are three classes of membership: 1) large organizations (which receive 4 votes), small organizations (which receive 2 votes) and individuals (who receive 1 vote). Constituencies are formed as sub-units within the NCSG. We have deliberately made it relatively easy to form and join constituencies; at the same time we have de-linked Constituency formation from Council seats so ...
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Poster-Child Case for Fair Use or Illegal Art? The Associated Press is claiming that it is the copyright owner of a photograph of President Obama that was used by an Obama supporter to create to poster for the political campaign and the now-famous poster is a copyright infringement of its photo. However this case could be considered the "poster-child" case for fair use. It is unfortunate that the AP is trying to turn political expression into illegal art. But these facts would be a good opportunity to set some positive legal precedent protecting fair use of political expression should the AP pursue this matter in the courts. ..."
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CALL TO ACTION: Individuals and nonprofit organizations are invited to join ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) to become involved in Internet policy discussions. Protect privacy rights, free expression guarantees, and due process of law regarding Internet domain names by getting involved and joining NCUC today.