ATLAS

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The At-Large Summit (ATLAS) is a gathering of the representatives of individual Internet users participating in ICANN. There have been three ATLASes.

Overview

Goals; Obstacles; Achievements, evolution of atlas funding

Background

ATLAS I

ATLAS I was the first-ever gathering of the representatives of individual Internet users participating in ICANN. Organized as part of ICANN 34 in Mexico City, ATLAS I featured two general sessions for all participants as well as thematic sessions and workshops on issues led by At-Large Community members.[1]

Five Working Groups were formed to draft and finalize a Summit Declaration to the ICANN Board.[2] The subjects for the working groups were chosen via a survey of the entire At-Large Community between December 2008 and January 2009. The summit participants were assigned to the working group that they selected as of most interest to them, and then the groups were balanced regionally and according to language needs. All five working groups began collaborating in February 2009 in advance of the summit and met twice during ATLAS I to finalize their statements. The five topics were: 1) at-large engagement, 2) the future of ICANN, 3) New gTLDs including IDNs, 4) security issues within ICANN's mandate, and 4) transparency and accountability. The general sentiment was that 1) participation was poor; 2) the future of ICANN depended on safeguarding against capture, which was defined as unilateral decision-making and favoring vested interests; 3) there were unnecessary barriers to entry for a broad variety of gTLD applicants; 4) DNS security needed to be stricter; and 5) ICANN needed to be more transparent for Internet users who want to participate and needed to balance operator/business interest with ALAC/GAC. [3]

At-Large Engagement

Issue Recommendations
IDN POLICY
  1. Fund a timely public information campaign in collaboration with ALSes in the next budget
  2. ICANN should consult ALSes to reach communities and end-users
GNSO
  1. Cultivate specialists on GNSO issues in At-Large Community
LOCAL LEVEL
  1. A face-to-face At-Large meeting in each region every year to identify and discuss issues
  2. Gather community input in advance, using local radio or SMS
ICANN MEETINGS
  1. Professional remote participation systems (telephonic, chat interface, video streaming), especially for vision- and hearing-impaired users
  2. Provide opportunities for regional groups to meet on the horizontal level to feed back into the international level
  3. PDP must consider regional differences in views comprehensively
GLOBAL OUTREACH
  1. Differentiated approaches to manage and implement ICANN activities
  2. ALAC must engage early in SO PDP to reflect end-users
  3. ALAC and the Fellowship committee should collaborate to enhance outreach
  4. ALSes need support in providing local users’ feedback (information, sensitization, training seminars on ICANN issues on radio, TV)
TRANSLATION
  1. Continue to apply the multilingualism best practices of other international organizations
  2. ALSes should be actively involved in translation
  3. RALOs should help identify the documents to be translated
TRAVEL SUPPORT
  1. At-Large participants need full travel support to ICANN meetings, including visa costs
  2. Start the travel process earlier and local hosts should help with visas
  3. Meeting planners should consider affordability as a criterion
  4. Deliver per diem remuneration in a timely manner
  5. Avoid accommodating volunteer ALAC members and ALS representatives in remote, low-quality hotels
  6. All members should receive travel expense support for regional meetings
  7. Amend the Rules and Procedures for Travel Support to comply with the 2008 ALAC Statement to the ICANN Board

Transparency and Accountability

Issue Recommendations
Transparency
Timing of Major Documents
  1. State how staff deals with input from constituencies on documents for the Board
  2. Schedule documents and Executive Summaries to allow time for discussion
Finance
  1. Develop and publish a budget for each ICANN entity
  2. Define the responsibilities for executing the budgets
  3. Periodic public evaluation of budgetary execution
Budget
  1. Create budgetary allocation for expenditure by ALAC and its constituent RALOs
  2. Account for expenditures made by ALAC and its constituent members
Accounting for Public Input
  1. Appropriately annotate substantive ICANN documents to indicate the origin of support or dissent for specific proposals
Contractual Compliance and Process
  1. Document the life cycle of compliance procedures, requirements, metrics, follow-up, enforcement, and appeals
  2. Make available for public review what is required of the contracting parties
  3. Periodically audit and improve goals to help cope with the potentially high volume of complaints
ICANN's Public Service Role
  1. Annually orient one ICANN meeting toward non-commercial, commercial, and individual users
  2. Open up the periodic ICANN regional meetings to participants concerned with public interest
Conflicts of Interest
  1. Review and update conflict-of-interest policies as they apply to SOs, ACs, and other bodies
Accountability
Joint Project Agreement
  1. balance operator/business interest and ALAC/GAC
Addressing ALAC Advice
  1. The Board must react formally to advice from ALAC and enter into formal consultations to discuss any disagreements
  2. The Board must explain why it rejects ALAC's advice when it does
  3. The composition of the Board should represent Civil Society as represented by the At Large Community
  4. The ICANN Board should include two voting Directors nominated by the At Large Community

Other Working Group Topics

Issue Recommendations
Future of ICANN
  1. Accessible open public forums for all meetings
  2. Expand and enforce multi-stakeholder model
  3. Stakeholder education and explanation on all aspects of ICANN
  4. Multiple languages
  5. Simplify documents
  6. More time for outreach and community feedback
  7. Protocol for reporting and investigating (attempted) capture
  8. Regular performance reviews, risk analyses, complaint investigations
Barriers to new GTLDs & IDNs
  1. Further categorization
  2. Fee schedule based on current, actual cost-recovery
  3. Rounds of gTLD applications, with a fixed deadline, subject to the string contention dispute mechanisms
  4. ICANN should not engage in any trademark protection and should recognize non-trademark traditional knowledge rights of Indigenous Peoples
  5. Entirely abolish objections on Morality and Public Order # At-Large can be the Independent Objector
  6. Applicants' legal status shouldn't disqualify them
  7. Required technical understanding # parties should choose their Dispute Resolution Service Providers
DNS Security
  1. Study impact of DNSSEC on installed base
  2. The root should be signed in a way that provides integrity and is globally accepted.# modify contracts to allow registrants to deploy DNSSEC conveniently
  3. Stricter registration process to minimize fraudulent/criminal registrations
  4. Implement proposals from 2005 Hijacking report

With every ATLAS, there is an increasing formalization of ideas, recommendations, and procedures, all toward the aim of fostering concrete results. One of the key outcomes of Atlas I was the lesson that the community needs to document, delegate, and follow-up on many tasks along the way to ensure that the ICANN Board, as well as other ICANN entities, including ALAC, acknowledge and explain whether they are implementing the recommendations or not.

ATLAS II

ATLAS II was held in London in conjunction with ICANN 50. The summit brought together representatives from At-Large Structures to debate ICANN policies, share information, and experience an ICANN meeting. The attendees represented Internet end users, and many had never experienced an ICANN meeting before. As with ATLAS I, the goal of the meeting was to reach consensus and draft reports on what the At-Large Community had decided were the five most urgent issues.[4]

The Second At-Large Summit (ATLAS II) took place after the Board approved a special budget for the event. The summit resulted in the ATLAS II Declaration, which the then Chair of the ALAC Olivier Crépin-Leblond sent to the then Chair of the ICANN Board Steve Crocker on August 7, 2014.

The Declaration

The declaration was the result of contributions of representatives from 150 At-Large Structures from 70 countries who met face to face in London in June 2014.

The declaration includes 43 recommendations for the ICANN Board, ICANN, and the ALAC, 10 observations for the wider Internet community, and rationales from the five ATLAS II thematic working groups for the recommendations and observations. The thematic groups included:

  1. Future of Multi-Stakeholder Models
  2. The Globalization of ICANN
  3. Global Internet: The User Perspective
  4. ICANN Transparency and Accountability
  5. At-Large Community Engagement in ICANN

In August 2014, the ATLAS II Implementation Taskforce was established, with members consisting of organizers of the ATLAS II, drafters of the Declaration, and leaders in the At-Large Community. The taskforce led the transformation of each recommendation into concrete actions as carried out by At-Large assignees, who ensured that the concrete action recommendations reached ICANN Staff, the ICANN Board, and/or the ALAC.

Last updated on Jul 29, 2019, a thumbnail table of the 43 recommendations, their recipients, assignees, and completion status showed that of the 22 recommendations to the board, 18 had been “completed,” one had been “discarded,” and 3 were still “in progress.” A completed recommendation means it has been transformed into concrete actions and a milestone has been reached. [5]

Over 40% of the recommendations to the Board concerned the dual item of IANA Transition & ICANN Accountability. Meanwhile, the recommendations to the ALAC focused on raising the level of involvement and representation of At-Large Community members in ICANN. This overarching goal encompassed the following objectives, most of which have reached a milestone and have been marked as “completed”:[6]

  1. simplify and clarify ICANN for Internet users so they can actually be part of the Multistakeholder Model
  2. find new and better ways of incorporating Internet users into the Policy Development Process
  3. make more and better use of the people and structures that are already involved in the At-Large Community, through RALO surveys and more frequent and a wider variety of modes of communication within the community
  4. periodically assess the multistakeholder model to gauge whether the At-Large Community is represented and their needs met (reduce conflicts between ICANN requirements and national laws; expand the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, who along with Contractual Compliance, should publish all complaints proceedings

Finally, the Post ATLAS II Implementation Taskforce generated a list of

Lessons Learned

  1. one champion for each recommendation;
  2. the champion can be a chair, subject matter expert, moderator/assistant moderator, reporter/assistant reporter of the thematic group that generates the recommendation. If the champion becomes incapable of fulfilling the duties, then the entire thematic group must complete the tasks;
  3. The thematic groups must prepare, reconvene, provide status updates on implementation and feedback, and continue assigning tasks to move the recommendation forward;
  4. a template for ATLAS recommendations is needed; it should explain the context, to whom it is allocated, and the specifics; and
  5. recommendations should be processed on a yearly basis.[7]

ATLAS III

The third At-Large Summit (ATLAS III) was held during ICANN 66 in Montreal, Canada, from November 4 to 7, 2019.

ATLAS III built on ATLAS I (2009) and II (2019) in that it continued the spirit of enhancing the At-Large Community’s engagement. However, there were two major changes from the first two summits. First, the third summit focused on cultivating leaders within Regional At-Large Organizations (RALOs), and second, the ATLAS Declaration to the Board was replaced with a set of post-ATLAS III implementation activities.

ATLAS III focused on organizing members into future “At-Large Ambassadors.” The organized effort to develop potential thought leaders and change agents was an implementation of the At-Large Review Process request for more effective participation of At-Large members in the policy advice process. The overarching aim of ATLAS III was to provide participants with the skills required to represent the best interests of end users within ICANN.

At-Large Ambassadors

Sixty ambassadors were selected through an application process.[8] Prior to submitting their applications, ATLAS III participants were required to complete a series of courses on cybersecurity basics, domain names, the GNSO, the ccNSO, and the GAC.[9]

Due to visa and personal issues, 17 participants could not attend. Thus, a total of 43 attendees participated in ATLASIII, which involved plenary and breakout sessions and networking events.[10] A case study on Phase 1 of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data was used to train the ambassadors on theoretical and practical issues. Veteran At-Large leaders served as coaches and facilitators of the breakout sessions.[11]

Post-ATLAS III Activities

Running parallel with At-Large Review Implementation Issue 2, the post-summit implementation activities included

Activity Time Frame Process Outcomes
Post-ATLAS Feedback December 2019 – June 2020 survey (EN/FR/ES), analysis, report Recommendations:
  1. include ambassadors in RALO capacity building & outreach
  2. facilitate networking # collect data frequently from ALSes and individual members
  3. generate a participation toolkit # 3:1 ambassador/coach ratio
  4. recruit and accept more individual members
  5. generate a process to gather ideas on policy issues from ALSes # develop Global Stakeholder Engagement (GSE) office awareness
  6. focus on EPDP/GDPR, Security, Accountability, DNS Abuse, and MSM, which were voted most important at-large issues
  7. Establish an Ambassador Progress Tracking System

Findings: participation in the consolidated at-large policy working group increased by 50% after the summit. spikes of activity have surrounded every event since

At-Large Regional Policy Engagement Plan (PEP) in progress ATLAS III Programme Committee Interview Results; Collaboration between At-Large regional leadership, At-Large Staff and GSE RVPs; Creation of At-Large liaisons in Regional offices
Completion of At-Large Review Implementation Plan Activities in progress report
2020 At-Large Workplan Activities
Position Development Process the position development process can be seen here
Participation Platform the platform can be seen here
Policy Resource Development At-Large DNS Abuse 101 Videos in EN, ES, FR; GeoNames Videos in EN, ES, FR; Learning resources in development with Joanna Kulesza, CBWG, and ICANN Learn
ICANN Learn Course Catalogue last updated November 2019 course development and publicizing the catalogue can be seen here
At-Large Communications Strategy ATLAS III to ICANN 69 the At-Large Communications Strategy is a guide for developing regional and WG strategies

References