NCSG Policy Principles

Milton L Mueller mueller at SYR.EDU
Mon Dec 5 15:47:15 CET 2011

Thanks! It's very worthwhile and healthy for you to initiate thinking at this level, as a new GNSO Council representative.
Below are my reactions to your proposals.

*         NCSG prioritises the non-commercial, public interest aspects of domain name policy.


*         Guardianship: gTLD policy should be focused on responsibilities and service to the community.

As a social scientist and someone with 15 years of experience among Internet developers, I am extremely wary of appeals to "the community," especially when there is a definite article in front of it. First, you have to specify what "community" you are referring to, and if that doesn't mean absolute unanimity among everyone involved (which of course never happens) how does one get included or excluded from such a "community" voice.  One must also be aware of the inherent ambiguities - and potential for manipulation and abuse - that can come from claims to speak for or to divine the "will" or "needs" of something called "the community." Lots of people who are leaders in this space think that they can call up a few friends, ask for comments on an email  list and then decide for themselves what "the community" wants. Too often, the concept of a homogeneous community serves as a way to suppress or paper over dissent and the need for deliberation. Further, the concept of "responsibilities and service to the community" can be and often is used as a way to override individual rights. So in its current form I couldn't accept this principle.

*         Multi-stakeholder: gTLD policy should be determined by open multi-stakeholder processes.

Mostly agreed, although we might want to specify further that multistakeholder processes should not categorically privilege some stakeholder groups over others, specifically governments.

*         Human rights: gTLD policy should meet human rights standards, including transparency and the rule of law.

...and freedom of expression, freedom of association, personal autonomy or privacy

*         Equity: parties to domain registrations (including non-commercial registrants) should be on a level playing field; domain registrations should be first come first served.

I personally agree that this principle is desirable in most contexts, however, in some contexts it is perfectly acceptable for private operators of specialized domains to adopt registrations policies that are not FCFS; e.g., auctions, controlled naming policies, etc. The closer we get to a many-TLD, competitive world, the more space opens up for other models.

*         Competition and choice: gTLD policy should ensure competition and choice for non-commercial registrants and non-commercial internet users.


*         In case of conflict, the principle of guardianship prevails.

;-) see above. Not only is the guardianship principle flawed and unacceptable, but to make it the standard for overriding all the others compounds all the problems it has.

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