ICANN, the Internet, and Acting in the Global Public Interest

Public interest, according to the Random House Dictionary, is "1. the welfare or well-being of the general public; commonwealth..." The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales* (see infra) argues that applying a detailed definition is likely to result in unintended consequences, in Acting in the Public Interest (2012). Instead, each circumstance needs to be assessed based on criteria such as the relevant public, wants, and constraints. The key to assessing any public interest decision is transparency of the decision making process, including balancing competing interests.

The public interest | Ethics | *ICAEW: "'The public interest' is used by many to justify a wide range of actions and proposals. However, it is often unclear (even to those using the term) what they mean by this, and there can be a natural suspicion that the phrase may be used as a smokescreen to garner support for something that is actually in the advocate's own interests

"Acting in the public interest: a framework for analysis:
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"From a broad perspective, ICAEW does not believe that a detailed general definition would serve a useful purpose: individual circumstances are too variable and such a definition would inevitably result in unintended consequences. What we propose in our paper is a framework of matters to consider when justifying an action as being in the public interest. Using such a framework will allow those advocating an action in the public interest to understand what they mean, and, if explained, will allow those assessing the action or proposal to determine whether they can support the measure as being in the public interest."

At ICANN 52 - NCUC Singapore Meeting 2015-02-10 - GNSO Council Meetings - Confluence:

ICANN and the GlobalPublic Interest” (Megan Richards, Principal Adviser of the Director General at DG CONNECT, European Commission)

Background Information:
The Strategy Panel on the Public Responsibility Framework (revised May 2014) https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/prf-report-15may14-en.pdf proposed that, “ICANN defines the global public interest in relation to the Internet as ensuring the Internet becomes, and continues to be, stable, inclusive, and accessible across the globe so that all may enjoy the benefits of a single and open Internet.” The panel’s analysis was discussed inter alia in a February 2014 webinar https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-2014-02-12-en. A Development and Public Responsibility Department was created to coordinate with the community and organization on related work, and held sessions at the London and Los Angeles meetings.

The ICANN Draft Five-Year Operating Plan for FY2016- FY2020 (v.1, November 2014) lists “Strategic Objective 5 - Develop and implement a global public interest framework bounded by ICANN’s mission,” including the development of a “common consensus based definition of public interest”https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/proposed-opplan-budget-2016-2020-10nov14-en.pdf

At a meeting with NCSG in Washington DC on 13 January, Fadi ChehadĂ© told us, “clearly it's my job to define ICANN's public interest framework. This is clearly something we ought to do together. And I frankly welcome the NCSG to, if anything, take the lead on that.”

see also: domainmondo.com: Affirmation of Commitments, ICANN Board, Global Public Interest

Links for more information--video replay, etc.--

Non Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)
10 February 2015 Transcript: Download transcript-ncuc-10feb15-en.pdf (394.84 KB)

Archival Media:
Non Commercial Users Constituency NCUC | Adobe Connect: Full [EN] Virtual Meeting Room Stream Archive English
Non Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) | Audio: Full [EN] Audio Stream Archive English

The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in ICANN's GNSO. NCUC currently comprises 378 members from 85 different countries, including 98 noncommercial organizations and 280 individuals. NCUC advocates positions on domain name-related policies that protect and support noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. Among its key areas of interest are human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, access to knowledge, diversity and consumer choice, development, and global internet governance.

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