[council] Regarding public comment processes

Bruce Tonkin Bruce.Tonkin at melbourneit.com.au
Wed Jan 25 03:53:37 UTC 2006

Hello All,

Mawaki Chango has raised the general issue that those that attend an
event in person and make public comments could gain an advantage over
those that participate through email or web public comment forums.

I tend to agree that those that have the budgets (and/or time) to attend
physical meetings - whether they are for IETF, ISOC, WSIS, Internet
Governance Forum, or ICANN do have a richer opportunity to both learn
from other participants and also convey their views on a particular

Although telecommunications technology in general has improved the
ability for people to interact remotely - nothing is close to the value
of a face-to-face meeting.

As discussed before, ICANN, GNSO, and various constituencies (e.g
registrars) do hold physical meetings in different locations of the
world.  The best we can do is try to move those around to give as many
as possible an opportunity to be involved at least once a year.

Our formal processes however are srtuctured in a way to help provide
fairness in terms of taking into account public input.  Any comments
made at the microphone at ICANN meetings are transcribed and form part
of the public record.  When the staff prepare reports on public comments
they take into account both the written comments received via the email
and web based public forums, as well as the transcribed verbal comments
at public forums.

It is sad that presently the quality of material submitted to the email
and web based public comment processes is low.  I have noticed that the
ICANN culture at public meetings is for speakers to carefully prepare
their statemetns on their laptop while they are stting in the audience,
and then read from those statements at the public mike.  However rarely
do they email this material to the email or web forums.  I am sure we
would save a lot of time at public events if people could email their
detailed comments in advance, and just cover the highlights in any
verbal presentation.

For the new gtld policy process we have tried a couple of new things.
One is to formally seek papers on the topic, and the other is to
advetise in the press that we are conducted this work and encourage

So - I believe that as a principle when we are having a physical meeting
we should at least allow the opportunity for members of the public to
speak on an issue, but these comments should be assessed on an equal
basis with formal written material.  We will also have any papers that
have been submitted formally, and have the ability to ask the authors of
those papers to give a short summary of their paper and allow the
opportunity for questions.  This was discussed in January when we
discussed the call for papers.  This is no requirement for the authors
to be present in-person.

Bruce Tonkin

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