As an Internet Evolution contributor, I wrote last year about exploring port zoning as a way to protect kids online. Recently, in line with ICANN 's process of restructuring its forum for discussing domain name system (DNS) policy, I submitted a petition to ICANN to form a constituency representing the safety interests of non-commercial Internet users.
The two are not related.
I still think port zoning is one idea worth exploring, but it has nothing to do with the work of the proposed CyberSafety Constituency, or the vast majority of the constituency members.
Here's the background: The petition to form the CyberSafety Constituency responds to ICANN's request to restructure its Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO), which is a supporting group within ICANN charged with developing DNS policy. ICANN wants GNSO to be more "inclusive and representative of the broad interests found among the GNSO constituencies and other stakeholders," and to "conduct greater outreach and seek to recruit a broader, more diverse membership" that goes "far beyond the membership of the current Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)."
Which brings us to the Charter of the CyberSafety Constituency. It states:
The purpose of the CSC is to represent Internet users, as well as organizations that study and advocate for Internet users, whose interest is balancing free speech and anonymity with the values of protection and safety in developing Internet policy within ICANN. The CSC will contribute to the consensus model of policy development, while advocating that ICANN policies and the technical development of the Internet should not unduly impair the lawful rights of governments and other organizations of authority to take steps to protect their citizens and members from illegal activity conducted on or through the Internet.
The proposed CyberSafety Constituency is made up of many organizations and individuals, as evidenced on the roster linked above. Indeed, the CP80 Foundation, a group that supports port zoning and is represented by Ralph Yarro, who is also chairman of the board of The SCO Group , is anticipated to be a member of the constituency. I plan to be an initial member representing BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Separately, I have been involved with ICANN as a member of the NCUC for nearly two years as the representative of CP80, and I have always been clearly identified as such on the NCUC public list cited above and on the ICANN Wiki.
Ralph Yarro and I are just two members of the proposed CyberSafety Constituency. We will have no more vote than any of the other constituency members, and our constituency will have no more clout than any of the others.
Still, some netizens have missed the mark by turning the rather hum-drum constituency formation issue into a rash of (admittedly sometimes quite humorous) charges, allegations, and ad hominem attacks.
I can only wish that I had control of some global Mormon conspiracy network, that this were a money-making proposition, and that my powers of persuasion could possibly move ICANN to adopt a content regulatory system.
A few members of the proposed constituency are indeed members of the LDS church and some do favor controlling access by children to online pornography. Are either of these grounds to preclude involvement in other issues within ICANN's domain?
In reality, the CyberSafety constituency is interested in many current GNSO issues, such as Fast Flux Hosting (FFH); the development of a Registrants' Rights Charter; the gathering of identity information on WHOIS; and public order issues with the granting of new Top Level Domain names, to name a few.
Many who have opposed formation of the CyberSafety Contituency also claim it somehow violates Free Speech or the U.S. First Amendment. But all the constituency requests is recognition as one of many constituencies, with the opportunity to speak in the process.
Free Speech principles certainly do not justify silencing, or eliminating the opportunity for speech by, those with whom one disagrees.
The CyberSafety Constituency will gladly accept applications from non-business interests that support the Mission Statement. Comments on the petition and charter may be submitted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through April 5, 2009.
Agreeing or disagreeing with port zoning or any particular religion are not criteria for participation within ICANN or the CyberSafety Constituency.
— Cheryl B. Preston, Edwin M. Thomas Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University