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The struggle for Gay Community visibility online.

The coming out of the gay community over the last two (2) centuries has been instrumental in the survival of the LGBTQIA individuals who make up that community.   It is good to go back to description in the dotgay LLC application:

While gay individuals have always existed, visibility of these individuals only began in the 19th century. One of the first movements for the human rights of the Gay Community was initiated by Magnus Hirschfeld (Scientific Humanitarian Committee, 1897). In the 20th century a sense of community continued to emerge through the formation of the first incorporated gay rights organization (Chicago Society for Human Rights, 1924). In the ensuing years additional organizations continued to emerge, but it was a watershed event in the streets of New York City that would kick-started what would become known as the modern gay rights movement. At the Stonewall Bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village in June 1969 male and female homosexuals, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed and allied patrons fought back against routine police raids on gay bars in the Village and the events of that evening spiraled into several nights of riots in the streets.  The ensuing mayhem helped not only galvanize the Gay Community and moved many individuals out of the dark bars and into the comparatively brighter streets, but resulted in global media coverage that had the unintended effect of both launching the modern gay rights movement and connecting gay individuals around the world to a larger Gay Community. For those gays living in remote parts not only of the US but of the world, knowledge of an angry mob of gays in New York City gave otherwise isolated individuals a community to finally identify with.

To commemorate the anniversary of Stonewall, three American cities organized “gay pride” demonstrations one year later. At this writing hundreds of gay pride celebrations occur around the world and an international organization of Pride Organizers called InterPride has been created.

Many of the descendants of these and other historical organizations have endorsed dotgay LLC to lead the quest to establish a corner of the Internet where the online gay community can achieve a genuine global visibility that is under the communty’s control.  This will contribute to a global goal of freedom, safety and opportunity for our community.

Together with the giants of gay community visibility on whose shoulders we stand, #yes2dotgay

Further information on the dotgay LLC campaign for gay community visibility.

ABCs of a community .gay

dotgay LLC, and the application for a community run .gay domain name, has been through the wringer in the last years. The ICANN process is challenging for anyone, especially a small team on a limited budget.  The process ICANN built is not easy for small enterprises and is hostile to community applicants.  ICANN built a process, contrary to the policy recommendations, to satisfy the interests of large corporations with buckets of money which put smaller players and communities at a disadvantage.  The dotgay LLC team has persevered, and despite having been cheated once in its effort to get the prized Community designation, appealed that decision, prevailed, and has been given another chance at evaluation.  This second Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) is ongoing and we have every hope that this time they will get it right.

While the second CPE is ongoing, dotgay has initiated a effort to remind ICANN and the community of the work done by the gay community and dotgay LLC together over the last years to establish the .gay gTLD.  In the midst of the struggle with ICANN, some of the promise of dotgay LLC has been pushed into the background.  While this is normal when struggling for survival, it is important to remember the reasons we are trying to survive.

In the series starting this week, which starts with a piece on The Future of .gay, dotgay will “recap the journey and explore some of the unique features a community .GAY offers, starting with the unprecedented opportunity to create a trusted and gay-friendly Internet space for the gay community.

While we continue the struggle to get recognition for the gay community as the authority for its own TLD – its own safe place on the net, let’s remember all the reasons for doing so.

 

Is ICANN failing our community?

This blog has taken a hiatus the last few months.  With recent setbacks in the dotgay community application, concentration switched to how to save the community application for .gay.  A lot has happen in many areas since the last blog entry. In this entry I want to focus on the issue of ICANN’s Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) treatment of the gay community’s application for .gay.

The community application submitted by dotgay LLC was given a failing evaluation.  One I believe was in error. With strong community support, dotgay LLC has filed for a reconsideration of this evaluation.  This reconsideration request  has been supported by a significant segment of the gay community including: ILGA, NGLCC, Gay Games, and IGLTA.   Because of ICANN bylaws, reconsideration can only be based on the process issues.  dotgay LLC has built a very good case against a process replete with errors and omissions that justify overturning the evaluation. As an optimist, I sit here looking forward to an ICANN which in 2015 will use its abilities to right a wrong by declaring a passing evaluation. Anything less will compound the injury that is being done to the gay community.

One of ICANN’s greatest deficiencies is the absence of an appeals mechanism that can adjudicate on the merits of a case.  The Board has long been asked to create such an mechanism and it has been recommended by the Accountability and Transparency Review Team.  The ICANN Board has not yet delivered on this agreed upon goal.

The dotgay LLC case against the ICANN Community Priority Evaluation has merit.

The ICANN CPE judgement argues that the LGBQTIA community overreached when it picked the name .gay. The decision argues that the dictionary says only homosexual men are gay.  The ICANN CPE panel decided that L-BTQIA individuals do not belong to the gay community, even though the LGBTQIA community has identified itself, and been identified by others, as the gay community in so many ways.  The ICANN CPE evaluation ignores the reality of our community. Beyond the ubiquity of the references to the gay community in the world’s press, we speak of anti-gay legislation, gay rights, gay persecution and gay marriage. The ICANN CPE decision ignores the fact that ‘gay’ is the word recognized in many languages beyond English, where it stands for far more than just homosexual men. It is a name of our community – the minority who are outside of society’s prevalent hetero-norms. It is a name we know ourselves by and a name we are known by. It is the name a confused child looking for help, searches on throughout the world. It is a name that should be used to create a safe and secure environment for our community instead of being exploited for all the profit it could bring.

dotgay LLC has a strong case to make on the merits.

In arguing the merits of the gay community’s case, the community could further remind an appeals panel that the community provisions of the recommended TLD policy were for the support of communities not as a way of defending against communities.  The procedures in the Application Guide Book (AGB) that guide every step of the application procedures, did not follow the policy recommendation for support of communities.  Rather, the AGB provided methods for those who want to exploit and profit from communities to attack those very communities.  The rules were perversely written to give advantages to standard applications that focused on profit and nothing but profit. As members of a endangered community trying to create a safe space for the LGBTQIA community on line, we should expect support from global public interest institutions such as ICANN, not roadblocks.

I expect the Board to overturn the ICANN CPE decision based on the current process based reconsideration request. But if the ICANN Board does not do so, I encourage the community to continue arguing along side dotgay LLC on the merits of our community case in any venue where the case can be heard.

Discussion Group on new gTLD Subsequent Rounds

Quite a mouthful that one is.

I have recently joined the GNSO‘s (Generic names supporting organization) Discussion Group on New gTLD Subsequent Rounds (DGNGSR). It is a large group, lots of members and lots people who will just be mailing list observers. Observers are welcome.

This is the first formal GNSO discussion group I know of. It was initiated by the GNSO to start collecting issues that should be dealt with before there is another round. I don’t think any of us know yet what a discussion group does other than discussion, and report back to the GNSO about the discussions. Staff is going to collect the issues and we are going to fill out templates about the issues. These will be input to whatever Policy Development Process (PDP) the GNSO may initiate in the future to establish the policies for these subsequent rounds.

My first contribution of issues to the groups discussion were:

  • We, those of us at ICANN, did a terrible job of outreach to and inclusion of developing economies in the current round and there must be remediation.
  • We did a terrible job of support for communities in the current round and there must be remediation.
  • We now have seen emergent categories of gTLD have been well established, e.g. brand tld, city tlds, community tlds, exclusive tld, public service related tlds &c.  We need to develop different application procedures per type. And if we are doing rounds, perhaps different rounds for each type.
  • We must avoid reusing many of the processes that we are currently defined as they are confusing and they do not meet the first principle of the original new gTLD recommendations – predictability.
  • There should not be another general round but rather specific focused rounds.  For example the remedial rounds should happen before anything else.  And there perhaps other focused round for cities or for brands.  Beyond that, I think we should be heading toward a rolling application process, or perhaps rounds of a day to avoid digital archery effects (i.e.. the process by which the applicant with the most technical prowess get there first in a first come first serve situation)
  • When there is name contention, the contenders should have the opportunity to negotiate among themselves to take different related tlds: my example being if 3 applicants apply for .bear, one can have .grizzly, one can have .panda and one can have .babybear.  This could replace much of the pain that we are seeing in a situation where approximately a third of the applicants still in processing are in contention processing of one sort or another.

As the discussion develops and as I know more, I will write more.

Incidentally, At-Large, the users group at ICANN,  also has a group talking about this, and I am participating in that group too. But I just joined last week, so do not know much, other then they seem to care about issues dealing with developing economies and communities too.   I will report on that group’s activity here as well.

May seem a bit ironic and painful to already be talking about the next round while the dotgay community waits on pins and needles for the results of the Community Priority Evaluation for dotgay, but that is the way it goes in policy development. If the community wants to be ready when it is time for the next round and we want that round to be supportive of community needs, we need to start working on it now.

Feminist Principles for the Internet

In April 2014 the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in collaboration with activists in Malaysia, which included a number of local  LGBTQI activists, created a set of principles for a feminist Internet.

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1. A feminist internet starts with and works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to dismantle patriarchy. This includes universal, affordable, unfettered, unconditional and equal access to the internet.

2. A feminist internet is an extension, reflection and continuum of our movements and resistance in other spaces, public and private. Our agency lies in us deciding as individuals and collectives what aspects of our lives to politicize and/or publicize on the internet.

3. The internet is a transformative public and political space. It facilitates new forms of citizenship that enable individuals to claim, construct, and express our selves, genders, sexualities. This includes connecting across territories, demanding accountability and transparency, and significant opportunities for feminist movement-building.

4. Violence online and tech-related violence are part of the continuum of gender-based violence. The misogynistic attacks, threats, intimidation, and policing experienced by women and queers LGBTQI people is are real, harmful, and alarming. It is our collective responsibility as different internet stakeholders to prevent, respond to, and resist this violence.

5. There is a need to resist the religious right, along with other extremist forces, and the state, in monopolizing their claim over morality in silencing feminist voices at national and international levels. We must claim the power of the internet to amplify alternative and diverse narratives of women’s lived realities.

6. As feminist activists, we believe in challenging the patriarchal spaces that currently control the internet and putting more feminists and queers LGBTQI people at the decision-making tables. We believe in democratizing the legislation and regulation of the internet as well as diffusing ownership and power of global and local networks.

7. Feminist interrogation of the neoliberal capitalist logic that drives the internet is critical to destabilize, dismantle, and create alternative forms of economic power that are grounded on principles of the collective, solidarity, and openness.

8. As feminist activists, we are politically committed to creating and experimenting with technology utilizing open source tools and platforms. Promoting, disseminating, and sharing knowledge about the use of such tools is central to our praxis.

9. The internet’s role in enabling access to critical information – including on health, pleasure, and risks – to communities, cultural expression, and conversation is essential, and must be supported and protected.

10. Surveillance by default is the tool of patriarchy to control and restrict rights both online and offline. The right to privacy and to exercise full control over our own data is a critical principle for a safer, open internet for all. Equal attention needs to be paid to surveillance practices by individuals against each other, as well as the private sector and non-state actors, in addition to the state.

11. Everyone has the right to be forgotten on the internet. This includes being able to access all our personal data and information online, and to be able to exercise control over, including knowing who has access to them and under what conditions, and being able to delete them forever. However, this right needs to be balanced against the right to access public information, transparency and accountability.

12. It is our inalienable right to choose, express, and experiment with our diverse sexualities on the internet. Anonymity enables this.

13. We strongly object to the efforts of state and non-state actors to control, regulate and restrict the sexual lives of consenting people and how this is expressed and practiced on the internet. We recognize this as part of the larger political project of moral policing, censorship and hierarchization of citizenship and rights.

14. We recognize our role as feminists and internet rights advocates in securing a safe, healthy, and informative internet for children and young people. This includes promoting digital and social safety practices. At the same time, we acknowledge children’s rights to healthy development, which includes access to positive information about sexuality at critical times in their development. We believe in including the voices and experiences of young people in the decisions made about harmful content.

15. We recognize that the issue of pornography online is a human rights and labor issue, and has to do with agency, consent, autonomy and choice. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women. We also reject the umbrella term of pornographic content labeled to any sexuality content such as educational material, SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) content, and expression related to women’s sexuality.

ICANN and Accountability II

ICANN and Accountability II

 
It was only the other day that I wrote that ICANN Staff was in the process of initiating a process on ICANN Accountability.  And  on the 14th the released Enhancing ICANN Accountability: Process and the Next steps was released.
 
In this they offer the blueprint for what appears to be a new advisory organization with several subgroups:
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance Cross Community Group
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance  Public Experts Group
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance Coordination Group

The Cross Community Group (CCG)

This group “is open to any stakeholder” in the community that is interested in discussing the issues and giving input to the Coordination group on issues and solution for ICANN Accountability and Governance .

The Cross Community Group has three tasks:
  1. Identify issues for discussion or improvement;
  2. Appoint participants to the Coordination Group 
  3. Provide ongoing community input to the Coordination Group
 
All stakeholders that wish to participate in the Cross Community Group may indicate their involvement by submitting their names to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org.
 
 
It would be good for members of the LGBTQI community to participate in the Cross Community Group.  Hope to see you there – I have already signed up.

The Public Experts Group (PEG)

ICANN is “bringing together four respected individuals with strong backgrounds in academia, governmental relations, global

insight, and the AoC, to form the Accountability & Governance Public Experts Group.  This group will be responsible for picking seven (7) experts to sit on the Coordination group.  Currently these experts will be picked to cover the following areas of expertise:

  •  Internet Technical Operations
  • International Organizational Reviews
  • Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
  • Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
  • Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns
  • Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
  • Global Ethics Frameworks
  • Operational, Finance and Process
  • Board Governance
  • Transparency
  • Risk Management
  • Governmental Engagement and Relations
  • Multistakeholder Governance

It is unfortunate that they did not include experts in community and diversity, and that they subordinated Human Rights to Consumer Rights, but perhaps they can be convinced to fix this.  It is to be hoped the the members of the  PEG will be expert and diverse enough to realize that this list of criteria needs further consideration and adjustment.  As they will be the experts on expertise, this should be in their purview.  Or at least I hope so.

The Accountability & Governance Coordination Group (AGCG)

Will be composed of those appointed to it by the CCG and PEG, as well as a Staff member, an expert in the current Affirmation of Committee Accountability and Transparency process and a few liasions.   The ACCG will be responsible for:

  1. Categorizing and prioritizing issues including those identified by the Cross Community Group;
  2. Building solution requirements for issues with input from the Cross Community Group; and
  3. Issuing the final report/recommendations.

Once the recommendations are made, they will be subject to the standard process of community review and board decision prior to implementation.  It is expected that this process will last at least on

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If there is just one thing I would like readers of dotgay-community.org to take from this, it is:

All stakeholders that wish to participate in the Cross Community Group

send their names to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org.”

It would be good for members of the LGBTQI community to participate in this Cross Community Group.

It might change the face of accountability in Internet governance.

 

What an opportunity!

 

A more detailed analysis can found here.

Update on ATLAS II

Update on ATLAS II

In an earlier entry to this blog, the second global At Large Summit (ATLAS II) was discussed. The final report,  ATLAS-II-Declaration,has been released and offers a number of useful recommendations for ICANN improvement.

The report focuses on the 5 thematic themes of the summit:

  • Future of Multi-Stakeholder Models
  • The Globalization of ICANN
  • Global Internet: The User Perspective
  • ICANN Transparency and Accountability
  • At-Large Community Engagement in ICANN

In each of these categories, the summit offers concrete suggestions for improvement.  Some of them have special importance for the LGBTQI+ community that is the core of the dotgay community.

Recommendation 1, for example, is important to our community,  “ICANN should continue to support outreach programmes that engage a broader audience, in order to reinforce participation from all stakeholders.”  Up to now, the effort for outreach has primarily been geographical, a continuing need.  But the is need for outreach that is broader that just geography.  The outreach needs to extend to communities whose concerns have not yet been discussed within Internet governance ecosystem, for example the global LGBTQI+ community, as well as other communities of endangered minorities.

Recommendation 13 reinforces this further: “ICANN should review the overall balance of stakeholder representation to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to all views, proportionally to their scope and relevance.” While there is not indication that they were referring to communities such as the gay community, it is obvious from the the experience of dotgay over the last years in ICANN that this is essential.

One of the appendices included in the report ICANN’s obligation to serve the Public Interest.

Public Interest in ICANN

The term ‘Public Interest’ within ICANN’s remit remains ambiguous and ill defined. Consequently no consistent measure of the basis and quality of its decisions is possible. The At-Large Community supports the draft ‘FY15 Strategic Plan’s focus area to develop and implement a global public responsibility framework in this regard. This could also clarify that the Internet users are stakeholders and not “consumers”.

 This has been a subject that has frequently come up in regard to dotgay’s community application.  Getting ICANN to treat community applications, such as dotgay’s application for .gay, as being in the public interest has been painful, and expensive, both for dotgay LLC and for the community organizations that are its foundation.

The gay community can and should get involved in the efforts of the At-Large to bolster accountability and service in the public interest at ICANN.  The At-Large is organized around 200 At Large Structures that around the world. Members of the dotgay-community are encouraged to find an ALS in their region and get involved.  Beyond that there is an opportunity for any regional LGBTQI+ organizations to form their own chapters, that is their own At Large structures (ALS).  The At-Large is the voice of the users in ICANN global management of critical Internet resources, and often acts as the organization’s conscience.  As the gay community gets more involved in the Internet ecosystem, the community must assert itself as a stakeholders.  At-Large is a good place to do this..