Stephanie Duchesneau took a roll call and requested that all Councilors complete their Statements of Interest by Friday, December 12. Ms. Duchesneau reminded the Council that one of the priorities in filling the council seats was to get representatives with particular interests in .US, as reflected in the notional council list and that having interests in .US, financial or otherwise, is not problematic provided that such interests are properly disclosed. At the request of the Council, Ms. Duchesneau said that she would recirculate the link to complete the SOI.Ms. Burr said that the secretariat would soon be circulating an open-ended policy survey to help gauge Councilors’ interest in particular policy topics.
Ms. Burr provided an update on the Stakeholder Council elections. The secretariat received one Expression of Interest for Chair by Scott Blake Harris and one for Vice Chair by Shane Tews. Neither officer position received more than one expression. Ms. Burr stated that if any councilors had concerns with either of the nominations that they should raise them on this call, but recommended that, otherwise, the Council should proceed with acclaiming Mr. Harris and Ms. Tews for the respective roles. Linda Kinney seconded the call to acclaim Mr. Harris and Ms. Tews for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair. Several councilors voiced their support for the two nominees, and Mr. Harris and Ms. Tews were approved as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Ms. Burr thanked Mr. Harris and Ms. Tews for volunteering to serve as Council officers.
Discussion moved to the Draft Work Plan and Draft Operating Procedures that had been circulated to the council the previous week. Ms. Burr mentioned that both documents were intended to be lightweight and reaffirmed that the Draft Work Plan and Draft Operating Procedures were both meant to be Council-developed documents and that the first cuts that were circulated by the secretariat were fully open to modification by the Council.
Ms. Duchesneau provided a brief review of the Draft Operating Procedures. At a high-level the Draft Operating Procedures were designed to maximize transparency in all Stakeholder Council activities including: publishing all council recommendations for public comment; opening Council meetings for public participation; maintaining a publically-accessible archive of the Council list serve; and publishing agendas, minutes, and recordings.
Michele Neylon stated his support for the practice of opening up public comment periods on Stakeholder Council recommendations, but recommend that the group provide a period of longer than fourteen days, as initially suggested in the Draft Operating Procedures. Mr. Neylon suggested that, instead, a thirty-day comment period should be provided to give stakeholders adequate time to develop comments, but also to allow Neustar and the Council to conduct outreach on the comment periods. Several Councilors voiced their support for lengthening the comment period to thirty days and Ms. Duchesneau volunteered to update the draft accordingly. Ms. Burr added that the group should review the Draft Operating Procedures and feel free to provide further input and discussion over the Council list serve.
Bryan Britt asked about the role of the council and the weight that would be given to Council recommendations in updating policies for the usTLD. Ms. Burr responded that the Stakeholder Council was not a formally-constituted Advisory Council and that the Department of Commerce would retain the final say in changes to policies for .US. Ms. Burr emphasized that the Department of Commerce was fully supportive and encouraging of the introduction of multi-stakeholder mechanisms within the 2014 .US rebid and that she believed that Council recommendations would be taken very seriously by the Department of Commerce in policy development and implementation for .US.
Ms. Duchesneau provided a review of the Draft Council Work Plan, which reflected the position taken on the previous call that the Council would, initially, meet once every four weeks in accordance with the schedule established in the poll following that call. She described the obligatory Council deliverables including Quarterly Reports of Council activities and the annual usTLD Town Forum.
Mr. Harris suggested that the Town Hall should be scheduled earlier than February 12, as reflected on the draft deliverables schedule, and that two months lead time should be provided to plan the Town Hall and recruit participant; he suggested that, instead, the Town Hall be scheduled during the Council’s January meeting. Several members of the Council voiced their support for this suggestion. Ms. Duchesneau stated that she would update the Draft Work Plan to reflect that the Council would set a date for the Town Hall during the January 5 meeting.
Karen Rose asked about what recruitment strategies would be undertaken to ensure robust registrant participation during public comment periods and in the Town Hall. Ms. Burr responded that Neustar hoped to leverage its registrars with whom registrants have a direct relationship, to encourage participation, as well as the networks of members of the Stakeholder Council.
Mr. Neylon asked whether .US had a social media presence. Jeff Neuman responded that the primary twitter handle for .US was @aboutdotus, which could potentially be used to promote Council initiatives; Ms. Duchenseau added that in recruitment for the Council the she had used this handle, as well as LinkedIn and industry press and forums to publicize the Council, strategies which could also be used by the council on an ongoing basis.
Ms. Duchesneau provided an overview of the Report of the Kids.us Education Advisory Committee. The Education Advisory Committee was constituted to provide recommendations related to the continued suspension of kids.us. The Kids.us third-level namespace was created in 2002 with the goal of being a walled garden where all content would be safe for children aged thirteen and under. The namespace not only had a strict set of policies delineating types of content that were prohibited in the space, but also a requirement that content be reviewed before it was put up and an expedient review and takedown process for any content deemed to be infringing.
By the time that Neustar requested the suspension of the namespace in 2011 there were only 651 domain names registered in the namespace and only six active websites; further, each of these sites had a more robust presence elsewhere on the web. These trends suggested that the web had evolved in such a way that it was no longer feasible to confine kids’ internet usage to a single, walled-off corner of the web.
The Education Advisory Committee was convened to consider whether there were any potential uses of the .US space that could function within the existing policy framework, as well as to brainstorm other initiatives within .US that could serve similar goals. The Committee explored several possible use cases, before determining that the policy framework would be too restrictive and would work against the success of any initiative and that the group’s efforts were better focused on initiatives to promote positive experiences for kids elsewhere in .US. This decision was also informed by the failure of other walled gardens, even those that were well funded and supported through strong content partnerships. The Education Advisory Committee’s primary recommendation was that the kids.us zone remain suspended, however, the group also provided operating procedures and several possible use cases that Neustar might explore to advance similar goals elsewhere within .US. Ms. Duchesneau added that the Stakeholder Council might consider taking up this goal or any of the possible initiatives described in the report, given that youth engagement was one of the areas of high Council interest during the first call.
A question was asked about whether the group had also considered efforts to change the policy framework for kids.us. Mr. Neuman responded that there exist significant obstacles to changing the framework; as the space originated due to an act of Congress in 2002, congressional signoff would, likewise, be required to change the policy framework. Ms. Duchesneau added that, due to these complexities, the group had focused principally on initiatives within the existing policy guidelines or, otherwise, elsewhere in .US with changes to the policy framework being only a tertiary consideration.
Ms. Tews asked whether Neustar had any ongoing responsibilities with respect to the namespace. Mr. Harris responded that today the namespace is suspended, an option provided for directly within the legislation that created kids.us; he added that should the namespace again become active that all of its preexisting policies and requirements would spring back into existence. Mr. Neuman added that Neustar continued to provide a required annual report to Congress describing the state of the namespace.
Philip Corwin asked whether Neustar had engaged with congressional representatives to seek out support for changing the legislation. Ms. Burr responded that though effort to engage on this matter had occurred around the time that the zone was suspended that she believed Council efforts and energy might be better focused around supporting positive experiences for kids elsewhere in the namespace than upon changing legislation; Mr. Harris supported this assessment stating that there was little interest by Congress in the namespace or in undertaking the work needed to preserve it.
Bryan Britt stated that the evolution of the web had generally gone against proprietary spaces of this kind, adding that the issues at stake in the kids.us discussion were complicated and would likely require more discussion and attention from the Council than could be provided on the first call. The Council discussed kids.us and agreed that between the failed experience of kids.us, specifically and of walled gardens more generally that the zone should remain suspended. Ms. Duchesneau said that she would circulate the full report of the Education Advisory Committee to the Council for further consideration.
With no further business the Stakeholder Council concluded its first call.
- Stephanie Duchesneau to recirculate an updated link to the SOI form
- Councilors to complete SOI form by January 12
- Stephanie Duchesneau to update Draft Operating Procedures to reference thirty-day public comment period
- Stephanie Duchesneau to update Work Plan to determine Town Hall dates at January 5 meeting
- Stephanie Duchesneau to circulate report of Kids.us Education Advisory Committee
- Stephanie Duchesneau to circulate policy survey
- Councilors to complete policy survey before January 5 meeting
- Bryan Britt, Beltane Web Services
- Linda Kinney, Motion Picture Association of America
- Michele Neylon, Blacknight Solutions
- Peter Roman, Department of Justice
- Philip Corwin, Virtualaw LLC
- Scott Blake Harris, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP
- Shane Tews, American Enterprise Institute
- Tom Barrett, EnCirca
- Karen Rose, Internet Society
- Becky Burr
- Jeffrey Neuman
- Stephanie Duchesneau
Department of Commerce Participants
- Elizabeth Bacon