FAQ for Newcomers

This FAQ document is intended to help newcomers,  individuals and organizations who are wishing to join or to know more about interacting in ICANN as a civil society actor.

I. ICANN and the GNSO

What is ICANN?

ICANN is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to making policies for the Internet’s domain name system. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers. Through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. Therefore, ICANN plays a unique role in the infrastructure of the internet.

At the heart of ICANN’s policy-making is what is called a “multi-stakeholder model.” which use an  open and participatory approach to policy making. The idea is that the governance of Internet’s unique identifiers should mimic the structure of the Internet itself- borderless and open to all. To implement this, ICANN has three Supporting Organizations and two advisory Committees that develop and recommend policies concerning the Internet’s technical management within their areas of expertise. The Supporting organizations are: the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) and the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), while the Advisory Committees include the Government Advisory Committee and the At-Large Advisory Committee.

What is the GNSO?

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) is the policy-making body responsible for generic top-level domains, such as .COM, .NET and .ORG. Its members include representatives from gTLD registries, gTLD registrars, intellectual property interests, Internet service providers, commercial and noncommercial user interests. Stakeholder Groups function as caucuses, and the structure of the GNSO is intended to balance the representation of different stakeholders, namely domain name industry and domain name consumers, commercial versus noncommercial users.

There are four Stakeholder Groups representing the wide variety of groups and individuals interested in generic top-level domain policy development:

  • Commercial Stakeholder Group
  • Non-commercial Stakeholder Group
  • Registrar Stakeholder Group
  • gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group

Currently, there are many policy development processes ongoing and anyone is welcome to participate. More info on the working groups at the GNSO Website

What is the relation between ICANN, GNSO and the NCSG?

ICANN has three Supporting Organizations (SO), and the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO) is the policy-making body responsible for generic top-level domains, such as .COM, .NET and .ORG. Its members include representatives from gTLD registries, gTLD registrars, intellectual property interests, Internet service providers, businesses and non-commercial interests. The GNSO has four stakeholder groups that function as caucuses, as well as growth and expansion of GNSO participants.

The Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) is an integrated committee of the Non-Contracted Parties House of the GNSO. Its main purpose is to represent the views and interests of those who engage in non-commercial activities on the Internet.

How Can I join a Policy Development Working Group in the GNSO?

In general, anyone can join these groups and they are typically made up of volunteers with various interests and expertise. One of many tools that Working Groups use are mailing lists that are publicly archived. Community members can follow email lists for the latest dialogue and deliberation of policy topics and activity. Monitor the www.icann.org website for announcements about calls for volunteers to Working Groups, and when you see one you are interested in, send the GNSO Secretariat (gnso-secs@icann.org) an email expressing your interest.

What is NCSG?

NCSG stands for Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group and is a stakeholder group part of the Non-Contracted Parties House under ICANN’s Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO). It was created after ICANN had found that there was not adequate representation of non-commercial and non-profit organizations within ICANN processes. It has subsumed the Noncommercial Users Constituency, which was the original non-commercial voice in ICANN processes. Later on, the Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns constituency was created. In 2023, NPOC adopted a new charter and renamed to Not-for-Profit Organizations constituency.

Watch this video or get more info here.

What are the mission and principles of the NCSG?

The purpose of the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) is to represent, through its elected representatives and its Constituencies, the interests and concerns of noncommercial registrants and noncommercial Internet users of generic Top-level Domains (gTLDs). It provides a voice and representation in ICANN processes to: non-profit organizations that serve noncommercial interests; nonprofit services such as education, philanthropies, consumer protection, community organizing, promotion of the arts, public interest policy advocacy, children’s welfare, religion, scientific research, and human rights; public interest software concerns; families or individuals who register domain names for noncommercial personal use; and Internet users who are primarily concerned with the noncommercial, public interest aspects of domain name policy.

How can I Join the NCSG?

Membership information on how to join the NCSG can be found on the NCSG Wiki that includes a direct link to the NCSG Membership Application : https://community.icann.org/display/gnsononcomstake/Membership+Application.

Anyone can contribute to NCSG and collaborate with many people from different communities across the world to advocate for a better and safe use of the Internet. You can also contribute by drafting responses to public comments or participating in the discussion in the mailing lists.

I have joined the NCSG, how do I take part on the discussions and become an active member?

If you are already member of the NCSG, you can get more involved by:

  • joining a NPOC working team or
  • participating in a policy development working group under the GNSO.
  • participating in discussions on the mailing lists or drafting responses to public comments, among other forms of participation.

Click here for more info.

NB: Joining a team may require to join the constituency to which it reports.


What is the role of the NPOC?

The purpose of the NPOC is to represent, specifically, the operational concerns related to service delivery of not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations who are domain registrants in the DNS.

NPOC focuses on the impact of DNS policies and their effects on the operational readiness and implementation of non-commercial missions and objectives.  NPOC members rely on the Internet and DNS policies to provide valuable services to their communities.

NPOC engages the ICANN community on how proposed and existing policies and initiatives may uniquely impact the operations of not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations and the delivery of their mission-related services.  Such not-for-profit and non-governmental organizational perspectives on operational concerns include domain name registration, expansion of the DNS, fraud and abuse, using the DNS to provide and collect information and serve their members and communities.

NPOC is the home for not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) bottom-up policy making organ, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). With real voting power in ICANN’s policy-making and Board selection, the NPOC develops and supports positions that favor not for profits communication and activity on the Internet.

  • View this short video to learn more about us and become a member today!
  • More on our history at this page
  • Already member? Get more involved by joining a working team !
  • Newcomer corners here !

How to Join NPOC?

To join us, please complete the NCUC application form or write to info@npoc.org

Why consider to Join NPOC?

The NPOC welcomes all not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations interested in advocating for and protecting non-commercial / not-for-profit- organization’s communications, activities, and interests on the Internet. Joining gives you and/or your organization the chance to be directly represented in global public policy development for the Internet on operational concerns include domain name registration, expansion of the DNS, fraud and abuse, using the DNS to provide and collect information and serve their members and communities. .

Prospective members should complete the application form for the Non-commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) within which NPOC is located in the ICANN organization, and select NPOC as the constituency you wish to join. We do most of our work online through email lists and other electronic platforms.

Come on and join us now!

What is the difference between NCUC and NPOC?

Both NCUC and NPOC are constituencies of the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group of ICANN, wishing to promote a non-commercial policy agenda at ICANN. The difference is in the mandate of NCUC and NPOC.NCUC focuses primarily on noncommercial  individual users and civil society organizations.  NPOC is the home for Not-for-Profit organizations with Not-for-profit operational concerns like NGOs, and require applicants to be an exclusive user of at least one registered domain name. This does not mean that NGOs cannot join NCUC. NCUC is home to many NGOs. The focus of NPOC is however different from NCUC. NPOC explains its focus as :”The NPOC is focused on how DNS policies impact how NPOC Members actively manage their infrastructures, create and improve internal processes and controls, manage risks, and respond to and respect the welfare of the communities they represent.”

I am already participating in an ICANN GNSO Working Group; Can I join and participate in the NPOC/NCSG?

Yes, many NCSG/NPOC members are actively participating in one or more policy development processes. This a better way to contribute and make you voice heard. However, beware if you choose to work in more than one WG, that there is a considerable workload in each of them that might prevent you from being efficient.

III. Public Comments

What are Public Comments?

Public Comment is a vital process in the core work of ICANN. It offers all stakeholders an opportunity to provide input and feedback. Public comment proceedings feature proposals initiated by a working group, staff or board.







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