ICANN has proposed new anti-harassment guidelines for its community that would ban “unwelcome hostile or intimidating behavior”.
It wants your comments on the changes to its longstanding “Expected Standards of Behavior” document, which applies to both its in-person meetings and online discussions and mailing lists.
The proposed addition to the document reads like this:
Respect all members of the ICANN community equally and behave according to professional standards and demonstrate appropriate behavior. ICANN strives to create and maintain an environment in which people of many different backgrounds and cultures are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. Specifically, participants in the ICANN process must not engage in any type of harassment. Generally, harassment is considered unwelcome hostile or intimidating behavior — in particular, speech or behavior that is sexually aggressive or intimidates based on attributes such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, color, national origin, ancestry, disability or medical condition, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The definition of harassment has been borrowed almost directly from the Internet Engineering Task Force’s policy on harassment, which was signed off in 2013.
ICANN has added the words “ethnicity” and “medical condition” to the IETF’s list of protected characteristics, but has not included the IETF’s list of examples:
the use of offensive language or sexual imagery in public presentations and displays, degrading verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
The changes were prompted by a recent allegation of sexual harassment at an ICANN meeting which divided the community on whether the alleged incident amounted to sexual harassment or not.
ICANN’s Ombudsman, Chris LaHatte, concluded that whatever took place “cannot be considered serious”, but he did not make a formal finding.
LaHatte has already endorsed the proposed change to the expected standards document.
It does not seem unreasonable to me, at first glance, either.
What do you think? ICANN has opened a public comment period that closes June 25, to find out.