Internet Advocacy Differently: AIU FAQs

We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the AIU. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Q: Why is this a U.S. organization? What about other countries?

A:  Internet users around the world bring different values to the policy table based upon local culture. The AIU model is designed to help users speak to national policymakers. The AIU-USA helps American users to speak to their government just as an AIU-Chad would help Chadians speak to theirs. Ideally, every country would have its own AIU as an expression of the sentiments of local Internet users on Internet policy.

Q: How does the AIU differ from other membership organizations?

A: We often compare the AIU to the AAA and the AARP. These organizations, like the AIU provide education and services to their membership as well as advocate on their behalf. The key difference in our model is that the policy positions of the AIU are not determined by its Board or its administrative staff. The membership votes on current policy questions and advances winning positions.

Q: People have many different ideas about Internet policy; how does the AIU account for this?

A: The AIU uses a minority report system to enable strong minority positions to be heard. For instance, if a second place policy position gains at least 33% of the vote, then the AIU will also advance that position as well, even if it contradicts the winning position. It’s perfectly OK and in some cases expected that Internet users will be divided on contentious policy questions.

Q: If the Board and the staff don’t make policy, how does the AIU make policy?

A: You do. Members who vote for majority and minority positions are invited to take part in the policymaking discussion that drafts the AIU’s policy. We recognize that not all members will want to get this involved but, for those who do, the staff and the Board will act as expert advisors to shepherd and steward the policy positions into a form suitable for government submission.

Q: Do the Board and staff have any other policy role?

A: The Board checks the policies issued by the majority and minority working groups and does one of three things. First, they can adopt it as AIU policy and direct the staff to begin dissemination. Second, they can return it to the policy drafting groups with specific suggestions and corrections. This is a safeguard to insure that the implications of a policy position are fully addressed. Third, the Board can provide cause and veto a policy. In this case the membership can override the veto with a 2/3 vote in which case it becomes policy. A Board veto is intended to be used only if it is clear that the vote or policy drafting process has been compromised.