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Chair’s Blog: An Overview of the March Remote Board Workshop

3 March 2020

With so many things on our plate, the ICANN community, organization, and Board are all confronted with a sudden need to find new ways of getting things done. The Board’s recent decision to change ICANN67 from a face-to-face meeting in Cancún, Mexico, into a fully remote meeting was a difficult one. After our decision, we noted the further expansion of the virus and continuing uncertainties on how it will be contained. We truly appreciate the ICANN community’s support and understanding, especially as we continue to work out all of the technical and logistical details.

On behalf of the Board, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to our colleagues from ICANN org, who are working day and night to ensure our first virtual ICANN meeting will be as smooth and productive as possible. We are also very grateful to all of you in the community who came together to reorganize the meeting schedule so that it became manageable remotely. And a thank you to the local hosts for their understanding and collaboration, as they have been working closely with us to make this the best ICANN meeting ever.

While the workshop setting is not what we planned it to be, the Board remains fully committed to making meaningful progress on the work that needs to get done. We will continue to focus on the most time-critical matters, including the proposed change of ownership of Public Interest Registry (PIR), the .COM contract amendment, progressing work on key issues related to updating the operational plan and budget, and other matters that we can successfully address during our remote workshop. Additionally, we will prepare for our conversations with the community on the topics identified, including subsequent procedures, DNS abuse, and other important matters raised by the community.

On Monday, 2 March, following my opening remarks, we began our day with our usual dialogue with ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby. He provided us with the latest updates on matters relating to his goals for this year. We also carved out a large block of time to discuss contingency matters.

The second day of the remote workshop, Tuesday 3 March, focuses on the proposed transfer of ownership of PIR and related issues. Quite a lot has happened since the Internet Society (ISOC) announced its intent to sell PIR to Ethos Capital, and it is important that we understand all of the ins and outs of where we currently stand, including the announcement of the Public Interest Commitments (PICs) by PIR and Ethos Capital.  

On Wednesday, 4 March, Avri Doria will lead an update and discussion on New generic top-level domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures. Additional time has also been allotted to discuss any contingency matters.

Thursday, 5 March, will start off with a session about the .COM contract amendments, including an update on the results of the Public Comment period that closed on 14 February 2020. A report on the comments received will be published on 6 March 2020. Göran will then lead the Board’s discussion regarding DNS abuse. After that, we have another planned contingency block.

Both Friday, 6 March, and Saturday, 7 March, will be used to prepare for Constituency Day and engagement with any constituencies that want to meet with the Board regarding specific matters. On Friday, the ICANN org Policy Team will provide a briefing on the meeting’s hot topics. On Saturday, the Board will review the areas of interest received from the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees (SO/ACs) and consider its responses. We will also hold a training session for the Board to discuss and prepare for the two ICANN67 remote Public Forums. Contingency time has been allocated on both days, and will be used on Saturday to review resolutions or active accountability mechanisms.

Turning the Board’s workshop into a fully remote workshop is certainly a challenge, and one that we share with the Community. Not only does it mean not being face-to-face or being at the same location, but also not being within the same time zone. However, exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures. Virtual meetings are not new, but this is the first time we’ve ever held a fully virtual ICANN meeting. Let’s make the best of it. We are in this together.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member