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Chair's Blog: Highlights from March ICANN Board Workshop

28 March 2022
By Maarten BottermanMaarten Botterman

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board met virtually 3–6 March for our second Board Workshop of the year. While our agenda remained consistent with the preview I outlined in my pre-workshop blog, my Board colleagues and I dedicated time to discuss the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Our hearts continue to go out to the people in Ukraine and the surrounding region who are impacted by the violence and hardships inflicted upon them. Our discussions resulted in the Board's decision to allocate US$1 million in financial assistance to support access to Internet infrastructure in emergency situations. The Board expects that the distribution will focus on support for maintaining Internet access for users within Ukraine. As we noted in the announcement of this financial assistance, the Board recognized the value this type of support could provide on a longer-term basis and has directed the President and CEO to evaluate whether and how to instill this effort for future budget years. We look forward to sharing updates in due course. We appreciate and fully support the initiatives taken by the ICANN Organization (Org) to ensure the best possible support for Ukraine, including relief for registrants in Ukraine and the surrounding region and an expansion of Domain Name Security Threat Information Collection and Reporting project to monitor terms related to the Russia-Ukraine war.

The remainder of the Board Workshop focused on advancing our work and preparing for productive conversations with the Community during the ICANN73 Community Forum. Below are the key outcomes of our workshop and our positive conversations with the Community at ICANN73.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Our workshop sessions started with Matthew Shears leading a Strategic Outlook Trend Identification exercise to review new and evolving trends in ICANN's ecosystem. This exercise forms part of the Board's annual evaluation of the Strategic Plan and feeds into the FY24 Planning Process. We look forward to reviewing the results of the broader trends identification work, including inputs from the trend sessions with the ICANN Community. Trend identification is crucial in ensuring we are aware of and can take into consideration trends that could shape our future work. The following session led by Becky Burr featured a presentation from ICANN Org on the trends in government and intergovernmental organization activities to ensure we are up to date on developments in this area that could impact ICANN's work.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Our second day was spent preparing for a productive ICANN73. James Galvin shepherded a policy briefing from ICANN Org, as well as a review of the questions and topics that the different parts of the Community identified for discussion with the Board during ICANN73. Avri Doria and Danko Jevtović led the final discussion of the day focused on the pending recommendations from the second Security, Stability, and Resiliency Review (SSR2). The Board discussed a proposal to defer the third SSR Review (SSR3) based on a recommendation from the third Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT3) team and to allow time for completion of the pending SSR2 recommendations. The Board recognizes that the timing as stipulated in the ICANN Bylaws will need to be adjusted and expects that this will take place as a result of ATRT3 recommendation implementation. Any updates to the ICANN Bylaws will be subject to Public Comment proceedings. The Board considered a formal resolution on the deferring of SSR3 at its meeting on 10 March 2022. The resolution can be viewed here.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

The third day of the Board Workshop opened with ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby shepherding a session on the Domain Name System (DNS) Security Threat Mitigation Program. The Board received an update on the progress of this program along with overviews of the data from ICANN's Domain Abuse Activity Reporting System and the Community's efforts in mitigating DNS security threats. Of course, there are many aspects of this work, and the Community continues its own efforts to advance the topic. For example, a Community-led discussion on DNS abuse was presented at an ICANN73 Plenary Session, which you can review here. The Board will continue to follow the Community discussions on the way forward and stands ready to contribute where useful through the Board Caucus on DNS Abuse. Whereas security threats using the DNS may go beyond ICANN's mandate, a solid understanding of what we can do together will lay the foundation for further actions, up to and beyond what ICANN is already doing today.

Matthew Shears then led the Board in a continuation of the prioritization exercise the Board carried out at our January workshop. This exercise focuses on prioritizing all current and planned Board work that is in addition to our Bylaws-mandated regular activities. Prioritization is tracked against the FY21-25 Strategic Plan to ensure that we can progress our work effectively. The prioritization results are a useful tool for Board decision-making and will be used to shape Board Workshop agendas. With a busy year ahead, prioritization is an essential effort not only for the Board, but also for the Community and Org. It is important that there is synergy in how we organize our work. We look forward to following the wider Prioritization Framework Pilot to inform our interrelated work plans.

Our last session of the day was led by Becky Burr in preparation for a dialogue with the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council on the policy recommendations for the System for Standardized Access/Disclosure to Nonpublic Generic Top-Level Domain Registration Data (SSAD). We look forward to continuing open and collaborative conversations on this topic so we can determine the next steps together.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

The last day of the workshop started with Avri Doria leading an update from ICANN Org on the work of the Operational Design Phase on the New Generic Top-Level Domain Subsequent Procedures Policy Recommendations. This work is ongoing and can be followed here. A related discussion was held during a dedicated session at ICANN73, which you can review here. During the Board's Workshop session, the Board discussed closed generics. This remains an area where clarity is needed and the Board looks forward to facilitating a dialogue between the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and the GNSO to advance this conversation.

The Board then turned its attention to preparing for the 10 March Public Board Meeting, during which we resolved to:

  • Appoint an independent audit firm for FY22.
  • Defer SSR3.
  • Adopt the GNSO Council Expedited Policy Development Process Phase 2A Policy Recommendations.
  • Take further action in consideration of the Independent Review Process Final Declaration on the .WEB matter.

Following our discussions throughout the workshop on the situation in Ukraine, the Board Workshop finished with a Special Board Meeting to pass a resolution on the Emergency Financial Support for Continued Access to the Internet.

ICANN73

On behalf of the Board, I want to extend our gratitude to those who were able to participate in ICANN73. The Community Forum is a great opportunity for the Board and the Community to interact directly and for the Community to advance its work. We appreciate the collaboration and positive spirit of engagement between the Community, Org, and Board to prepare for the meetings between the Board and specific constituencies, as well as those who participated in the Community work sessions, the plenary conversations, and at the ICANN Public Forum.

A key takeaway from these conversations is the need for us to continue to prioritize and proactively engage together in our work. The Prioritization Framework Pilot is an important step in this. We will also continue to identify opportunities for proactive and open dialogue with stakeholders that will be supportive of the Community's work and respect the bottom-up multistakeholder process. We encourage stakeholder groups and constituencies to engage with the Board where they deem that it would be useful to have early input on policy development issues.

We look forward to seeing you at the ICANN74 Policy Forum in The Hague, Netherlands, being held 13–16 June 2022. Remote participation has long been an important part of ICANN Public Meetings. With our upcoming hybrid meeting approach, where we expect that many participants will still join and actively participate virtually, it is important that we raise the bar in how we approach blending in-person and remote contributions. Our goal is that our meetings are as productive and inclusive as possible. We are looking forward to laying the foundation of this approach together and appreciate your support in balancing online and in-person interactions so that we all can contribute effectively to supporting ICANN's mission.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to support ICANN in fulfilling its mission. A secure and stable Internet is more important to more people than ever before, and we must, together, ensure that it remains so.

Authors

Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Chair
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