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Chair’s Blog: Recap of June Board Workshop and ICANN71

30 June 2021

Maarten BottermanMaarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair

The ICANN multistakeholder community brings many different voices together, and it's during ICANN meetings that we have the great opportunity to come together to exchange ideas and collaborate in support of our mission.

The Board gathered online 10-12 June for our fourth workshop in 2021, before the Directors joined you in participating in the ICANN71 Virtual Policy Forum from 14-17 June. You can read about the priorities we set in advance of the workshop here. Below, I'd like to share some of the activities and impressions from our time together.

JUNE BOARD WORKSHOP

Thursday 10 June

The focus of our first day was on the recommendations in the final report of the Second Security, Stability, and Resiliency Review (SSR2). SSR2 marks an important opportunity to ensure that review recommendations can be implemented with clarity, do not conflict with existing advice or policy, and fully contribute to the safety, security, and resiliency of the unique identifier system. An important element of our discussions was to better understand which recommendations fall within our mandate and we can act on, as well as how the recommendations relate to other recommendations and policies. The SSR2 Board Caucus Group is assisting with the substantive analysis of the recommendations in preparation for Board action and will engage with the implementation shepherds to provide an update on the Board's work since the SSR2 Final Report was published. The Board must take action on the recommendations by 25 July and is committed to doing so.

Friday 11 June

We began Friday with a session to prepare for our participation in ICANN71. We received thorough briefings from ICANN Organization (Org) on the current state of policy and advice priorities that would be discussed during the Virtual Policy Forum. The volume and scope of issues the Community is managing is formidable. We must ensure the focus is on the right priorities, so that the Org can allocate available resources wisely.

ICANN Org also provided the Board with an update on progress to enhance the effectiveness of our multistakeholder model. As I detailed here, this effort is critical to ensuring that the multistakeholder model is able to meet the ever-changing needs of ICANN's global Community. The Board is very engaged on this topic and we had a robust discussion focusing on how we can most effectively implement recommendations and evaluate progress. To be able to fulfil our mission, our entire multistakeholder community needs to continue to evolve how we work together. The forthcoming implementation plan will help us determine how to appropriately prioritize and resource this effort.

We also received an update on the recently launched Operational Design Phase (ODP) examining the proposal for the System for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD) to handle nonpublic registration data. The ODP is an important tool to provide the Board the information it needs to properly assess the detailed recommendations. Board members also discussed possible industry contacts who could contribute to the Request for Information on identity verification methods for the SSAD. The Board recognizes that building the SSAD will be difficult and has requested regular briefings on the topic going forward. As we have never done this before, we also want to learn and optimize as much as we can at every step.

Next, the Org updated us on various legislative proposals with a potential to impact ICANN's remit, including the revised Network and Information Security Directive (NIS2), the Digital Services Act, and the Second Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime. Overall, the Org's increased engagement and legislative monitoring has resulted in a more prepared and responsive position. We follow this closely, and we are pleased to see that the briefings on these subjects, organized by the Org for the Community, are well attended.

Saturday 12 June

In preparation of the next round of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), we reviewed the timeline, objectives, and parameters for conducting an ODP, and discussed the 12 discrete areas laid out in the draft ODP scoping document. The Board specifically spent some time discussing one of those areas, Global Engagement, Linguistic Support, and Localization, because we see Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and Universal Acceptance (UA) as crucial components of a new round. The Board looks forward to the completion of the ODP scoping document and moving forward on this project.

During the final session of our workshop, we began the process of drafting the Board Operating Priorities for fiscal year 2022 (FY22). This video explains more about this process. We broke into brainstorming groups to consider the content, organization, and deliverables for each of the five organizational blocks. We will continue to discuss and draft over the coming two months with a target of delivering a final list and a set of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals by September.

THE BOARD AT ICANN71

Normally during a Public Meeting, Board members would walk the meeting halls, talk to members of the Community, and hear a range of views on the issues. The virtual nature of the meeting makes this informal information-gathering more complicated, yet we were able to have substantive discussions and participate in numerous sessions. Most of the Board members participated in the plenary sessions on regulatory developments, the ICANN multistakeholder model in the Internet governance space, and reputation block lists. Personally, I deeply enjoyed the social event hosted by the European Regional At-Large Organization (EURALO) featuring a virtual tour of the lovely Dutch town of Delft; a view of the Binnenhof, one of the world's oldest Parliament buildings still in use; a short course on painting in Delft-blue style; and an exceptional musical number from our own GEMS band. It wouldn't be ICANN without an acronym, which in this case stands for the Global Equal Multistakeholder band.

The Board was happy to see that the ICANN71 program was truly prepared by the Community in the spirit of the guidelines recently developed to improve Public Meeting planning. During ICANN71, the Board had one official Joint Session – with the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) – where we exchanged views on topics of high interest to the GAC including the next round of gTLDs, Domain Name System (DNS) security threat mitigation, review recommendations, and the future of ICANN Public Meetings. The Board met with three stakeholder groups – the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), Contracted Parties House (CPH), and Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) – the week after ICANN71 concluded, and we will meet with the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) on 8 July. We scheduled these meetings after ICANN71 to ensure Community and Board members were able to participate fully in the Virtual Policy Forum.

During the last ICANN71 session on the future of ICANN Public Meetings, we listened to the thoughts shared by many of you and appreciated the dialogue on how to ensure future meetings remain accessible, inclusive, productive, and above all, safe. Despite many uncertainties about the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, it was clear from the discussion that the Community would like to go back to in-person meetings as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. If you were not able to attend, I encourage you to read the transcript or watch a recording of the conversation which can be found here.

The Board will decide in July whether to hold the ICANN72 Annual General Meeting virtually or as a hybrid meeting with virtual and in-person components. Our decision will be based on all input received, including Community input as well as the latest information and advice on the pandemic and global travel disruptions. 

AFTER ICANN71

In summary, we have a number of important decisions to make before the end of July. We are committed to being transparent in how we come to these decisions, building on facts that we share with you, and from your input that we receive via reviews, policy development processes, public consultations, advice from Community leadership, and by listening to you at every available opportunity. You will be able to find records of our decisions and supporting documentation on the Board pages on https://icann.org.

Thank you for your commitment and continued contributions to our important work. You have proven that even when circumstances put obstacles in our way, we can fulfil our mission when we work together. Stay safe.

Maarten Botterman
Maarten Botterman
ICANN Board Chair

Maarten Botterman

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