The ICANN Board of Directors recently held its first Board Workshop of the year, and I'm pleased to report that we began 2023 on a productive note.
During the four-day meeting, held in Los Angeles, we discussed and made progress on many of the most important issues that ICANN is currently facing, including the effectiveness of ICANN's multistakeholder model of governance and the next round of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
We also had ample opportunity to engage with ICANN's Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Sally Costerton. She gave us an update on the ICANN Organization's (Org) work in support of the many operational activities and community-led initiatives, including the ICANN Grant Program.
Here are the key takeaways from our workshop:
SubPro: The Board spent a full day considering the Operational Design Assessment (ODA) of the outputs and recommendations contained in the Generic Names Supporting Organization's (GNSO) Final Report on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) Policy Development Process. We reviewed the community's recommendations and the Org's analysis, with a focus on the risks involved and which dependencies exist among the policy recommendations and efforts, such as Universal Acceptance, Internationalized Domain Names, Domain Name System (DNS) abuse, name collision, applicant support, and other activities.
The Board anticipates making incremental decisions leading up to the final decision on opening a new application window for new gTLDs, and we expect to vote on many of the GNSO's recommendations during the upcoming ICANN76 Public Meeting. We will defer a small, but important, subset of the recommendations for future consideration. In the meantime, the Board has asked ICANN Org to provide more detail on the financing of the steps envisioned in the ODA, and to develop a variation of the proposed Option 2 that ensures adequate time and resources to reduce the need for manual processing and takes into account the need to resolve critical policy issues, such as closed generics. We also plan to hold follow-up discussions with the GNSO Council and will soon arrange to do so.
WHOIS Disclosure System: The Board made progress in its consideration of a proposed ticketing system for requests for access to nonpublic gTLD registration data, which is based on ICANN Org's WHOIS Disclosure System Design Paper. To better inform a vote on the proposal, we asked the Org to provide more details on specific aspects of the design, including projected costs and how to encourage adoption of the system.
Universal Acceptance (UA) and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs): ICANN Org staff gave an update on the Org's progress toward UA-readiness. The Board also discussed how to share this information with stakeholders and reviewed the current analysis of dependencies related to IDNs for the next gTLD application round.
Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) Engagement: ICANN Org staff gave an update on ICANN's IGO engagement efforts last year, including the successful launch of the Coalition for Digital Africa, and previewed this year's IGO activities and processes. We discussed emerging trends in this space and the possible impacts on ICANN.
Board Effectiveness: We discussed proposed operational improvements that would help us better serve the community and improve our interactions. In addition to our ongoing efforts to increase Board efficiency and the timeliness in which we make decisions, we hope to implement these improvements by the next Annual General Meeting.
CEO Search: We discussed the process to identify and select the next President and CEO. There will be announcements in the coming weeks regarding the Search Committee and next steps.
Additionally, as part of our regular work, the Board conducted an assessment of ICANN's progress toward the goals of the current Strategic Plan, focusing on the strategic objective of improving the effectiveness of ICANN's multistakeholder model of governance. We discussed how the Board might better support community groups in their development of policies and advice, and the challenges to ICANN's governance model. As we have learned these past few years, the world is always changing, and we need to continuously re-examine and refine how we achieve our overall strategic priorities.
It is clear that we have a busy year ahead. As we approach a number of critical milestones for ICANN, both the Board and Org – one organization – seeks to work much more effectively and seamlessly alongside the ICANN community to make progress on these key issues and ensure a secure, stable, and unified global Internet.