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Chair’s Blog: Recap of the March Remote Board Workshop

20 March 2020

From 2-7 March 2020, the ICANN Board gathered online for its workshop to further its business and prepare to engage with the community during ICANN’s 67th Public Meeting and first ever Virtual Community Forum. To adapt to this remote format, we stretched our meeting agenda across six days instead of the usual three. The final schedule was streamlined to make the best use of the most convenient time slots.

While the ICANN org Policy Development Support Team was preparing for the meeting with the community, and ICANN’s technical teams were working hard to provide the best possible support, the Board was focusing on the key issues identified by the community.

On Monday, 2 March, we discussed how to approach the upcoming workshop and remote ICANN meeting. During my opening statement, I emphasized that meeting remotely, while not the same as face-to-face, will be our primary mode of interaction for the foreseeable future. We cannot afford to simply wait for COVID-19 to go away. Critical processes must be continued, and many key decisions need to be taken in the weeks and months to come.

ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby then provided us with an update on issues relating to COVID-19, as well as other important matters. These updates from the CEO ensure that the Board continues to be well informed in its role of overseeing the ICANN org.

The Board discussed the proposed transfer of ownership of Public Interest Registry (PIR) on Tuesday, 3 March. During this time, the Board received a status update from ICANN org regarding its efforts to evaluate the proposed change of control. We also prepared for our interactions with the community on this topic during Public Forum 1, which was dedicated to discussing .ORG, and in the constituency meetings with the Board. While ICANN and PIR previously agreed to a 20 March 2020 deadline for ICANN to act on the change of control request, please note that PIR has agreed to further extend the deadline to 20 April 2020.

We devoted time on Wednesday, 4 March to further study issues related to the New generic top-level domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) policy development process, and receive an update on the work being done. This is a high-interest topic for the community, and our goal is to be prepared to move forward when the community is ready to do so. But clarity about the impact of new policy proposals on existing policies, if there is any, is a priority issue for the Board.

On Thursday, 5 March, we first focused on the .COM Registry Agreement amendment considerations. While ICANN org’s report on the public comments was not yet available, we were able to discuss a variety of considerations to get clarity on the issues raised. Beyond simply updating the Board, which has been happening regularly, this was a chance for us to be well-prepared for the discussion with the community during ICANN67. After this, we looked at several aspects related to the DNS abuse discussion. Updates from ICANN org’s Contractual Compliance team on current practices and considerations were complemented by an overview of various transparency tools available, such as the Domain Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR) system and Identifier Technology Health Indicators (ITHI).

The ICANN community’s support staff provided updates on the state of affairs in the community’s policy discussions and developments. This stretched across sessions on Friday, 6 March, and Saturday, 7 March. These briefings help ensure that the ICANN Board is not just looking at the highlighted issues, but is informed on all issues important to the different Supporting Organizations, Advisory Committees, and stakeholder groups. In addition, further updates related to .ORG and the Generic Name Supporting Organization’s (GNSO) Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) were discussed as they unfolded throughout the week.

We finished our preparation with a hands-on training of the Zoom conference tool which, while intended to allow thousands to participate on the same call, is in many ways very similar to the Zoom webinar tool we are already used to working with. We were also briefed on how language support would be provided. We’re very pleased to have such a great set of tools available. They served us well throughout the week!

ICANN67 Public Forums

The Board deeply appreciates the community’s participation during both Public Forums. Your input is important and ensures that the Board has a broad understanding of the many questions, concerns, and suggestions that community has on key issues. Having Public Forum 1 dedicated to .ORG was done in response to the high demand for such a public session and allowed community members to express their thoughts on the record. Due to the current situation, the Board couldn’t answer questions and suggestions at the moment but, where possible, answers were provided later in the week and published here. Public Forum 2 invited comments and questions on a variety of topics in an open format. It was interesting to see how the use of the chat developed – a facility that had hardly been used in the forums before. We look forward to an evaluation and possible improvements.

Public Board meeting

During the public Board meeting, a number of resolutions were passed. You can view them  in full here, including the rationale for our decisions. These include:

  • Authorized the ICANN President and CEO to engage BDO LLP and BDO member firms as independent auditors for the financial statements for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2020.
  • Authorized the ICANN President and CEO to engage in and facilitate the necessary contracting and disbursements for the host venue of ICANN’s second Public Meeting of 2022, which will be held in The Hague, Netherlands.
  • Accepted the Second Organizational Review of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC2) Detailed Implementation Plan, directed the SSAC2 Review Implementation Work Party to continue implementation, and to provide updates to the Board’s Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC).
  • Accepted the Second Organizational Review of the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC2) Detailed Implementation Plan, directed the RSSAC2 Review Implementation Work Party to continue implementation, and to provide updates to the Board’s OEC.

I want to reiterate the Board’s gratitude to all that helped make ICANN67 a success: the community, for embracing the remote meeting “as the best we can do, in the best possible way;” and the ICANN organization, for its grand effort to provide the best possible technical platform and support as well as its work in interacting with the community leadership to ensure the best possible use of the time available.

And, again, a thank you to the Cancún hosts and suppliers, who have been very graceful in accepting the need to cancel our face-to-face meeting. We look forward to coming to Cancún in March 2021.

For now: your health, and the health of those close to you, is more important than anything. Having witnessed the constructive attitude, good collaboration, and commitment to make it work during ICANN67 gives me all confidence we will be able to continue to do our important work together over the months to come. We are all striving to find the best way forward. I wish you all the best in dealing with these extraordinary events, and look forward to continuing to work with you.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member