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Chair’s Blog: The Los Angeles Workshop Recap

8 February 2018
By Cherine Chalaby

With about a month left before many of us gather in Puerto Rico, I wanted to share with you an overview of the most recent Board workshop.

Washington, D.C. Visit

On my way to Los Angeles for the Board workshop, I stopped in Washington, D.C. for a few days to meet with stakeholders from the region. I met with some representatives of civil society & think tanks at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and with business stakeholders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to our hosts, and those who came and asked questions. I very much appreciated our productive conversations. With the ICANN org staff, I held introductory meetings with relevant U.S. House and Senate staffers and with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to discuss ICANN and answer any questions people might have. I was also able to spend time with the ICANN org staff in Washington.

Board-Only Day

I was then on to Los Angeles, and as I mentioned in my last blog, we held this Board workshop a little differently then we have in the past. The Board met alone, without staff, for an additional day at the beginning of the workshop, where we took the time to hold deep dives and strategic discussions on topics like the picket fence and the trends in the China domain name registration market. We discussed the challenges facing the Board around deciding if something is in the global public interest, held a session on improving Board effectiveness and efficiency and agreed on the outline of a community consultation paper on the replenishment of the Reserve fund. It was a chance for us to take some time to think and discuss major issues and our priorities moving forward.

Board Workshop

We covered many important topics during the rest of the workshop, discussing the ongoing developments around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance for ICANN contracts and the ICANN org, the work done by the Cross-Community Working Group on Workstream 2, and the strategic planning process. We know the long-term strategic plan is of great importance for everyone involved in ICANN, and we talked about how to best get involved and support the process.

We heard an update regarding ICANN org's ongoing efforts to identify and mitigate DNS infrastructure abuse (phishing, botnets, malware), and Ram Mohan led a topic on the security and resilience of the root server system. We also began a discussion around

recommending, as a "best practice," that the ICANN's Supporting Organizations, Advisory Committees, and Cross Community Working Groups include an analysis on how policies, advice and recommendations submitted to the Board for consideration are aligned with ICANN's mission. The Board intends on issuing a consultation paper on this topic.

During the first open session of our workshop, Avri Doria summarized the path by which the community agreed to create a new Work Track 5 within the GNSO's Policy Development Process for New gTLD Subsequent Procedures. The Board was briefed on the differences between a GNSO PDP and a cross community working group, and on how the agreed Terms of Reference for this work track allows for some adoption of the latter's flexibility within the GNSO's policy remit. The Board welcomes the community's willingness to collaborate on its work relating to geographic names as top-level domains, steered by Work Track 5 co-chairs appointed by the ALAC, GAC, ccNSO and GNSO.

The Board reviewed the Draft FY19 Budget currently out for public comment during another open session, and had a lively discussion focused on ensuring funding and expenses assumptions are conservative and that the budget process continues to allow broad community engagement and input. We also received an update on the current and projected financial situation for FY18 as part of exercising close oversight over the ICANN org on financial responsibility.

In a session led by Becky Burr, on GAC Advice and curative rights protections, ICANN org briefed the Board on the current status of community work concerning protections at the second level of the domain name system for international governmental organizations. The Board, led by Maarten Botterman, then reviewed the resolution about the GAC's advice from the Abu Dhabi Communique.

During our official Board meeting, we passed several resolutions, on topics such as the SSAC Advisory on Registrant Protection, .MUSEUM, and Home/Corp/Mail applications. Read more here.

Engagement with the Community in Los Angeles

As the fifth Non-Contracted Parties House (NCPH) Intersessional Meeting was being held in Los Angeles at the same time, we were invited to join the NCPH delegates for lunch on the second day of the meeting. The Intersessional allows representatives from the various community groups making up the NCPH to come together, to collaborate on policy and other topics of mutual interest. The lunch was an excellent opportunity for Board members to meet with community leaders as well as new faces from each community group in an informal setting.

Along with Avri, Becky, León Sanchez, Matthew Shears and Sarah Deutsch, I joined the GNSO Council for a discussion on the Council's focus for the year ahead, including the need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in managing the GNSO policy process. This was the Council's first-ever strategic planning session, and it happened to be in Los Angeles while we were there. We were pleased to have had the chance to meet them in person for a very informative dialogue.

Board Member Integrity Screening

As you may recall from ICANN60 in Abu Dhabi, the Board has been considering the issue of Board Member Integrity Screening for some time. On 1 November 2017, I reported in a blog the steps that the Board agreed to take to ensure that Board Members hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity and to uphold the reputation and credibility of ICANN. These steps included conducting screenings for the current and incoming board members that had not gone through the due diligence screening process as a part of their selection. These integrity screenings were conducted through a professional third-party firm and the due diligence reports were delivered to the office of the General Counsel.

In order to provide a mechanism for review of the due diligence reports, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) reconstituted a former Sub-Committee of the BGC on Ethics and Conflicts. The BGC selected George Sadowsky to Chair and also named Rafael Lito Ibarra and Sarah Deutsch as members of the Sub-Committee.

On 3 and 4 February 2018, the Sub-Committee reviewed each of the seven due diligence reports for the following board members -- Becky Burr, Chris Disspain, Manal Ismail, Ram Mohan, Matthew Shears, Mike Silber and Jonne Soininen. Please read a report from the Sub-Committee [PDF, 16 KB], which has been sent to the BGC which indicated their unanimous finding that there was no reason to question the credibility or integrity of any of the board members who were the subject of these reports.

I am pleased that integrity screenings for all Board Members have now been completed and I look forward to the next step in this process, regarding the communication with the community participants in board member selection and the development of a consultation paper that will be posted for public comment on a proposed path for continued integrity screenings to be considered as part of the board selection process.

In summary, it was a very productive and full time in Los Angeles and Washington. As you are getting ready for the ICANN61, please keep in mind that we currently have four public comments open – so I'd like to take this blog as a reminder to you to please participate and share your comments here.


Cherine Chalaby

Former ICANN Board Chair