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Prioritizing the Board’s Work and Goals During COVID-19

23 April 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our daily lives, more and more people are turning to the Internet to connect with friends and families, conduct business, and stay up-to-date with the latest information. ICANN, as the coordinator of the Internet’s system of unique identifiers, has an important role in preserving the safety, security, and resiliency of the Internet. As such, the ICANN Board is undertaking a number of actions to ensure that it is fulfilling its Bylaws-mandated responsibilities and addressing the impact that COVID-19 is having on our ability to work effectively together.

To this end, the Board is working with ICANN org to develop a comprehensive continuity work plan, which will drive and direct the Board’s actions and goals in the coming months. For the sake of accountability and transparency, I would like to share some of the highlights of our plan with you, the ICANN community, below.

Mitigating Potential Risks

We are taking several steps to minimize the Board members’ risk of contracting COVID-19 and planning for a range of scenarios, including the possibility that some Board members would be unable to exercise their duties due to the virus. Above all, the Board is committed to following and upholding ICANN’s Bylaws and governing laws to the best of its ability.

In line with recommendations from global and regional health authorities, and considering the practical impossibility of international travel, we have shifted from conducting in-person workshops to virtual meetings. These virtual meetings are being planned with deadlines, priorities, and time zones in mind. For the Board, this means working across time zones ranging from Tokyo (UTC +7) to Los Angeles (UTC -9), and everything in between.

Prioritized Workplan

Taking the inherent limitations into account, the Board fully intends to move forward and make progress on a number of critical issues impacting ICANN. It is important that we continue to engage with the community and provide ample time and avenues for feedback. Together with ICANN org, we will continue to work with leaders of ICANN’s Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees to determine the best approach to gathering the community’s input.

Hot Topics

Our plan identifies “hot topics” that the Board will prioritize. These include the proposed transfer of ownership of the Public Interest Registry (PIR), how best to support the ICANN68 remote meeting, and addressing Domain Name System (DNS) abuse.

Identified Priorities

Given the challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19, the Board’s work plan is aimed at ensuring appropriate business continuity and the fulfillment of its fiduciary responsibilities. While this plan is in force, the Board will primarily focus on its Bylaw-mandated responsibilities. These include:

  • Root zone key signing key (KSK)
  • Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice
  • ICANN reviews
    • Second Security, Stability, and Resiliency (SSR2)
    • Third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3)
    • Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice (CCT)
  • Implementation of the recommendations outlined in the Cross-Community Working Group (CCWG)-Accountability Work Stream (WS2) Final Report
  • Ongoing and upcoming Reconsideration Requests and Independent Review Processes (IRPs)
  • Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
  • Fiscal Years 2021-2025 Operating and Financial Plan
  • The GNSO’s Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data
  • Global Public Interest (GPI) framework implementation
  • Public Technical Identifiers (PTI)
  • Appointment of Nominating Committee (NomCom) Chair and Chair-Elect
  • Updates to the ICANN Strategic Plan

In addition, the Board will continue working, in the appropriate timeframe, on its FY20 operational priorities, as well as on key topics such as: new generic top-level domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro), auction proceeds, prioritization and scheduling of ICANN reviews, and developing a work plan to improve the effectiveness of ICANN's multistakeholder model.

This list is not exhaustive, and these priorities may shift as the situation evolves. Above all, it is important that we remain accountable and transparent to the community, so we will continue to provide updates and keep you informed.

I would like to thank the community for its patience and understanding as we work to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. Within the ICANN ecosystem, contributing to ICANN’s work is a primary job for some community members, and a side job for many others. We fully recognize that our daily lives and activities, whether ICANN or non-ICANN related, are being impacted by the current situation. I would therefore ask you to be kind to yourself and to others, even more so throughout these challenging times. We are in this together, and the only way we can successfully address the current situation is by communicating and helping one another. The Internet works – let us make sure we do our part in keeping it up and running.

I am looking forward to seeing you all, healthy and well, as soon as possible.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member