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Public Comment Guidelines for the ICANN Organization

9 October 2019
By David Olive

Public Comment is a mechanism that gives the ICANN community and other stakeholders an opportunity to provide input and feedback on ICANN's work. It ensures ICANN and its community "operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness" per the ICANN Bylaws.

The ICANN organization (ICANN org) recently adopted internal guidelines for Public Comment that clarify its purpose and define when it should be implemented. The internal guidelines codify current Public Comment practice for the benefit of ICANN org.

According to the internal guidelines, Public Comment will continue to apply to the following categories:

  • ICANN org or community governance documents such as the ICANN Bylaws, operating procedures, and community charters.
  • Policy recommendations including reports (draſt, initial, and final) of potential, ongoing, and completed policy development processes.
  • Organizational reviews and specific reviews recommendations.
  • Implementation plans for policy and specific reviews recommendations.
  • Cross-community working group recommendations.
  • ICANN org base agreements with registry operators and registrars.
  • Documents that impact community policy, recommendations, or advice.

I would also like to highlight three points from the internal guidelines:

  1. Public Comment is the default mechanism when seeking feedback from the ICANN community or general public.
  2. There may be circumstances where an alternative to Public Comment may be more appropriate. Alternative mechanisms include consultations or surveys for more targeted audiences and must be approved by ICANN org executive team members.
  3. Announcements, blog posts, social media campaigns, regional newsletters, and mailing lists will not be used as mechanisms for collecting feedback.

ICANN org supports the work of the community by managing Public Comment as a consistent and effective feedback mechanism. We hope the internal guidelines contribute to the accountability and transparency commitments of ICANN org.

To stay up to date on Public Comment proceedings, please visit our Upcoming Public Comment Proceedings webpage which is updated on a monthly basis. The Public Comment team also publishes an annual report of Public Comment trends; I encourage you to read the findings from the last nine years.

As ICANN evolves, the Public Comment process will adapt as well. The Public Comment team has been working with the Information Transparency Initiative team to develop an improved Public Comment feature based on input from the ICANN community. We look forward to testing it in early 2020.

As always, the Public Comment team is available to answer questions at public-comment@icann.org.


David Olive

David Olive