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Reflecting Back on 2021 at ICANN

20 December 2021
By Göran Marby

As 2021 comes to a close, I am reflecting on another year where the work of the ICANN Board, community, and organization has exceeded expectations. While I had hoped that my 2020 end-of-year blog would be the last one in which I spoke about unprecedented challenges, this year has again been a testament to the strength of the multistakeholder model in meeting the demands of an ever-evolving Internet ecosystem, at a time when we all depend on the Internet more than ever.

I want to extend my deep gratitude and appreciation for the ICANN community, particularly those community leaders and volunteers who worked to advance key policy-making initiatives and advice that resulted in over 250 recommendations for the ICANN Board to consider. ICANN depends on your collaboration, contributions, and participation, and I am grateful for the consistent work and engagement from the community so that we can continue to innovate and progress together.

I also want to recognize the work of my ICANN org team who have worked harder than ever to support the community and the ICANN Board. Here is a snapshot of the work the org conducted this year:

  • Continuing to roll out new features as part of the Information Transparency Initiative (ITI), including migrating nearly 70,000 pieces of content onto the new platform.
  • Launching Operational Design Phases (ODPs) to support the Board in its review of community-developed recommendations on the System for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD) and preparations to launch an ODP on Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) recommendations for a potential next application round for new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs).
  • Coordinating and facilitating more than 4,200 community calls.
  • Planning and implementing Board-approved recommendations, including those from the Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice Review; the Registration Directory Service Review; the third Accountability Transparency Review Team; the Cross Community Working Group Accountability Work Stream 2 (WS2) recommendations; and the work on the Evolution of ICANN's Multistakeholder Model.
  • Conducting monitoring, outreach, and audits to proactively ensure contracted parties are in compliance with agreements. In the last three months alone, ICANN Compliance has sent 1,226 inquiries and notices (collectively referred to as "compliance notifications") to contracted parties; closed 3,716 complaints without contacting the contracted party; and conducted compliance checks on a total of 1,576 registrars and 14 TLDs.
  • In addition, over the past year, ICANN Compliance closed more than 20,000 complaints against registrars and 1,500 complaints against registries.
  • Facilitating the Domain Name System Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group (DSFI-TSG) efforts to investigate potential mechanisms to strengthen collaboration and communication on the security and stability issues that impact the DNS, and recommendations for how ICANN org may best serve to improve the security, stability, and resiliency of the global Domain Name System (DNS). The group published its final report in October 2021.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the constantly changing legislative and regulatory landscape that might impact ICANN's technical role. This includes working with national governments and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) (including through national delegations to the IGOs) to understand the impact of proposed or texts under deliberation, which touch on ICANN's mission.

    • In Europe, the Government Engagement (GE) team acted to explain to policymakers how the DNS works in light of legislative initiatives touching on the DNS. Specifically, the team addressed efforts to regulate root servers, that are a critical part of how the DNS operates. As a result, both the European Union Member States and the European Parliament have understood the potential negative consequence and have now excluded root servers from the scope of the NIS2 Directive.
    • GE has followed developments and worked with delegations at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Open-ended Working Group and Ad Hoc Committee, organized briefings for diplomats from the Permanent Missions to the United Nations (UN), and published several papers, including two country focus reports (on Russia and the Netherlands) and UN cybersecurity deliberations, which were used for further briefing the broader ICANN community.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the constantly changing pandemic landscape and developing new approaches to support the ICANN Board, community, and staff during this time.

This is in addition to our ongoing internal operations, organizing and running three remote ICANN Public Meetings with interpretation in the six U.N. languages and a range of methods for remote engagement, conducting our annual budgeting and planning processes with input from the community, and holding more webinars than ever before as part of our efforts to maintain an engaged and consistent virtual presence for our stakeholders across the globe.

All of this occurred while our ICANN org teams worked remotely, juggling the demands of working from home and navigating multiple time zones. I want to publicly recognize the work and progress made by ICANN org during this time - I am proud and grateful to get to work with such dedicated individuals and teams.

As I look forward to 2022 and the work that lies ahead, I am focused on my goals for the coming fiscal year. I am acutely aware that 2022 will be a busy year with implementation work already underway for several reviews and more to come. There will be additional demands on the ICANN org team that require prioritization and thorough resource planning. We are actively hiring and expanding our teams to support this upcoming work as is highlighted on our new ICANN Careers page. I look forward to welcoming new members to the ICANN org team in 2022.

While this year I sincerely hoped to return to face-to-face meetings and in-person opportunities to meet, I am grateful for the dedication, commitment, and engagement from the ICANN Board, the ICANN community, and ICANN org members that have kept us truly connected in our work together. It's a privilege to work alongside you all and I am hopeful that 2022 will bring us back together in person again.


Göran Marby

Göran Marby

Former President & CEO