Board Activities and Meetings
A Special Meeting of the ICANN Board of Directors was held via teleconference 19 February 2010 @ 03.00 UTC. Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush promptly called the meeting to order.
In addition to Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Rod Beckstrom (President and CEO), Dennis Jennings (Vice Chairman), Harald Tveit Alvestrand, Raimundo Beca, Steve Crocker, Rita Rodin Johnston, Raymond A. Plzak, Rajasekhar Ramaraj, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, Jean-Jacques Subrenat, Bruce Tonkin, and Katim Touray. Gonzalo Navarro sent his apologies.
The following Board Liaisons participated in all or part of the meeting: Janis Karklins, GAC Liaison; Ram Mohan, SSAC Liaison; Thomas Narten, IETF Liaison; Jonne Soininen, TLG Liaison; Vanda Scartezini, ALAC Liaison; and Suzanne Woolf, RSSAC Liaison.
Also, the following ICANN Management and staff participated in all or part of the meeting: John Jeffrey, General Counsel and Secretary; Doug Brent, Chief Operating Officer; Geoff Bickers, Director of Security Operations; and Diane Schroeder, Director of Board Support.
Discussion regarding Upcoming ICANN International Meeting
Rod Beckstrom, Doug Brent and Geoff Bickers led a presentation to the Board on the following topics relating to the upcoming International Meeting in Nairobi: a) the additional measures taken by the Kenyan hosts and ICANN to enhance security; b) the current registration and cancellation figures, particularly noting those who have declared they will not attend; c) the full agenda planned for the meeting, with a commitment to move ahead on relevant decisions; d) the demands and challenges to providing enhanced remote participation tools, to support those who will not be able to attend in person; the need for ongoing monitoring of the security situation; and, e) the ongoing communication with the community.
Doug noted that the recommendation is to proceed with the meeting in Nairobi, and recounted the measures taken by ICANN to focus on providing information to participants so that each can make their own choice to attend. Doug also noted the challenges associated with meetings in general, and having ICANN’s Sponsoring Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) choose alternate locations for meetings, while making sure that the planned community policy agenda moves forward as planned so that agenda items cannot be filibustered by non-attendance.
Bruce Tonkin inquired about the use of ICANN’s financial resources in supporting alternate sites for SOs and ACs.
Doug clarified that ICANN should not provide budget and financial resources to support an alternate venue. If members of the community wish to get together in an alternate location and use the remote participation tools that ICANN is providing, that’s fine. Staff does not to be responsible for making someone feel that they are required to attend the ICANN meeting. However, if the SO or AC selected a different venue, there would be concerns in using ICANN finances to support that.
Rod noted that he was aware of companies that were offering meeting space and facilities to help groups meet somewhere else. While ICANN cannot come up with a budget and fair allocation of funds for these activities now, ICANN may be able to link participants with the corporate sponsors.
Bruce inquired as to whether ICANN would send staff to an alternate meeting site if the GNSO held a meeting there.
Rod noted that if the GNSO as a whole selected an alternate meeting, ICANN would send staff.
Geoff Bickers then briefed the Board on the security issues, noting the extent of work to reevaluate threats and the work being done to address security concerns. Geoff noted that the overall picture of the situation does not cause enough concern to lead to a cancellation of the event or change the recommendation that the meeting proceeds there.
Jean-Jacques Subrenat noted that there are two aspects of security. First, the overall security situation of Nairobi is similar to what is found in 40% of the world. The second aspect is specific threats. On the first, Jean-Jacques noted that we are aware that it’s not worse than many other places in the world. On the second, the specific, Jean-Jacques thinks that we owe it to the community to minimize risks – which has been done to some degree – but so long as we can’t assess the specific threat, it’s better to be prudent than overly confident.
The Chair then raised questions regarding the assessment of the specific threat targeted at the KICC.
Rod noted that work to evaluate the specific threat has been a considerable focus of ICANN’s efforts.
Geoff then recounted the information known about the threat, and that after evaluation there has not been considered necessary to raise the warning level. The threat is credible, without corroborating evidence, with no information on timing or who would undertake the threat. There is no concrete information for action.
George Sadowsky inquired about the safety of the airport and the airport road, and recounted his past experiences on the road.
Geoff noted that the local hosts would have desks set up in the airport to assist in coordination of safe travel.
Katim Touray requested that ICANN suggests for participants to be careful because of bottlenecks in the road and travel on the left side of the street, for those who are unfamiliar.
Doug then returned to community participation issues, and noted that there are strong statements of support from the ccNSO and the At-Large. There is no office statement of support from the GAC, but many are still attending. Many or most of the root operators will not been there. The GNSO Council chair will not be in attendance, and the Registry Stakeholder Group and the IP Constituency are holding their own meetings around the time of the Nairobi meeting. The ASO and ARIN are also not attending. Doug also reported that the scribes will not be attending, and staff is reviewing how to address that situation, as the scribe feed is important for remote participation. In terms of attendance, though the numbers are subject to change, there are 738 attendees after a call to determine if registrants would cancel. Approximately 70 cancellations were received, and 23 additional registrations came in during that same time.
Doug continued that staff is working to address this as a regular ICANN meeting held under special circumstances. All document posting deadlines have been enforced. There has been substantial improvement in the comment and comment analysis process. Learning from the At-Large model, there is a session-by-session review to determine what will be needed for remote participation, with a focus on making lower tech tools available, for those with bandwidth challenges. This will be a challenge, and we will likely face infrastructure challenges as well as meeting facilitation challenges to balance remote and in-person participants. There is a lot of work going into making sure participants understand remote participations options in advance, and there will be more staff in Nairobi and in Marina del Rey troubleshooting and working on this.
Rod noted that the ICANN fellows were provided attendance alternatives to accommodate security preferences.
Jean-Jacques noted that the Public Participation Committee has been focusing work on remote participation, and this will become an important fixture in the meetings. Jean-Jacques inquired about the staff complement to achieve this work.
Doug noted that there would be on-site support and staff facilitators for each meeting, as well as staff participating remotely for monitoring of the queues.
The Chair noted that there are two potential options for remote participation – one is the development of the technology and sociology of remote participation, which ICANN is doing here. The other option is to staff satellite or multi-located meetings at the same time to allow people to gather. The chair opened the floor to a discussion of this satellite idea.
Jonne Soininen noted that ICANN should not move forward with the idea of satellite meetings solely for the purpose of the Nairobi meeting. It has to be for a broader purpose. The Nairobi meeting presents a challenge where many people are not coming to the meeting for safety, security or other reasons. It’s OK to let people self-organize and gather in other locations, but ICANN work to move to such a model requires more thinking, not just action based on Nairobi.
Raymond A. Plzak noted that the idea behind satellite meetings is broken, and ICANN shouldn’t instigate or recognize the meetings. Ray suggested that ICANN should recognize that people may group together to utilize the remote participation tools that ICANN is supporting for individuals, but there should not be any special allocation of resources to support a group someplace else, particularly where some group just doesn’t want to come to a certain place. A more in-depth study and discussion is needed to review what satellite participation would mean, and we need to be careful how we do this.
Dennis Jennings noted his support for Ray’s comment. Dennis suggested that this situation, however, may present an opportunity to test how satellite meetings would work, and provide staff support for one location as a test.
The Chair noted that it’s a possibility, but it would be far better to test at a different meeting outside of Africa and have the trial for people in Africa who cannot afford to travel to outside of Africa.
Dennis and Ray agreed with the Chair.
George noted his agreement with Jonne and Ray. George noted that Dennis’ suggestion will set expectations that will linger for a long time, and this is a situation where everyone is scrambling. Decisions like this should not be made in a hurry. The Nairobi meeting will provide us the opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t work, and then in the longer run, we may be able to identify events or processes that might benefit from a supported distributed meetingsThe Chair noted that one outcome might be to refer this issue to the PPC for studies of making meetings more effective and representative.
Jean-Jacques agreed with the Chair’s statement and noted that this topic is already being advanced there. Jean-Jacques then responded to Ray’s comment, noting that if ICANN wants to engage more public participation, some of that has to be through remote participation. This meeting is a good place to start seeing what works and what doesn’t, which is why there’s been so much effort in formalized the remote participation toolset.
Doug then reviewed preliminary cost information relating to the Nairobi meeting, and reiterated the steps that staff is taking on remote participation as well as undertaking a continued review of the security situation. Doug noted that it would be important to – if it’s the consensus of the Board – provide the community with the statement that the meeting is still going forward, and there’s a commitment to improve remote participation so that those who choose not to attend in person can still participate.
George inquired about the sufficiency of the fiber link to the KICC.
Nick Tomasso confirmed that the fiber link is directly to the KICC and is operational with bandwidth in excess of what is normally used at an ICANN meeting.
Rita Rodin Johnston stated that prior to the specific threat to the KICCC, the Board agreed that the risks inherent with traveling around the world are part of being with ICANN, and there’s a responsibility to hold the meetings around the world. We have to understand and accept security issues in different areas. However, with the information on the specific threat to the KICC, that was more disturbing. Rita recounted that there was an acknowledgment that this threat was seen as credible, that there were people with the means to take this action, and that the KICC had not previously been the subject of the threat. While we can enhance security and hope for the best, you don’t know the probability. Rita stated that for the record, she does not feel comfortable having this meeting. If the meeting goes forward remote participation is critical, and ICANN should consider funding people to a set number of locations so that people don’t feel as if a meeting and agenda is moving forward, and the only choice is to put themselves in a potentially compromising position. Rita asks that this funding can be taken into consideration.
George stated that he shares Rita’s concerns, and does not believe that anyone is totally comfortable with the situation.
Jean-Jacques also noted his agreement with George and Rita.
The Chair then turned discussion to a draft resolution.
Rita confirmed that if the resolution is regarding a confirmation of the plans to proceed with the Nairobi meeting and allow people to self-organize, she would vote against the resolution, though she may consider the resolution differently if it included alternate sites and provisions for pocket of remote participation.
Jean-Jacques also noted that while he does not have any problem with enhancing public participation, he is not in favor of continuing the meeting in Nairobi.
Dennis Jennings then moved and the Chair seconded the following Resolutions:
Review of Plans for ICANN’s 37th International Meeting in Nairobi
Whereas, the ICANN Board approved holding its 2010 Africa meeting in Nairobi during its May 2009 Board Meeting (see resolution 2009.05.21.09);
Whereas, the ICANN Board has reconfirmed its commitment to hold the 37th International Meeting in Nairobi, during its January 2010 Board Meeting (see resolution 2010.01.22.01);
Whereas, ICANN has continued to receive external information and questions regarding security and has conducted internal reviews and external reviews of the current security conditions following on from recent events in Nairobi;
Resolved (2010.02.18.01), the ICANN Board has reviewed and confirms the plans for its upcoming 37th International ICANN Meeting in Nairobi;
Resolved (2010.02.18.02), the ICANN Board directs the CEO to continue to communicate widely with the community and provide information regarding the meeting;
Resolved (2010.02.18.03), the ICANN Board directs the CEO to report back to the ICANN Board following the 37th International Meeting on the use of the adjustments and approaches relating to enhancement of ICANN’s meetings.
The Chair held a vote by roll call.
Peter Dengate Thrush, Dennis Jennings, Harald Alvestrand Raimundo Beca, Rod Beckstrom, Raymond A. Plzak, Rajasekhar Ramaraj, Mike Silber, Bruce Tonkin and Katim Touray voted in favor of the Resolutions.
Rita Rodin Johnston opposed the Resolutions.
Steve Crocker, George Sadowsky and Jean-Jacques Subrenat abstained from voting.
Gonzalo Navarro was not available to vote on the Resolutions.
The Resolutions carried.
Jean-Jacques noted for the record that though he abstained from voting, he would be attending the meeting as a measure of solidarity.
George Sadowsky provided the following statement to support his abstention:
"My abstention comes from considerable ambivalence regarding whether we should continue with the meeting. On balance, I think we should, and if I had been the deciding vote in the resolution I might have voted for it. However, that was not the case and, as I suspected, the resolution passed without my affirmative vote.
“On the one hand, there are about 700 people who we believe still want to attend the meeting, and many of them are generally underrepresented at other ICANN meetings in large part for financial and geographic reasons. If we have this meeting, I want it to be a success not only for the entire ICANN community, but for them in particular, and I will contribute to the best of my ability to make this happen.
“On the other hand, we are bound to a location that has had considerable security problems for some time, and now we have knowledge of a specific targeted threat. In proceeding, we are taking a non-negligible risk with the lives of many people. I feel considerable reluctance to take that risk, although as the vote indicates, we will take it.
“I applaud the recent advances in the work of Nick Ashton-Hart and Jean-Jacques Subrenat's Public Participation Committee, and I hope that some of the remote participation work that has been achieved will help to ensure that this meeting will not fragment too much. However, it's clear to me that the event has been to some extent split into parts, and the work of the parts will not come close to what could have been achieved as a whole. In a community that depends critically upon discussion and finding common ground, we will inevitably lose some momentum.
“So the situation is neither white nor black. There are pluses and minuses on both sides of the decision. I did not support the motion because I wanted to record a concern and dissatisfaction with the process that got us to this point. Although I cannot say for certain how it could have been changed, I still want to register that concern as well as a determination to work in the future so that this situation will not happen again. Hence my abstention -- a necessarily very simple response to my assessment of a complex and mixed set of interwoven circumstances and decisions.”
Following on from a board member suggestion to withhold cost information while the Nairobi meeting is still being prepared and planned, the board members also approved a resolution to redact one resolution (2010.02.02.18.04) from the preliminary report until after the Nairobi meeting. The redacted resolution was regarding specific funding authorization for enhanced public participation. General Counsel & Secretary, John Jeffrey agreed that this redaction could be made consistent with Article III, Section 5, Paragraph 2 of the ICANN Bylaws, thus allowing the amount to be withheld until the arrangements are made and the resolution can be posted in the formal minutes of this meeting.
The Chair then inquired as to whether there is a contingency plan in place if the something occurs before the opening of the meeting.
Rod noted that staff started looking at those alternatives recently, but realized that staff did not have the resources to plan a contingency meeting on this short time frame. Rod also noted that there is work going on for general backup contract planning for future meetings.
Geoff noted that there is planning work in place regarding responses to events during the meeting, if necessary.
Rod thanked the Board for calling in to address this topic, and thanked the staff for the extraordinary efforts in responding to the situation.
The Chair and other Board members joined Rod in thanks to the team.
Meeting adjourned 4.35 UTC.