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Board Activity on the Third Accountability and Transparency Review

ICANN's Bylaws-mandated reviews are an important accountability mechanism that enable us to maintain a healthy multistakeholder model. The Accountability and Transparency Review is one of four Specific Reviews anchored in the ICANN Bylaws. It is a thorough examination of ICANN's execution of its commitment to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability, and transparency to ensure that the outcomes of its decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to the global Internet community. ICANN is obligated to conduct this review periodically.

Earlier this year, the third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) delivered its Final Report to the ICANN Board. This report was then posted for Public Comment to help inform the Board's action on the final recommendations.

During our 30 November meeting, the Board resolved to approve the five recommendations in the ATRT3 Final Report, comprised of 15 component parts as enumerated in the scorecard, which call for:

  1. Updates to the requirements of ICANN's Public Comment proceedings.
  2. ICANN org to review the implementation of the second Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT2) recommendations in light of the ATRT3's assessment, and to complete the implementation of ATRT2 recommendations subject to prioritization.
  3. Changes to Specific and Organizational Reviews, including creation of a new Holistic Review of ICANN, and evolution of Organizational Reviews into Continuous Improvement Programs.
  4. Improvements to the accountability and transparency of ICANN's Strategic and Operating Plans.
  5. The creation of a community-led entity tasked with operating a prioritization process for recommendations made by review teams, cross-community groups, or any other community-related budgetary elements the Board or ICANN org feels appropriate.

Each of these recommendations is consistent with ICANN's mission and remit, and serves the public interest. I encourage you to read the resolution, which contains detailed discussion and rationale for the Board's action on each recommendation.

On behalf of the Board, I want to extend our thanks to the ATRT3 team for its dedication and hard work. The ATRT3 Final Report is the culmination of 14 months of work by 19 team members, representing more than 2,500 hours of meetings and significant engagement with the wider ICANN community throughout the process. The commitment and efforts of this review team and thoughtful contributions of the wider community via public comments and other engagement with the ATRT3 cannot be underestimated. This illustrates the strength, accountability, and transparency of the multistakeholder model.

The recommendations outlined in the Final Report pertain to complex issues and have dependencies on other ICANN work. With this in mind, the ATRT3 implementation shepherds have recognized that an iterative process may be needed to achieve the intended outcome and the Board's action is supportive of this approach.

The approved recommendations are subject to prioritization efforts, with the exception of the one recommendation which itself calls for a prioritization process. The recommendation provides guidance that a prioritization process should "operate by consensus of the individual SO/ACs, Board, and org members that are participating in the prioritization process." In the case of this recommendation, the Board directs ICANN org to proceed to implementation and develop a framework of prioritization with input from the community. Implementation of some of the recommendations, such as the proposed postponement of reviews, may require changes to ICANN's Bylaws. These changes will be subject to the established Bylaws change process, which includes an opportunity for ICANN community review. For further explanation and rationale, please refer to the published resolution.

The implementation of some of the recommendations will significantly impact the community's bandwidth and resources. For example, piloting the Holistic Review and Continuous Improvement Programs will require widespread community participation. The Board appreciates the community's ongoing dedication to this important yet time-consuming effort.

The Board looks forward to the contributions that these recommendations will make to the multistakeholder model as a result of this outstanding work.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."