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Chair’s Blog: Recap of the January Remote Board Workshop

The ICANN Board convened virtually to hold its first workshop of the calendar year from 22-24 January 2021. As I mentioned in my preview blog, the Board continues to evolve how we collaborate and conduct our business. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make meeting in person an impossibility, it’s still critical that we find opportunities to strengthen our working relationships. Prior to the start of the workshop, we held a team building exercise aimed at recognizing and appreciating the Board’s diversity.

On Friday, 22 January, following our dialogue with President and CEO Göran Marby, the Board received an update from the Strategic Planning Committee, and continued our discussion about how we will approach potential updates to ICANN’s Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2021-2025. The Board remains committed to working with ICANN org and the community to identify the best approach to ensuring ICANN’s strategic plan remains relevant and up-to-date. We also held a session regarding the work being undertaken by the Root Server System Governance Working Group (RSS GWG) to develop a governance model for the Root Server System based on the principles outlined in RSSAC037 and RSSAC038.

On the second day of the workshop, Saturday, 23 January, the Board held sessions about ICANN’s work regarding the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and new generic top-level domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro).

During both, we spent time discussing the proposed Operational Design Phase (ODP), which is needed to provide the Board with relevant operational information during its consideration of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)-council approved recommendations. The Board is highly supportive of this proposal, as having additional data regarding costs, time, risks, and obstacles will help set expectations for recommendations, especially for complex issues such as SubPro and Auction Proceeds. We also believe that the process outlined in the proposal further enhances transparency and accountability when moving towards implementation.

On Sunday, 24 January – the final day of the workshop – the Board started with a meeting regarding the FY22 Draft Operating Plan and Budget followed by our public session, which provided an update on the Board’s FY21 Operational Priorities. The Board organizes its work into five key areas of responsibility, such as “ICANN Org Oversight” and “Governance & Fiduciary Responsibilities.” If you’re interested in learning more about the Board’s priorities, I highly encourage you to also watch this video featuring myself and Vice-Chair León Sanchez.

The Board stands united and ready to do what is needed in the year to come. The five-year strategic and operational plans provide excellent guidance for the community, org, and Board to work together to do the right thing – not just today, but well into the future.



    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."