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Clarifying the Roles of the ICANN Complaints Office and Ombudsman

Last month, the ICANN organization officially launched its Complaints Office, which serves a complimentary role to ICANN’s existing complaints processes, such as Contractual Compliance, Request for Reconsideration and the Ombudsman. However, we have noticed some confusion about the difference between the scope of the Complaints Office and the Office of the Ombudsman. We hope that this blog will help clarify and differentiate the roles and scopes of our offices.

  Ombudsman Complaints Officer
  • Independent function, reporting to the ICANN Board, not to the ICANN Organization
  • Established in the ICANN Bylaws
  • A function within the ICANN Organization
  • Established by the CEO
Reports To
  • ICANN Board (per ICANN Bylaws)
  • The Ombudsman is independent from the rest of the ICANN Organization
  • ICANN Organization, directly reporting to the General Counsel
  • Works with the ICANN Organization Executive Team and employees
Visibility Level
  • Confidential process
  • Transparency is the default, but that may be restricted if requested by complainant
  • Investigates complaints from ICANN community members who believe that ICANN staff, Board or an ICANN constituent body has treated them unfairly
  • May investigate systemic issues of unfairness
  • Evaluates issues and complaints related to the ICANN Organization.
    • For example, issues that may be related to how a request was handled, a process that appears to be broken, insufficient handling of an issue
  • May investigate systemic organizational issues

We fully anticipate that there will be some overlap – especially in the early stages – between the complaints received by our offices, so we’ll be working together to direct complaints to each other when appropriate. While our work will be separate, and we report to different parts of the ICANN ecosystem, we both aim to provide more accountability and transparency for the ICANN organization, Board and community, in service of ICANN’s mission.

As a reminder, it is expected that the Complaints Office and its processes will continue to develop and evolve over time. If you have any questions, ideas, suggestions or comments about the Complaints Office, please feel free to contact Krista directly.

For more information about the Complaints Office, please visit here.

For more information about the Office of the Ombudsman, please visit here.


    Steven P. Mitchell  21:08 UTC on 10 May 2018

    Hi. Why does ICANN actively protect and effectively encourage spammers to perpetrate their abuse by withholding the registered names and contact information associated with purchases of domain names? Needless to say, none of the spamming websites register their information for public display, despite the fact that they are in affect harassing recipients of spam. This has had the effect of taking away any tools that recipients of spam once possessed. It was, in fact, the only tool that we had. Why has this abuse been encouraged, especially by ICANN? Has ICANN noticed that the original email header translation websites such as Sam Spade and SpamCop have terminated their support functions and operations, as the result of the futility of their existence, because of the actions of ICANN to actively support the proliferation of spam? Does ICANN have any alternate plans to modify the privacy protections that have been increasingly given by ICANN to spammers? While transparency is actually the solution to mitigate crime, it seems those responsible for the structures of law enforcement and regulation, want to encourage and expand the behavioral and privacy rights of those that perpetrate crime. Why is that? Any insight you can offer would be helpful. Thanks, Steve

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."