Guidelines for the Posting of Board Briefing Materials
In June 2010, ICANN began publicly posting "Board Briefing Materials." These are the materials the Board reviews and considers in preparation for each Board meeting. Posted along with the Bylaws-mandated meeting minutes, the Board Briefing Materials are currently presented in two parts – the main Board Submissions and the Annexes to the Board Submissions.
What is in Board Briefing Materials?
The main Board Submissions include a summary of the issue before the Board, a recommendation (if appropriate), and a proposed resolution (if Board action is recommended). Beginning in January 2011, a proposed rationale statement is now also included for the Board’s consideration.
The Annex provides further background information and/or discussion regarding the items before the Board. This is also where reports and documents are provided to the Board, as well as general informational items. Not every Board Submission has a corresponding Annex.
Since 2008, ICANN has followed its Documentary Information Disclosure Policy ("DIDP") at http://www.icann.org/en/transparency/didp-en.htm. The DIDP identifies public documents, as well as Defined Conditions for Non-Disclosure ("Defined Conditions") to be followed when a determination is made that information not be made public.
One of the Defined Conditions addresses Board deliberative materials: "Information exchanged, prepared for, or derived from the deliberative and decision-making process between ICANN, its constituents, and/or other entities with which ICANN cooperates that, if disclosed, would or would be likely to compromise the integrity of the deliberative and decision-making process between and among ICANN, its constituents, and/or other entities with which ICANN cooperates by inhibiting the candid exchange of ideas and communications."
ICANN has adopted a limited exception to the non-disclosure of deliberative materials, and now routinely posts the Board Briefing Materials within the regularly-produced Board books. Prior to posting, however, Board Briefing Materials must be reviewed to determine if other Defined Conditions for Non-Disclosure are applicable, and if so, to what extent the Board Briefing Materials should be redacted.
Guiding Principles for Review of Materials
In reviewing the Board Briefing Materials for publication, the following assumptions are to be applied:
- Start with the presumption that all material will be posted.
- If redaction is required, redact the smallest amount of material necessary; do not redact an entire document if redaction of a single paragraph will suffice.
- Provide clear justification for each redaction.
- Do not redact information that is already publicly available when the Board Briefing Materials are posted.
Defined Areas Where Redaction is Appropriate
As noted above, all Defined Conditions outlined in the DIDP must be applied to individual items within the Board Briefing Materials.
Specific information most likely to be redacted from the Board Briefing Materials due to application of the Defined Conditions includes:
- Board call information/Director phone numbers and other personal identifier information.
- Proposed resolutions, 1 when the Board approves a modified or different resolution.
- Proposed rationale statements, when the Board approves a modified or different rationale statement.
- Identities of persons considered for and not receiving appointment, including discussion of reasons why appointment was not recommended.
- Strategic relationship information, such as identification of proposed strategic partners.
- ccTLD Delegation and Redelegation request assessments.
- IANA Delegation reports not published at the time the Board Briefing Materials are published, or modified prior to publication.
- Items removed from agenda/not discussed.
- Information that relates in any way to the assessment of internal or external security issues or risk analyses.
- Descriptions of external proposals and bids under consideration, including proposals for ICANN meeting locations.
While all of the Defined Conditions must be considered, the following Defined Conditions are other frequent bases for redaction of Board Briefing Materials:
- Information subject to the attorney–client, attorney work product privilege, or any other applicable privilege, or disclosure of which might prejudice any internal, governmental, or legal investigation.
- Drafts of all correspondence, reports, documents, agreements, contracts, emails, or any other forms of communication.
- Exception: If an agreement/document has been executed by the time of publication, and the draft form of the document is unchanged and produced in Board materials, the draft document may be published.
- Information that relates in any way to the security and stability of the Internet, including the operation of the L Root or any changes, modifications, or additions to the root zone.
- Personnel, medical, contractual, remuneration, and similar records relating to an individual's personal information, when the disclosure of such information would or likely would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, as well as proceedings of internal appeal mechanisms and investigations.
ICANN reserves the right to deny disclosure of information under conditions not designated above or within the DIDP if ICANN determines that the harm in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. This right should be used sparingly, and ICANN will provide as much information regarding the basis for redaction of Board materials made pursuant to this provision.
As with the general practice of publishing Board Briefing Materials, if there is information subject to a Defined Condition, but for which ICANN determines under the particular circumstances that the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the harm that may be caused by such disclosure, ICANN may make the information public.
Process for Redaction
Beginning with the materials posted from the 10 December 2010 Board meeting, a short description for the basis of each redaction is being provided in place of the redacted section. In the earlier Board Briefing Material postings, only the word "REDACTED" appeared in the place of redacted text. A list of standardized terms is being created to reflect commonly redacted materials as identified above. For example, where proposed resolution text is redacted, the label "Resolution Text Superceded" will appear.
To reduce the potential for the need to redact more information than is necessary, a practice of pre-identification of materials requiring redaction is being instituted. For example, if attorney-client privileged information is being presented to the Board within a larger submission and can be segregated, the section containing the privileged information should be identified and blocked off by a header and footer, and only that section will require redaction. As it is not always possible to predict materials that will require redaction, adherence to this practice may not be uniform.
Efforts towards increasing and enhancing the transparency of Board Briefing Materials, as well as uniformity in preparing those materials, will continue.
1 Proposed resolutions and rationale statements are unconditionally subject to Board revision. Publishing proposed resolutions or rationales significantly different from those ultimately approved by the Board could lead to confusion in the community and thus only the approved action and rationale for those actions are publicly posted.