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Minutes | Special Meeting of the ICANN Board

A Special Meeting of the ICANN Board of Directors was held telephonically on 14 January 2021 at 17:00 UTC.

Maarten Botterman, Chair, promptly called the meeting to order.

In addition to the Chair, the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Ron da Silva, Sarah Deutsch, Avri Doria, Rafael Lito Ibarra, Danko Jevtović, Akinori Maemura, Mandla Msimang, Ihab Osman, Patricio Poblete, Nigel Roberts, León Sánchez (Vice Chair), Matthew Shears, and Tripti Sinha.

The following Board members sent their apologies: Becky Burr and Göran Marby (President and CEO).

The following Board Liaisons participated in all or part of the meeting: Harald Alvestrand (IETF Liaison), Manal Ismail (GAC Liaison), and Kaveh Ranjbar (RSSAC Liaison).

The following Board Liaisons sent their apologies: Merike Käo.

Secretary: John Jeffrey (General Counsel and Secretary).

The following ICANN Executives and Staff participated in all or part of the meeting: Michelle Bright (Board Content Coordination Director), Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning & Chief Financial Officer), Mandy Carver (SVP for Government and Intergovernmental Organization Engagement), Sally Newell Cohen (SVP, Global Communications), Sally Costerton (Sr. Advisor to President & SVP, Global Stakeholder Engagement), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel), Sean Freeark (Regional Security Manager - Europe / Latin America / Caribbean), Simon Garside (VP, Security Operations), Jamie Hedlund (SVP, Contractual Compliance & Consumer Safeguards), John Jeffrey (General Counsel and Secretary), Aaron Jimenez (Board Operations Specialist), Sheila Johnson (Deputy General Counsel), Vinciane Koenigsfeld (Senior Director, Board Operations), Elizabeth Le (Associate General Counsel), Rachel McFadyen (Writer/Editor), David Olive (SVP, Policy Development Support), Ashwin Rangan (SVP, Engineering & Chief Information Officer), Lisa Saulino (Board Operations Specialist), Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel), Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains & Strategy), Nicholas Tomasso (Vice President, Global Meeting Operations), and Gina Villavicencio (SVP, Global Human Resources).

  1. Consent Agenda:
    1. Approval of Minutes
  2. Main Agenda:
    1. Impact of COVID-19 on ICANN70
    2. AOB


  1. Consent Agenda:

    1. Approval of Minutes

      The Chair introduced the Consent Agenda and called for a vote. Lito Ibarra moved and Nigel Roberts seconded the proposed resolution to adopt the item on the Consent Agenda. The Board then took the following action:

      Resolved (2021.01.14.01), the Board approves the minutes of the 22 October 2020 Regular Meeting of the ICANN Board and the 22 October 2020 Organizational Meeting of the ICANN Board.

      All members of the Board present voted in favor of Resolution 2021.01.14.01. Becky Burr and Göran Marby were unavailable to vote. The Resolution carried.

  2. Main Agenda:

    1. Impact of COVID-19 on ICANN70

      The Chair introduced the Main Agenda. Sally Costerton and Nick Tomasso provided a briefing to the Board about the global situation related to the COVID-19 coronavirus as it relates to ICANN70. In light of the continuing spread of COVID-19 and various "stay at home" or lock-down orders around the world restricting movement and gatherings of people except to receive essential services, at this time it does not appear possible or feasible to convene an in-person ICANN70 in Cancún, Mexico as planned. ICANN org has also consulted with the leadership teams of the various ICANN community structures – Advisory Committees, Supporting Organizations, Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies - regarding the planning for ICANN70 in the face of the pandemic. As part of the briefing, it was noted that members of ICANN org are looking into feasibility of implementing the detailed feedback that it received from the community about things that can be done for future virtual meetings, including ICANN70, to enhance the meetings experience. Some of suggestions include expanding technology platforms, close captioning in Zoom, enabling one-to-one meeting requests and small ad hoc meetings between participants.

      Board members noted their support for the proposed decision to conduct ICANN70 as a virtual meeting. The Vice Chair stated that, being a resident of Mexico and having followed the impact of the pandemic on the region, it is not possible to guarantee safe conditions that would be free from contagion for ICANN travelers for an in person ICANN70 meeting. Additionally, Ron da Silva highlighted the potential financial implications of having a virtual meeting as opposed to a face-to-face meeting, and ongoing discussions between ICANN org and the meeting facilities and hotels about contractual matters such as deposits. Lito Ibarra asked ICANN org members to provide an update about the communications plan for notifying ICANN70 hosts about not having an in-person meeting.

      Following discussion, León Sánchez moved and Lito Ibarra seconded the proposed resolution. The Board took the following action:

      Whereas, on 3 May 2019, the ICANN Board approved for ICANN organization to proceed to contracting in support of ICANN70 in Cancún, Mexico ( Under the Meetings Strategy, and in accordance with the Bylaws, ICANN70 is scheduled as ICANN's Community Forum for 2021.

      Whereas, the ICANN Board is responsible for a decision to change an ICANN Public Meeting location once such a meeting location has been approved for contracting and announced.

      Whereas, in December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19, emerged and on 11 March 2020 was declared by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. Globally, a high number of people either have been or continue to be under some form of a "stay at home" or lock-down order, directed to avoid contact with others except to receive essential services such as medical care or to purchase supplies. While schools and offices are starting to reopen in limited measures, gatherings are still greatly limited and international travel remains largely on pause. We still do not know when international travel will be more fully restored, or if size limitations on gatherings will be appropriate and feasible for ICANN's Public Meetings. When faced with new surges of COVID-19, many economies have re-imposed some form of "stay-at-home" orders to once again control the spread.

      Whereas, as an organization with staff and stakeholders across the globe, in January 2020 ICANN org convened an adaptive crisis management team (A-CMT) in order to assist ICANN org in tracking and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on ICANN's work.

      Whereas, ICANN org, through the A-CMT, briefed the Board on the current status of COVID-19 on ICANN's work, including the potential impacts on ICANN70. ICANN org has also consulted with the leadership teams of the various ICANN community structures – Advisory Committees, Supporting Organizations, Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies – regarding the planning for ICANN70 in the face of the pandemic.

      Whereas, the Board recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact other planned opportunities for the ICANN community to further their work in-person, with ICANN67, ICANN68, and ICANN69 convened as virtual meetings, with all intersessional in-person meetings for groups (including the Nominating Committee, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee and Review Teams, to name a few) canceled, postponed or moved to virtual. As much as possible, ICANN org has been in communication with the ICANN community on these schedule changes.

      Whereas, at this time it does not appear possible or feasible to convene an in-person ICANN70 in Cancún, Mexico as planned.

      Whereas, ICANN org successfully moved ICANN67, ICANN68, and ICANN69 to remote meetings, providing substantial experience for the ICANN community on how to plan, schedule and execute ICANN Public Meetings in a fully virtual setting, including enhanced accessibility through the streaming delivery of high-interest sessions on YouTube.

      Whereas, ICANN org continues both its internal operational planning as well as consultation with the community on how to best design a Community Forum that achieves the intended purpose and that supports the community's ongoing policy advice and development work.

      Whereas, the Board understands the importance of the face-to-face interactions as provided for at ICANN's Public Meetings and looks forward to a return to those interactions as soon as feasible.

      Resolved (2021.01.14.02), the Board confirms that ICANN70 shall not proceed as an in-person meeting, and directs the ICANN President and CEO, or his designees, to take all steps necessary to cancel the facilities and arrangements made for an in-person meeting in Cancún, Mexico.

      Resolved (2021.01.14.03), the Board directs the ICANN President and CEO, or his designees, to coordinate with the ICANN community on the best way forward for ICANN70 to meet the expected outcomes of an ICANN Community Forum, including the furthering of ICANN policy development and advice work, reporting on milestones and community-agreed priorities for the meeting. The ICANN President and CEO is also directed to continue internal operational planning in order to support the delivery of the ICANN70 Community Forum as appropriate to achieve those expected outcomes.

      Resolved (2021.01.14.04), the Board thanks ICANN org and the ICANN community for their attention to this important issue. The Board also thanks the hosts and venues planned for ICANN70 in Cancún, Mexico for their understanding of the need to cancel the in-person plans for ICANN70. We hope that there is a future time that we will be able to come and visit your city to host an ICANN Public Meeting.

      All members of the Board present voted in favor of Resolutions 2021.01.14.02, 2021.01.14.03, and 2021.01.14.04. Becky Burr and Göran Marby were unavailable to vote. The Resolutions carried.

      Rationale for Resolutions 2021.01.14.02 – 2021.01.14.04

      The Board takes this action today as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While the Board recognizes and upholds the value of face-to-face interactions at ICANN's Public Meetings, and the advancement of ICANN community work that happens at these meetings, we cannot move forward with an in-person meeting at the cost of the health of attendees, ICANN org staff members, and the host country.

      At the time of the Board decision, the COVID-19 pandemic continues in almost all parts of the world, with work on therapeutics and vaccines proceeding. Each day, there is updated news on the spread of the virus and the worldwide response. Globally, a high number of people either have been or continue to be under some form of a "stay at home" or lock-down order, directed to avoid contact with others except to receive essential services such as medical care or to purchase supplies. Across ICANN org, all offices remain closed (except for essential items) and personnel are working from home. Those with school-aged children are expected to care for and, in many cases, take on the education of their children. Many within the ICANN community are experiencing these same impacts. Many may also be dealing with infection amongst their family and friends. The pandemic continues to impact us all.

      After the Board's February 2020 decision canceling the in-person component of ICANN67 and directing ICANN org to proceed with a virtual meeting, a virtual ICANN67 was convened. Many valuable lessons were learned from that experience, and ICANN org then proceeded to consult with ICANN's community leaders about how to use the lessons from ICANN67 to design future virtual meetings as the pandemic might necessitate, taking into consideration the purpose of each Public Meeting. ICANN68, scheduled for 22-25 June 2020, and ICANN69, scheduled for 19-22 October 2020 were successful ICANN Public Meetings planned and executed in a virtual format.

      Prior to taking this decision, the Board received briefings from ICANN org on areas including the impact of COVID-19, conversations with the ICANN community, and operational planning for a distributed meeting. The ICANN Board understands that as part of the coordination with the ICANN community on convening ICANN70 as a virtual Community Forum, there was agreement that the dates for ICANN70 will be modified to 22-25 March 2021.

      We thank the ICANN community for its commitment to concluding a successful ICANN67, ICANN68, and ICANN69 in virtual formats. The ICANN community has shown great leadership already in a global move towards virtual collaboration.

      The ICANN Board thanks the host committee as well as our community in the Latin America region who worked tirelessly to host this meeting in Cancún. We appreciate their understanding and look forward to returning to the Latin America region as soon as we are able.

      This action is within ICANN's mission and the public interest, as it is the only path to assure that the work of the ICANN community continues as planned. It is the proper decision on many levels, from not putting ICANN org staff, Board or community members at risk, or risking the need to divert the resources and attention of ICANN org to a response to a COVID-19 outbreak amongst ICANN org or the community, to taking a responsible and proper measure to protect against contributing to the global pandemic. Given the potential inequities in participants' access to international travel and visas across regions, this decision also ensures the broadest participation of attendees by virtual means without the potential distraction of uncertainties posed by hosting an in-person meeting at this time.

      This decision has resource implications that are being quantified. However, the resources needed to support an ICANN70 Community Forum as can be appropriately designed are expected to be within or below the resources that have already been allocated for ICANN70 within ICANN's budget. This decision has no impact on the security, stability, or resiliency of the Internet's DNS.

      This is an organizational administrative decision that does not require public comment.

    2. AOB

      No Resolutions were taken.

      The Chair then called the meeting to a close.

Published on 9 February 2021

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."