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Specific Reviews (formerly known as Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) Reviews)

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What is the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC)?

The Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) is the 2009 Agreement (translations available) between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce.  This Agreement reaffirmed ICANN's independence, its commitment to making decisions in the public interest that are accountable and transparent, and its commitment to undergoing four regular reviews performed by the community. Signed by ICANN and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), the Agreement detailed ICANN's commitment to four key objectives: 

  1. Ensuring accountability, transparency and the interests of global Internet users
  2. Enforcing its existing policy relating to WHOIS, subject to applicable laws
  3. Preserving security, stability, and resiliency of the Domain Name System (DNS)
  4. Promoting competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice

Additional information on the historical aspects of the AoC can be found in the table below.

Since the completion of the transition, the new ICANN Bylaws are in force and provide accountability and transparency mechanisms through the newly empowered community; the reviews that were formally known as "AoC Reviews" are now referred to as "Specific Reviews" under the new Bylaws.

What are Specific Reviews?

The Affirmation of Commitments calls for periodic assessment by community review teams of ICANN's progress toward the four key objectives described above. While the performance of each of these reviews demonstrates the commitment to ensuring accountability and transparency, the reviews each have a specific focus.  

Section 4.6 in the Bylaws details the Specific Reviews:

   a) Accountability and Transparency Review

   b) Security, Stability, and Resiliency Review

   c) Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review

   d) Registration Directory Service Review (formerly WHOIS) 

Each of these reviews fell under what was previously known as "AoC Reviews". Their purpose is to assure that in these key areas, ICANN continues to perform its Mission, complies with its Commitments, and respects its Core Values, as detailed in the Bylaws.

Performance of Specific Reviews (formerly known as AoC Reviews)

Until 1 October 2016, all reviews that now fall under "Specific Reviews" were run under the formally applicable Affirmation of Commitments – and, at the time, were referred to as "AoC Reviews". Hence, the historical information below is based on the no-longer applicable Affirmation of Commitments.

The CCT Review was launched in January 2016 - it is conducted under the then applicable Affirmation of Committments.

  1. Accountability and Transparency Reviews

    ATRT1 (2010) and ATRT2 (2013); ATRT3 was launched with a Call for Volunteers in January 2017. ATRT3 is the first ATRT Review that falls under the new Bylaws; the first two were conducted as AoC Reviews.

  2. Review of Security, Stability, and Resiliency of the DNS

    SSR Review (2010-2012); SSR2 Review was launched with a Call for Volunteers in June 2016 -- still under the Affirmation of Commitments.

  3. Review of Registration Directory Service (RDS) Policy (formerly WHOIS)

    WHOIS Review (2010-2012); the first RDS Review was launched with a Call for Volunteers in October 2016 based on the new Bylaws.

  4. Review of Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice (CCT)

    The CCT Review was launched in January 2016 - it is conducted under the then applicable Affirmation of Commitments.

Timing of Specific Reviews

Under the AoC, reviews followed a three-year cycle. Per Board resolution 2015.07.28.09, the next cycles of SSR, WHOIS and ATRT Reviews are expected to commence in Fiscal Year 2017. The chart below summarizes key milestones associated with each review. Click on the dates in the chart to access relevant documents.

With the coming into force of the new Bylaws, Specific Reviews (formerly AoC Reviews) shall be conducted no less frequently than every five years -- more information on the timeline is provided below.

Review Call for Volunteers Review Team Formed Final Report Issued Board Action Details
ATRT1 11 Jan 2010 26 Mar 2010 31 Dec 2010 24 Jun 2011
ATRT2 5 Oct 2012 15 Feb 2013 31 Dec 2013 26 Jun 2014
ATRT3 31 Jan 2017      
CCT 1 Oct 2015 23 Dec 2015    
SSR 1 Jun 2010 30 Sep 2010 20 Jun 2012 18 Oct 2012

30 Jun 2016 -

12 Aug 2016 -

14 Feb 2017    
WHOIS 1 Jun 2010 30 Sep 2010 11 May 2012 8 Nov 2012
RDS (formerly WHOIS)

28 Oct 2016 -

6 Dec 2016 -

11 Jan 2017 -

22 Feb 2017 -


What are all those dates in the above table?

Call for Volunteers Volunteers from the community are essential for the reviews to succeed.  ICANN will publish an announcement when a Review Team is being formed and urges interested community members willing to work on the initiative to join and contribute.
Review Team Formed Composition of the Review Team will be published.  A variety of factors may be considered during the selection process, such as expertise in topic, knowledge of ICANN, geography, etc.  The complete procedure on the Review Team appointment process under the new Bylaws will be published in the Operating Standards.
Final Report Issued The Final Report of the Review Team will be published after conclusion of its work, consultations with ICANN community, Board and the ICANN Organization.
Board Action The Board reviews the Final Report, takes action on the recommendations, and requests that an implementation plan be developed for the approved recommendations.
Details The Board will take action on the Final Report within six months of its publication, after considering the community’s views and assessing feasibility and utility of implementation.

Specific Reviews Schedule

To address community concerns about workload and bandwidth, the Board passed a resolution amending the timing of several reviews.  For Specific Reviews, they are conducted no less frequently than every five years measured from the date the previous Review Team was convened, with the exception of Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review, which will occur after a New gTLD Round has been in operation for one year.

Implementation of Board-Approved Recommendations

Click on the name of the Review in the chart to access the latest status update on the progress of implementation of recommendations.

  # of recommendations In Progress Completed
ATRT1 27 0 27
ATRT2 12 1 11
WHOIS 16 0 16
SSR 28 5 23
Total 83 6 77

Review Process

The chart below outlines phases and typical actions and milestones applicable to Specific Reviews.  Actual actions and durations vary for each review, as can be seen from the four Specific reviews (then AoC Reviews) that have been concluded.  While the phases of future reviews are expected to be consistent with this outline, specific actions, milestones and durations may vary based on the unique aspects of each review.  Additionally, the outcomes of the “Proposed Schedule and Process/Operational Improvements for AoC and Organizational Reviews”, which was posted for Public Comment in 2015, may impact aspects of future reviews.

Phase Key Actions and Milestones Estimated Duration (months)
Assemble Review Team ICANN Organization publishes Call For Volunteers that includes list of desired skills and attributes. 3 Months
  Review teams will be established for each applicable review, which will include both a limited number of members and an open number of observers.  The chairs of the Supporting Organizations anad Advisory Committees participating in the applicable review shall select a group of up to 21 review team members from among the prospective members nominated by the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, balanced for diversity and skill.  In addition, the Board may designate one Director or Liaison to serve as a member of the review team.  
  SO/AC Chairs publish list of final Review Team composition.  
Plan Review Set up of communication vehicles, preparation of checklists and tools. 3 Months
  Assemble relevant information, including implementation update on previous review team's Board-approved recommendations.  
  Prepare and publish review budget and rationale.  
  Conduct planning meeting/conference call and briefing on implementation status; elect key leadership positions.  
  Hold initial meetings with subject matter experts within ICANN Organization.  
  Develop Terms of Reference, workplan and schedule.  
Conduct Review Review kick-off meeting, including updates on implementation; adopt Terms of Reference, workplan and schedule; organize work streams and responsibilities. 12 Months
  Collect data - desk review, feedback from stakeholders, Board and ICANN Organization.  
  *Collect feedback from stakeholders.  
  Update workplan and schedule; determine need for external consultants.  
  Develop RFP based on specifications from Review Team and hold competitive bidding process for external consultants (if needed) (concurrent with RT preliminary analysis of collected data).  
  Provide budget update.  
  Select and contract with external consultants based on ICANN procurement policies and procedures.  
  External consultants conduct work.  
  External consultants deliver findings and results.  
  Analyze collected data and engage with subject matter expenses within ICANN Organization, as appropriate to clarify and answer questions, address feasibility of potential recommendations.  
  Prepare Draft Report.  
  Prepare translation of Draft Report or Executive Summary.  
  *Public Comment period to collect feedback on Draft Report.  
  *Hold meetings with stakeholders to collect feedback (concurrent with PC).  
  Analyze and consider feedback; engage with Board and ICANN Organization to address feasibility, dependencies and linkage to other work.  
  Prepare Final Report and deliver to the Board.  
  Prepare translation of Final Report.  
Board Action *Public Comment period to collect feedback on Final Report. 6 Months
  Analyze: feasibility, dependencies and linkage to other work; implementation options and resources to implement; present recommendations to the Board (ICANN Organization with input and clarification from designated Review Team members).  
  Board considers and takes action on Review Team's recommendations.  
Plan Implementation Initiate implementation (ICANN Organization, Board and relevant stakeholders). 3-6 Months
  Plan implementation work.  
  Provide periodic updates on implementation planning.  
Implement Improvements Conduct implementation work and regularly update appropriate Board Committee/entire Board. 6-18 Months
  Close implementation project and move into standard operating procedure.  
  Conduct ongoing reporting, tracking and monitoring of effectiveness.  

* Activities impacting ICANN stakeholders

Historical Information on Specific Reviews (formerly AoC Reviews)

Document Name Link
ICANN CEO talks about events leading up to the new Affirmation of Commitments and what it means Video available with text translated:
Affirmation of Commitments (2009 Agreement) Arabic
Accountability & Transparency Frameworks and Principles  ICANN Accountability & Transparency Frameworks and Principles
Methodology Public Comment -- Discussion Draft: Affirmation Reviews
Review Teams' Composition Review Teams' Composition and Process of Selection

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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."