Eighth Status Report Under ICANN/US Government Memorandum of Understanding
1 August 2003
by ICANN to United States Department of Commerce Re: Progress Toward Objectives
of Memorandum of Understanding
On 19 September 2002, the United States Department of Commerce ("DOC") and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") entered into Amendment 5 to the Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") originally entered into by those same parties on 25 November 1998. The MOU, as amended, calls for reports including annual reports regarding ICANN's progress toward achieving the objectives of the MOU.
This is the annual report for the twelve months ending 1 August 2003.
The reform process commenced in February of 2002 has significantly transformed ICANN. In addition to the reformation of the Board structure, the past year has seen the creation of the Generic Names Supporting Organization and the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization as two new policy-making entities within ICANN. Both include a detailed Policy Development Process designed to focus and direct effective and efficient policy development, in slightly different ways given the different makeup and focus of the two entities.
A majority of the ICANN Board is now selected by an extremely broad-based Nominating Committee, with the remainder being selected by ICANN's policy making bodies -- the Address Supporting Organization, Generic Names Supporting Organization and Country-Code Names Supporting Organization. Nominating Committee members are delegated to act on behalf of the global Internet community, and are guided by very specific and detailed criteria set out in the bylaws for qualifications, international representation, diversity, experience and eligibility.
The information provided below is set forth under relevant language from
the MOU, and is intended to provide a summary overview of those achievements
by ICANN and progress made in the preceding twelve months in focus areas
under the MOU.
1. Continue to provide expertise and advice on private sector functions related to technical management of the DNS. Continued progress:
2. Work collaboratively on a global and local level to pursue formal legal agreements with the RIRs, and to achieve stable relationships that allow them to continue their technical work, while incorporating their policy-making activities into the ICANN process
3. Continue to develop, to test, and to implement processes and procedures to improve transparency in the consideration and adoption of policies related to technical management of the DNS.
4. Continue to develop, to test, and to implement accountability mechanisms to address claims by members of the Internet community that they have been adversely affected by decisions in conflict with ICANN's by-laws, contractual obligations, or otherwise treated unfairly in the context of ICANN processes
ICANN's revised Bylaws include several provisions directly focused on this goal:
The Bylaws established an Office of Ombudsman, which is responsible for intake of complaints about unfair or inappropriate actions by the ICANN Board or staff, and the attempted resolution of those complaints. ICANN has recently retained an individual experienced in the establishment of Ombudsman Programs to provide assistance in developing and writing ICANN's Ombudsman program policies and operating practices, and in the identification of appropriate candidates to lead the Office of the Ombudsman.
Also, the new Bylaws created a process for reconsideration of ICANN actions or inactions. This is a procedure by which any person or entity materially affected by an action of ICANN may request review or reconsideration of that action by the Board, to the extent that he, she, or it have been adversely affected by (a) a staff action or inaction contradicting established ICANN policy or policies; or (b) one or more actions or inactions of the ICANN Board taken or refused to be taken without consideration of material information. All reconsideration requests are publicly posted on ICANN's website, and must be responded to in some fashion by the Board's reconsideration committee within thirty days of receipt. To date, ICANN has received, evaluated, and acted on a number of such reconsideration requests.
The Bylaws also mandate that ICANN establish a process for independent third-party review of Board actions alleged to be inconsistent with ICANN's Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws. Requests for review are to be referred to an independent review panel operated by an international arbitration provider with an appreciation for and understanding of applicable international laws, as well as California not-for-profit corporate law. Three arbitration providers have emerged as suitable candidates to operate the review panel, and the qualifications and attributes of each are being reviewed currently, with the intent for ICANN to propose a selection this Fall.
The staff reorganization announced by ICANN's new President in May 2003 contemplates a staff position directly responsible for coordinating the various aspects of public participation in ICANN. The new Bylaws also contemplate the provision of staff support to the various policy development and advisory entities within ICANN, including the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees.
5. Collaborate with the Department to complete development of a proposal for enhanced architecture for root server security together with the development of the following documentation to be used in connection with testing and implementation of the enhanced root-server system architecture:
ICANN's Root Server System Advisory Committee has spent considerable time examining and monitoring the deployment of more robust DNS infrastructure for the Internet. The committee has also closely followed the efforts of root server operators to successfully expand the capacity of the system and its geographical diversity through the use of "anycast" systems. At present, the committee is examining the implications of new technologies on the root server system, such as implementation of IPv6 for the root.
ICANN continues to work closely with the root-operators, both via the RSSAC and SECSAC. The last year has seen increased participation by root-server operators in ICANN activities including the ICANN Meetings.
A subgroup of ICANN's Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) continues work on documenting the root-nameserver system as it currently exists, with focus on security aspects, total system performance, robustness and reliability. An initial draft encompassing the major points of this documentation has been prepared and is being reviewed to determine how it should be augmented. Once this phase is completed, the Committee will turn to developing proposals and procedures for enhancements to ensure that the system continues to provide high-quality, reliable and robust root nameservice for the global Internet.
In late 2002, two reports under ICANN's Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) CN-1634 with the DOC, as represented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA),were submitted to the Department of Commerce. A 30 November 2002 report provided a description of the current status of the root server system. A 31 December 2002 report concerned a proposal for enhanced architecture for root server security, a procedural plan for the transition to that enhanced architecture, and a schedule for the transition.
Regarding root-zone generation, VeriSign currently generates the root-zone files. Root-Zone Whois service is provided by the IANA, which includes whois data information for ccTLDs and gTLDs. Updates to this zone-file information are made through submitting requests to IANA root-management.
6. Following Departmental review and approval of the documentation listed in paragraph 5 above, test and implement the enhanced root-server system architecture, including ICANN's operation of the authoritative root, under appropriate terms and conditions.
Work continues toward this objective.
7. Continue its efforts to achieve stable agreements with ccTLD operators that address, among other things, issues affecting the stable and secure operation of the DNS, including: delegation and redelegation of ccTLDs; allocation of global and local policy-formulation responsibility; and the relationship between a ccTLD operator and its relevant government or public authority. Such efforts shall include activities to foster greater dialogue between ccTLD operators and the GAC
During the past year, ICANN has achieved significant progress in working cooperatively with ccTLD operators and ccTLD community to address issues affecting the stable and secure operation of the DNS. This has been achieved through regular and ongoing dialogue between ICANN, the approximately 250 ccTLD operators and the GAC, including meetings between ccTLD operators and the GAC at ICANN meetings; attendance of ICANN staff at ccTLD regional meetings; and joint efforts exploring mechanisms to improve the timeliness and efficiency of the performance of the IANA function as it impacts ccTLD operators. ICANN has also focused on encouraging and facilitating participation by ccTLDs in ICANN, using means such as increased dissemination of information and outreach on ccTLD issues where possible and attending and contributing to relevant discussions in other forums.
An important step in the past year was the formation of the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) at ICANN's June 2003 Montreal meeting. The ccNSO was constructed with the goal of providing targeted and influential participation by ccTLD managers in matters affecting global Internet policy. The ccNSO's formation documents included the policy-development process and method of analysis of the scope of the ccNSO's policy-development role. To contribute to fostering greater dialogue between ccTLD operators and the GAC within the ccNSO structure, the ccNSO structure includes a non-voting GAC liaison on the ccNSO Council, and built into the ccNSO policy development process is ongoing consultation with the GAC.
Significant progress was also made in the past year with ccTLDs on the issues of process and theory on redelegations and the establishment of frameworks for accountability of ccTLD managers. Step by step procedures for ccTLD redelegations have been outlined and publicly noticed to the community by ICANN. Progress by ICANN on negotiating and entering into frameworks of accountability with ccTLDs has brought the total of completed agreements with ccTLD managers to thirteen. Discussions are also underway regarding agreements with several additional ccTLD managers. These frameworks of accountability track the recommendations contained in the February 2000 Governmental Advisory Committee principles for the administration and delegation of ccTLDs.
8. Continue the process of implementing new top level domains (TLDs), which process shall include consideration and evaluation of:
The process to evaluate the effects of the gTLDs selected in November 2000, undertaken to guide any future calls for the creation of new gTLDs, is underway. The Final Report of ICANN's New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force was accepted by the ICANN Board in August 2002. The NTEPPTF had been established to produce a suggested approach to evaluating the effects on the DNS of the introduction of the seven new TLDs established by ICANN in 2000. An evaluation based on the criteria and procedures recommended in the NTEPPTF's final report was initiated during the first quarter of 2003 and is being spearheaded by Mr. Sebastién Bachollet through FINAKI. Mr. Bachollet's study is expected to be completed in October 2003.
In A Plan for Action Regarding New gTLDs, submitted to ICANN's Board in December 2002, ICANN's then President recommended that the ICANN Board consider initiating a round for selection of a limited number of sponsored top-level domains (sTLDs).
At its 15 December 2002 meeting, the ICANN Board directed the ICANN President to develop a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purpose of soliciting proposals for a limited number of new sTLDs. A preliminary paper was posted for public comment in March 2003 at ICANN's Rio de Janeiro meeting that described proposed criteria and a proposed process for evaluating sTLD proposals as a prerequisite to the design of a Request for Proposals.
On 24 June 2003, a draft RFP for the creation of new sTLDs was posted for community discussion and feedback. At ICANN's 26 June 2003 meeting in Montréal, the Board charged the President to provide the Board with a detailed plan and schedule for the development of long-term policy for the introduction of new gTLDs, using predictable, transparent, and objective procedures. As instructed by the Board, that plan should include at least the following elements:
ICANN's President is expected to provide an initial draft of such a plan by September. The ICANN Board is expected to evaluate feedback on the RFP posted on 24 June 2003 and consider further action on this topic at its September and October meetings. This process for the consideration of, and eventual creation of new TLDs is intended to move forward on a timely basis, but with a measured and considered approach.
9. Continue to develop, to test, and to implement appropriate mechanisms that foster informed participation in ICANN by the global Internet community
ICANN is regularly engaged in general and targeted outreach activities with the ICANN community and others interested in learning about the mission and operations of ICANN. These efforts are designed to facilitate participation in ICANN, educate ICANN on unique regional circumstances and needs, and generally to improve understanding on the part of all parties about the scope and limits of ICANN's mission and the best ways to accomplish that in various contexts, so as to encourage informed public participation in ICANN.
ICANN representatives also consult as appropriate with GAC members, such as national governments and international governmental bodies (e.g., the World International Property Organization and the International Telecommunications Union), and private-sector organizations of various kinds. In addition, ICANN representatives are regularly asked to, and frequently do, attend various meetings of ICANN participants, including the RIRs, IETF and ccTLD regional meetings.
Under ICAN's new Bylaws, the newly established At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of ICANN as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the "At-Large" community), and also participates in the Nominating Committee’s selection of ICANN Board members and others. Ultimately, the ALAC will be supported by a network of self-organizing, self-supporting At-Large Structures throughout the world involving individual Internet users at the local or issue level, which At-Large Structures will organize into RALOs (Regional At-Large Organizations).
Since formation in January 2003, the ALAC has appointed 5 delegates to
ICANN's Nominating Committee and provided outreach support for the Committee's
activities. It also appointed liaisons to the GNSO Council, UDRP Task
Force, new gTLD Committee, WHOIS Task Force, GNSO WHOIS Privacy Steering
Committee, and has requested to appoint liaisons on the newly structured
ccNSO, the GAC and the WIPO II Task Force. The ALAC has provided input
into ICANN's policy and decision-making activities, including ICANN Board
action on GNSO Recommendations on Whois Accuracy and Bulk Access, WIPO-2
Recommendations, and the GNSO new gTLDs Committee report. Ongoing ALAC
activities to which the ALAC is contributing include various WHOIS policy
issues, new gTLD policy and review, Internationalized Domain Name implementation,
ENUM implementation, WIPO-2 review, and privacy-related issues.
10. Collaborate on other activities as appropriate to fulfill the purpose of this Agreement, as agreed by the Parties
Since taking office in March, ICANN's new President has put great effort into establishing a process for regular dialogue between ICANN and the various constituent interests that in the aggregate make up ICANN. Increased communication and input has been sought from groups including the RIRs, the ccTLD managers, the gTLD registries, the registrars, the various advisory committees and supporting organizations within ICANN, those technical bodies that participate within ICANN, such as the IETF and the IAB, and other interested groups. Increased contact with governments around the world has also been a focus. This increased level of communication is intended to ensure ICANN stays in touch with all the varied views in the Internet community to better serve those views.
11. Provide a status report on its progress towards the completion of its tasks under this Agreement on or before December 31, 2002, and at the end of each quarter thereafter for the term of this Agreement. Such report shall also describe the status of the implementation of ICANN's reform efforts
ICANN has been current in meeting these reporting requirements.
These past twelve months have seen significant change and progress for ICANN. ICANN already sees clear indications of the procedural and substantive benefits of the reform process commenced over 15 months ago, and an increased sense of appreciation from the Internet community for the reformed ICANN. With the final stages of the transition upon us, we believe that ICANN is within close reach of the goals set out in Amendment No. 5 to the MOU nearly a year ago.
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