ICANN | Eighth Status Report Under JPA/MOU | 01 August 2003

Eighth Status Report Under ICANN/US Government Memorandum of Understanding

1 August 2003

Report by ICANN to United States Department of Commerce Re: Progress Toward Objectives of Memorandum of Understanding
For the Twelve Months Ending 1 August 2003


A. Introduction

B. High-Level Summary of Status of Project

A. Introduction

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.

B. Progress

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:


ICANN is currently in the process of preparing appropriate documentation of IANA procedures for root-zone editing. An initial specification was submitted to the US Department of Commerce on 1 August 2003. This initial specification includes metrics for processing times. The next step includes discussing this initial specification with interested parties, including ccTLD managers.

Public Participation

ICANN held four public meetings during the past twelve months, on 26 June 2003 (Montreal); 27 March 2003 (Rio de Janerio); 15 December 2002 (Amsterdam); and 31 October 2002 (Shanghai). Participation averaged 500 attendees from all regions of the world per meeting, with additional participation by webcast.

As part of ICANN's efforts to ensure informed and productive participation by individual Internet users, the At Large Advisory Committee has been established, and is intended to be the representative body of a supporting framework of local and regional entities made up of and representing individual Internet users, responsible for generating and providing advice to ICANN policy bodies and the ICANN Board. The At Large Advisory Committee also appoints delegates to ICANN's Nominating Committee, and liaisons to the managing Councils of the Generic Names Supporting Organization and the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization, as well as other ICANN committees and participatory bodies.

Security and Stability

DNS security and stability continued to be a significant focus. ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee (formed in 2002) began its work with the goal of producing a single document with four major sections: a description of the DNS system and its related and ancillary systems; a list and description of the known and potential vulnerabilities; a security architecture for a desirable improved system; and a measurement framework to permit a regular and real-time assessment of the stability of the system.
The Security and Stability Advisory Committee continues work on several ongoing projects, including a recommendation regarding the layering of services on the DNS ( for example, the Verisign IDN Program and the domain name "auctions" of various registrars), an evaluation of the redundancy and resiliency of the major domain name servers to withstand distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and an assessment of the status of DNSSEC, the forthcoming protocol to add cryptographically signatures to the domain name system and thereby prevent forgery and hijacking of domain names. The DNSSEC work includes building a road map outlining its deployment and identification of where further work is needed.
A major focus of ICANN during the past year, the internationalization of the DNS is now becoming a reality. Technological standards for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) were completed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) earlier this year, and IDNs are being implemented by registries around the world. In the context of the DNS, "internationalization" means that users will be able to use, for example, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Cyrillic, and Arabic characters in domain names. The system developed by the IETF provides for the translation of non-ASCII domain names (such as ??.com) into unique ASCII strings (xn--99zt52a.com) that can be resolved by the existing DNS technical infrastructure.

At this point, the responsibility for IDN implementation lies with the DNS registries -- including the responsibility for determine whether and how to implement phased launch sequences or pre-registration for existing domain name holders, and whether and how to use character equivalence and variant tables to create domain name "packages" to block others from registering equivalent domain names. ICANN's role has been to educate, facilitate, and coordinate, most notably through its IDN Registry Implementation Committee, which consists of IDN project managers from the leading IDN-implementing registries worldwide, together with invited technical and policy experts.

Throughout the past year, ICANN worked cooperatively with leading IDN registries - most notably, .jp (Japan), .kr (Korea), .cn (China), .tw (Taiwan), .com/.net (VeriSign), .org (Public Interest Registry), and .info (Afilias) -- to develop and document a set of Guidelines for the Implementation of IDNs. The draft Guidelines were subjected to a process of public review and comment, including presentations at two public ICANN forums. A number of registries have adopted the Guidelines formally (such as .jp, .cn, .tw, .info, .org), others are adhering to them in practice, and they appear to have received wide support as a common-sense policy baseline for any IDN-implementing registry. The Guidelines provide a framework for effective IDN registration policies and practices, quite properly recognizing that it is the individual registries themselves that must make the difficult but necessary policy decisions. On 27 March 2003, the ICANN Board unanimously endorsed the Guidelines approach, and after further consultation among ICANN and the leading IDN registries, a version 1.0 of the Guidelines was finalized and published on 20 June 2003.

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

Significant progress has been made on the documentation of procedures between the IANA and the Regional Internet Registries. The RIRs and ICANN staff worked together on two documents relating to administrative procedures for RIRs to request allocations of numbering resources from the IANA and also the policies for allocation of IPv4 address blocks to the RIRs. ICANN and the RIRs continue to work toward a more formal recognition of their relationship, and we believe that conceptual agreement has been reached, with documentation to follow shortly.

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.

Organizational Change

  • ICANN adopted revised Bylaws in December 2002 as part of the reform process. The new Bylaws sharpen the articulation of ICANN's mission to coordinate the allocation of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers - in particular, to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique naming and addressing systems - and to coordinate policy development reasonably and appropriately related to these technical functions. The new Bylaws also define more precisely the core values that should inform the performance of ICANN's mission.
  • The new Bylaws also establish a structured policy-development process for issues relating to names policies on the DNS, with the goal of increasing the analytical quality, inclusiveness of views, and predictability of the process. Recognizing the importance of a robust public/private partnership, the new Bylaws also clarify and strengthen how advice from governments, via ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee, will be received and considered where public-policy matters are involved. They also provide new mechanisms for obtaining external expert advice, including on issues of public policy.

Processes and Adoption of Consumer Driven Initiatives

Redemption Grace Period

The Redemption Grace Period ("RGP" - a 30 day registry hold period for deleted domain names) is an ICANN-proposed initiative designed to address an increasing number of complaints made by customers with domain names that were unintentionally deleted and then registered by someone else, sometimes using the domain name to display content repugnant to the former registrant. Frequently the registrant experienced significant delays and costs in recovering the name and having the former services (web service, e-mail, etc.) restored. RGP has been implemented in .biz, .com, .net, and org, and is expected to be implemented in .info next month.

Wait-Listing Service

The Wait-Listing Service (WLS) is a proposed new registry service that will allow interested customers the ability to subscribe to a "waiting list" to be next in line to register a domain name if the current registrant decides not to renew it. ICANN is in negotiations with VeriSign to finalize the conditions under which VeriSign would offer WLS through ICANN-Accredited Registrars.


In March 2003, ICANN adopted four new consensus policies related to Whois. The first of these policies, the Whois Data Reminder Policy (WDRP), has been implemented. The WDRP calls for ICANN-accredited registrars to provide domain-name registrants with an annual listing of their Whois data and to remind registrants of the need to correct inaccurate or out-of-date information. The WDRP is a "Consensus Policy" as defined in ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Agreement, and accordingly all ICANN-Accredited Registrars are obligated to comply with the WDRP. The remaining three consensus policy recommendations (intended to enhance Whois data accuracy and eliminate marketing uses of bulk Whois data) are expected to be implemented in the coming quarter through amendments to agreements between ICANN, registry operators and registrars.

In addition, a new phase of review and discussion of Whois policies was launched on 13 May 2003, with the posting of the ICANN Staff Manager's Issues Report on Privacy Issues Related to Whois. That report was followed by a two-day Whois Workshop held in conjuction with ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee during ICANN's meetings in Montréal (22-26 June 2003).

Domain Name Transfers

ICANN is in the process of implementing a new set of consensus policies intended to improve inter-registrar transfers of domain names. The new consensus policies originated from the Transfers Task Force, which worked for over a year in crafting twenty-nine (29) consensus policy recommendations set forth in its final report delivered at ICANN's June 2003 meeting in Montreeal. The Task Force's recommendations were accepted unanimously by the GNSO Council, and were adopted unanimously by ICANN's Board in April 2003. ICANN has convened a Transfers Assistance Group, including individuals from the Transfers Task Force, the GNSO Council, the Registries and Registrars Constituencies, and the At Large Advisory Committee. ICANN staff and the Transfers Assistance Group will be working together in the coming weeks and months to draft notices and amendments to ICANN's contracts with registries and registrars in order to put these recommendations into practice.

Pro delegation and launch

The .pro registry is scheduled to go live in September 2003. ICANN has been working closely with the .pro registry operator to accredit registrars for .pro's distribution channel, and to finalize revisions to the appendices to .pro's registry agreement to facilitate the launch of the TLD.

.org transition

Public Interest Registry, the new operator of the .org registry, continues to successfully implement its plan for transition of the registry from Verisign. As per the plan, the transition, including migration of registrars from the RRP to the EPP protocol, will continue through the end of 2003. As of 30 July 2003, 37 of the total 111 operational .org registrars have gone through the transition

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:

  1. The potential impact of new TLDs on the Internet root server system and Internet stability;
  2. The creation and implementation of selection criteria for new and existing TLD registries, including public explanation of the process, selection criteria, and the rationale for selection decisions;
  3. Potential consumer benefits/costs associated with establishing a competitive environment for TLD registries; and
  4. Recommendations from expert advisory panels, bodies, agencies, or organizations regarding economic, competition, trademark, and intellectual property issues.

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:

  • Completion of the presently ongoing review of the results of the new-TLD proof of concept initiated in 2000;
  • Obtaining advice and analysis on issues pertinent to such a long-term policy from appropriate sources;
  • Commencement of a well-focused Policy-Development Process within the Generic Names Supporting Organization on such a long-term policy; and
  • Consultation with ICANN's Advisory Committees and other Supporting Organizations.

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.
The ALAC gained Board approval on 26 June 2003 for the criteria, guidelines and processes that are needed to begin organizing of the global At-Large framework. The framework of At-Large groups will work with the ALAC to:

  • Conduct outreach on At-Large and relevant ICANN issues in each geographic region;
  • Publicize and analyze ICANN's proposed policies and decisions and their (potential) regional impact and (potential) effect on individuals in the region;
  • Provide advice to various policy-making organizations within ICANN on issues, proposals, and activities that are relevant to individual Internet users and fall within ICANN's purview; and
  • Offer Internet-based mechanisms and processes that enable discussions among members of At-Large structures and those involved in ICANN decision-making so interested individuals can share their views on pending ICANN 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.

C. Conclusion

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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