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Minutes | Meeting of the Technical Committee of the Board (BTC) | 13 January 2023

Board Member and Liaison Attendees: Avri Doria (Chair), Alan Barrett, Edmon Chung, Christian Kaufmann, Harald Alvestrand, Wes Hardaker, and Patricio Poblete

Board Members with Apologies: James Galvin and Harald Alvestrand

Other Board Members and Liaisons Present: Becky Burr, Manal Ismail, Danko Jevtovic, Matthew Shears, and Tripti Sinha

ICANN Organization Attendees: Adiel Akplogan (Vice President for Technical Engagement), Steve Allison (Lead Product Manager), Francisco Arias (Senior Director, GDS Technical Services), Chris Bare (Director, Strategic Initiatives), Amy Bivins (Senior Counsel), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning & Chief Financial Officer), Andrew Chen (Research Specialist), Steve Conte (Senior Director, IROS Operations), Sally Costerton (Senior Advisor to President & SVP, Global Stakeholder Engagement and Interim President & CEO), John Crain (SVP & Chief Technology Officer), Kim Davies (VP, IANA Services & President, PTI), Jared Erwin (Director, Policy Research & Stakeholder Programs), Daniel Halloran (Deputy General Counsel and Chief Data Protection Officer), Aaron Hickman (Senior Director, Operations Service Delivery & Support), Lars Hoffman (Director Policy Research & Stakeholder Programs), Sarmad Hussain (Senior Director IDN and UA Programs), Kinga Kowalcyzk (Administrative Assistant), Karen Lentz (VP Policy Research & Stakeholder Programs), Shani Quidwai (Senior Director, Finance), Danielle Rutherford (Policy and Technology Development Support Manager), Lisa Saulino (Board Operations Specialist), Steve Sheng (Director, Policy Development Support & Technical Community Relations), Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains & Strategy), Samuel Suh (VP, Strategic Projects & Back Office Systems) and Sarah Zagha (Counsel)

The following is a summary of discussions, actions taken, and actions identified:

  1. Welcome and Introduction – The Chair opened this joint discussion with the SubPro Caucus Group. It is the second of four meetings that the SubPro Caucus Group has requested. The Chair specified that this particular meeting will take a deep dive into the technical aspects of the New gTLDs Subsequent Procedures Operation Design Assessment (ODA) (which encapsulates a year of work to analyze the 300-plus outputs of the Final Report on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process). The Chair also established the agenda of the meeting.

  2. E&IT Architecture and Options – The Committee received a summary from members of ICANN's Engineering and Information Technologies (E&IT) team on the differences between, factors driving, and strategies for Options 1 and Options 2 of the system build needed to support a continuously managed or multi-round gTLD application process. From a system design strategy, Option 1 was described as a "fully transactional system." It was estimated that the implementation time for this system is three years, from initiation to delivery. Option 2 was described as the "Manual Spreadsheet Processing" (MVP) system. It was estimated that implementation time for this system is approximately 18 months. Possible risks and benefits to each option were discussed.

    The possibility for ICANN to pivot to Option 1 from Option 2, after 18 months, and to feed the data into Option 2's fully transactional system once it is ready for implementation was discussed. Furthermore, ICANN org was asked to clarify whether Option 2 is a slight enhancement of the system built during the 2012 round. ICANN org responded Option 2 should be considered a new environment, system, and platform.

  3. ODA Topics – Four ODA-related topics were presented by ICANN: (i) Registry Service Provider (RSP) Pre-Evaluation; (ii) Root Zone Scaling and Rating Limiting; (iii) Reserved Names and NCAP; and (iv) Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and the GNSO's IDN Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP).

    1. Registry Service Provider (RSP) Pre-Evaluation
      The Committee received a presentation on the RSP Pre-Evaluation Program from Members of the Operations Service Delivery and Support team within ICANN org. The Committee was informed that the SubPro WG Final Report recommends the establishment of an RSP Pre-Evaluation Program to allow registry service providers to be evaluated once per round for the services that they intend to provide to applicants. ICANN org pointed out this Program contrasts with the 2012 round, in which the requirement was for every application to be evaluated for technical capability, even if multiple applications were using the same provider. It was noted that in Option 1, ICANN org anticipates the RSP Pre-Evaluation Program (beginning approximately eighteen months prior to acceptance of new gTLD applications) to allow registry service providers sufficient time to receive approval and for gTLD applicants to negotiate relevant business relationships prior to submitting their application(s).

    2. Root Zone Scaling and Rating Limiting
      The Committee received a presentation on the topics of Root Zone Scaling and Rating Limiting based on considerations by the IANA team. The Committee was reminded that the Board had previously asked ICANN org questions (within the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operations Design Phase (ODP) Scoping Document) regarding planning for unforeseen DNS instability issues, and mechanisms for tracking effects on the DNS root server system. ICANN org noted that IANA, in the ODA, has identified approaches that address aspects of unforeseen DNS instability, which include: (i) IANA using a business process similar to the 2012 round of metering the rate of change to the root zone; (ii) ICANN recognizing the importance of conservatism and capping the rate of growth in the root zone system; (iii) ICANN, in the case of string instability, delaying the addition of a string or new gTLD registry to the root zone in case of DNS service instabilities.

      It was also noted that the IANA function can maintain the ability to rate-limit growth of the root zone. To accomplish this, IANA would adapt their Service Level Agreements (SLA) target for the timely processing of change requests, such that IANA would have the ability to suspend delegations without incurring an SLA penalty.

      A discussion regarding whether current technology places ICANN org in a better position to handle the increased amount of new gTLDs than it did during the 2012 round took place. It was noted that technology would keep pace within the first years because of enhanced automatic systems. It was also noted that while the number of delegations were capped at a fixed number of one thousand per annum during the 2012 round, the current recommendation is for a percentage-based number of delegations (which will compound over time). Despite the compounding number of TLD delegation requests, it was stated that first and second year of implementation will allow sufficient time to monitor any risks of unforeseen DNS instability and adjust accordingly.

      The Committee commented that while it has confidence in the root server operators to handle the growth of the root, the operation of the root servers is not confined solely to root service operators. The Chair noted that ICANN's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) team is currently working on a project that supports the hyperlocal root service.

    3. Reserved Names and NCAP
      Members of ICANN org's Global Domains & Strategy (GDS) team presented on the topics of reserved names as well as on the Name Collision Analysis Project (NCAP). It was explained that the SubPro PDP WG outputs reinforce the 2007 policy about reserved names (i.e., "Strings must not be a Reserved Word") and affirm many of the processes implemented during the 2012 round. ICANN org noted that certain issues will need to be addressed during implementation during the next round, including: (i) SAC113's recommendation to reserve a single label for private use; (ii) A process for removing names for the Reserved Names list; (iii) Anticipated changes to the Registry Agreement; (iv) The outputs from the IDN EPDP about reserved names.

      ICANN org expanded on SAC113's recommendation that the reservation of a DNS label must never be delegated. The presenters stated that SAC113 argues that the reservation of DNS labels for private use will help to reduce ad hoc usage, provide greater predictability for network administrators and equipment vendors, and over time, reduce erroneous queries to root servers. ICANN org further noted that the Board resolved, during ICANN75, to direct ICANN org to conduct a Public Comment proceeding on a proposed procedure to identify and reserve a string for private use" in accordance with the recommendation contained in SAC113. ICANN org outlined the proposed steps to do so, which are as follows: (i) Instruct IANA to choose the string using criteria described in SAC113; (ii) Conduct a Public Comment proceeding on the proposed string chosen by IANA; and (iii) Pass a Board resolution to reserve the proposed string. ICANN org states this process could have a potential effect on the timing of the next round. It was stated that this three-step process could have an effect on the timing of the next round; issues may arise if identifying and reserving strings are not completed before the launch of the next round, as identifying the string will affect potential applications.

      Clarity as to whether the process has begun was sought. ICANN org responded that the first Public Comment period will commence during the week of 16 January 2023, with the entire implementation to conclude on 30 June 2023.

      Following the discussion on Reserved Names, ICANN org presented on the topic of NCAP. The members of its GDS team discussed the recommendations within the SubPro Final Report, which affirm the usage of the existing name collision management framework. ICANN also noted that an initial draft of the NCAP Study 2 Report is expected to be published in March 2023 for public comment, and that the Board will need to consider NCAP Study 2's recommendations and any subsequent SSAC advice that could have a potential effect on the existing name collision management framework.

    4. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and GNSO's IDN Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP)
      ICANN commenced this portion of its presentation by providing some historical background on IDN policy development. It was noted that IDN variant TLDs are being introduced for the first time during this round and were not considered in the 2012 round. The Committee was informed that the IDN Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Working Group (WG) is currently looking at relevant topics relating to IDN variant TLDs and their impact on the application process, contracting, delegation, and operations. The IDN EPDP WG is dividing its work in two phases: (i) Phase 1 will be focused on Policy and implementation guidance for top-level domains (TLDs), with a report to be published for Public Comment in 2023, and (ii) Phase 2 will be focused on policy and implementation guidance for second level domains (SLDs), with a report to be published for Public Comment in 2024. It was explained that a phased approach by the IDN EPDP WG is being done to allow for the gTLD application process to proceed after the Phase 1 Report while the Phase 2 report is finalized.

      ICANN org concluded its presentation by listing considerations relating to the IDN EPDP for the Board.

  4. Recap and Actions Items – The Chair concluded the meeting by first extending appreciation and thanks to the members of the Committee and SubPro Caucus Group for their attendance, as well as to ICANN staff for their presentations.

    The Chair briefly discussed the open issue of the dependencies on where NCAP ends up in regards with Study 2 (and whether that necessitates the need for a Study 3 to be conducted).

    The Chair also encouraged the members of the Committee and SubPro Caucus Group to note any further questions related to the SubPro ODA, including questions regarding its architecture and its inherent options, so that said questions can be discussed during the upcoming Board workshop.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 7 April 2023