ICANN has announced today that it has signed an exchange letters with the country code top level domain (ccTLD) manager for .lv--Latvia, the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Latvia. It has also formalized its relationship with the ccTLD managers for .cx--Christmas Island, the Christmas Island Internet Administration Ltd and .nf--Norfolk Island, the Norfolk Island Data Service by way of accountability framework documents.
The Accountability Framework program provides two mechanisms by which ccTLD managers can formalise their relationship with ICANN. The first is an Accountability Framework document that sets out the obligations of a ccTLD manager and ICANN. It also covers dispute resolution and termination and is designed for ccTLD managers requiring a formal document with ICANN.
The second mechanism is an exchange of letters between ICANN and the ccTLD manager designed for those for whom a simple statement of commitment is more appropriate.
As the Internet has evolved over time, and commercialised, one of the areas of interest of stakeholders has been the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to recognise responsible entities and to reflect informal relationships, thereby clarifying respective roles and responsibilities.
Since 2000, ICANN has been working with managers of ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs that have been established for countries and some territories) to document further their relationship with ICANN. These relationships are complex, because of the varying circumstances (in terms of type of organisation, policies followed, economics, language, culture, legal environment, and relations with governments) of different ccTLDs and the organisations that operate them.
ICANN has formalised relationships with a number of ccTLD managers, such as .au, .jp and .ke through sponsorship agreements. However, in recognition that these agreements are very detailed documents ICANN sought the ccNSO's assistance to develop a broadly agreed set of baseline criteria which could form the basis for what has become known as an accountability framework. ICANN intended to develop an accountability framework document based on the broadly agreed baselines, with the flexibility to individually tailor the document in respect of individual ccTLD circumstances. The document would be as lightweight as possible.
The initial request for assistance was made at the ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 2004.
The ccNSO subsequently formed an Accountability Frameworks Working Group comprising members of the ccNSO and the broader ccTLD community. In addition to discussion among members of the working group, significant discussions were also held during ccNSO meetings in Cape Town, Mar del Plata and Luxembourg.
On 14 December 2005, the ccNSO Council resolved to publish the Accountability Framework Working Group Interim Report as guidelines for ccTLD managers to consider when discussing an accountability framework with ICANN. On 19 December 2005, the Council published the resolution to the ccNSO members list and as seven days has lapsed since this publication without objection the guidelines are now operational. The guidelines were published on the ICANN ccNSO website on 6 January 2006.