As noted earlier, The Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between the United States government and ICANN will have a mid-term review in March. As part of this review, the US government put out a Notice of Inquiry asking for comments on the continued transition to the private sector.
ISOC has issued a draft statement that recommends, contrary to ICANN’s desire to complete the process forthwith, that the agreement be allowed to run its full course.
From the statement:
When the JPA was created in September 2006 it had two parts:
Â· the agreement itself and
Â· an annex written by the ICANN Board.
The annex contained 10 commitments that the Board voluntarily made to the US government. The present mid-term review was also promised in the JPA.
Some, including ICANN itself, seem to think it is possible that the JPA could be terminated at the mid-term. Others see obstacles â€“ political and otherwise. – Irrespective of whether early termination is possible. For three major reasons, ISOCâ€™s position is that the JPA should continue until its end in 2009 so that ICANN can prepare itself for private sector management. Briefly those reasons are:
(1) ICANN has done a lot in the first half of the JPA with respect to advancing work on the JPA responsibilities in areas such as transparency, to making progress in other key areas such as IDNs, and working to improve stability and security. The next 18 months will be an opportunity to put these into operation and ensure that the new mechanisms are adequate to meet community expectations. This is essential for the stability of the organization post-JPA, and is central to strong engaged community support â€“ a central tenet of the private sector model envisaged for ICANN.
(2) ICANN needs to develop a vision or plan for what it will look like and how it will work without the US government oversight. This will need community support and buy-in and must be developed within ICANNâ€™s processes, following principles of openness, transparency and accountability. The community needs to understand how ICANN plans to operate and evolve in the absence of the USG oversight role. That needs to be elaborated & test-driven over the next year(s) in order to be credible, to gain support, and before various constituencies should be comfortable with ending the JPA.
(3) In the 2006 DoC proceedings, both ISOC and IAB strongly expressed the need for all parties to recognize that the protocol parameter function carried out by ICANN is on behalf of and performed fully under the IETFâ€™s direction. ICANNâ€™s responsibilities for these assignments is therefore different from ICANNâ€™s other responsibilities within the IANA function. In the next 18 months, concrete steps must be taken to recognize this, and to ensure that the IETFâ€™s protocol parameter needs will continue to be met to its satisfaction, regardless of any changes that may be made in ICANNâ€™s relationship with the DoC.
Comments may be made directly to Bill Graham of ISOC’s Global Strategic Engagement department, and it is expected there will be further discussion at the coming ICANN meeting in New Delhi. The deadline for submission is Feb 15 2008.
4 thoughts on “ISOC position on the ICANN Joint Project”
I’d like to clarify that the ICANN proposal is a discussion document from ISOC’s Global Strategic Engagement department and does not necessarily represent the views of ISOC-NY.
Not all ISOC chapters agree with the ISOC Global’s stance.
In particular Veni Markowski of ISOC Bulgaria and Holly Raiche of ISOC Australia have voiced opposition. ISOC Finland has voiced support.
Paul Twomey, CEO of ICANN, outlined the organization’s reasoning in a video posted on the ICANN blog:
Here are the actual comments as submitted:
Response to the United States Department of Commerce, National
Telecommunications and Information Administration, Docket No.
071023616-7617-01 on â€œThe Continued Transition of the Technical
Coordination and Management of the Internet’s Domain Name and
Addressing System: Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreementâ€
Submitted by the Internet Society February 15, 2008
In 2006, the Internet Society (ISOC) made a contribution to the 2006
Department of Commerce Notice of Inquiry. At that time, we urged the
Government of the United States to take a more hands-off approach in
its relationship to ICANN, consistent with the original intent of the
White Paper, and to give ICANN more freedom, following the model that
had been nurtured since its creation. ISOC further encouraged ICANN
to be more responsive to the needs of its various constituencies,
especially those of end users, by working more closely with
organizations that represent end-user interests, and the Internet
community organizations, among others, to ensure their views are
taken into account in ICANN decisions. The full text of the written
comments, and of the oral comments delivered at the public meeting,
are posted on the ISOC web site. ISOC was pleased to see that the
approach the DOC took following the public consultations addressed
many of the concerns expressed by ISOC. The Joint Project Agreement
instituted in 2006 represents a more hands-off approach in the
government’s relationship to ICANN. Indeed, the undertakings made in
the JPA were not requirements imposed by the USG, but rather were
commitments freely made by the ICANN Board of Directors in response
to comments from their community.
At this mid-point in the JPA, ISOC believes that ICANN has made
remarkable progress in meeting its commitments, many of which are
among those recommended by ISOC in its 2006 comments. We commend
ICANN for laying these out clearly in its January 9, 2008, submission
to this proceeding. ICANN’s progress would be a significant
achievement for any organization to have made in the short period of
only 15 months. It is particularly so for a relatively young
organization. ICANN is to be commended for the energy and commitment
they have shown. Two key points warrant consideration now: (1)
implementation and (2) planning for the post-JPA period. ISOC
contends that it is in ICANN’s own interest to demonstrate that it
can practically deliver on the considerable new work it has done
since 2006, and that it has a workable plan for its post-JPA future.
Without both, the road to independence will not have been
In ISOC’s view, ICANN has met the task of developing new processes,
procedures and mechanisms, particularly to improve transparency and
accessibility in its processes, and improving its accountability
mechanisms to become increasingly responsive to global stakeholders.
Now, as the JPA draws to a close, ICANN will have the opportunity to
put these new mechanisms to the test, to demonstrate that the newly
developed processes, procedures and mechanisms are sufficient to the
task, that they do work well in practice, and to continuously improve
those mechanisms to meet the strains placed on them when operating in
the real world.
Planning for Post-JPA:
ISOC continues to be concerned by the question of whether the current
governance model is appropriate to address the full range of
responsibilities undertaken by ICANN. For example, is there adequate
and appropriate participation from all the required communities? If
not, how should the model be changed to ensure ICANN has access to
the information it needs; for example, informed inputs from a broad
spectrum of end users and the business community? The original
â€œconstituency modelâ€ was conceived to obtain inputs, but the current
model does not always provide the necessary range of stakeholders’
Now is the time to re-examine how stakeholders’ views are solicited
and considered so that ICANN has the information it requires, leading
to a stronger more stable organization. The increasing preponderance
of views representing specific economic interests creates a danger
that ICANN’s process may not be sufficiently inclusive in future.
ISOC recommends that ICANN expend further efforts in a review of
ICANN’s consultation and decision making, in order to ensure adequate
input from all the appropriate quarters and to review its policies
and policy development processes to avoid what seems now to be a real
possibility of capture. No one stakeholder should have dominant
control. It is vital that ICANN ensure that â€œthe model ICANN
represents of coordination â€“ not control â€“ of multi-stakeholder
participation and led by the private sector needs to be confirmed
once and for allâ€ as Paul Twomey says in his video presentation on
the JPA, posted on the ICANN web site.
In addition, ISOC strongly supports the Internet Architecture Board
(IAB) contribution to this NOI, concerning the IETF role vis Ã vis
the IANA function. Before completing the transition to private sector
leadership in ICANN and bringing the JPA to its successful closure,
the rightful role of the IETF must be clearly articulated and
To reiterate, we are eager to see ICANN transition to a private
sector-led model involving all stakeholders. We believe that having a
clear, community-agreed organizational endpoint is critical to
ICANN’s future success, and to the stability and security of the
global Internet. We would strongly urge that ICANN devote its efforts
in the coming months to three things: (1) demonstrating the
effectiveness in action of the principles it has created for itself
during the first half; (2) taking careful steps to ensure the
appropriate inclusion of all stakeholders perspectives in the
development of balanced and widely supported recommendations and
decisions, (note: this will likely require changes to its
consultation and decisionmaking model); and (3) developing,
consulting on, and articulating an organizational and governance
model for ICANN after the JPA. This endpoint should be developed
through an open, inclusive and transparent process, drawing on the
considerable expertise available to the organization, and proceeding
on the assumption that governments will continue to provide advice,
but not oversight.
In our 2006 submission to the Department of Commerce Notice of
Inquiry, ISOC’s comments focused on the need for a new, lighter
relationship between the Department and ICANN. By creating the JPA,
we see that the DoC has effectively done what was needed to provide
ICANN with the wherewithal to take the next steps, and has largely
stood by its decision. ICANN rose to the challenge, and has made good
progress on the commitments its Board freely made in the JPA. Now,
with the agreement about to enter its second half, it is time for
ICANN to show that it can make the new mechanisms work effectively in
practice. If ICANN wishes to end its ties to the US government prior
to the JPA expiring in September 2009, a goal strongly shared by ISOC
and others in the community, it must strengthen its already credible
track record. It must present to its community, in the broadest
sense, a convincing vision of how it will continue to embody Internet
principles in an inclusive and balanced way. At the same time, ICANN
must remain responsible and responsive to the community. ISOC remains
committed to playing a supportive role in this ongoing evolutionary
process now and after the expiration of the JPA.
We thank you for this opportunity to comment.
President and CEO, Internet Society