ISOC position on the ICANN Joint Project

ISOC logoAs 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:

· the agreement itself and

· 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 – political and otherwise. – Irrespective of whether early termination is possible. For three major reasons, ISOC’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 – 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 ICANN’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 IETF’s direction. ICANN’s responsibilities for these assignments is therefore different from ICANN’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 IETF’s protocol parameter needs will continue to be met to its satisfaction, regardless of any changes that may be made in ICANN’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.

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4 thoughts on “ISOC position on the ICANN Joint Project

  1. 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.

  2. A summary of ISOC-AU’s opinion can be found here.
  3. ISOC Italy has submitted a response to the NTIA supporting the ICANN request that the JPA be terminated.
  4. Lynn St. Amour has offered these additional remarks on the ISOC position:

    All,

    We note and congratulate ICANN on all the
    progress they have made recently – however, it is
    just that – recent – and all good processes need
    time to settle in. Hence our belief that ICANN
    needs to complete the JPA. We are all very
    anxious to see ICANN move to a full private
    sector management model, AND we need to be
    certain ICANN and their processes are as robust
    and stable as they need to be. They carry a
    very important set of responsibilities.

    Also, by way of background (as some seem to think
    this is a new position), this position is
    basically the same position ISOC has held for
    several years. Progress in ICANN had been slow,
    it is now getting faster (and this is good). It
    needs time to prove itself.

    It is important to remember that the Joint
    Project Agreement (JPA) does not govern/affect
    what we all really care about – the root – as
    that is under a separate agreement. This is an
    area that still needs development from both the
    US Government perspective and ICANN’s, and is not
    part of this review nor the JPA.

    ICANN’s plans with respect to their eventual
    model post USG oversight is not known, although
    it has been an ongoing discussion for several
    years. This is an area in need of significant
    further discussion within the community and is
    where we can all add a lot of value. The
    endpoint model should be known/agreed –
    preferably we’re moving towards something rather
    than simply away from something.

    These are the points we are trying to call
    everyone’s attention to, and would appreciate
    hearing your comments on. The discussions on
    these will be with us for a long time.

    Hope this helps,

    Lynn

  5. Paul Twomey, CEO of ICANN, outlined the organization’s reasoning in a video posted on the ICANN blog:

    Transcript:

    Hello. My name is Paul Twomey, and I’m the President and
    CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
    Numbers — or ICANN.

    ICANN is an international, non-profit organization created
    in 1998 by the Internet community in response to a call
    from the United States government to coordinate a key part
    or what enables billions of computers and other devices
    worldwide to connect quickly and easily with one another
    and to share information between themselves.

    This system, known technically as ‘unique identifiers’,
    includes such things as domain names and internet protocol
    addresses. Without that system, the internet as we know it
    simply would not exist.

    The blueprint for this new institution was as unique as the
    Internet itself. Recognizing that a global addressing
    system this powerful should not be managed by one interest
    group or one individual, a new type of multi-stakeholder
    model was envisioned where all parties would sit down,
    devise and agree a policy before it was implemented.

    This institution, ICANN, was specifically designed to be
    led by the private sector. Indeed, it was the President of
    the United States who directed that this should occur.

    In 2006, however, the memorandum of understanding between
    the United States government and ICANN was changed to
    recognize the significant progress ICANN had made. The
    community and ICANN have achieved more in 2007 than in any
    previous year.

    Now, the United States government is asking people for
    their comments in a review of the agreement. Over the past
    nine years ICANN has built an Internet-style liberty where
    anyone at all can get involved in developing the policies
    that help define the Internet’s future expansion.

    What the past nine years has taught us, however, is that
    there are no signs of the internet’s capacity for change
    ending. The steady state of the internet is in fact a state
    of change.

    And so ICANN, as a body that seeks to keep pace with the
    internet’s twist and turns, has learned to embrace change
    going so far as to hardwire it into its constitution.
    Change has become part of ICANN’s makeup. It simply has to
    be.

    We must always strive to do more to serve today’s 1.1
    billion users of the internet and tomorrow’s billions more.

    What has happened since 1998 could hardly have been
    imagined when the United States government first helped
    create ICANN. And with hindsight the original plan to grant
    the organizational autonomy within two years was profoundly
    optimistic.

    But over the course of ICANN’s nine years the organization
    has developed from the ground up to become a stable and
    transparent body where coordination is valued above
    control; and where no one party can claim precedence over
    another.

    At ICANN meetings held three times annually individuals
    from every corner of the globe and significantly from every
    corner of society sit and debate the future policies of the
    internet’s naming and addressing system.

    It is evidence that the organization is fulfilling its
    mandate and responsibilities. For example, input from the
    community has shaped our principles and frameworks for
    accountability and transparency which you can find on this
    website.
    [http://icann.org/transparency/acc-trans-frameworks-principles-10jan08.pdf]

    The international board of ICANN believes that ICANN is
    fulfilling the responsibilities it assumed in the JPA back
    in 2006. Moreover, the move towards greater community
    ownership has led to more effective and more efficient
    policy development.

    As such, ICANN believes it is now time to take the next
    logical step and recognize the successful completion of the
    joint project agreement. This will not change the way
    things are done now to coordinate the internet’s addressing
    system.

    It could, in fact, be a move that makes it more secure as
    the model is enshrined rather than being perceived to be
    still being evaluated by one government. Let me be clear.

    We’re not talking about terminating the JPA tomorrow, but
    it’s equally clear that the model ICANN represents of
    coordination–not control– of multi-stakeholder
    participation and led by the private sector needs to be
    confirmed once and for all.

    Until the 15th of February, the United States Department of
    Commerce will be receiving comments from the public. If you
    think now is the time for another step in creating
    confidence in a globally coordinated internet–not a
    controlled one– then now is the time to make your voice
    heard.

    To find out more, please read the ICANN JPA submission for
    more detail. You’ll find that here on the ICANN website
    under the heading ‘Joint Project Agreement, ICANN’s
    Response.

    Thank you for listening.

  6. 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 “The Continued Transition of the Technical
    Coordination and Management of the Internet’s Domain Name and
    Addressing System: Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement”

    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
    sufficiently prepared.

    Implementation:

    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
    “constituency model” was conceived to obtain inputs, but the current
    model does not always provide the necessary range of stakeholders’
    perspectives.

    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 “the model ICANN
    represents of coordination – not control – of multi-stakeholder
    participation and led by the private sector needs to be confirmed
    once and for all” 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 à 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
    addressed.

    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.

    Lynn St.Amour
    President and CEO, Internet Society

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