Task 1: Provide expertise and advice on private sector functions related to technical management of the DNS such as the policy and direction of the allocation of IP number blocks and coordination of the assignment of other Internet technical parameters as needed to maintain universal connectivity on the Internet.
Status of progress on task 1: Throughout the joint project, ICANN has contributed its technical advice and expertise on various aspects of private-sector management of the Internet domain-name system. To assist in this regard, at the beginning of 1999 ICANN entered a transition agreement with the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (ISI), under which ICANN secured the services of the IANA team at ISI.
Additionally, ICANN has made good use of other expertise in the Internet technical community to contribute to this task. Reliable, timely, and fair allocation of IP addresses and protocol parameters is a key requirement for the continued stable operation of the Internet and for its growth and evolution to satisfy the ever-increasing and ever-changing demands that its success is generating. At the time the DOC-ICANN MOU was entered, these functions were performed by the IANA (a set of functions undertaken by personnel of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute) in coordination with the regional Internet registries (RIRs) and Internet standards-development organizations (SDOs). Thus, a key aspect of the DNS Project was to devise and implement stable relationships with those existing organizations, so that the organizations are integrated into ICANN's overall technical-policy-coordination function. These organizations have extensive expertise in the address and protocol policy arenas that is vital to effective functioning of the ICANN policy-development process in these technical areas; similarly, smooth implementation requires their cooperation in abiding by the resulting policies.
In the last half of 1999, ICANN entered into memoranda of understanding with the RIRs and SDOs. These agreements set forth the ongoing roles of those organizations in the ICANN policy-development process, so that the development and implementation of global addressing and protocol-parameter assignment policies through the ICANN process benefit from their full cooperation. Specifically, the ICANN "Protocol Supporting Organization" (PSO) was formed on July 14, 1999, through the entry of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives of ICANN and four standards-development organizations: the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). <http://www.icann.org/pso/pso-mou.htm> On October 18, 1999, the ICANN "Address Supporting Organization" (ASO) was formed through the entry of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by representatives of ICANN and the world's three current regional internet registries: APNIC, ARIN, and RIPE NCC. <http://www.aso.icann.org/docs/aso-mou.html>
These memoranda of understanding establish the ASO and PSO as the bodies primarily responsible for formulating address and protocol policy recommendations within the ICANN process.
The ASO is managed by an Address Council composed of members selected by the RIRs through open and transparent processes. The Address Council has been in active operation since October 1999 and the ASO's first general assembly was held in May 2000. In October 1999, the Address Council selected three directors by vote who have since served on ICANN's Board of Directors. Since then, the Address Council has been working both on its own procedures for developing global address policy recommendations and on current address-policy issues, such as guidelines for creation and recognition of new RIRs and the definition of the division between global address-policy issues (handled directly by the ICANN process) and regional address-policy issues (delegated to the RIRs).
The PSO also voted to select three directors to ICANN's Board in October 1999. Since then, ICANN has been working to strengthen its operational relationships with the SDOs that are PSO members. On March 10, 2000, ICANN and the IETF entered a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Technical Work of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, under which the IETF has appointed ICANN to perform the protocol-parameter assignment functions arising from the technical Internet standards developed by the IETF. The ICANN-IETF memorandum of understanding contemplates that ICANN may perform similar services for other SDOs so that the technical development of the Internet has a convenient, single repository for the assignment of parameters under technical standards.
In sum, ICANN has achieved stable relationships with the Internet SDOs and the RIRs. These relationships allow those organizations to continue their technical work in their respective areas of activity, while bringing them together within the ICANN process to formulate policies that span the areas of activity of multiple organizations. Significant collaborative work is ongoing between ICANN (including its ASO) and the RIRs on issues such as the appropriate allocation of responsibilities for address policy formulation and implementation between regional and global forums. One area not yet completed is the establishment of formal legal relationships under which the RIRs will contribute to ICANN's costs of operation. The RIRs have each agreed to a contribution for the current fiscal year which, collectively among all three RIRs, comprises 10% of ICANN's general costs, but contractual documents memorializing this commitment have not yet been completed. With this exception, the design, implementation, and successful testing of these sound interrelationships among the Internet's key technical standards and IP-address-assignment bodies fulfills the requirements of Task 1 of the DOC-ICANN joint project.
Task 2: Collaborate on the design, development and testing of procedures by which members of the Internet community adversely affected by decisions that are in conflict with the bylaws of the organization can seek external review of such decisions by a neutral third party.
Status of progress on task 2: In the joint project, three principal mechanisms have been designed and developed for addressing claims by members of the Internet community that they have been adversely affected by decisions in conflict with ICANN's bylaws:
a. Reconsideration process. On March 4, 1999, ICANN adopted a reconsideration policy under which members of the Internet community affected by actions of the ICANN staff or Board can seek reconsideration of those actions by the Board. Requests for reconsideration are addressed first by a reconsideration committee consisting of three ICANN directors, which investigates as appropriate and makes recommendations to the ICANN board. Approximately ten such requests have been received and acted on; while most did not involve allegations that ICANN's bylaws had been violated, the process has on occasion been used to raise such complaints.
b. Independent review process. On March 10, 2000, ICANN adopted an independent review policy. Under the policy, a panel consisting of legally trained persons (e.g., current and former judges) not holding any office or position within the ICANN structure will consider complaints that the ICANN Board has acted or failed to act in a manner contrary to ICANN's Articles of Incorporation and/or Bylaws. The formation of a committee to nominate members of the independent review panel is currently underway by the various ICANN Supporting Organizations.
c. Arbitration process. In the domain-name arena, ICANN policies are mainly implemented through ICANN's entry of agreements with domain-name registries and registrars. Many of these agreements include provisions paralleling protections in ICANN's bylaws concerning open and transparent policymaking, fostering of competition, and prohibitions of arbitrary or unjustifiable action. They also include arbitration provisions, which give the parties contracting with ICANN access to a neutral decisionmaker to resolve questions under these provisions.
In sum, the design of multiple mechanisms for neutral review of ICANN's compliance with its bylaws is complete. Although one of the mechanisms is in the implementation phase, the others are in place and, in the case of the reconsideration process, extensively tested. Task 2 is thus well underway and should be completed within the next few months.
Task 3: Collaborate on the design, development, and testing of a plan for introduction of competition in domain name registration services, including:
a. Development of procedures to designate third parties to participate in tests conducted pursuant to this Agreement.
b. Development of an accreditation procedure for registrars and procedures that subject registrars to consistent requirements designed to promote a stable and robustly competitive DNS, as set forth in the Statement of Policy.
c. Identification of the software, databases, know-how, intellectual property, and other equipment necessary to implement the plan for competition.
Status of progress on task 3: A significant part of ICANN's work under the joint project during the first three quarters of 1999 was devoted to this task, which is now complete. In January-March 1999, in consultation with DOC (which had laid the groundwork by entering Amendment 11 to the U.S. Government's cooperative agreement with Network Solutions, Inc.), ICANN developed and adopted a registrar accreditation policy for the .com, .net, and .org top-level domains.
That initial policy, which incorporated various requirements for accredited registrars to permit robust competition at the registrar level while preserving stable operation of these top-level domains, led to the April 1999 designation of five registrars to participate in a testbed. Actual live operations under the testbed began in June 1999. After initial operation of the testbed with the five registrars, it was extended to other registrars. At the end of November 1999, the testbed was concluded.
The registrar accreditation policy has been subject to refinement through subsequent discussions within the Internet community, which resulted in a revised set of agreements approved by the ICANN Board at its annual meeting on November 4, 1999 and in further revisions by the adoption of an interim registry service level agreement in April 2000. Ongoing competitive operations by approximately fifty registrars are now underway, with an additional sixty accredited registrars in the process of developing their business systems to enter the market. In less than one year since testbed operations began, the share of net new registrations attributable to Network Solutions (the sole registrar since 1993) has dropped from 100% to under 50%. Over the same period, retail registration pricing has dropped from $35 per year to as little as $10 per year, with some registrars even offering domain-name registration "free" as part of larger service packages.
Thus, while the constantly changing character of the Internet merits periodic review of the accreditation program, a plan for introduction of competition has been designed, developed, and tested in fulfillment of this task.
Task 4: Collaborate on written technical procedures for operation of the primary root server including procedures that permit modifications, additions or deletions to the root zone file.
Status of progress on task 4: Soon after ICANN was formed, the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) was formed. That committee includes the operators of all thirteen DNS root servers as well as DNS and network-topology technical experts. As part of the joint project, a DOC official (Mark Bohannon, Chief Counsel, Technology Administration) has participated in the RSSAC's activities.
The RSSAC has been working to define technical procedures for operation of the root nameservers. These include a plan for operation and monitoring of the root nameservers during the Y2K event. This plan achieved the flawless operation of the root nameserver system during the Y2K rollover. The RSSAC is also currently developing a plan for architectural modifications to the root-server system designed to enhance its security and operation, along with a detailed plan for shifting the primary nameserver as a means to migrate to this enhanced architecture. The committee expects to present its architectural consensus at the ICANN meeting in Yokohama on July 15, 2000. Once this architecture and the related implementation plans are adopted and executed, the work needed to accomplish this task will be completed.
Task 5: Collaborate on a study and process for making the management of the root server system more robust and secure. This aspect of the Project will address:
a. Operational requirements of root name servers, including host hardware capacities, operating system and name server software versions, network connectivity, and physical environment.
b. Examination of the security aspects of the root name server system and review of the number, location, and distribution of root name servers considering the total system performance, robustness, and reliability.
c. Development of operational procedures for the root system, including formalization of contractual relationships under which root servers throughout the world are operated.
Status of progress on task 5: As noted under task 4, the ICANN RSSAC, which includes the operators of all thirteen root nameservers, has been formulating procedures that will increase the security and robustness of the root server system. In addition to the Y2K initiative and the plans for migrating to an enhanced architecture mentioned under task 4, the members of the RSSAC have worked within the Domain Name Server Operations (dnsop) working group of the IETF to define best practices for the operation of the root nameservers. The RSSAC also has an ongoing project to review and, as necessary, revise the placement of the root nameservers to better align with DNS usage patterns.
The RSSAC, ICANN staff, and DOC officials have also been discussing appropriate, formal contractual arrangements between ICANN and the organizations operating the root servers. The goal is to complete this work by August 2000.
In short, although much of the work to accomplish task 5 has been done, some additional work is needed to complete the study and process envisioned in the MOU. This work should be completed within the next few months.
Task 6: Collaborate on the design, development and testing of a process for affected parties to participate in the formulation of policies and procedures that address the technical management of the Internet. This process will include methods for soliciting, evaluating and responding to comments in the adoption of policies and procedures.
Status of progress on task 6: In view of ICANN's fundamental character as a consensus-based technical-coordination body, the design of mechanisms for affected parties to participate in the formulation of policies concerning the Internet's technical management has been a central and continuing focus of the joint project since its inception. Many different mechanisms have been designed, developed, and tested. The different mechanisms tested have, in practice, shown different strengths and weaknesses; the refinement of participatory mechanisms likely will be a ongoing feature of ICANN's design.
One of the challenges in the design of participatory mechanisms is that, in view of ICANN's non-governmental character, many of the mechanisms used in governmental policy-making are too cumbersome to meet the needs of the ICANN process. Moreover, ICANN lacks any governmental power to compel compliance with its policies. ICANN's policies instead will be implemented only to the extent that those in a position to do so (registrars, ISPs, etc.) in fact implement them, either by previous agreement or otherwise. Given this circumstance, bottom-up participation by the implementing parties in policy formulation, in circumstances where it is practical, has an advantage over mechanisms traditionally used by governments because bottom-up mechanisms tend to ensure that resulting policies are widely embraced by the implementers. On the other hand, experience to date under the joint project has indicated that fully bottom-up mechanisms can require extended periods to reach resolution.
Some of the major mechanisms already evaluated, currently being evaluated, or under design for evaluation, in the joint project are:
a. Notice-and-comment mechanisms. ICANN's bylaws provide for notice and public comment (both in writing and at a public forum) on any policies that substantially affect the operation of the Internet or third parties. During the joint project ICANN has developed and implemented various methods for electronic publication of policy proposals and for electronic collection of comments from affected parties and the public generally. In addition to e-mail based mechanisms (mailing lists and mail-in bulletin boards), ICANN has developed software to support web-based comment mechanisms that are in active use.
b. Address and Protocol Supporting Organizations. In the areas of IP-addressing and protocol policy, organizations (RIRs and SDOs) existing prior to ICANN employed their own processes for policy formulation. The ASO and PSO make good use of their member organizations' processes by referring most address- and protocol-policy issues, at least in the first instance, to those organizations. To the extent particular policy issues are not appropriately resolved at the member-organization level, the ASO and PSO offer additional forums for participation by other member organizations and by the Internet community generally.
c. Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). In the case of domain-name policy, community sentiment at the beginning of the joint project indicated that the supporting organization for domain-name issues should be formed anew, rather than seeking to incorporate existing policy-development organizations. In March 1999, at the ICANN meeting in Singapore, the Internet community presented a consensus proposal, based on which the ICANN Board adopted a "Statement of Domain Name Supporting Organization Formation Concepts." Under this statement of concepts, seven constituencies of Internet stakeholders were self-organized. Later in 1999, they were provisionally recognized by the ICANN Board and the DNSO began operating. After five months of operation, the DNSO and its constituencies were accorded final recognition.
Within its design, the DNSO has many opportunities for bottom-up participation in the policy-formulation process. As noted, a principal feature of the DNSO's structure is the seven interest-based constituency organizations. In addition to choosing representatives to the DNSO Names Council (which has overall responsibility for managing the policy-development process within the DNSO), each constituency organization serves as a forum for its members to raise and debate issues of mutual interest, whether initially raised within the constituency or developed by another DNSO body. The Names Council has also chartered several working groups, which are charged to do preliminary evaluations of issues or proposals in focused policy areas. Working groups conduct their business primarily by e-mail. Finally, the DNSO embraces a general assembly as a forum for discussion and participation in the work of the DNSO open to all who are willing to contribute effort to the work of the DNSO. In support of this forum, the DNSO hosts a mailing list and periodically holds meetings of DNSO participants.
d. Contractual consensus requirements. Because policies developed through the ICANN process can only be implemented by agreement of businesses in a position to do so (registry operators, registrars, etc.), ICANN has entered into agreements with those businesses under which they agree to implement various present or future policies. In many aspects, these agreements establish that the businesses will follow future policies created through the ICANN consensus-development process. These provisions have prompted consensus-based policy development efforts within particular constituencies, such as the registrar constituency.
e. Working groups, task forces, drafting committees, etc. As noted above, the DNSO has made active use of working groups as participatory mechanisms for preliminary evaluations of policy issues or proposals in the domain-name area. In addition, ICANN has adopted the practice in its budgeting process of convening a task force consisting of representatives of organizations that provide the funds for defraying ICANN's operating costs. At times, ICANN has also convened small groups drawn from various segments of the Internet community to advise ICANN's staff on the implementation of various policies.
f. Delegation of policy formulation to specialized consensus-based groups, such as top-level domain sponsors. A longstanding feature of Internet coordination is the delegation of most aspects of policy formulation to local, regional, or other bodies that themselves have participatory mechanisms. For example, most aspects of IP addressing policy are established by the RIRs, which each have policy forums in which affected members of the Internet communities in their regions can participate. In the domain-name arena, the hierarchical structure of the domain-name system lends itself well to a similar delegation of policy responsibilities. For example, the local aspects of policy within country-code top-level domains are established by the organizations to which management of those domains are delegated. Increasingly, those delegations are held by organizations broadly representative of the Internet communities in their respective countries or territories. These delegation arrangements work well to afford the most affected stakeholders focused participation in development of specialized or local policies.
With respect to the design of appropriate mechanisms for affected segments of the Internet community to participate in the issues concerning the management and delegation of ccTLDs, significant work remains to be completed. Various segments of the community, including the Governmental Advisory Committee, various groups of ccTLD managers, and others have submitted position papers for discussion within the ICANN process. It is anticipated that the ensuing discussion will result in agreements or other documents that will better define the relationships of the ccTLD managers, relevant governments and other public authorities, and ICANN. Completion of this design should be a high priority under the joint project.
In sum, many different participatory mechanisms have been designed, developed, and tested under task 6. In the context of private-sector technical management of the Internet, the goal of achieving timely resolution of policy issues with the participation of affected parties is and will continue to be challenging. Based on the work to date under the joint project, it appears that the goal is best addressed by use of a varied and evolving array of participatory mechanisms. Although the mechanisms designed, developed, and tested to date each have strengths and weaknesses, and will no doubt continue to evolve over time, in combination they now provide a range of channels that can suit most policy development needs. Accordingly, although there will likely always be room for enhancement of participatory mechanisms, as contemplated in task 6 a robust initial set of mechanisms has been developed and tested with respect to issues other than the management and delegation of ccTLDs.
Task 7: Collaborate on the development of additional policies and procedures designed to provide information to the public.
Status of progress on task 7: During the joint project so far, ICANN has developed and evaluated a variety of policies and procedures for providing the public with information about ICANN's activities and the issues it is addressing. These include extensive use of the ICANN websites (including the main ICANN site and subsidiary sites for the ASO, DNSO, PSO, and At-Large Membership); use of e-mail announcement lists; press releases and advisories; the use of many dispersed venues for ICANN meetings; web-casting and preparation of online scribe's notes for various ICANN meetings; real-time audio access for public observers of DNSO Names Council meetings; and attendance by ICANN and DOC personnel at meetings of groups interested in Internet matters. ICANN has adopted a variety of policies and procedures concerning these dissemination mechanisms, including bylaw requirements and operational practices for postings on its website as well as for the other mechanisms. Given the wide-spread and growing participation in the various ICANN activities, although there is (and likely always will be) room for their enhancement, effective mechanisms for provision of information to the public have been developed and proven under the joint project.
Task 8: Collaborate on the design, development, and testing of appropriate membership mechanisms that foster accountability to and representation of the global and functional diversity of the Internet and its users, within the structure of private- sector DNS management organization.
Status of progress on task 8: After extensive discussion within the Internet community, ICANN has adopted an at-large membership program in which members of the Internet community throughout the world can participate in the selection of at-large members of ICANN's Board of Directors, as well as learn about and contribute to ICANN's policy development activities through the mechanisms described above. This program includes significant international outreach efforts, including the translation into multiple languages of key materials describing ICANN and its role. These mechanisms will result in the selection and seating later this year of five directors based on a vote of members of the Internet community that have registered for that purpose. Currently, over 28,000 members have applied to become registered. An initial group of at-large directors selected by these members of the Internet community will be seated in November 2000. Thanks to a significant foundation grant, there is no charge to participate in this year's vote. After completion of the selection process, there will be a comprehensive study of the concept, structure, and processes relating to the at-large membership in view of ICANN's mission and structure. The study will be completed in time for subsequent adoption, based on extensive public discussion and comment, of a selection mechanism that would allow the next group of at-large directors to be seated by ICANN's annual meeting in 2002.
While future study may well provide a rationale for evolution and refinement of the current membership mechanisms, the process in place will "foster accountability to and representation of the global and functional diversity of the Internet and its users," in accordance with the requirements of Task 8.
Task 9: Collaborate on the design, development and testing of a plan for creating a process that will consider the possible expansion of the number of gTLDs. The designed process should consider and take into account the following:
a. The potential impact of new gTLDs on the Internet root server system and Internet stability.
b. The creation and implementation of minimum criteria for new and existing gTLD registries.
c. Potential consumer benefits/costs associated with establishing a competitive environment for gTLD registries.
d. Recommendations regarding trademark/domain name policies set forth in the Statement of Policy; recommendations made by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) concerning: (i) the development of a uniform approach to resolving trademark/domain name disputes involving cyberpiracy; (ii) a process for protecting famous trademarks in the generic top level domains; (iii) the effects of adding new gTLDs and related dispute resolution procedures on trademark and intellectual property holders; and recommendations made by other independent organizations concerning trademark/domain name issues.
Status of progress on task 9: Soon after it was formed under the joint project, the DNSO began a highly open and participatory process for considering expansion of the number of gTLDs. That process has led to the DNSO Names Council adopting recommendations, based on the consensus of the affected Internet community, that new gTLDs should be introduced in a measured and responsible manner and that there should be varying degrees of protection for intellectual property during the startup phase of new top-level domains. Among the intellectual-property recommendations (see task 9(d)) of the Names Council has been that the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy adopted in August 1999 through the participatory mechanisms of the DNSO should be applied to new TLDs. It is anticipated that ICANN's Board will act on the DNSO recommendations concerning the introduction of new gTLDs at its July 2000 meeting in Yokohama, and that any resulting policies will be implemented later in 2000.