[AFRI-Discuss] Board liaison report

Vittorio Bertola vb at bertola.eu
Tue Jul 10 05:50:09 EDT 2007

This is the Board liaison report for the ALAC call scheduled for today.
I am sending it to the regional lists as well, for those of you who
might not be subscribed to the global At Large list.

The Board met by teleconference on June 18. The two issues affecting the
At Large discussed on the call were:

1.1) The Ombudsman report 06-317, on the Ynternet.org case. As reported
to the ALAC members on June 19, the Board discussed the Ombudsman's
recommendations, and found itself mostly in agreement with the ALAC's
points of view. Especially, the Board does not seem to have any desire
to enter into the substance of our deliberations in terms of ALS
approval or rejection. The Board agreed to draft a formal reply to the
Ombudsman in the following weeks (I still haven't seen it).

1.2) The GNSO Review Working Group (of which I am a member). The Board
took notice of the release of a draft document being posted for
subsequent discussion in San Juan. I already posted a detailed report
and solicitation for comments on June 19, see here:


I am still awaiting any collective opinion by the Committee.

Other issues discussed were:
1.3) ICANN changing bank;
1.4) information on a preliminary delegation request for .kp (North Korea);
1.5) ICANN's role in the IPv4->IPv6 transition (see below);
1.6) a request for information on the RAA amendment process, which was
deferred to San Juan (see below).

Full minutes for the call can be found here:


The Board then met again during the San Juan meeting. The main issues
affecting the At Large on the agenda were:

2.1) Establishment of the North American RALO.

As the MoU had been successfully negotiated between North American ALSes
and ICANN, the resolution was straightforward: to approve such MoU. It
was actually passed by acclamation, this being also the moment when all
RALOs are established and the ALAC becomes final and not interim any more.

There were celebrating comments by Roberto Gaetano and by Vanda
Scartezini. After a quick consultation by Skype chat with some North
American people - some of which wanted to celebrate, while one wanted us
to make a critical comment about the lack of actual power for users - I
worked out a spoken statement on the fly, which was transcribed as follows:

<<I think that the real comment is that apart from the fact that finally
we are removing the "interim" qualification from the ALAC, so we are
assuming our role, that this was really the result of a work that went
on for several years.  For many people.  And even -- actually, it was
not just a practical work.  It was really a work of people getting to
know each other and learning how to live together.  In some cases, maybe
having real disagreements, having strong fights, but also starting to
build what in the end could be one of the most precious values for
ICANN, which is an avenue for collecting real input from consumers, from
general public, from users of the Internet of all kinds. And I think
that now the challenge is for ICANN to understand how to make good use
of that, not just to receive this kind of input, but to actually listen
to it.  Thank you.>>

There is general satisfaction in the Board and in the staff for these
achievements, and even some preliminary "pour parler" in terms of
recognizing a somewhat more prominent role for the At Large in the ICANN
map, once the ALAC review process is concluded and if the review is
positive (2009?).

2.2) Protection of registrants

This was my main working item in San Juan and in the preceding weeks. In
Lisbon, we managed to get a resolution by the Board, committing the CEO
to proposing a process for revising the RAA - the contract that
establishes reciprocal responsibilities between ICANN and registrars,
thus defining the way the domain registration market works for consumers
- by San Juan, to strengthen protections to registrants.

This was accompanied by several staff actions, for example the
establishment of a system for escrowing the information about who
registered which domain, in case of failure of a registrar; this was
already required by contracts, but had never been implemented. Also,
there were some discussions on which instruments could be used to
enforce compliance with contracts by registrars; in the past, the only
option was the "nuclear" option, ie deaccreditation, but some
intermediate steps might help a lot. Finally, there have been
discussions on what should ICANN's role be in case of a registry going
bankrupt; should ICANN ensure continuity of failed TLDs, either
temporarily or permanently? Should it have emergency systems to cope
with technical failures by registries? Etc. (comments / statements on
these points would be welcome).

The main issue, however, was the revision of the RAA; registrars are
extremely sensitive to any change in this contract, which basically
defines their business, so that no change has been made since 2001; in
any case, their relationship with ICANN implies that any change in the
contract must be approved by them; in other words, they can veto any
change. I have been asking several times, in the period between Lisbon
and San Juan, about the status of this resolution; staff was having
discussions with the registrars and the Board was told that all of this
would have been up for debate in San Juan.

The proposal was first presented by staff to the Board on Sunday; it
envisaged a negotiation process between staff and registrars, with a
subsequent public comment period. I was immediately vocal against the
proposal, as it would practically have excluded us and the general
public from having any serious input into the negotiation. My initial
proposal, which had been already exposed in Lisbon, was to set up a
small working group consisting of staff, registrars, us and other
interested parties, to work out a consensus on which changes were
necessary, and other possible actions (for example, changes in the
accreditation process, education programs, staff activities etc.) The
initial reaction to my objection wasn't very warm, as people were
concerned about not alienating the opening that registrars had been
making in accepting to revise the RAA in certain sections.

In the workshop on Monday, the same proposal was presented, and I was
again quite hard against it, clearly saying that it was unacceptable.
This provoked irked reactions by some registrars from the floor.
Transcript here:

In any case, when the first draft of the resolution came up for
discussion for the Board (always on the same lines), I tried to gather
consensus among Directors for changing it into something better for us.
Thus, the next draft of the process required that staff would hold a
consultation with us and with the general public, which would gather
input on what should be improved, not just about the RAA but also about
related policies and processes. This would be used as input for the
negotiation between staff and registrars; the resulting draft RAA would
then be subject to comment by us and by the public before consideration
by the Board.

The new text was introduced to the Board right on Friday morning, before
the beginning of the Board meeting. I still was dissatisfied with the
part of draft that required the negotiation to address "many of the
concerns" raised by the public, as that could have been used to escape
some key issues. So, right in the middle of the meeting, I drafted an
amendment, got its form checked by ICANN legal staff by IM, then took
the floor to ask for it, also thanks to a Board member (Peter Dengate
Thrush) who shared the concern and formally moved my amendment. We got
the amendment accepted and the amended resolution was unanimously
passed, with much satisfaction.

Now we still have to see how the resolution will be implemented; for the
moment, there are no clear plans yet. The public attention devoted to
the Registerfly case has been fundamental in making ICANN receptive to
our positions on the matter, so we have to keep up the attention. In the
ALAC meeting, I agreed to lead an At Large working group to draft our
response to this consultation, and I again invite people to join.

2.3) IDNs

In the weeks leading to San Juan, I had expressed concerns about the
possible disconnect between the different parts of such a complex
project, and the apparent lack of a comprehensive program plan. Several
Board members agreed, and staff was asked to present a "state of the
art" in San Juan. I will not enter into details (our IDN liaison already
posted reports), but the Board decided to take the following actions:

- It authorized the procedures to add experimental IDN TLDs in the root
zone. These will be domains of the form ".test" in various scripts and
languages, which will be used for tests only (no user registrations
possible). Elaborate procedures have been created to allow for immediate
interruption of the test, and removal of the entries, if anything bad
happened; I can't imagine what could go wrong, but still, in theory,
ICANN is legally not allowed to alter the root zone on the fly as it
likes, so there was the need for policies to allow this for the test
domains in case of an emergency.

- It received the list of questions on the possible introduction of
ccTLD-like IDNs, that was elaborated jointly by the ccNSO and the GAC.
This is seen as a possible shortcut to meet the enormous pressure for
some IDN TLDs to be added asap, while letting the full policy making
process for new TLDs to proceed at normal speed. The Board asked for
answers to these questions (in the first draft of the resolution it only
asked to the ccNSO and the GAC, but I made sure that the ALAC was
explicitly added as one of the respondents). I recommend that the ALAC
initiates as soon as possible the work to prepare and approve such answers.

- It encouraged further discussions on the few remaining technical
issues, though it seems clear that it's not the technicalities that are
slowing down the process.

2.4) Transition to IPv6

One Board member raised the issue - which is going to become quite hot -
of the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, and specifically:
a) how to encourage the transition, which still is not really happening;
b) how to allocate the scarce remaining batches of IPv4 addresses.

Current estimates are that IPv4 addresses will be exhausted around 2010
- very soon. Some parts of the world which traditionally obtained less
IPv4 addresses are suggesting that they should be reserved some IPv4
blocks, so that the transition (and its costs) are first approached
by the developed countries. It is in any case likely that a black market
of IPv4 addresses will develop, with those companies and entities who
got a lot in faraway times making plenty of money by reselling them.

ICANN does not have a huge role in this, since policies for allocation
are regional in nature; in any case, the Board wants staff to keep an
eye over the situation and do what is possible to speed up the transition.

2.5) Reform of the GNSO

The draft document was discussed in a workshop in San Juan. There seems
to be agreement towards moving to consensus-based working groups, but
much less agreement in reducing the political role of the Council, or in
revising the number of constituencies. The NCUC has released some
comments (which I forwarded to the WG after our meeting) and is asking
for our position on this matter.

For the moment, the Board does not have an opinion and is still waiting
for the Working Group to examine the feedback provided in San Juan and
finalize the report.

The other issues discussed were:

2.6) Approval of the ICANN Budget. The new budget foresees a decrease in
the ICANN fee paid by registrants from $0.22 per domain to $0.20, still
without any plan to charge domain tasting registrations. The budget was
approved by the Board, but it needs approval by 2/3 of the accredited
registrars to become final. There's no doubt that it will be approved.

2.7) Consultation on transparency. We should keep an eye over this. We
released statements on this matter in the past, and it would be worth at
least to resubmit them.

2.8) Appointment of Kevin Wilson as new ICANN CFO (approved).
2.9) Renewal of the .coop registry agreement (approved).
2.10) Change in fees for the .tel registry (approved).

The full transcript of the Board meeting can be found here:

The text of the approved resolutions can be found here:

Some other issues were discussed, outside of the agenda, during the
private Board workshops or on the Board mailing list:

2.11) The fellowship program. It was implemented in San Juan for the
first time, and I was asked to welcome the fellows; almost 40 people
from various groups (ccTLDs, NGOs, governments) and several developing
countries attended the meeting thanks to the program. I expressed our
full support for this idea, which some Board members really championed;
even if At Large members are excluded from the program (as we already
have our travel programs), it is a good way to increase inclusiveness.

2.12) .TEL contract amendment. .TEL is asking for permission to limit
the information displayed in their Whois service, to comply with
applicable (UK) privacy laws. The IP and business constituencies, as in
the broader Whois discussions, push for ICANN to force registrars and
registries to ignore their laws, through a procedure called "reconciling
Whois policies and national laws" (as if they were at the same level). I
stressed that it's not in ICANN's power to change national laws, so any
effort spent on anything but "do whatever your national law says" is
basically a waste of registrants' money. Anyway, this is not on the
Board agenda yet, pending advice/updates on the above policy.

2.13) The new gTLD process. Again, for the moment it is not on the Board
agenda yet, but of course it's "the" issue for ICANN since it was
created. There is an expectation to receive a final proposal from the
GNSO as soon as possible. The ALAC should be prepared to have an opinion
asap, drawing on the current drafts published by the GNSO.

The next Board call, planned for July 17, will possibly be cancelled.

The Board will meet again for a retreat in Los Angeles, on August 10-11.
The agenda is still unknown, but it is likely to contain the issue of
how to select the next ICANN Chair, how can ICANN work in the afterVint,
and long term strategies and vision; other issues that might or might
not come up are the new gTLD process, the IGF in Rio, the signing of the
root zone, the status of the Joint Project Agreement with the US
Government. I will post further information when I will have it.

As usual, feel free to make questions or comments.

vb.                   Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu   <--------
-------->  finally with a new website at http://bertola.eu/  <--------

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