First Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice Review

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The First Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice Review was initiated in October 2015, after the launch of the New gTLD Program, pursuant to amendments to the ICANN Bylaws.[1] The CCT Review was one of the new processes designed to ensure the transparency and fairness of the New gTLD Program.[2]

Background

Origin and Purpose of Specific Reviews

The Affirmation of Commitments, an agreement between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce, establishes ICANN's obligations to perform its duties with specific commitments in mind. All of the commitments bear on public and consumer trust of the organization. ICANN is to perform its functions in a manner that:

  • ensures accountability and transparency of decision-making;
  • preserves the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS;
  • promotes competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice; and
  • enables access to registration data.

ICANN is also charged to periodically review and assess its performance through the lens of each of the above commitments.[3]

ICANN's board enshrined these commitments (and the associated reviews) in its Bylaws in Article 1 (Mission, Commitments, and Core Values)[4] and in Article 4 (Accountability and Review).[5] Article 4.6 deals with "Specific Reviews," each of which are tied to one of the commitments in the Affirmation of Commitments.[6]

The Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the board oversees the conduct of specific reviews.[7]

CCT Review Team

The CCT Review Team was comprised of members from a variety of geographical regions and areas of expertise. The group consisted of six members endorsed by the GNSO, two members endorsed by the ALAC, two from the ccNSO, two from the GAC, one representing ICANN's CEO, and four independent experts.

Members Representing ICANN SOs or ACs

Members Serving as Independent Experts

Timeline and Key Milestones

  • December 2010 - The ICANN Board asked the GNSO and ALAC to identify metrics to evaluate the New gTLD Program.
  • June 2011 - At ICANN 41 in Singapore, a working group was created to come up with the metrics for the CCT Review.
  • December 2012 - The working group presented a document including 70 recommended metrics, with proposed definitions and three-year targets.
  • September 2013 - The ICANN Board created the Implementation Advisory Group for Competition, Consumer Trust & Consumer Choice (IAG-CCT) to review the metrics and make recommendations based on feasibility, utility and cost-effectiveness.
  • September 2014 - The IAG-CCT released its "Final Recommendations on Metrics for CCT Review"[8]
  • November 2014 - ICANN contracted global information and measurement company, Nielsen to conduct a study using a subset of the metrics and definitions recommended by the IAG-CCT.
  • May 2015 - ICANN announced results from Phase One of its multiyear Global Consumer Research Study.[9]
  • September 2015 - ICANN releases results for Phase One of its Registrant Survey[10] and Phase One of its Economic Study, conducted by Analysis Group[11]
  • December 2015 - ICANN announced the selection of 17 individuals to form the CCT Review Team[12]

Interrelationship with SUBPRO

The recommendations contained in the review team's Final Report often address issues or programs that are also the subject of the Policy Development Process for New gTLD Subsequent Procedures (SUBPRO). As a result, the ICANN Board passed many of the recommendations to the SUBPRO Working Group for deliberation and action within that policy development process.[13]

Final Report

The review team issued its Final Report and Recommendations on October 10, 2018.[14] The Final Report contained 37 recommendations for the ICANN Board to consider.[15] Twenty-four of the recommendations were either identified as prerequisites to a new round of gTLD applications, or as "high priority" recommendations that "must be implemented with 18 months of the issuance of the Final Report."[15]

Public Comment

The Final Report received a total of nine public comments during the public comment period. Comments largely came from ICANN bodies and stakeholder constituencies: comments were received from the ALAC and the GAC, as well as from the Business Constituency, IP Constituency, gTLD Registries Stakeholders Group, and Noncommercial Stakeholders Group. Comments were also received from the International Trademark Association, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and John Poole.[16]

ICANN Staff found substantial differences of opinion in the comments regarding the scope, commitment of resources, and relative importance of the recommendations. There were divergent opinions on many of the specific recommendations, and few instances of full consensus.[16]

Board Reception and March 2019 Recommendation Scorecard

The ICANN Board provided extensive detail on its decision-making process in its resolution adopting the Final Report.[17] The Board accepted six of the report's recommendations for implementation, delegated or directed some recommendations to the relevant supporting organization or working group, and placed seventeen of the recommendations into "pending" status, pending further research and price estimation regarding those recommendations.[17] The Board summarized its actions in a recommendation scorecard attached to the resolution.[13]

The six recommendations that were accepted tended toward broad outlines of policy guidance, rather than specific policies:

  • Recommendation 1: Formalize and promote ongoing data collection.
  • Recommendation 17: ICANN should collect data about and publicize the chain of parties responsible for gTLD domain name registrations.
  • Recommendation 21: Include more detailed information on the subject matter of complaints in ICANN publicly available compliance reports.
  • Recommendation 22: Initiate engagement with relevant stakeholders to determine what best practices are being implemented to offer reasonable and appropriate security measures commensurate with the offering of services that involve the gathering of sensitive health and financial information.
  • Recommendation 30: Expand and improve outreach into the Global South.
  • Recommendation 31: The ICANN organization to coordinate the pro bono assistance program.*[13]

*Contingent upon the SUBPRO working group deciding to maintain the pro bono assistance program in subsequent rounds

In explaining its decision making rationales, the Board identified three common themes in the recommendations:

One theme is the need for different and additional data that is highlighted across many of the 35 recommendations. The Board appreciates and understands the concerns raised by the CCT-RT about the need for data to inform future CCT-RT's work. The Board finds it important that ICANN continues to be appropriately involved with data collection to inform the community and its work...

The second theme relates to recommendations directed to the Board that are not within the Board's power to do, and recommendations that the Board actually cannot direct the outcome of, such as recommendations to policy development working groups, or relating to contractual terms that are subjected to contractual negotiations...

Another theme is that there are recommendations that require significant resources to implement. The Board's fiduciary obligations mean that it cannot commit the organization to start work on these recommendations until it understands the full cost and resource impact.[17]

Of the themes identified, the Board seemed to find the resource allocation issue to be paramount. Noting that other specific reviews as well as other substantial policy deliberations were ongoing, the Board stated that it was obliged to balance the needs of the stakeholder community as well as the core mission of stability and security of the DNS.[17]

October 2020 Scorecard on Pending Recommendations

In October 2020, the Board took action on eleven of the seventeen pending recommendations.[18] The Board issued another scorecard to identify and discuss the approved recommendations.[19] The majority of the approved recommendations involved data collection or analysis. In many cases, the Board acknowledged that data collection suggested by the recommendations was already occurring. In other cases, the Board instructed ICANN staff to initiate studies or analysis related to the recommendations.[19] The Board instructed ICANN staff to continue work regarding the six remaining pending recommendations.</ref name="octbres" />

Implementation

March 2019 Accepted Recommendations

The Review Team published its implementation plan for the six recommendations that were originally approved in September 2019 for public comment.[20] [21] Public comments on the proposed plan tended toward consensus that the recommendations were valid, but in some cases, opinions differed as to the usefulness of the proposed implementation of those recommendations.[22]

The Board approved the implementation plan in January 2020.[23] Updates on the implementation of those recommendations were provided by Maarten Botterman on the ICANN Blog in August 2020[24]

October 2020 Accepted Recommendations

As of May 2021, there is not a proposed implementation plan for the recommendations approved in the October 2020 board resolution.[25]

References

  1. ICANN.org - Call for Volunteer for CCT1, October 1, 2015
  2. ICANN.org - CCT Review Home
  3. ICANN.org - Affirmation of Commitments, September 30, 2009
  4. ICANN Bylaws, Article 1
  5. ICANN Bylaws, Article 4
  6. ICANN Bylaws, Article 4.6
  7. ICANN.org - Organizational Effectiveness Committee
  8. Final Recommendations on Metrics for CCT Review PDF
  9. ICANN Announces Phase One Results -- Consumer Survey
  10. ICANN Announces Phase One Results -- Registrant Survey
  11. Phase One Economic Study
  12. CCT Review Team Announced
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Recommendation Scorecard - Resolution of the ICANN Board, March 1, 2019 (PDF)
  14. ICANN.org - CCT Final Report for Public Comment, October 10, 2018
  15. 15.0 15.1 CCT 1 - Final Recommendations, September 8, 2018 (PDF)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Staff Report of Public Comment Proceeding, February 1, 2019
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 ICANN Board Resolution, March 1, 2019 (CCT Report)
  18. ICANN Board Resolution, October 22, 2020
  19. 19.0 19.1 ICANN Board - CCT 1 Recommendation Scorecard, October 22, 2020
  20. CCT-RT Accepted Recommendations - Implementation Plan and Next Steps, ICANN.org, September 11, 2019.
  21. CCT-RT - Draft Implementation Plan, August 23, 2019 (PDF)
  22. ICANN.org - Staff Report on Public Comment Proceeding, CCT-RT Implementation Plan, September 11, 2019 (PDF)
  23. ICAN Board Resolution - CCT Implementation Plan, January 26, 2020
  24. ICANN.org Blog - An Update on the CCT Review, August 20, 2020
  25. ICANN.org - CCT Home: Implementation of Recommendations