IANA Functions Stewardship Transition

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The IANA Functions Stewardship Transition was a multistakeholder policy-making process and community discussion regarding the transition of IANA functions stewardship from the NTIA to the global Internet community. The process and discussion was spearheaded by ICANN and its various stakeholder groups, and was catalyzed by an announcement in March 2014 by NTIA that they would be relinquishing the stewardship to the Internet community.[1]

Background

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was first proposed by Jon Postel while he was in graduate school at UCLA.[2] Postel realized that the ever-growing ARPANET would require a "numbers czar" to manage a canonical list of numbers and addresses to avoid address collisions.[2] He was appointed as the first numbers czar by general agreement. As the global Internet emerged, the "czar" position became formalized as IANA.

ICANN was initially a contractor to the NTIA as a service provider for the IANA functions. With its announcement in 2014, the NTIA confirmed and followed through on the U.S. Government's commitment to an Internet free of governmental (or United Nations) supervision. The first step in that process was for ICANN to convene stakeholders and create a proposal for how the IANA functions will remain secure and unwavering. The announcement outlined a number of principles which the ICANN proposal must meet:

  • Must Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Must Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Must Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Must Maintain the openness of the Internet.

ICANN subsequently published their own press release that applauded NTIA's announcement and called it a recognition of the U.S. government to ICANN's "maturation in becoming an effective multistakeholder organization".[3]

Reactions and Planning at ICANN 49

The NTIA announcement came a week before the first sessions at ICANN 49 in Singapore.[4] The announcement was a central topic of the meeting. During the course of the meeting, the IANA Transition Listserv was created.[5]

NCUC Conference on Internet Governance

The Noncommercial Users Constituency hosted a conference on March 21 that featured an address from Larry Strickling of the NTIA.[6] The NCUC conference was focused on issues of Internet governance, particularly in the lead-up to the netMundial conference[7] the following month. As Steve Crocker noted in his opening remarks, "[t]here's an awful lot of buzz, of course, about the announcement from NTIA about the transition of their role with respect to the IANA process."[8]

Strickling, in his "keynote assessment" session, was asked to respond to the panels that had come before through the course of the day, and to also provide context and background for the NTIA's decision. He emphasized that the NTIA intended ICANN to lead a collaborative process with all relevant organizations, both within and outside of the ICANN community:

But on the question of the multistakeholder involvement for all this, we've tried to make it very clear from the outset that this is broader than just ICANN. ICANN is the party with whom we contract for the performance of the IANA functions. ICANN obviously, through these meetings and through its activities, has great experience in terms of running multistakeholder processes and, more importantly, iterative multistakeholder processes where people can work together on an issue over a period of time to reach a consensus decision. So we've asked ICANN to convene, but we've made it very clear that this is something that we expect the Internet society, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the RIRs, all of the technical community needs to be participating in this, and we expect that will be reflected in the session on Monday and will be reflected in the process as it's designed and carried out throughout all of this.[9]

Other Mentions

The Welcome Ceremony and President's Welcome featured the NTIA transition announcement prominently in both Steve Crocker and Fadi Chehade's remarks.[10] Chehade emphasized the seriousness of the task of transitioning the IANA functions to the global internet community, as well as the importance of strengthening ICANN's accountability and transparency.[10] The opening session was followed by a session specifically directed toward the topics of IANA Transition and ICANN accountability.[11] The session featured presentations from ICANN board chair Steve Crocker, as well as Fadi Chehade and others involved in the early coordination efforts for the transition. Initially, it was anticipated that the process would take eighteen months, culminating in the termination of ICANN's contract with NTIA in October 2015.[12] Chehade fielded a number of questions and comments regarding ICANN's role in transition planning.[11] This session represented the launch of the multistakeholder process to establish a plan for transitioning the IANA functions stewardship.[13] The session began with introductory comments from Steve Crocker, and then a short presentation from Brian Cute [14] intended to tee up questions regarding the evolution of ICANN's accountability principles, process, and commitments.[15] As Cute emphasized in his presentation, the session was largely devoted to listening to community input and impressions regarding ICANN's accountability and the three questions around the AoC.[15]

Other sessions that addressed or discussed the NTIA decision included a session presenting reports from the volunteer strategic panels involved in aspects of ICANN's strategic planning process,[16] as well as a plenary session on Internet Governance.[17] There was also much activity within the SO and AC working sessions during the conference around transition planning. At the Public Forum, the first item on the agenda was an overview of that work from SO/AC leadership, as well as a brief description of what the IANA functions actually are. [18]

Initial Steps and Scoping of Work

Following ICANN 49, ICANN published a "Draft Proposal, Based on Initial Community Feedback, of the Principles and Mechanisms and the Process to Develop a Proposal to Transition NTIA's Stewardship of the IANA Functions" for public comment in April 2014.[19] The proposal included a scoping document designed to focus discussion on what was expected of the process.[20] In a blog post following the publication of the draft proposal, Fadi Chehade applauded the ICANN community for its hard work and likened the upcoming transition to the removal of training wheels from a bicycle.[21] Notably, Chehade singled out that the "U.S. Government, including the NTIA" had approved the scoping document, and that the scope was "consistent with the views of the leaders of various Internet organizations including the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and the Regional Internet Registries."

Scope

In addition to including the NTIA's "must-haves" from its March announcement, the scoping document presented a brief overview of the IANA functions and used that as the basis for defining the scope of the transition planning process:

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions are a set of interdependent technical functions that enable the continued efficient operation of the Internet. The IANA functions include: (1) the coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters; (2) the processing of change requests to the authoritative root zone file of the DNS and root key signing key (KSK) management; (3) the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and (4) other services related to the management of the ARPA and INT top-level domains (TLDs)...
The dialogue and resulting proposal are to focus on defining accountability mechanisms that would serve to replace the current stewardship role played by NTIA to ensure ICANN’s performance of the IANA functions based on the agreements and/or policies provided by the respective bodies (IETF, GNSO, RIRs, ASO, ccTLDs, ccNSO).[20]

The scoping document also identified topics that had emerged during the ongoing community engagement process which, though important, were outside the scope of a process focused on developing a proposal for transition of stewardship of the IANA functions:

  • Policy development related to the IANA functions;
  • ICANN's current role as the IANA functions operator; and
  • A range of issues related to the Internet, but not related to the IANA functions, including data privacy, cybersecurity, child protection, IP protection, the management of TLDs, or the review or reform of ICANN.[20]

The scoping document was the subject of some debate on the listserv after its publication. Many participants disagreed with the limitations on the scope of the conversation. Brenden Kuerbis and Milton Mueller posted an amended version in redline that broadened the scope of discussion, and in particular argued for a continued separation between ICANN and the performance of the IANA functions.[22] When Chehade's "Training Wheels Off" blog post appeared, however, it appeared to some listserv participants that the scoping document was cast in stone.[5]

April 2014 Draft Proposal: Principles, Mechanisms, and Process

The draft proposal collected lists of principles and mechanisms proposed by the community during ICANN 49 and via listserv.[19] The report identified ten common themes in each category from the feedback received to date:

Principles Mechanisms
Inclusive
Transparent
Global
Accountable
Multistakeholder
Focused (in scope)
Pragmatic and evidence-based
Open to all voices
Do no harm
Based in consensus
Web-based platform
Utilize working group methods
Organize dialogues
Leverage existing information and processes
Conduct stress tests
Establish a clear and visible timeline
Recognize discussion in other fora
Make engagement platforms widely accessible
Multilingual support
Multiple comment & feedback fora

Based on the recommendations and feedback received, ICANN proposed a steering group that would be composed of two representatives from each SO and AC, two representatives from "affected parties" IETF, IAB, ISOC, and NRO, a liaison from the ICANN Board, and a secretariat from ICANN staff to act as support to the group.[19] The steering group would be convened in time to convene for a first meeting at ICANN 50. During that meeting, the group would: elect a chair; finalize the group's charter; and establish processes and procedures for development of the transition proposal. Based on the experience of successful working groups, the draft identified three necessary elements of the development process:

  • Provide adequate time for affected parties and other interested parties to identify and define necessary elements of the transition proposal, so that the steering group can effectively deliberate on all elements;
  • "Appropriate" community outreach and input as the proposal is drafted; and
  • The finalization of the proposal for submission to the NTIA should be consensus-driven.[19]

The draft also posed specific questions for the community to consider as it provided comments and feedback. The draft again anticipated the process to be complete before the next expiration of the IANA contract between NTIA and ICANN in September 2015[19]

Public comment on the Draft Proposal was extensive.[5]

June 2014: Process and Next Steps

After evaluating community feedback and input, ICANN released a report on changes to the proposed process, as well as other updates and next steps.[23] Based on feedback from a variety of constituencies, the composition and name of the proposed steering group changed: the "coordination group" now included 2 ALAC members, 1 ASO member, 4 ccNSO members (comprised of both ccNSO member and non-member ccTLD managers), 3 (non-registry) GNSO members, 2 members from gTLD registries, 2 GAC members, 1 member from the International Chamber of Commerce/Business Action to Support the Information Society, 2 IAB members, 2 IETF members, 2 ISOC members, 2 NRO members, 2 RSSAC members, and 2 SSAC members. The board liaison and staff expert liaison brought the initial total up to 29 people on the coordination group. ICANN 50 was no longer the venue for the first meeting of the group; instead, the action items for SOs, ACs, and other bodies appointing members "encouraged [the communities] to make their final selections by the end of the ICANN 50 meeting," with a hard deadline for submitting names by July 2, 2014. The new first meeting date was tentatively scheduled for July 16-18, 2014.[23]

There were other alterations to the proposed process, including the addition of "diversity" to the list of defining principles, and a provision that in the event there was not full consensus on an issue, dissenting opinions should be documented during the process. There were no alterations to the scope of the development process.[23]

According to an article authored by Larry Strickling on August 17, 2015, NTIA's Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, the IANA Transition, which was set to begin September 30, 2015 will not be complete until September 30, 2016. The organization believes that while ICANN has made tremendous strides in its transition, it still has more work to accomplish. [24]

Activity and Changes at ICANN 50

ICANN 50, like the meeting before it, contained a great deal of presentation content and community discussion around the IANA Transition and the interrelated issues of governance and accountability.[25] In the lead-up to the main program, both ATLAS II sessions, as well as sessions facilitated by the NCUC, addressed topics of governance and the multistakeholder model.

At the Welcome Ceremony and President's Opening, Fadi Chehade and others emphasized both the importance of the scale and scope of interactions around transition planning, as well as the distinct tracks of conversation that would occur at the conference.[26] The opening session was followed by a high-level government meeting covering the IANA transition, the outcomes from the NetMundial conference, and other governance topics.[27] The meeting featured Larry Strickling and Theresa Swinehart providing a summary of the IANA transition and the NTIA's decision to transition stewardship to the global community.[28] Similarly, at a session on Internet governance, both the NTIA announcement and multistakeholder accountability more broadly were topics in the course of a broader conversation about governance and civil society issues.[29]

On June 26, two sessions were held that directly addressed the twin issues of transition planning[30] and enhancing ICANN's accountability.[31] The IANA Transition meeting featured a presentation on the planning process to date and lessons learned, both from the planning process, and other projects in the history of ICANN.[32] The majority of the time was devoted to public comment. The session on ICANN accountability featured a presentation by Professor Jan Aart Scholte of the University of Gothenburg, who broke down the notion of accountability as it relates to a private organization with a public purpose.[33]

Also at ICANN 50, the GAC made it known that they would prefer to have five seats on the Coordination Group (ICG), rather than two. The GAC subsequently submitted five names for the ICG. In the lead-up to the first in-person meeting of the ICG, the group decided in a preliminary call that the topic of expanding GAC representation, as well as a more general discussion regarding whether the composition of the ICG was fit for purpose, would be added to the agenda of the first meeting.[34]

IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG)

Coordination Group Members

The Coordination Group was formed by the ICANN community via nominations from 13 community groups, along with an ICANN Board Liaison and an ICANN staff expert, totaling 31 individuals:

Launch and Initial Work Items

The ICG held its first meeting in London on July 17 and 18, 2014.[36] During the introductory session of the meeting, Heather Dryden explained the GAC's reasoning for submitting five nominees to the ICG:

The five nominees that the GAC has identified or put forward to participate are formed within the GAC as what we are calling a content group. So that's also including the vice chairs in addition to those nominees. And the idea is so the vice chairs and the nominees support the chair of the GAC and to coordinate communication to and from the broader GAC membership. The emphasis here is not on advancing individual country perspectives.[37]

During discussions at the first day of the meeting, it was agreed that the CG would welcome all five of the GAC appointees, bringing the grand total of seats to 29 members appointed from the stakeholder communities.[37] Alissa Cooper was nominated as the interim chair, pending a final decision on the organization of the ICG and it leadership team.[38] The group also created a draft charter for public comment[39], as well as issuing its first statement to the community regarding its progress at the meeting and the work to come.[40]

In teleconference meetings following the first in-person meeting, Patrik_Fältström and Mohamed El Bashir were named vice chairs.

Meeting at IGF 2014

The ICG's next in-person meeting was at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul in September 2014.[36] The group finalized its request for proposals (RFP) to the three "operational communities" - "those with direct operational or service relationships with the IANA functions operator, in connection with names, numbers, or protocol parameters" - for proposals for the transition of the IANA functions stewardship. The RFP specified that proposals should:

  • be complete and formal;
  • be developed through a transparent and open process, engaging all interested parties within each operational community on all points of substance;
  • include details regarding the operational community's relationship to IANA, existing arrangements regarding the IANA functions, proposed oversight and accountability mechanisms post-transition, implications of the transition (logistics, risks to continuity, etc.), and a section describing the proposal's accommodation of the NTIA's requirements for transition proposals.[41]

The meeting also focused on the project timeline, as well as the methods by which the group would determine consensus.[42] The resulting "ICG Guidelines for Decision Making" was published by the group in mid-September 2014.[43]

ICANN 51

At ICANN 51, the ICG met with the ALAC and GAC, as well as holding a public engagement session for the entire community.[36] The ALAC and GAC meetings featured presentations from ICG members regarding the mission of the ICG, community development of proposals, and expectations and timelines regarding community participation.[44] The public session featured a similar presentation at the beginning, with many questions being fielded from the community.[45]

At the Public Forum, the twin topics of IANA transition and ICANN Accountability were again first on the agenda for public comment.[46] At the board meeting following the forum, the board approved a resolution setting out the procedures in the event that the board disagreed with a recommendation from the Cross Community Working Group on ICANN Accountability.[47] The procedure involved options for dialogue and refinement around any recommendation that the board considered to be against the global public interest.[47] Upon passage of the resolution, Bruce Tonkin noted:

One other question we've received this week is regarding how we would handle the output from the IANA transition coordination group. What we will do now that we passed this resolution, is we will then send this proposed approach to that coordination group for their consideration. And hopefully we'll be able to come up with a similar mechanism to, again, provide certainty in how we will be handling that.[47]

The comment was the subject of discussion in the ICG's meeting the following day.[48]

CWG-Stewardship Meeting

The IANA Stewardship Transition Cross Community Working Group on Naming Related Functions (CWG-Stewardship) held its second meeting, and first face-to-face meeting, at ICANN 51 as well. Agenda topics included finalization of leadership roles, timeline and organization of work, and a review of the ICG RFP.[49]

ICG Meeting

The ICG also held a day-long meeting at ICANN 51 to continue work on its tasks and objectives.[50] During the agenda bashing session, Martin Boyle brought up the resolution regarding CCWG-Accountability and the implications for the ICG's work: "The board resolution yesterday, both in its relationship to the ICANN accountability and also in relation to this group, provides a safeguard mechanism that allows the ICANN board to reject our paper." The issue was added to the agenda section devoted to the ICG's relationship with and to the CCWG-Accountability and its work, which become more broadly focused on relationships with external orgs and projects.[48] The consensus opinion was that any preference or privileged position for the ICANN Board's opinion of the final consolidated proposal was unacceptable. Milton Mueller was the strongest advocate for the ICG's independence:

I don't think we can be put in a position where we're giving a particular organization a special opportunity to make the proposal acceptable to them. ICANN can file public comments on the final proposal...But we would also see how much support it had from the rest of the community when they raised this issue. But this idea of bilateral negotiations, I think, is completely unacceptable. It implies that they don't need -- that we're negotiating with them, that we're responding especially to them. Whereas, this is a proposal about the entire community and about their relationship to the IANA functions which, of course, is a contracted function, that they have no special permanent claim to before now other than what the NTIA chose to give them. So I think this is very important, and we have to be very clear about this.[48]

Kuo-Wei Wu acknowledged the concerns raised, and noted initially that there had been no substantive conversation regarding the issue of crafting a procedure similar to the CCWG-Accountability process.[48]

This phase of the meeting also addressed interactions with and expectations around both the IANA Stewardship Transition Cross Community Working Group on Naming Related Functions (CWG-Stewardship), and the CCWG-Accountability.[48]

Congressional Action on IANA Transfer

On the 4th December 2014, a large federal funding bill for over $1 trillion passed the United States House of Representatives to which Republicans had attached a rider disallowing budget expenditures by the NTIA related to the transfer of the IANA functions stewardship before October 2015. The global internet community reacted with "a combination of weariness and growing cynicism about the United States and its role in Internet governance."[51]

At ICANN 52, Larry Strickling addressed the issue in his presentation to the community:

With respect to the appropriations restriction, we take that seriously. And we will not use appropriated funds this year to terminate the IANA functions contract prior to September 30th, 2015. But I want to go on to say that the legislative language makes it just as clear that Congress didn't really put NTIA on the sidelines, nor did it put this process on the sideline. I think Congress envisioned that the community would continue to work on the transition. And, indeed, it imposed reporting requirements on us to keep Congress fully informed of what's happening here and in the meetings that have been occurring to set the transition plan.[52]

ICANN 52 - Working Group Reports and Progress

By the time of ICANN 52, the work of the three operational communities had coalesced around three working groups: IETF's IANAPLAN working group (IANAPLAN WG) for protocols; the Number Resources Community's CRISP (Consolidated RIR IANA Stewardship Proposal) Team; and the CWG-Stewardship team for the names community.[53] These three teams joined the ICG in a joint presentation regarding their work on transition proposals.[54] The session came roughly three weeks after the deadline for proposals under the revised project timeline[55] At the time, the IANAPLAN WG and CRISP Team had both submitted proposals.[56][57] The CWG-Stewardship had not yet submitted a proposal.[58] However, the working group had put together a first draft proposal in December 2014. This proposal was intended to capture the initial thoughts of the stakeholders within the naming operational community, and as a continued public consultation regarding the naming community's opinions on the proposed course.[59] Each team's presentation described their process and progress to date.[60][61][62] All three operational community working groups encouraged attendees to read the full proposals or, in the case of the CWG-Stewardship team, follow along with the group's progress and engage through public comment or other channels.[63]

The agenda of ICANN 52 was intensely focused on the IANA transition. At the Welcome Ceremony and President's Opening session, Steve Crocker took the unique step of inviting representatives from the SOs and ACs to discuss the transition and how it would impact their organizations and their relationship to names, numbers, and protocols. Ira Magaziner was also invited to speak on the history of the IANA functions and the equally historic decision to transition the functions to the global internet community.[64] Fadi Chehade's opening remarks celebrated the progress that the community had made thus far, and urged faith in the institution and in the community as the work continued.[64]

At the session devoted to updates from the IANA Transition and ICANN accountability enhancement work, Larry Strickling expressed both optimism and caution about the progress made so far. Noting that there were some aspects of the CWG-Stewardship's draft proposal that would involve substantial time, Strickling raised some points of concern:

That particular proposal proposes the creation of several new entities to be involved in the naming‐related processes. And we asked two weeks ago [at the 2015 State of the Net Conference, and I ask again today, for the community to consider whether the creation of these new entities might interfere with the security and stability of the Domain Name System both during and after the transition. And I also ask that the community consider that given the need to develop, implement, and test these structures prior to a final transition, can they get it all done in a time frame consistent with the expectations of all stakeholders?
I asked today at a meeting where some representatives of the CWG were present whether there had been any discussion or any estimate of the length of time it might take to implement some of these proposals that have been put on the table. And I have to say no one could answer that, and I hope everyone understands that implementation has to be factored into the time frame for transition. And if what's being proposed is going to take a year to implement, well, that will delay the ultimate transition of the IANA functions.[52]

Strickling also raised concerns about the lack of attention thus far to the "actual operational needs of the registry community."[52] Ira Magaziner also spoke at the session, again recalling the history of ICANN and the birth of the Internet. He concluded with optimism:

So let me just finish my remarks by saying you have a real challenge now as a group, as the ICANN broader community, the multistakeholder community, to create a process. I know it doesn't have to be done in any particular time, as Larry said. I would suggest doing it as quickly as you can, because I think there's a window of opportunity here to get it done and you ought to seize that window. And I think you have a real responsibility to do this carefully and correctly because just as the past 19 years have worked out pretty well for the Internet, it is in your hands how the next 50 years are going to work out, to make sure that this is all done properly.
So it is worth your time, it is worth your energy, and if you do this right, the world's going to continue to benefit from the Internet in ways we can't even conceive, going forward.[52]

As the session was drawing to a close, Strickling restated a concern that many had raised during the session:

It's apparent, just in the time I've been here, that the CWG work is becoming the critical path to getting this thing done. I think it should be apparent to anybody who has watched the presentations of the CWG and the presentations of the CCWG that much of what the CWG is looking at seems to me to be a direct overlap of the task that's been given to the CCWG, and I think that the community really ought to sit down and think hard about why there are two tracks looking at the same thing, and does it make sense to be more efficient and move the accountability questions into the CCWG.[52]

ICANN 53

ICANN 53 was the last ICANN meeting to be held before the expiration of ICANN's contract with the NTIA to perform the IANA functions. Although the contract was renewable for up to four additional years, the hope of the ICG was to complete the process before the expiration of the contract at the end of September, 2015.[65] Unsurprisingly, much programming and discussion regarding the transition occurred at ICANN 53.

Larry Strickling was again front and center in the discussions of timing and planning for a likely extension of the IANA functions contract:

Everyone here likely knows that the current IANA contract expires on September 30th. And everyone here can likely surmise that the transition planning, including implementation, is not going to be done by that date. So we're faced with the issue of how long to extend the contract. Today we can exercise an option to extend to contract two years, to September 2017. I, of course, am concerned that if we simply extend the contract two years, it will send a signal to the community that it doesn't have to work as hard to get the plan, or worse, it might be misinterpreted as a lessening of United States Government support to complete the transition. So several weeks ago I asked the community leaders of the ICG and the CCWG to provide me with an update on the status of the transition planning and their views as to how long it's going to take to finalize the plan and implement it, once it is approved. We hope to get responses from the community shortly after the meetings here are concluded this week, and we are assuming the community will advise us that the work will take less than two years. And assuming that's the case, we will sit down with ICANN to negotiate an extension of the contract in line with the community's wishes.[66]

At the Welcome Ceremony and President's Introduction,[67] Fadi Chehadé's speech focused on the IANA Transition and its progress. In his opening remarks, Chehadé outlined three important areas of focus: strengthening ICANN and preparing it for the transition; fortifying community support; and reinforcing bonds with ICANN's technical community.[68][69]

CWG-Stewardship Final Proposal

The CWG-Stewardship working group continued its process of public outreach and engagement in sessions at ICANN 53 as well. Prior to the conference, the working group's second draft proposal had been published for public comment.[70] The goal was to use ICANN 53 as a final opportunity for public input, and to polish and finalize the names community proposal for submission to the ICG at the end of June.[71] During the meeting, the final proposal had been submitted to the group's chartering organizations for approval.[71]

ICG Meeting

The ICG held meetings over three days at ICANN 53, addressing a number of topics. At the meeting in the lead-up to conference programming, the top of the agenda was a preliminary examination of the CWG-Stewardship proposal, which, although it had not been officially transmitted to the ICG, was in the final stages of its development.[72] Patrik Faltstrom led the session, starting with an overview of the SSAC's approach to evaluating the CWG-Stewardship proposal.[73]

A week later, on June 25, the closing meeting opened with news that the CWG-Stewardship proposal had received approvals from all of the chartering organizations.[74] The goal of the ICG was to deliver a consolidated proposal to the board around the time of ICANN 54 in Dublin.[74]

July 2015 - Drafting a Consolidated Proposal

The CWG-Stewardship working group submitted its final draft for approval by the chartering organizations in June, and after approval from all of those organizations, passed its proposal on behalf of the naming operational community to the ICG at the end of the month. At its teleconference on July 8, 2015, the ICG began the work of assessing the proposal from the names community. There was broad consensus among those who had volunteered to read and present assessments that the proposal's dependencies on the conclusion of Work Stream One elements in the CCWG-Accountability work track rendered the proposal "incomplete," although the implications of that judgement were a matter of some debate.[75] Some members of the ICG thought that the consolidated proposal would not yet be ready for a public comment process, because of the dependencies that existed between the CWG-Stewardship's proposal and the work of the CCWG-Accountability. Others thought that the dependencies could be stipulated as known, and that between close work and communication with the the two working groups, and specificity of expectations regarding the comment period, the ICG could publish a consolidated proposal for comment even if work remained open. There were other issues still pending within the report, including the disposition of the IANA trademarks, website, and domain name.[75] The group also discussed some objections to the proposal that had been raised by the community, either through the Stewardship Transition forum or the listserv.[75] The ICG also discussed plans for public and press outreach as their work to present a consolidated proposal ramped up.[75]

Two weeks later, the twentieth ICG teleconference revealed substantial progress toward a consolidated proposal.[76] Alissa Cooper detailed the plan to deal with accountability issues:

Here in accountability there were a few different topics raised. I think the one that got the most attention was the fact that there are dependencies on the work of the CCWG. I think we have a well‐documented plan as to how these will be handled.
Just to recap what the plan is, when we put the transition proposal out for public comment we will make it very clear that there’s a parallel process that is developing the accountability mechanisms in the CCWG and that there are dependencies between the names proposal and the outcome of CCWG work stream 1. We will point people to the public comment process that is to occur on the accountability side to make sure that everyone understands what it is and that it’s available to them. Once the CCWG work has concluded and the final accountability proposal has been sent to the SOs and ACs for approval, we will seek confirmation from the CWG that all of their requirements have been met. At that point, depending on what they say back to us, we can make our final determination about accountability, but we can’t really do it before then for the names piece because we are awaiting the CCWG. That’s the plan. I think people kind of highlighted that there’s the dependency, but we do have a plan for how we will assess later.[76]

The meeting closed with an intention to have a completed consolidated proposal ready to publish for public comment by the end of the month.[76] On the July 29th call, that goal had largely been met.[77] After steering the group through final edits and changes to the proposal documents, Cooper stated that the team would have a day to review fresh drafts via the listserv, after which any final edits would be completed and the proposal published for public comment on July 31.[77] Cooper thanked everyone for their hard work.

Autumn 2015 - Public Comment and NTIA Action

The public comment period for the ICG proposal documents opened on July 31, 2015. The ICG posted the call for public comment on their website, ianacg.org[78]. The combined proposal received 157 comments.[79] Public comments were largely positive - the ICG characterized nearly two-thirds of the comments received as "supportive" or expressing "qualified support."[79] Because 15% of the comments were designated as "position unclear or not specific" to the proposal, approximately 75% of the salient comments were supportive or expressed qualified support. The ICG identified six major themes in the objections to the proposal:

  • Objections related to the relinquishment of, or transfer of jurisdiction over the NTIA's stewardship role;
  • Concerns about the appropriateness and operational readiness of the PTI;
  • Concerns regarding root zone management (RZM) issues;
  • The impact of dependencies on the overall proposal;
  • Issues connected with the administration of ccTLDs; and
  • Compatibility and interoperability of the proposals as combined.

Issues raised in comments were catalogued and examined by teams of ICG members. Issues were dealt with in one of three ways:

  • In cases where an issue was already agreed but was still unclear to the community, the issue was added to the executive summary or the ICG's FAQ so that the description of the issue, deliberations, and resolution were more readily accessible and plain;
  • In cases where an issue required review, it was forwarded to the relevant operating community for evaluation and discussion. Operating communities responded with information and revisions for either the executive summary of the proposal, or for inclusion in that OC's transition proposal;
  • In cases where the issue raised was a fundamental issue (for example, opposition to the transition in general) or had been discussed, investigated, and settled to the satisfaction of the relevant operating committee, no further action was taken, except that in some circumstances the issue was forwarded to relevant OC for their own evaluation.

NTIA Extends IANA Functions Contract for One Year

On August 17, 2017, the NTIA announced its decision to extend the IANA functions contract with ICANN for one year.[80] In his message to the community, Larry Strickling wrote:

This one-year extension will provide the community with the time it needs to finish its work. The groups are already far along in planning the IANA transition and are currently taking comments on their IANA transition proposals. As we indicated in a recent Federal Register notice[81], we encourage all interested stakeholders to engage and weigh in on the proposals.[80]

GAO Report on Evaluation of Transition Proposal

In September 2015, the GAO publicly released GAO-15-642, "Structured Evaluation Could Help Assess Proposed Transition of Key Domain Name and Other Technical Functions."[82] The report was focused on the IANA Transition and the NTIA's role of evaluating and approving the combined transition proposal. In the course of its study, the GAO reviewed documents regarding from ICANN, the ICG, and the working groups devoted to aspects of the transition, interviewed representatives of ten stakeholder federal agencies and thirty-one non-federal agency stakeholders, and interviewed technical experts, including ICANN staff.[82] The report concluded that NTIA should review relevant evaluation frameworks, such as ISO quality management principles, and adopt or adapt elements of those frameworks in its review of the IANA transition proposal.[82] The GAO found broad support for the transition during its interview process.[82] Upon receipt of the report, the Department of Commerce concurred with the recommendation and confirmed that "[a]s part of its evaluation, NTIA will use relevant frameworks suggested by the U.S. GAO to guide its assessment of the final proposal against core goals."[82]

CCWG-Accountability Draft Proposal 2 and Public Comments

In their last call before their in-person meeting at ICANN 54, the ICG discussed some serious divisions of opinions regarding the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1's second draft proposal. The working group had published their second draft report[83] for public comment in August.[84] The report received multiple public comments, including a lengthy response and alternative proposal from the ICANN Board.[85] The principle sticking point between the board and the working group was the mechanism for community empowerment. Paul Wilson commented on the call about his perception of the severity of the potential delay:

I think our mission is threatened by what’s going on there. We’re in a potential position of having this entire work effort essentially wasted because a delay for another several years takes us into a completely different environment where this effort that we’ve done may just need to be restarted completely.[86]

ICANN 54

ICANN 54 in Dublin featured an in-person meeting of the ICG, as well as considerable work and discussion regarding public comments on the second draft proposal of the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1. Ira Magaziner was again invited to speak on transition perspectives, along with a panel of congressional staffers and attorneys.[87] Magaziner's comments focused on the momentum that had been gained in the IANA stewardship transition:

[T]here has been a bottoms-up process with comments, with lots of people involved and I think it's 98, 99% of the way there now to achieving a consensus.

I think over the coming days, some people who have strongly felt positions, particularly on the accountability issues and so on, are going to have to be willing to modify those positions some. But I think if the history of the consensus process holds, they'll do so; and we'll get a common proposal that I hope will come in a matter of days but certainly not too much into the future. And then at that point, the community will write up a good cogent document that it can present to the U.S. government to hopefully follow through in the transition. And the gentlemen who will be coming up to the stage after me will talk a bit about the process from there.
But I'm very hopeful that the consensus is just about there. I congratulate the committee chairs and others who have worked on this. It has been a monumental job to navigate all of this through and get it to this point of consensus. And I think they will finish the job in the coming days. And I'm very optimistic about that.

I'm also optimistic -- I had a very brief chance to meet with some of the staffs. And I'm also optimistic that there is a bipartisan spirit in the U.S. Congress about this. And I'm hopeful that it will avoid the kind of politics that are swirling around and that this will be able to follow through on its merits.[88]

The panel of individuals from Congress was equally positive about the prospects for success. Discussing the transition proposal thus far, the members of both Senate and House committees with oversight over NTIA expressed appreciation for the process and reinforced the bipartisan support for a strong transition proposal.[88]

Videos

IANA Stewardship Process Interrelation

Fadi Chehade at ICANN 53

Theresa Swinehart Announces NTIA's extension of the IANA functions contract

References

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