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Summary/analysis of comments received

  • To: <draft-mop-2007@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary/analysis of comments received
  • From: "Kieren McCarthy" <kieren.mccarthy@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2007 13:18:59 +0100

Summary of comments on the Draft ICANN Management Operating Principles


October 2007




On June 23, 2007 ICANN posted a set of draft Management Operating Principles
for public comment.  Comments were taken through an online forum and at a
public forum at the ICANN meeting in San Juan at the end of June.  In
addition, comments were received from the International Chamber of Commerce.
The online forum closed on 31 August, but late comments were accepted and
have been incorporated into this analysis.  Nine comments were received on
the online forum, of which two were spam and three were on topics unrelated
to the Management Operating Principles.


This analysis attempts to summarise the relevant comments from the online
forum, comments made at the San Juan public forum and the ICC comments.
Where possible and practical, individual comments have been attributed to
individuals or organizations by attaching initials to the comments.  A key
to the initials used can be found at the end of this paper.



General comments

There was general support for the posting of the comments for discussion and
the involvement of the wider Internet community in the discussion.  There
was also general support for the development of the Management Operating
Principles as a way of communicating ICANN standards, although many
commentators noted that it was only in the ongoing implementation of the
principles and frameworks that their value could be judged.

Two responses suggested that the pace of work at ICANN was too fast and that
therefore there was not sufficient time to respond in appropriate detail to
all of the issues on the table at any one time.  Establishing clear
priorities would assist in addressing this. (BG, USCIB)




There was general recognition that ICANN has made significant improvements
in transparency (ICC), with some describing this as "great strides" in
transparency (JN, USCIB) and "a lot of good work" (BT).  There was also an
acknowledgement that ICANN was "more transparent than most international
organizations" (MM).  Specific comments were made about progress on Board
agendas, discussions and minutes where preliminary reports are delivered
within 72 hours of the meeting (USCIB, ICC) and planning and budgeting
processes (ICC).


One suggestion for improving transparency was the production of special
Board reports for major decisions showing how stakeholder input was used in
coming to a decision. (ICC)


However, the point was also made that just making information available was
not sufficient.  The information needs to be easily digested. (MCa)  On a
related point, there was the comment that ICANN cannot be accountable and
transparent to a global community in a single language and that ICANN needs
to evolve towards a multilingual environment.  (MCh, ICC)


With regard to the specific wording of the principles, the suggestion was
made that the second bullet of the third principle (To maximize transparency
of the consultation process) be changed to read:

Require that all comments be tagged with the sender's name and any relevant
affiliation (where the individual is speaking on behalf of a group). Where
the respondent is an ICANN Supporting Organisation, Advisory Committee, or
constituency group, some indication must be given of the process that was
used to develop the comment and the parties who took part in that process
(Change in bold, original wording was "should") (CG)




Two comments were received on the Translation principles.  One suggested
that that they were good (BT).  The other suggested that more detail be made
available on the translation approval process. (CG)  However, in other
places in the discussion, comments were made about the importance of ICANN
evolving to a multi-lingual environment (see Transparency section above).




There was some support for the consultation principles (BT) and no comments
in opposition.  Suggested changes included a request that earlier
notification of policies under consideration and longer response periods
(USCIB).  There was a similar suggestion that a more specific time period be
specified in the principles, and where items are to be publicly discussed at
a meeting, applicable information should be available at least one week
prior to the meeting (CG).


One commentator suggested that ICANN adopt a "push" approach for
consultation, using mailing lists and newsletters to alert members of the
community to forthcoming and current issues. (USCIB)


A request was also made for one of the ICANN meetings each year to be
nominated as a place where business users can provide targeted input on
issues. (USCIB, ICC)  Advance notice of meeting agendas would assist with
travel planning for this meeting (ICC).



Whistle Blower Policy

There was support for the implementation of a whistle blower policy for



Information Disclosure Policy

The suggestion was made that the Information Disclosure Policy should start
from the position that all documents and reports used by the Board in policy
deliberations be made public (BT).  However, the view was expressed that
this was the starting point for the policy, based on the recommendations of
the One World Trust report (JJ).  Another suggestion was that the concept of
timed exposure (where documents are made public some amount of time after
they have been used by the Board) might be an improvement to the current
process. (PDT)  One comment was received which suggested that all of the
exemptions proposed in the Information Disclosure Policy were barred by
ICANN's Bylaws because the Bylaws state that ICANN "shall operate to the
maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner" (EH)




Many commentators suggested that significant improvement had been made in
the area of transparency, and that the real issue was accountability. 

The comments can be grouped around three themes: 

*       What are ICANN's external accountabilities?

*       What are ICANN's internal accountabilities?

*       Are there sufficient checks and balances in the current system?


External accountabilities

The discussion on external accountability focused on the issue of what is
above ICANN to which ICANN might be held accountable.  An important aspect
of discussion is the accountability to governments and importance of the
rule of law in ICANN's accountability framework.  


There was recognition that the accountabilities provided by ICANN's status
as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of California were important
and valuable.  It was suggested that ICANN's relationship with the United
States Government through the Joint Project Agreement and the IANA contract
also provide some external accountability. (MM)  There were some comments
that there was currently no obvious solution about how external
accountabilities might be structured if the nature of the relationship with
the United States Government changed.  The view was expressed that ICANN
should remain a private sector organization to avoid being brought into
geopolitical conflicts. (MM).  A further comment suggested that the
difficulty of  determining accountability in the ICANN context may be due to
the fact that the ICANN model is a relatively new model of governance and
old models of accountability were being used to assess it. (PL) 



Internal accountabilities

There was some support for the improvements in internal accountabilities
(BT, MM).  The major point of discussion was the lack of a mechanism for
removing Board members who "fall asleep at the beach" rather than fulfil
their responsibilities.  That is, there is little in the current frameworks
to hold individuals accountable (PDT).  While the Code of Conduct goes some
way to providing a framework for this type of accountability, there may be
the need to strengthen these at the Board level to clarify the rules that
Board members have to follow to be in "good standing". (VC)


An alternative perspective on internal accountabilities was that ICANN
needed to be accountable to people who provide input into the process (KM).
In such a model, it would be important to ensure that those making comments
also felt accountable for their comment. (MCa)  One way of dealing with this
would be through the concept of "good standing" as mentioned above (PDT).



Checks and balances 

The discussion on checks and balances focused on the issue of how ICANN
could deal with situations where the Board as a whole (or at least a
majority of its members) was believed or deemed to be acting
inappropriately, or where one Board member was acting inappropriately and
needed to be removed.  Some were of the view that the current
Reconsideration and Independent Review processes were not strong enough to
deal with this situation (JN, BT, PDT, USCIB) and that because the
Independent Review reports back to the Board, the process seems circular


A common theme in the suggestions for improvement was the idea of two Boards
or two "Houses".  It was suggested that the original idea of the Independent
Review Panel was that it would be "a panel of the great or good" who could
act as an Upper House or Senate without any constitutional authority, but
acting as a place of appeal regarding Board actions and decisions. (PDT)
However, this had never been implemented.  A similar idea is that of two
Boards, one focused on the day to day matters of the organization (policy,
contracts, etc) and the other focused on governance issues (eg financial
reporting) and acting as a place of appeal for the decisions of the first
Board. (VC)  It was commented that the problem with this model is that it
risks "infinite recursion" in the sense that someone would be needed "to
watch the watchers" of the second Board and so on. (VC)


A slight variation on these ideas was that of a Board and an assembly or
membership such as that found at the American Cancer Society, where the two
groups have checks and balances over each other. (JN)  The difficulty with
this model in the ICANN setting is that ICANN does not have a membership
structure. (VC)


Another perspective on checks and balances was the suggestion to provide a
mechanism whereby a super majority vote of the Supporting Organizations
could have power of veto over a Board decision. (JN, USCIB)  This idea
received some implicit support (BT) and no specific criticisms.

The suggestion was also made that it may be appropriate to improve standards
of accountability by strengthening the level of support needed for some
decisions by requiring a supermajority. (USCIB)


One commentator also suggested that internal accountability could be
improved by having end users elect Board members through the At-Large
process. (MM)  Others struggled to see how this might work out in practice,
given the given the scale of the problem (more than one billion Internet
users) and the difficulty in establishing who is eligible to vote. (VC)


While much of the discussion focused on the accountability at the Board
level, some indicated that there is a need for accountability at all levels
and the issues raised above apply not just to the Board but to all elected
or nominated representatives within the community. (MCa, PDT)

Strengthening the Independent Review process was recommended by one
commenter, and in particular the idea that the findings of the Independent
Review should be not merely advisory (USCIB).  Further, there was a
suggestion that the findings of the Independent Review should automatically
be made public rather than allowing either party to opt not to have the
decision made public. (EH)


On the issue of whether ICANN is a new model of multi-stakeholder decision
making, there was the suggestion that as ICANN has developed this new model,
it must also set out the way for improving accountability within the model.
In this sense, it must develop an international multi-stakeholder
accountability solution. (PDT)



Financial accountability

There were two comments that financial controls needed to be improved by
reintroducing the Budget Advisory Group rather than the current process
where all members of the community are consulted on the Budget. (JN, USCIB)



Code of conduct

There was support for the Code of Conduct: "The ICANN Code of Conduct is a
great thing to have" (BT) and no points of criticism.



Next steps

A revised set of Management Operating Principles will be posted for comment
in advance of the Los Angeles meeting.  Comments will be received at the LA
meeting and on an online forum.  Based on the comments received, documents
will be redrafted and presented to the community for further comment.




BG       Bill Graham, Government of Canada

BT       Bernard Turcotte

CG       Chuck Gomes

EH       Edward Hasbrouck

ICC      International Chamber of Commerce

JJ         John Jeffrey, ICANN General Counsel

JN        Jon Nevett

KM      Kieren McCarthy, ICANN General Manager Public Participation

MCa    Marilyn Cade 

MCh    Mawaki Chango

MM     Milton Mueller

PDT     Peter Dengate-Thrush, ICANN Board 

PL       Paul Levins, Executive Officer and Vice President Corporate
Affairs, ICANN

SC       Susan Crawford, ICANN Board 

USCIB United States Council for International Business

VC       Vint Cerf, Chairman of the ICANN Board






Attachment: Summary of comments on the ICANN MOP Oct 07 final.doc
Description: MS-Word document

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