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W3C Comments on the ICANN TLG Review

  • To: tlg-review-2010@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: W3C Comments on the ICANN TLG Review
  • From: Thomas Roessler <tlr@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 23:12:36 +0100

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Technical Liaison
Group Review report prepared by JAS Communications for ICANN:


While we do not agree with several of the details of this report, we
will not elaborate on these. Instead, this comment focuses on the
high-level issues.

The Technical Liaison Group fulfills three functions within ICANN,
each of which deserves a separate discussion.

1. Responding to direct technical questions from ICANN. We are not
aware that this mechanism has actually been used as envisioned in the
ICANN bylaws. We agree with the reviewers that the details of this
mechanism do not need to raise to a bylaw level function within the
ICANN structure. However, the bylaws' observations on ICANN's need
with respect to technical input are apt:

        The quality of ICANN's work depends on access to complete and
        authoritative information concerning the technical standards
        that underlie ICANN's activities. ICANN's relationship to the
        organizations that produce these standards is therefore
        particularly important.

We believe that these principles continue to hold, and remain willing
to assist ICANN by collaborating on technical matters as needed.

2. Participation in ICANN's Nominating Committee, in a voting
facility. The design of the ICANN Nominating Committee aims at broad
participation of stakeholders in the Internet Ecosystem, beyond the
immediate ICANN community. This design provides important safeguards
for ICANN's ability to function as a broadly accountable and
independent organization. We recommend to consider standardization
organizations' role in the Nominating Committee with this background,
and remain willing to assist ICANN by naming a representative to this

On a mechanical note, we have not found the annual rotation arrangement
for the TLG to be an obstacle to effective participation in the
nominating committee, since this committee is reconvened on an annual

3. Participation on the ICANN Board, in a liaison facility. In the
Affirmation of Commitments [1], ICANN reinforces its commitment to
"maintain the capacity and ability to coordinate the Internet DNS at
the overall level and to work for the maintenance of a single,
interoperable Internet", and "to operate as a multi-stakeholder,
private sector led organization with input from the public." Broad
participation in ICANN's governance process is a critical element of
this multi-stakeholder nature, as is recognized by ICANN's own board
review working group [2]:

        Having carefully considered the multiple aspects related to
        the size and composition of the Board of ICANN, the WG has
        concluded that the reviewers’ recommendation to adopt major
        reductions of the size of the Board was inappropriately based
        on practices of the corporate sector. ICANN does not fit
        easily into a corporate model for a number of reasons,
        including: the cultural and geographic diversity of its
        stakeholder base; the plurality of tasks assigned to the
        Board; and the nature of ICANN’s mission.

Further, the board review working group notes on liaisons' role:

        In particular, the WG is keen to ensure that any change to the
        current Liaison arrangements does not impede or decrease the
        much needed interactions between the Board and the technical

        On the balance of these perspectives, the WG has concluded
        that no change needs to be made to the current Liaison
        arrangements at this point.

The current Technical Liaison Group arrangement, while imperfect,
provides ICANN with much needed governance-level interactions with the
technical community. W3C's participation in this mechanism helps to
ensure that the Web standards community is part of these interactions.
It further provides a high-level accountability mechanism between
ICANN and the Web community. We firmly believe that this
accountability mechanism is an important element of ICANN's overall
accountability to the public, and its ability to function as a trusted
coordinator for the Internet's and Web's naming and numbering

We look forward to further discussions about improvements of 
this mechanism.

[1] http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-30sep09-en.htm
[2] http://icann.org/en/reviews/board/board-review-final-26jan10-en.pdf

Thomas Roessler, W3C  <tlr@xxxxxx>  (@roessler)

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