ICANN/DNSO

Interim report of the Names Council review task force, September 2001


Timeline and process

30 September Deadline for task force comment on first draft.

7 October Deadline for task force comment on second draft

28 October Deadline for comment on interim report sent for public comment and to NC.

4 November Deadline for final report produced by task force.

13 November Final report adopted by NC at LA meeting

 

Authority and terms of reference

Names Council business plan 2001-2002 and NC endorsed proposal of interim review task force May 2001.

6.2. Consultation. Review the recommendations of WG D and the Review Task Force and Working Group Report and implement a means of outreach and stakeholder consultation with built-in mechanisms for fulfilling the objectives.

ACTION: Accept the framework proposed by WG-D as is, and turn the WG D procedures into a sharper set of guidelines. Give it a chance to work, if it doesn't, then take steps to make alternative proposals. Related to this, determine alternatives to conducting working group activities, such as using web-based fora where proposed text is actively amended and worked on towards consensus.

6.3. GA Chair. Review the current system of election for the General Assembly Chair and propose changes if required.

ACTION: Form a small group (or include in a possible implementation task force mandate) to report on the current system of elections for the GA chair, and assess whether changes are beneficial or required.

6.4. Individuals Constituency. Review the need, uniqueness, potential contribution and representativeness of an individual domain name holder's constituency.

ACTION: There is strong support for an individuals constituency. The outstanding issue is next steps. Options to discuss on next steps are: 1) Making the GA the basis for the constituency, or 2) Accepting independent proposals by a certain date, or 3) Form a task force (7 constituencies) to set the criteria for an individual constituency (reviewing work already done and consolidating it into a proposal).

6.5 Language diversity. Recommend cost effective means to provide language diversity in the context of DNSO decisions. Form a small group (3-5) who may co-opt translation experts to make recommendations.

ACTION: Determine costs, and next steps to implement a cost effective means to provide translations.

6.6. Consensus. Recommend to the NC a practical definition of consensus for the purposes of NC consultation activities.

ACTION: Form a task force (7 constituencies) to review consensus models used elsewhere and outline practical definition.

 

1. Consultation (business plan reference 6.2)

Recommendation on working groups

The adoption of the guidelines for working groups in appendix A is recommended.

Web-based fora as alternatives to conducting working group activities

The task force intentionally decide to use for its own work, and thus trial, a web-based fora recommended by a member of the task force. The results of the trial were inconclusive but in comparison with the exchange of e-mail via lists there seemed little advantage. Most notably, the following irritations were found:

A separate trial of a free service enabling audio and video conferencing was also undergone by some task force members. Getting the system to work was not easy. It was subsequently found also that the system will not work when the user is behind a NAT. This was felt to be a severe limitation given the increasing need for network security.

Recommendation

Further input from other web-based fora is welcome but at this time adoption of any one model in place of e-mail lists is not recommended.

 

2. Election of the General Assembly (GA) Chair (business plan reference 6.3)

Article VI-B.2.i of the by-laws states:

"The NC shall elect the Chairman of the GA annually".

The NC for the years 2000 and 2001 has interpreted this by adopting the following practice:

In considering the practice the task force believes this process allows full democratic participation within the GA, and presents the NC with a simple decision when all is satisfactory with the election process.

The additional safeguard of an NC vote (in compliance with the by-laws) seems appropriate for two reasons:

a) despite the tendency for the GA mail lists to be dominated by people not choosing to participate via constituencies and sometimes excluded from participation, the GA chair should nevertheless represent all constituencies and so participation by the NC as a body elected by current constituencies seems to be correct,

b) the endorsement process provides a safeguard in the event of objections to the electoral process. Discussion following the 2001 election would appear to vindicate the existence of such a safeguard.

Recommendation

There does not appear to be a demonstrated need to seek a change in the ICANN by-laws at present.

 

 

3. New Constituencies (business plan reference 6.4)

The task force chose option three from the terms of reference but did not consider itself the competent body to set criteria for an individuals constituency per se. The task force decided therefore to produce a set of criteria which would help to clarify questions of purpose, duplication and representation for any new DNSO constituency.

ICANN by-laws VI-b.3.d

"Any group of individuals or entities may petition the Board for recognition as a new or separate Constituency. Ö The Board may create new Constituencies in response to such a petition Ö if it determines that such action would serve the purposes of the Corporation. Ö..Whenever the Board posts a petition Ö it will notify the names council and will consider any response to that notification prior to taking action."

In other words any group may ask the Board and the Board will consult with the Names Council. It is therefore necessary for the Names Council to have a basis upon which to evaluate any such petition.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the petitioner for a new DNSO constituency is requested by the Names Council to include in any petition the answers to the questions specified in appendix B.

The task force believes the petitioners of an individuals constituency previously communicated to the Board should be warmly encouraged to answer these questions.

 

 

4. Language diversity (business plan reference 6.5)

In seeking to recommend cost effective means to provide language diversity in the context of DNSO decisions, the task force was cognisant of current DNSO finances. The entire costs of running the DNSO are born by contributions raised by the constituencies Ė a process which both imposes a burden on some constituencies and wastes time for all. The task force quickly agreed not to waste time in seeking translations from commercial suppliers because, at this time, there is no finance available.

Given also that throughout the existence of the DNSO there has been a call for consistent voluntary translation that has not been answered the task force also decided not to pursue this option further at this time. The task force would be delighted to hear from volunteers alerted to this need during the public consultation phase of this report. However, the task force also recognises that a piecemeal approach to translation is not desirable and that any voluntary effort has to be sustainable, based on a coherent set of languages, and be of reliable quality.

The task force therefore chose to explore options for machine translation. It was however unable to find a recommendation by any professional translator for any of the free internet-based translation services. It is also likely that even where machine translation is used, professional translators, familiar with ICANN jargon, would be needed to finish the job. Some professional translators have commented that using machine translation as a starting point can be more time-consuming than translating from the original, because the translator has to work out why the machine translation got the context or sense wrong and then correct.

Further more, should it be the case that one or other of these machine-based services are useful if not optimal, they are of course available now for any internet user to translate any page from the DNSO web site. This possibility is at present the best option for cost-effective translation. It would not seem appropriate without extensive trials for the DNSO to recommend one site above others. The task force would welcome any intervention which would advance this objective further.

Recommendation

Given its highly limited resources and the higher priority of substantive policy issues, the DNSO should not spend more time on this, but note the progress being made by ICANN staff in this regard and where appropriate to participate in any cost-effective solution.

 

5. Consensus (business plan reference 6.6)

Relevance

The task force was asked to recommend to the NC a practical definition of consensus for the purposes of NC consultation activities. Consensus is relevant to DNSO decision making as it is referenced in the by-laws and provides certain information to the Board.

VI-B.2.b. "The NC is responsible for the management of the consensus building process of the DNSO."

VI-B.2.d. "If two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the NC determine that the DNSO process has produced a community consensus, that consensus position shall be forwarded to the Board as a consensus recommendation."

"If more than one-half (1/2) but less than two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the NC determine that the DNSO process has produced a community consensus, that position may be forwarded to the Board as a NC recommendation."

In the past the chairs of DNSO working groups have tried to establish guidance to the NC about the degree of consensus within the working group on issues, in order to help with the subsequent NC recommendation to the Board. There has not been consistency in this guidance.

 

Definitions and usage

Lexicon definitions provide some help.

Consensus, n. Agreement (of opinion, testimony, etc.) Concise Oxford Dictionary

Consensus, n. a) general agreement, unanimity.

b) the judgement arrived at by most of those concerned. Merriam-Websterís Dictionary

The most useful definition here is "judgement arrived at by most of those concerned" but to make this practical needs two enablers:

Where do we find a representative sample of DNSO stakeholders?

DNSO working groups as currently formed are by construction not a representative sample of DNSO stakeholders because they are open to participation by anyone who chooses. It is possible but improbable that such a group will at any moment in time be so representative. This suggests that discussing consensus in such groups is unlikely to be productive and that the guidance given to the NC will be poor.

The Names Council is constructed to represent DNSO stakeholder interests and, notwithstanding demands by individuals to participate, is the best structure we currently have to be representative. This validates the by-laws faith in the NC as being a possible home for consensus itself but does not help the NC in its task of having to "determine that the DNSO process has produced a community consensus".

In essence the by-laws charge the NC with a task but offer no help as to how the task should be done. It seems therefore that the most logical route (and indeed the route that experience shows us is the one that has been followed) is to say that the NC vote itself on a recommendation, being reflective of the elected representatives of DNSO stakeholders, is the only practical means of determining community consensus.

Recommendation

Working groups with open participation may hold straw polls but, to avoid confusion, should not describe the results using the terminology consensus. The term a majority vote of the working group is recommended.

A 2/3 vote of the NC should be taken as meaning consensus on the issue and the by-laws should be changed to remove the obligation on the NC to "determine community consensus" with the implication it is an external factor. Proposed wording for the by-laws change follows.

VI-B.2.d. NEW

"If two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the NC vote on a recommendation that recommendation shall be forwarded to the Board as a consensus recommendation."

"If more than one-half (1/2) but less than two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the NC vote on a recommendation that recommendation shall be forwarded to the Board as an NC recommendation."

6. Minority viewpoints

Two task force members had alternative opinions on three points.

GA Chair

The representative of the GA believed the by-law requirement and practise whereby the NC sanctions the election result of the GA chair should be abolished.

New constituencies

The representative of the GA, while not dismissing the proposed criteria, believed that that the creation of new constituencies should have no higher burden than the creation of initial constituencies.

The representative of the NCDNHC proposed the new criteria should be applied retroactively to all constituencies, if they were to apply to new ones.

The representative of the NCDNHC proposed making the GA itself a DNSO constituency to represent individuals.

Consensus

The representative of the GA preferred the term "working group consensus" in place of "majority vote of the working group".

The representative of the NCDNHC did not consider the DNSO to be a "representative body", believing that the current constituency structure is unbalanced and gives certain interests a veto power over policy. The representative of the NCDNHC also believed that open working groups better reflect the views of the relevant Internet community.

 

Appendix A

DNSO procedures for Working Groups

Source: Implementation and adaptation of the recommendations of WG D 2001

 

1. Definition of working group

A working group is a group established by the Names Council (NC) of the Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at its own initiative or by way of considering a petition from the General Assembly, and charged with a specific task.

2. Objective

The objective of a Working Group is to:

a) formulate positions on policies,

b) facilitate the development of consensus support for policies

c) produce a report to the NC highlighting these positions and level of support.

3. Membership.

Working Groups are open to all DNSO participants defined as follows:

- members of the Names Council

- the Names Council secretariat

- members of the ICANN Board

- the ICANN officers and staff

- the GA Chair and Co-Chair

- members of the General Assembly (GA) defined as subscribers to the ga@dnso.org, announce@dnso.org or the GA voting register.

Persons new to the ICANN process who wish to participate in a working group will be asked to join the ga-announce list to qualify for membership.

Working Group membership is open throughout the life of the Working Group.

4. Criteria

Before establishing a working group the Names Council will consider the following criteria:

a) whether the issue is relevant to the mission of the DNSO

b) the need for a consensus policy

c) whether the issue overlaps with that of an existing Working Group

d) whether there is sufficient interest within the DNSO in the issue and enough people willing to expend the effort to produce the desired result

e) whether there is enough expertise within the DNSO on the issue.

5. Terms of reference.

The Names Council will nominate an individual or establish a small interim committee to draft terms of reference (a charter) which will at minimum specify:

a) a narrow and achievable objective

b) a timeframe for achieving the objective

c) a set of interim objectives by which to measure progress

d) a member of the Names Council who will act as a Supervisory Chair.

e) a short descriptive name for the Working Group.

The draft terms will be posted to the NC list and the DNSO ga-announce mailing list as a public notice that the formation of the Working Group is being considered. After a review period lasting at least a week the NC, after reviewing comments, will approve the original or modified terms.

Following this the DNSO secretariat will establish:

6. Supervisory Chair and WG Chair

The Supervisory Chair has five key functions.

a) to be responsible for the initial establishment of the WG.

b) to act as returning officer for holding elections for a WG chair. These elections should take place early but not too early once WG participants have got to know one another. Specifically, a vote to choose such a person from early group participants whose chairing abilities may be unknown should be avoided. The Supervisory Chair may themselves stand for election in which case another NC member will supervise the election.

b) to take on all the responsibilities of the Chair especially including the start of substantive discussion, until the election is complete.

c) to provide frequent liaison with the Names Council.

d) to ensure the WG Chair is fulfilling his/her responsibilities.

The WG Chairís key functions are:

a) to be responsible for fulfilling the terms of reference in the time specified,

b) to be responsible for working group discipline, focus and achievements,

c) to prepare and chair face-to-face and on-line sessions,

d) to ensure that the Working Group operates in an open and fair manner,

e) to ensure that discussions are relevant (the Chair should propose a set of topics for e-mail subject headers),

f) to intervene to stop off-topic communication,

g) to summarise outcomes of each issue,

h) to achieve interim and final objectives in conformance with the terms of reference.

And for face to face meetings the WG Chair is required:

i) to ensure an attendance list is made,

j) to publish a short report on the session within 10 days.

The WG Chair and the Supervisory Chair report to the Names Council.

7. Removal of the Supervisory Chair or Working Group Chair

In the event that the WG Chair:

a) acts contrary to these rules and procedures or beyond the scope set forth in the Working Groupís terms of reference, or

b) fails to achieve interim results

then the Supervisory Chair after consultation with the Names Council, upon the reasonable request of one or more Working Group members, shall have the authority to remove and hold elections for another WG Chair.

In the event that the Supervisory Chair:

a) acts contrary to these rules and procedures or beyond the scope set forth in the Working Groupís terms of reference, or

b) fails to fulfil the responsibilities of a Supervisory Chair, as set forth above, then the Names Council shall have the authority to remove and appoint another Supervisory Chair.

8. New ideas

New ideas that are on-topic will be made in a new thread with a subject heading that succinctly and clearly identifies its subject matter. Ideas that are off topic will be pointed out by the WG Chair and stopped.

9. Procedural questions

Any member of the Working Group may raise a question to the WG Chair or the Supervisory Chair that relates to the procedures of the group (a point of order). Any procedural question which is not answered to the satisfaction of the person asking it should be directed to the NC Intake Committee for consideration. nc-intake@dnso.org

10. Voting

From time to time progress will be advanced by holding straw polls to determine the majority view. A motion to approve a draft proposal or report (or any section thereof) may be made by any member of the Working Group. Once seconded and approved by the WG Chair, such motion shall be put to a vote of the Working Group members. In such an event, the WG Chair shall poll the Working Group members. Motions that receive a majority of votes cast shall be deemed approved.

Consensus. Because of the diverse nature of open working groups the results of any vote will be taken solely to assist with progress within the group. A majority vote of a working group should be described as a majority vote of a working group. No claim to DNSO stakeholder consensus should be attributed to such a vote.

11. Real time work

Working Group members or subsets of the group may meet in real-time (in person or via a form of electronic conferencing). Decisions reached or drafts developed during real-time meetings must be reviewed on the mailing list or other forum.

12. Proposal development

Groups drafting position statements should publish them to the WG. Groups submitting interim position statements should be free to revise those statements after reading the reports or others. Working Groups should publish the position statements for a period of comment, specifically seeking comments not only on the substance of the positions but also on impact and cost issues. These positions papers should not be the end result of the Working Groupís efforts, but should serve as tools for finding common ground and addressing concerns of specific groups. Working Group members should strive to make compromises when appropriate.

13. Disputes and role of an interim report

Many conflicts can be resolved by simple votes. The majority view goes forward and is documented in an interim report. However, where in the opinion of the WG Chair, there is a significant minority proposal, this proposal should also be documented in the interim report of the Working Group.

The interim report should contain:

(a) an abstract of all proposals which achieved a meaningful level of support,

(b) a clear statement of what is being proposed and its underlying rationale

(c) an analysis of who and what systems might be impacted by the proposal

(d) the specific steps that would be necessary to take to implement the proposal

(e) the costs and risks, if any, of implementing the proposal and how they would be borne

(f) a statement of which stakeholders have been consulted about the proposal and what support the proposal has in the various stakeholder communities.

 

14. Draft final report

The goal of the Working Group process is to produce a Report containing recommendations for submission to the NC.

The Report should contain the following sections:

a) Executive summary of not more than 1000 words.

b) Terms of reference

c) Conclusion - a clear and concise statement of the proposal discussed in the Working Group and the conclusion reached.

d) Impact analysis - a full analysis of who might be impacted, including other supporting organisations, and in what ways, by such a policy.

e) Constituency impact reviews - a summary and analysis of evidence provided by DNSO constituencies.

f) Record of outreach - a record of outreach to any segment of the Internet community that might be affected by the proposed policy.

g) Minority reports - a fair statement of points in opposition and a substantive analysis of their merits and the intensity of the opposition.

h) Supporting arguments - a summary of the best arguments for adoption of the policy.

i) Risk/Cost analysis - an analysis of the risks and costs of the proposed policy.

15. Publication and comment period

The interim report should be published to the General Assembly, Names Council and Constituency secretariats for debate, comment and criticism and the resulting feedback incorporated into a Final Report. The Working Group shall provide such comment period as is reasonable considering the complexity, importance, and urgency of the policy under consideration.

16. Final report

The final report shall be submitted by the WG Chair to the Names Council within the time frame specified in the terms of reference.

17. Termination

Working Groups will be disbanded automatically on completion of their task or disbanded by the Names Council earlier if deadlock is evident.

18. Revising the terms of reference

The terms of reference may be re-visited by the Names Council on the request of the WG Chair or the Supervisory Chair.

 

 

Appendix B

Criteria for establishing new DNSO constituencies

 

1. Need

1.1 What need would the proposed new constituency fill?

1.2 What would the proposed new constituency bring to the DNSO that is now lacking?

2. Common interest

2.1 What commonality of interest would the members of the proposed new constituency share? 

3. Distinction

3.1 How much overlap in membership is there likely to be between the proposed new constituency and existing constituencies, the General Assembly and other parts of ICANN? 

4. Representation

4.1 How representative of the stated common interest would the proposed new constituency be? 

4.2 What steps have the proponents of the proposed new constituency taken to establish a hierarchy of representativeness and openness within the proposed new constituency? 

5. Alternatives

5.1 Are there alternative means of fulfilling the stated need besides recognition of a new constituency?

5.2 Are there other places within the ICANN structure where this need could be fulfilled? 

6. Organisation on a global scale

6.1 What steps have the proponents of the proposed new constituency taken to organise the proposed new constituency? 

6.2 Have the proponents of the proposed new constituency demonstrated the capability to command the financial and human resources required by a constituency?

7. Support within the DNSO

7.1 What steps have the proponents of the proposed new constituency taken to seek support from existing constituencies?

8. Impact assessment

8.1 What would be the impact of the proposed new constituency on existing constituencies?

8.2 What would be the impact of the proposed new constituency on the finances and administration of the DNSO? 

8.3 What would be the impact of the proposed new constituency on policy formation within the DNSO?  

 


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