Accountability & Governance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Published By ICANN

On 14 August ICANN posted the Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance: Process and Next Steps. Since posting, ICANN received some questions that are compiled here together with items perhaps useful to be addressed for the community. These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are to assist in your understanding of this process and of the ways you can participate, and will be updated to be responsive to community questions during the process. The FAQs and other process resources also can be found on a new Community Wiki space.

The Accountability Process ICANN has launched is critical to the successful transition of the IANA Functions Stewardship from the US Government to the Internet’s multistakeholder community.

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is the purpose of the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process?

During discussions around the transition process of NTIA‘s stewardship in the IANA functions, the community raised the broader topic of the impact of the change in the historical contractual relationship with the United States on ICANN‘s accountability. While a range of topics may arise throughout the process, the focus is on ensuring ICANN remains accountable in the absence of its historical contractual relationship with the U.S. government, and the perceived backstop with regard to ICANN‘s organization-wide accountability provided by that role, such as the renewal process of the IANA functions contract.

2. What is the structure of this process?There are 3 groups, as illustrated here [PDF, 926 KB], each playing a unique but inter-related role in the process:

  • The Cross Community Group will identify issues for discussion or improvement; confirm the appointment of stakeholder experts to the Coordination Group; and provide ongoing community input to the Coordination Group.
  • The Coordination Group will categorize and prioritize issues including those identified by the Cross Community Group; build solution requirements for issues with input from the Cross Community Group; and issue the final report/recommendations.
  • The Public Experts Group, announced on 19 August 2014, will appoint up to 7 Advisors for the Coordination Group who will provide best practices from global institutions; engage with the boarder network of public accountability and governance experts as needed; and support the Coordination Group with expert advice and research.

3. What is the role of the advisors?The advisors, selected by the Public Experts Group, will bring external, independent voices to this process to assure that best practices are brought in from outside of the ICANN community. The role of the advisors is to provide advice to the discussions of the Coordination Group. The Coordination Group should make recommendations based on consensus taking into account advice of the advisors. The advisors are not limited to engaging with the Coordination Group.

The Public Experts Group was announced on 19 August 2014. They are Mr. Brian Cute, Ms. Jeanette Hofmann, Amb. Janis Karklins, and Hon. Lawrence E. Strickling.

4. Where do I find information on this process?Information can be found at: https://community.icann.org/category/accountability

5. How can I participate in the Cross Community Group?You can participate in the Cross Community Group by submitting your name to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org. For the current list of members, please see here.

6. Do I have to be affiliated with an ICANN Supporting Organization or Advisory Committee (SO/AC) to participate in the Cross Community Group?Since the process is taking place within the ICANN community, it is assumed that most participants will have an affiliation with an SO/AC. To enable transparency, as part of the submission, it will be possible to identify which SO/AC/SG you wish to be affiliated with. If none, you may select “other.” Stakeholders identifying with “other” may either not identify with any particular SO or AC, or be new to the ICANN structure and still familiarizing themselves.

7. What if my SO/AC/SG wants to make a group submission?If an SO/AC/SG wishes to run an intra-community process to select representatives to the Cross Community Group, it may do so and submit its names to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org. This does not prevent those not selected from joining individually.

8. Is there a limit to membership in the Cross Community Group?The Cross Community Group is an open group. There are no prescribed membership numbers or methods of selection to this group.

9. Is there a date by which I need to submit my name?There is no deadline to submit names to the Cross Community Group. New members may join the Cross Community Group at any time. However, as the first meeting of the Cross Community Group is anticipated to occur (through virtual means) on 15 September 2014, we encourage submission of participation before that date. In addition, the first task of the Cross Community Group will be to confirm the appointment of the stakeholder expert members of the Coordination Group as identified by the SO/AC/SGs.

10. How can I participate in the Coordination Group?The SO/AC/SGs will identify the expert candidates from their respective communities to be appointed to the Coordination Group, who will then be confirmed by the Cross Community Group. These names should be provided to the Cross Community Group and be public. Names selected by the SO/AC/SGs for the Coordination Group are encouraged to be submitted to the Cross Community Group prior to its 15 September meeting. One does not need to be a member of the Cross Community Group to be selected by the respective SO/AC/SGs to the Coordination Group. SO/AC/SGs may identify their own processes for selecting experts. All participants on the Coordination Group are expected to conduct the work on a consensus basis, consistent with community processes, including open, transparent, and meeting with the community at respective ICANN meetings.

11. How strong is the community participation on the Coordination Group?Community members are selected by the respective SO/ACs (the GNSO may appoint one per Stakeholder Group). Additionally, the liaison to the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group, and the past participant from the ATRT are expected to be a community member. The appointment of up to seven advisors is conducted by the four individuals noted above, known to the community The ICANN Board appoints one liaison and one ICANN staff serves on the group to provide information on ICANN‘s current governance structures and accountability mechanisms. It’s expected that the Coordination Group operate by consensus, and in an open and transparent manner. Public and community observers are welcome.

12. What are the areas of expertise that should be considered as identifying SO/AC and SG selection of stakeholder expert members to the Coordination Group?The areas identified for expertise include:

  • Internet Technical Operations
  • International Organizational Reviews
  • Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
  • Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
  • Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns)
  • Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
  • Global Ethics Frameworks
  • Operational, Finance and Process
  • Board Governance
  • Transparency
  • Risk Management
  • Governmental Engagement and Relations
  • Multistakeholder Governance

13. How will the Cross Community Group appoint representatives to the Coordination Group?Each SO/AC/SG is expected to submit their expert candidate(s) to the Cross Community Group for confirmation. Should there be more candidates than the assigned number for the SO/AC in question, the Cross Community Group is expected to develop its own processes to manage the selection of the candidate(s) for that particular SO/AC/SG. The Cross Community Group is expected to decide on this process during its virtual meeting on 15 September.

14. What is the role of the SOs and ACs in selecting representatives to the Coordination Group?In preparation for the 15 September virtual meeting of the Cross Community Group, SOs, ACs and SGs should submit a list of their selected expert candidate(s) to the Coordination Group. As noted above, should an SO/AC/SG select more than the allocated number of seats on the Coordination Group, the Cross Community Group is expected to make a selection from the expert candidates provided by that particular SO/AC/SG. These names should be submitted to and will be made available to the Cross Community Group. We understand that the community selection process may take additional time, but we encourage efforts to engage with the Cross Community Group on 15 September in discussions about the confirmation process.

15. Does this process change the traditional role of the SOs and ACs?No. Just as this process is not intended to supplant the policymaking role of the SOs, ACs, participation in this process does not replace or supersede their respective roles in providing advice to the ICANN Board.

16. What are the expected working methods for these groups?Both the Cross Community Group and the Coordination Group are expected to develop their own working methods and select leadership consistent with their respective charters. Both groups will operate in an open, consensus based, transparent and inclusive process, primarily through remote participation opportunities, including open Wiki spaces, publicly archived mailing lists and meeting content such as transcripts and recordings. It’s the expectation that both the Cross Community Group and the Coordination Group will operate consistent with ICANN processes, including community dialogues and consultations during their work.

17. Who develops the charters for the Cross Community Group and the Coordination Group?

While the process had the Board develop a charter for both the Cross Community Group and the Coordination Group, the Groups should prepare their own charters that will be reviewed by the Board for scope. If there is a concern that the charters exceed the scope of this process, there will be a dialogue between the Board and the respective group.

18. Will the Coordination Group make decisions by vote?

No. It is expected that the work, including that of the Coordination Group in preparing a report and recommendations, be based on consensus, ensure community consultations, and be conducted in an open and transparent manner.

19. What is the Board process concerning adoption of recommendations made by the Coordination Group?

The process notes that any decision by the Board to not implement a recommendation (or portion of a recommendation) will be accompanied by a detailed rationale. Any decision not to implement a recommendation would be preceded by a dialogue with the Coordination Group and community.

20. Will travel support be provided for face-to-face meetings?

Both groups will operate primarily through virtual methods.

  • For the Cross Community Group, there will be opportunities for face-to-face interactions at ICANN meetings where members are already in attendance, but ICANN is not providing travel support based on Cross Community Group membership.
  • For the Coordination Group, there will be limited opportunities for face-to-face interactions, and there is travel support consistent with the ICANN community travel policy for Coordination Group members. The first meeting of the Coordination Group is expected to take place at the October 2014 ICANN 51 meeting in Los Angeles, California.

21. What are the key dates for the process so far?

  • Ongoing: Stakeholders submit names for membership to the Cross Community Group.
  • 15 September: Cross Community Group comes together for first meeting.
  • 12-16 October: On identified date, the Coordination Group comes together for its first meeting at ICANN 51; Cross Community Group convenes (as available) for first face-to-face meeting (specific dates to be selected for each).
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About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

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