Names Policy Development Process Assistance Group: Preliminary Framework
26 July 2002

Names Policy Development Process Assistance Group
Preliminary Framework


The ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee (the "ERC") has requested assistance in formulating a process for names policy development to be used within a reformed ICANN. In preparing our recommendations, we will follow the core principles laid out both by the ERC in its report entitled "ICANN: A Blueprint for Reform" (the "Blueprint") and by the ICANN Board, in its action on June 28 in Bucharest, Romania accepting and endorsing the Blueprint. These principles require a process that: (i) encourages broad, informed participation reflecting the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet; (ii) is open and transparent; (iii) promotes well-informed decisions based on participation by affected and interested parties and, where appropriate, expert advice; (iv) ensures that those entities most affected have an appropriate role in the policy development process; and (v) encourages bottom-up policy development.

In addition, we are cognizant of the Department of Commerce's concern that ICANN's reform efforts should: (i) clarify ICANN's mission and responsibilities, (ii) reform its decision-making processes to provide for transparency and accountability, (iii) create a mechanism for a fair hearing of Internet stakeholder views, (iv) provide an effective advisory role for governments, and (v) devise an adequate mechanism for the creation of sufficient financial and personnel resources to carry out its mission.

With the above points in mind, below we offer some initial thinking on a new names policy development process for ICANN. As we continue our discussions, these general concepts will be refined and, in some cases, revised in order to develop what we hope will be an efficient and certain process that will offer transparency and accountability and that will ensure the appropriate involvement of all interested parties in the policy development process.

In preparing our recommendations, we will draw on the experience of Rita A. Rodin (chair), Marilyn Cade, Guillermo Carey, Caroline Chicoine, Bret Fausett, Jeff Neuman, Bruce Tonkin and Philip Sheppard. Each of these individuals has a long history of involvement with ICANN and its current DNSO policy development processes. They have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives on policy development, and our ultimate recommendations will take full advantage of their range and depth of expertise.

General Overview

I. High Level Topics

Our work will proceed on the following assumptions:

  1. There should be multiple ways to initiate the policy development process.
  2. ICANN staff will be allocated to the GNSO to assist in the process.
  3. GAC or governmental involvement should be incorporated at an appropriate stage of the process.
  4. The process should ensure that all interested and affected persons, including members of the general public, will have an opportunity to both make their views known and to influence the eventual outcome, as appropriate.
  5. The GNSO should be free to use all appropriate tools for gathering information and views, including creating task forces where it deems it necessary or helpful, and seeking assistance from outside expert bodies or individuals.
  6. Where task forces are utilized, the information gathered by such entities and presented to the GNSO for its use in developing policy recommendations should reflect all the viewpoints expressed during the policy development process.

II. Basic Framework

The following is our current thinking on the various steps that should be included in the names policy development process. Our final recommendations will incorporate the policy development framework described in the ERC's Blueprint and will describe a detailed process and timeframe for each of these areas.

  1. The policy development process is initiated either by the Board, an SO, an Advisory Committee, or elsewhere.
  2. The GNSO Council establishes structure and timelines for process. This could involve the creation of a task force, seeking advice from expert bodies or persons, seeking public comments, or some appropriate combination of the foregoing. We will propose a default timeline for the process.
  3. If a task force is created or expert assistance is sought, then the GNSO Council will establish terms of reference, and set appropriate deadlines and milestones, and may provide specific instructions as to how to proceed.
  4. The GNSO Council will instruct the task force (or other source) that its report must include the following:
    1. details on what was done;
    2. a description of what outreach was undertaken;
    3. a record of what input was received;
    4. a description of the reasoned views of interested or affected parties; and
    5. a recommendation as to what action is appropriate based on this record.
  5. Regardless of the process utilized, appropriate opportunities for public input will be provided.
  6. The GNSO Council debates the issues considering any commissioned reports, and arrives at a recommendation to be made to the ICANN Board.
  7. The Board considers the recommendation and takes action.

Our final recommendations will more specifically address additional areas, including the value of minority reports, impact statements, and cost analyses.

Respectfully submitted by:
Rita A. Rodin
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

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