Letter from Private-Sector
Organizations to U.S. Department of Commerce
September 4, 2002
The Honorable Donald L. Evans
Dear Secretary Evans
On April 11, 2002, a group of international private industry, professional organizations and trade associations sent you a letter regarding our support and commitment to ICANN as the global coordinator of key aspects of the global Internet and related policies. We are now writing to affirm our continued support for ICANN's Evolution and Reform process; to pledge our continued engagement in the process of implementing the Blueprint for Reform where some critical issues remain to be fully resolved; and to offer our views on priority issues where the United States Government (USG) must provide further support and leadership throughout this critical period of ICANN's evolution, including continued outreach to other governments to ensure broader global support for ICANN.
The signatories to this letter represent entities who are investing in the basic infrastructure that enables the global Internet--telecommunications and backbone providers; users of the Internet, including multi-national corporations, small businesses, scientific and research organizations, educational research leadership and nonprofit organizations who represent global users; intellectual property stakeholders, and the legal community, that represents their concerns about jurisdiction, piracy, and trademark recognition. Participants in this group bridge geographic regions and industry sectors, and represent individuals, corporations, and associations with a national, regional, and global presence. We are confident that the views we express are widely shared in these communities.
Our comments, described in further detail in the attached Appendix, address the following:
In addition to the ICANN Evolution and Reform process, the USG is considering the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICANN. The MOU must provide the framework to ensure that ICANN can achieve success in accomplishing its mission and objectives. Many will urge you to eliminate or strike key parts of the MOU. We believe that the USG should be re-establishing some key tasks, revising others (to implement goals which are achievable in staged timeframes), and working with other governments via the GAC over the next two to five years to ensure the effective evolution of a global governmental advisory process.
We urge that you continue your commitment, as we have, to a long-term supportive role with ICANN. The private sector's coordination and management of the technical functions of the global Internet, combined with the development of associated polices, offers the best possible solution for all users, suppliers/providers, and governments. While the USG must continue to be a leader in the Internet space, we support efforts to establish broader global support from other governments, through the GAC processes, to ensure ICANN's success. We urge you to foster an effective ongoing consultation with leading stakeholders and with other governments, and offer our availability to support such consultation.
To this end, we look forward to further dialogue with you and to working together, with others from the private sector and from governments, to ensure ICANN's success.
Names of Associations, Companies, and Organizations
American Intellectual Property Law Association
Chairman Hollings, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
1. ICANN's mission and related Policy Statement. We welcomed the Blueprint for Reform and noted the inclusion of a continuing commitment to the key principles of the White Paper stability and consensus-based policy. We also agree that ICANN has a limited but critical role to play in generating policy decisions in areas that are related to its core technical coordination and management functions.
Stability of the Internet is about more than mere technical coordination. To our community of concerned stakeholders, the role of associated policy development is essential. We urge you to ensure that our governmental representatives support this role, both domestically and globally.
We are continuing to participate in the refinement of ICANN's defined boundaries related to its mission and activities. We believe that the present evolution is the best process to ensure legitimacy of and broad agreement to ICANN's mission and activities.
We welcome the GAC's comments on these issues and look forward to working closely with the USG representatives throughout this process.
More broadly, we will remain engaged in the process of implementation of the Blueprint for Reform, where some critical issues have not yet been fully resolved.
2. Stable funding is a critical success factor for ICANN. Users of the Internet are the ultimate funders of ICANN's services. The cost of delivering a service includes the cost of oversight, accreditation, enforcement of agreements, or external audit. ICANN's operation should be funded by its users, via a process where the registries and registrars act as aggregators. Funding should be based on an appropriate balance among the gTLD processes (the primary source of funding), the Regional Internet Addressing Registries (RIRs) and the broad ccTLD community.
Funding for core secretariat services to all Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees should come from the ICANN budget. As a transition matter, this might also be extended to the GAC, although governments should agree as soon as possible on a method to fund the GAC Secretariat. This would allow SOs and Advisory Committees to focus any additional funding generated on outreach activities and awareness, supporting sponsorships among attending participants in ICANN's meetings to ensure geographic diversity in participation. The goal should be to ensure neutral, reliable, stable secretariat services, so that participants in policy development can do a professional and effective job. Utilizing a centralized funding of core secretariat services, with an agreement of neutrality on ICANN's part, will help ensure the stability of administrative functions.
3. Consensus based, bottom up policy recommendations are the responsibility of the supporting organizations. The Board should consider and approve policy recommendations for implementation by staff via appropriate contractual and consensus mechanisms. There must be a continued commitment to geographic diversity and cross-industry representation within the constituencies that constitute the gTLD Supporting Organization, with a continued balance of interested stakeholders participating in the development of policies involving gTLDs.
We acknowledge that not all decisions ICANN makes are policy, and in those settings where policy is made, deliberated or tabled, mechanisms should be available for the staff and Board to develop and implement processes to seek information and comments to guide such decisions.
Policies related to ccTLDs should be undertaken within the separate SO, with agreements between the gTLD SO and the ccTLD SO to identify and collaborate on those policies of mutual concern and impact, and to establish effective processes and procedures to undertake such collaboration.
4. Exclusion of non-contracting parties. Some are seeking to limit participation in policy development and consultation to only those with whom a contractual agreement has been reached with ICANN. Such a result would ignore the impact that ICANN's actions have on users including but not limited to domain name registrants. Excluding the participation of affected stakeholders in consensus based, bottom up processes will only weaken and destabilize ICANN, and can lead to an increased concern from governments about the need for more direct involvement, beyond an advisory role.
5. Further development of relationships with key stakeholders, such as the ccTLDs, RIRs and Root Server Operators. ICANN is working toward improved and documented relationships with these key stakeholders, and these efforts need continued nurturing to evolve into mutually acceptable agreements. Positive interactions and pledges of cooperation, with GAC participation, were developed at Bucharest and may provide further support to identifying and developing strengthened relationships. Such initiatives need time to develop and require additional flexibility on everyone's part. Thus, interim approaches to foster cooperation will likely be necessary.
We further note that harmonization of certain policies across all TLDs would be in the best interest of all users of the domain name system. The differing roles and obligations of ccTLDs and gTLDs may limit the ability to achieve this; appropriate development of policies for ccTLDs and gTLDs will recognize this reality and approach harmonization of policies taking into account the unique character of some ccTLDs.
The relationships with the RIRs and the Root Server Operators are also critical. We support ensuring better relationships and interaction across all of ICANN's SOs, and will urge that ICANN meetings include participation and convening of all SOs via a cross-general assembly. This will foster communication on issues where collaborative opportunities can be identified. We believe that the GAC should attend such sessions.
6. Awareness, education, and outreach. In its next phase, education, awareness, and outreach must become key elements of ICANN's functions in order to ensure that collaboration, understanding and mutual agreement develop. An excellent example of a successful approach to this role was in the development and presentation of the issues related to security of the global Internet. Such education and awareness events helped to educate others about what ICANN does not do, as well as where it does have a role. We urge the RIRs, ccTLDs, and GAC members to meet and work together, with ICANN to support further efforts of this nature. These meetings should be held in conjunction with the ICANN meetings. We look forward to both supporting and participating in such activities.
7. Evolution, not revolution. Finally, we urge caution with regard to the desire of some for too many changes implemented at one time. ICANN is a very young organization. It is undertaking critical changes; but can be expected to continue to evolve. A balanced approach to evolution will allow for implementation of changes over a multi-year time frame where necessary. In the meantime, achievable tasks should be established to measure progress.