1900 HUNTINGTON CENTER
COLUMBUS, OHIO 43215-6113
TELEPHONE: 614-469-3939 FACSIMILE: 614-461-4198
VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS
Internal Revenue Service
Re: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Dear Mr. Brown:
Pursuant to our recent conversation, this letter is in response to your questions regarding the organization, purpose, and authority of the Supporting Organizations ("SOs") of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN"). As explained more fully below, the ICANN SOs are consensus-based advisory bodies within the ICANN framework. The SOs are not independently organized entities. Rather, they are, in effect, internal ICANN working committees whose primary purpose is to make policy recommendations to ICANN's Board of Directors and to ensure that those recommendations are made only after receiving input from members of the Internet community interested in those issues. In addition, each of the three SOs selects three directors to ICANN's 19 member Board.
The ICANN Bylaws provide for three Supporting Organizations to assist, review and develop recommendations on Internet policy and structure within three specialized areas. See Bylaws, Article VI. The SOs help to promote the development of Internet policy and encourage diverse and international participation in the technical management of the Internet through the use of an open and transparent consensus-building process. Specifically, the SOs are charged with developing consensus positions on policy issues related to their particular focus and communicating the results of that effort to the ICANN Board. Importantly, the activities, meetings, and records of the SOs are open for public participation and review. Typically, public participation involves either attendance at the SOs' open meetings or submission of comments in the public forum sections of ICANN's website and the SOs' websites.
The three SOs are:
1. The Address Supporting Organization ("ASO") which is concerned with the system of Internet Protocol ("IP") addresses, such as 184.108.40.206, that uniquely identify the Internet's networked computers;
2. The Domain Name Supporting Organization ("DNSO") which is concerned with the domain name system (DNS) of names commonly used to identify Internet locations and resources. The DNS translates hierarchically-structured, easy-to-remember names (like www.ICANN.org) into numeric IP addresses that have been assigned to specific computers; and
3. The Protocol Supporting Organization ("PSO") which is concerned with the assignment of unique parameters for Internet protocols, the technical standards that let computers exchange information and manage communications over the Internet.
The Supporting Organizations are not separate legal entities. Rather, they are loosely structured committees composed of individuals, companies, and organizations having an interest in the subject matter being addressed by the SO. Pursuant to their organizational documents, the SOs are "consensus-based advisory bod[ies] within the ICANN framework." The Supporting Organizations are the primary source of substantive policy recommendations for matters lying within their specialized charters, and they serve as advisory bodies to the ICANN Board according to the procedures set forth in the ICANN Bylaws. As discussed more fully below, each SO has adopted participation structures appropriate for its effective functioning. Further, each SO is entitled to select three Directors to the ICANN Board - - resulting in the SOs selecting nine of ICANN's 19 Directors. These nine directors serve staggered three-year terms.
II. ADDRESS SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION
The Address Supporting Organization (ASO), is one of three Supporting Organizations called for in the ICANN Bylaws to be "formed through community consensus." In July 1999, the three currently existing Regional Internet Protocol Address Registries (ARIN, APNIC, and RIPE NCC) submitted a proposal to form the ASO on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN (attached as Exhibit A). ICANN accepted this proposal on August 26, 1999. The purpose of the ASO is to review and develop recommendations on Internet policy and structure regarding the system of IP addresses and to advise the ICANN Board on these matters.
A. The ASO Address Council
The ASO Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN provides for each of the Regional Internet Protocol Address Registries ("RIRs") to appoint three individuals to the ASO Address Council ("AC"). The role of the AC is to manage the functions of the ASO, including the development of policy in accordance with the guidelines defined by the Memorandum of Understanding, and to forward recommendations on global addressing policy matters to the ICANN Board. The Memorandum of Understanding provides that the AC will host an open General Assembly to promote discussion, and to receive input at least once a year, and to permit open participation by all interested individuals. The other major role of the AC is the appointment of three Directors to the ICANN Board.
B. The Regional Internet Protocol Address Registries
The Regional Internet Protocol Address Registries are the American Registry for Internet Numbers, ("ARIN"), Asia Pacific Network Information Centre ("APNIC"), and Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre ("RIPE NCC"). These organizations are separately responsible for assigning numeric addresses or IP numbers within their respective regions. IP numbers are globally unique, numeric identifiers that computers use to identify hosts and networks connected to the Internet.
ARIN is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of administration and registration of IP numbers for the Americas, and sub-Saharan Africa. APNIC is the RIR that serves the Asia/Pacific region. It is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization whose members include ISPs, National Internet Registries, and similar organizations. RIPE NCC performs registry activities for the benefit of the Internet service providers ("ISPs") in Europe and the surrounding areas. Since January 1, 1998, RIPE NCC has been established as a not-for-profit association registered in the Netherlands.
C. ASO General Assembly
The Memorandum of Understanding requires the AC to convene an open meeting ("General Assembly") at least annually to permit open participation by all interested individuals. The first ASO annual General Assembly was held on May 19, 2000 in Budapest, Hungary.
III. DOMAIN NAME SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION
The DNSO advises the ICANN Board with respect to policy issues relating to the Domain Name System. The structure of the DNSO is established by Article VI-B of ICANN's Bylaws. By bringing together parties participating in the operation and use of the DNS, the DNSO seeks to formulate and to recommend consensus-based policies concerning the configuration and operation of the DNS. Under the bylaws, the DNSO consists of the Names Council ("NC") which is responsible for the management of the consensus-building process of the DNSO and the General Assembly, which is open to the general public. The specifics of this process is set forth in the principles for DNSO operation (attached as Exhibit B).
A. The DNSO Names Council
The NC consists of representatives selected by each of seven constituencies. The constituencies are self-organized and determine their own criteria for participation. The current constituencies are:
The NC has appointed a number of working groups ("Working Groups") to carry out the substantive policy-development work of the DNSO. Most of the activities of Working Groups are carried out by e-mail discussion lists.
B. DNSO General Assembly
The General Assembly of the DNSO is open to all who are willing to contribute effort to the work of the DNSO. The participants in the General Assembly are typically individuals who have a knowledge of, and an interest in, issues pertaining to the areas for which the DNSO has primary responsibility, and who are willing to contribute time, effort, and expertise to the work of the DNSO, including work item proposal and development, discussion of work items, draft document preparation, and participation in research and drafting committees and working groups.
IV. PROTOCOL SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION
The PSO advises ICANN's Board with respect to matters relating to the assignment of parameters for Internet protocols -- which are the technical standards that let computers exchange information and manage communications over the Internet. The PSO is authorized by Article VI-C of ICANN's Bylaws. On April 23, 1999, ICANN received a Protocol Supporting Organization Proposal submitted on behalf of the Internet Engineering Task Force Working Group. ICANN immediately posted this proposal on the Internet for public comment. At its May 27, 1999 meeting, the ICANN Board adopted a resolution accepting the proposal and directing the President of ICANN to sign an appropriate Memorandum of Understanding in cooperation with the proponents of the proposal, subject to ratification by the Board. On July 14, the Memorandum of Understanding outlining the operation of the PSO (attached as Exhibit C) was executed.
A. The Protocol Council
The PSO Memorandum of Understanding establishes a Protocol Council ("PC") which will make recommendations to ICANN subject to an open and transparent consensus-building process. In addition, the PC selects three ICANN directors. The PC is composed of representatives of the Internet Engineering Task Force; World Wide Web Consortium; International Telecommunications Union; European Telecommunications Standards Institute. These four industry groups are the leading Internet engineering standards developing organizations.
B. The General Assembly
The Memorandum of Understanding requires the PC to convene an open meeting ("General Assembly") at least annually to permit open participation by all interested individuals. The first PSO annual General Assembly was held on August 3, 2000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
V. THE SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION RECOMMENDATION PROCESS
The ICANN website, SO websites, and related and linked sites, illustrate the process by which the SOs make policy recommendations to the ICANN Board. To further understand this process, it is helpful to review an example of the process by which a policy recommendation is developed and made.
A. New Top Level Domain Recommendation
For several years, there have been proposals to introduce new top-level domains (TLDs) into the Internet Domain Name System. For example one proposal called for a new top-level domain restricted solely to use by adult-content providers. At the request of the ICANN Board, the DNSO Names Council created a group on June 25, 1999, known as Working Group C, to study the issues raised by the introduction of new TLDs. The NC also created another group, known as Working Group B, to study issues concerning the protection of famous trademarks in the context of any newly introduced TLD.
Working Group C submitted its report on the subject to the DNSO Names Council on March 21, 2000, and posted the report for public comment. Public comments were solicited and received through the ICANN.org web-based comment forum and via e-mail to the DNSO.org site. Working Group C issued a supplemental report on April 17, 2000. The NC discussed these reports and public comments thereto, in telephone conferences held on April 18, 2000. At the culmination of this ten-month-long study period, the NC recommended that ICANN adopt a policy under which new TLDs would be introduced in a measured and responsible manner. Throughout the entire study period the public was provided the opportunity to review the activities of the DNSO and its working groups, and submit comments.
After receiving the DNSO's recommendation,
ICANN immediately posted the report on its website in a Public
Comment Forum dedicated to the discussion of proposals for a
new policy. ICANN also advised the public that the ICANN Board
was expected to consider adopting a policy under which new top-level
domains would be introduced to the Internet Domain Name System
at its July 15-16 meeting in Yokohama, Japan. A review of the
Public Comment Forum section of the ICANN website demonstrates
the robust nature of the public comments and debate on the subject.
The Public Comment Forum for this policy recommendation was closed
on July 10, after receiving over 1300 public responses. On July
15, 2000, the ICANN Board held a public forum on the issues discussed
in the DNSO report at its Yokohama meeting. Thereafter, on July
16, 2000, the ICANN Board adopted the DNSO Names Council's recommendation
that a policy be established for the introduction of new TLDs
in a measured and responsible manner (Resolution attached as
The process described above is just one example of the relationship between ICANN and the ICANN Supporting Organizations. ICANN, the ICANN SOs, and various working groups continually post draft and final policy discussions and recommendations and solicit public comment. This represents an open and dynamic consensus-building process which actively encourages participation by all interested members of the general public.
The ICANN SOs have been carefully organized and composed to encourage and administer broad-based public participation in the Internet policy formulation process. The SOs provide a framework for identifying policy issues regarding the technical management of the Internet, and a conduit for receiving and addressing public comment from a broad and diverse cross-section of interested parties. Importantly, the SOs are not beholden to, or controlled by, any one group, industry, government, corporation, or viewpoint. Rather, the SOs are a loosely structured public forum allowing ICANN to consider all viewpoints when crafting Internet policy.
I hope that this additional information regarding the ICANN Supporting Organizations resolves any questions that you have regarding ICANN's purpose and the nature of its activities. Please feel free to contact me at (614) 469-3928 should you have any additional questions.
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