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Report from the DNSO Review Task Force- DNSO Review Report Version 3.0

17 February 2001

One topic that will be discussed at the ICANN Public Forum to be held on Monday, 12 March 2001, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia is the review,initiated in July 2000, of the structure and effectiveness of ICANN'sDomain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). The Names Council of the DNSO has submitted the following report, which was prepared by the DNSO Review Task Force and reviewed by the Names Council. Members of the public are invited to submit written comments concerning the matters discussed in the report using ICANN's web-based forum, which may be entered by clicking in the box below.

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Report from the DNSO Review Task Force*
DNSO Review Report Version 3.0**
(For Public Comment)


I. Background and Overview of DNSO Review Process1

Requested at the ICANN Board meeting in Yokohama, Japan, July 2000,2 the objectives of the DNSO Review are:

  • To review the DNSO's responsibilities and its work;
  • To recommend making DNSO function as designed;
  • To review and discuss this with the respective Constituencies, and General Assembly of the DNSO.

To facilitate the DNSO review, the Names Council established a Task Force,3 consisting of one representative from each Constituency and the Chair of the General Assembly. The Task Force's responsibility was to oversee the review, receive comments and prepare the draft reports. The first job of the Task Force was to prepare a questionnaire4 to begin the review process. The purpose of the questionnaire was to identify questions and solicit discussion on issues pertaining to the DNSO, including its responsibilities of the organization, and structure. In addition to the Task Force, the DNSO Review Working Group5 was established with the mandate to assist with outreach during the extended time period of the review process.

The Task Force finalized the DNSO Review Questionnaire following the 21 September 20006 Names Council call. The Questionnaire was sent to all Task Force representatives on 29 September 2000,7 with the request that each Task Force representative coordinate input from their respective constituency, and the General Assembly, by 9 October 2000. The review process was delayed due to other issues requiring attention within the DNSO.8 The new time-line for completion of the review was discussed at the Marina del Rey Names Council Meeting, and finalized shortly thereafter, for 10 January 2001. This time-line was extended again to 15 January in order to accommodate the schedule of the DNSO Review Working Group.9

Comments received both during the initial review and during the DNSO Public Review posting (28 January - 11 February) are annexed to this report. Comments received included those from: constituencies, the Internet Service Provider Constituency, the gTLD Registry Constituency, the NCC AdCom, members of the Registrar Constituency, the Intellectual Property Constituency, the General Assembly and the Non-Commercial Constituency;10 the DNSO Review Working Group;11 and several individuals involved in the DNSO process. Additionally, several articles addressing the DNSO process provided additional input.12

The draft DNSO Review Report prepared by the Task Force was discussed at the January 24th Names Council conference call. Names Council comments were incorporated into this draft,13 which was posted for DNSO public comment (28 January - 11 February 2001). Comments received during the DNSO public comment are incorporated into version 3.0 of the DNSO Review Report.14

II. Introduction to the DNSO

The DNSO15was formally established in March 1999 as one of ICANN's three Supporting Organizations.16The DNSO is responsible for advising the ICANN Board with respect to policy issues relating to the domain name system.17Additionally, the Board can refer proposals for substantive policies regarding the domain name system to the DNSO for initial consideration and recommendation to the Board.18

Since its establishment it has undergone tremendous growth in both membership of stakeholders and geographic representation.

Since its formation, the DNSO has made three recommendations for policies to the ICANN Board involving dispute resolution,19new top-level domains, and famous trademarks,20and chosen four directors to the ICANN Board through two sets of elections.21

III. Issues identified and commented upon during Review Process

A. Overall DNSO Performance

The structure of the DNSO defines responsibilities for the respective components of the DNSO, namely the Names Council, Constituencies, General Assembly, Working Groups, and the relationships among them. The constituency-based structure was the result of extensive discussions during the establishment of the DNSO.22 While the DNSO has fulfilled many of its responsibilities, review of its structure and instilling some procedures will help the DNSO better address issues brought to its attention by the Names Council, and improve responsiveness where input is sought.23

The Names Council recommendations to date sought to incorporate Working Group outcomes, which themselves accommodated strong and divergent interests.24The strongly divergent views, disincentives to participate in various procedures, made achieving DNSO recommendations to the ICANN Board very challenging. During the DNSO review commentators observed that while the DNSO had a difficult task with some recommendations due to the contentiousness of the issues, it performed fairly well under the circumstances, and was able to achieve recommendations that have been clearly referenced in ICANN Board decisions.25However, despite the achievements, there is clearly room for improvement in the DNSO process to provide recommendations.26

In sum, the DNSO can perform and fulfill its responsibilities better, including methods of establishing consensus within the DNSO.27The purpose of this report is to identify some specific areas where these improvements could occur.

Recommendation: [In addition to issues identified in this report for specific improvements, a study should occur on the overall DNSO discussion process, including how to encourage participation, Constituency reporting, consensus building at all levels of the DNSO, and communication between the DNSO, ICANN Board, Staff. Additionally, the study should determine functional methods for including substantive expertise for issues the DNSO addresses]

B. Constituencies

The seven constituencies within the DNSO represent a wide range of stakeholders. The constituency memberships are divers and their structures differ.28Each constituency has three seats on the Names Council.29

Involvement in constituencies, and between constituencies, is challenged by the voluntary nature of participation and the fact that all balance participation with other commitments. DNSO Review discussions on constituencies covered many areas,30including suggestions to do away with the constituency structure entirely,31or adding one more constituency.32In the discussions, two concerns were reflected as general issues impacting the different views.33First, representation and procedures within a constituency; second, overlap of constituencies and whether all stakeholders are represented with the current constituencies.

1) Representation and procedures within constituencies:

As noted above, the structures of constituencies differ with some constituencies having very hierarchical structures and others less so. Comments reflected that there is considerable overlap between some constituencies.34Structural changes included ensuring greater commonality in constituency structures and procedures, including common standards and practices within constituencies on determining the 'position of a constituency' as opposed to statements made by some members of a constituency, on behalf of the constituency, without members given opportunity for input.35

2) Overlap of Constituencies representation of all stakeholders:

The overall question of the correct division of constituencies,36and ensuring that stakeholders are sufficiently represented raises the question on what alternatives would exist and if they would be any better.37

The role of constituencies and representation, and overlap, was also reflected in discussions on establishing an 'Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency'.38The discussion of constituencies, and role within the DNSO is also a discussion raised by some ccTLDs, and their statement at the Marina del Rey ICANN Board Meeting expressing an interest in establishing a separate ccTLD Supporting Organization.39

Recommendation: [Suggestion: Study of constituency structures, and charters, and extent to which constituencies overlap, with emphasis on identifying any overlap, and concrete steps to improve representation, participation]

C. Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency

Since the establishment of the DNSO, there has existed an interest by some to establish an individual domain name holders constituency, though there has not been agreement how such a constituency would exist. Comments received during the DNSO review process,40indicate that while there is not consensus on the need for an Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency, there has been sufficient discussion to support suggest the next step is to explore its establishment.41

Next steps in exploring whether to create an Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency must include addressing different views within individual domain name holder interest groups, to resolve contentious areas, identify a representative charter that does not overlap with the General Assembly, Non-Commercial Constituency, and the At Large.42

Recommendation: [Suggestion: recommendation to establish a study to identify specific core issues that need to be addressed in order to determine if and how to establish an individual domain name holder's constituency. Included in the recommendations provisions to ensure an adequate level of participation and representative of the individual domain name holders. Clearly define the membership, which must have broad and international representation. Different models should be looked at to see how best to ensure this, such as provisional recognition for membership.]

D. General Assembly

The General Assembly of the DNSO is an open forum for participation in the work of the DNSO. The participants are individuals with an interest in participating in the DNSO, and issues pertaining to the areas for which the DNSO has primary responsibility. Participants may also contribute expertise to the work of the DNSO, including work items and participation in working groups.

While the GA has extensive membership appears to be handicapped by having little or no participation or authority. How to address the current structural problems to enhance the GA within the DNSO has received much discussion,43and should be further addressed.44

Recommendation:[Suggestion: Undertake study to reevaluate role of the General Assembly within the DNSO, including assessing its role if an Individual Domain Name Holders Constituency is further explored. Study should look at different models and roles the GA could have, how to increase participation and authority, with clearly defined membership, with broad and international representation]

E. Working Groups

Working Groups, established by the Names Council, are one mechanism for discussing issues within the DNSO, and soliciting input for recommendations. Working Groups, however, under the current system of an open model have proven to be less effective than they could be.45DNSO Working Groups are valuable for identifying perspectives, educating on the issues, and even identifying areas where perspectives appear to merge. But the make-up of DNSO Working Groups has catered towards those who have the time and inclination to show up at any given moment, and are not necessarily in a position to reflect a consensus of the Internet community. Therefore DNSO Working Groups have fulfilled a balancing role, providing open forums for sharing of information, educating on views, while recognizing that debate, and even votes,46should be viewed as valuable intellectual inputs into the consensus development process; but they can not be presumed to be the consensus-development process itself.47

Given the past experience with DNSO Working Groups, there is a need for more strongly enforced Working Group mandates, stronger procedures,48and mechanisms for ensuring Working Group chairs focus on a Working Group's mandate.49Procedures are needed, such as something along the lines of an IETF type consensus-building model.50Additionally, such procedures and mechanisms would help establish mechanisms of participation that ensure full participation by representatives in working groups. The draft report from Working Group D addresses many of these issues, and subsequent to its completion and adoption should provide guidance to some of the DNSO working group challenges to date.

Recommendation: [Suggestion: Establish short-term study to identify and implement improvements for the consensus/discussion in the DNSO currently existing under Working Groups. Study should explore such options as whether working groups members should submit papers to focus discussion, there should be smaller working groups, such as task forces, as an alternative to the current working group structure, and how to enhance the level of technical or other expertise employed in the consensus-development process. Study should include outcome of Working Group D]

F. Names Council

The Names Council is responsible for the management of the consensus-building process of the DNSO. The NC consists of representatives selected by each of seven Constituencies. The NC functions via a list serve, regular teleconference calls, and physical meetings in conjunction with ICANN quarterly meetings.

Part of the DNSO review was to determine whether the Names Council is fulfilling its responsibility to steer and manage the DNSO consensus process. It is fair to say that comments received during the review process supported the view that there is much room for improvement in the Names Council and its ability to lead and oversee the DNSO and consensus-building process. Comments observed that the NC's time appears to be dominated by administrative practices, and matters that are more related to its own process than to substantive matters seem to dominate the NC's time. In part, this could be due to the lack of structure and rules for policy formation, in addition to the fact that it is a volunteer body and there is no person (i.e. Secretariat) to help the NC administer the DNSO and keep the timetables on track. Additionally, due to the voluntary nature of the NC, NC representatives often lack personal involvement and commitment to the work of the NC.51

Structurally and procedurally, the NC must develop approaches that allow for greater involvement of NC representatives, minimize the amount of subjectivity and increase the amount of measurable objective criteria in the consensus-building process. Mechanisms to encourage greater participation by all members in the Names Council deliberations, with clear mandates, procedures, and time lines would contribute.52In addition to improving NC procedures, the NC must also lead more strongly, including enforcing working group mandates, ensuring constituency participation, and overall ensuring the DNSO fulfills its role and responsibilities within the ICANN structure. The NC's role in leading the DNSO would also be improved by better understanding the needs and issues at hand in other parts of the ICANN structure by establishing better communications with the ICANN Board Members and other SO Councils.

Recommendation: [Suggestion: Request NC to identify steps and mechanisms for the NC members to effectively use their time, encourage greater participation, develop clear mandates and procedures, so that representatives focus is on substantive issues, and matters of DNSO work. Included should be steps to improve communication with ICANN Board members and better understanding of how the DNSO can better fulfill it's responsibilities within the ICANN structure]

G. Staffing needs of Names Council and DNSO

Staffing of the DNSO is important for the overall carrying out of DNSO, Constituency, General Assembly, and Names Council activities. The DNSO has operated almost entirely on volunteer efforts and a line of credit/donation extended to it from AFNIC. As with any organization, a secretariat to oversee administrative issues is central to ensuring the effective functioning of the Names Council and the DNSO.53A secure revenue stream or other mechanisms to ensure the DNSO to acquire the needed staff must be determined.

Recommendation: [Suggestion - Establish secure mechanisms for the DNSO secretariat/staff.]

H. Translations of DNSO and ICANN documents

ICANN, its Supporting Organizations, and its Advisory Committees, have international participation that require methods of addressing issues in a multi-cultural, culturally and linguistically sensitive manner. Additionally, efforts have been, and should continue to be made to accommodate all participants, regardless of a participant's time zone and/or ability to technologically or economically participate in the ICANN process.

The DNSO should seek to continue efforts to ensure global participation. Some recommendations to help achieve this objective have been under discussion during the review process.54

Recommendation: [Suggestion: Establish recommendations, including cost assessment and cost coverage, to provide for translations to increase international accessibility. Results of assessment should be posted for public comment, including what languages would be translated, and cost of translations for professional or alternative translation services.]

I. Ensuring Adequate Level of Participation

The DNSO requires participation by interested stakeholders in the forums of interest. To ensure participation, methods must exist so that participants from whichever interest group are not overburdened and discouraged from participating.55This can include limiting the number of face-to-face meetings.56

In addition to friendly forums, participants should also be able to review materials, have access to translations where possible, and have access to the medium to communicate. In this context, the review process may have identified ways to better the DNSO procedures, enhance Working Group functionality and thereby participation, improve communication among and within Constituencies, and amongst stakeholders.57Additionally, the outcome of Working Group E (Global Awareness and Outreach) might identify additional factors.58

Recommendation: [Suggestion: identify specific action items, including time line, to facilitate increased levels of participation.]

Annex I:

Issues identified in the Working Group, and polled.59


1) Should our report to the NC focus on consensus or not?

2) *If* we agree to call a voting result consensus?

3) Setting up a dedicated WG for discussing structure and functioning of an IDNH constituency?

4) Abandoning the constituency structure altogether?

5) Election of NC members independent of the constituency structure?

6) In favor of an IDNH constituency?

7) In favor of redistribution of NC seats?

8) How to represent the IDN Holders if there is no constituency structure?

IV. Appendices

DNSO Public Comments:

GTLD Registry Comments:

IPC Member Comments

ISP Comments:

General Assembly Member Comments: DNSO Review Working Group Report, including annexes (some annexes are comments listed separately below):;

Non-Commercial AdCom Comments:

Other Non-Commercial Comments: Kent Crispin Comments on the DNSO Review:;;

MHSC Summary Opinion:

European Brands Association (AIM):

Jonathan Weinberg's Comments on the DNSO Review:

Harald Alverstrand Personal Comments:


Press Announcement of Working Group:

Articles of interest to the review process:

David Johnson & Susan Crawford,;;

Johnathan Weinberg, ICANN and the Problem of Legitimacy,


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*Task Force Members are: Axel Aus der Muhlen, Peter de Blanc, Roger Cochetti, Roberto Gaetano, Hirofumi Hotta, Paul Kane, Youn Jung Park, Elisabeth Porteneuve, and Theresa Swinehart. The Task Force would like to thank all for their contributions and input into the DNSO Review Process. The Task Force would also like to thank both YJ Park, and Greg Burton, for their work as co-Chairs of the DNSO Review Working Group.

** Version 1.0 discussed on the 24 January 2001 Names Council Call. Comments received incorporated into Version 2.0a and posted for DNSO Public Review, 28 January - 11 February 2001.

1 DNSO Review process' timetable; adjustment in schedule DNSO public comments received on process:;;

2 Cite to Pindar Wong's presentation at Yokohama meeting.

3 The NC-Review task force archives can be found at

4 The questionnaire raises questions on the DNSO responsibilities, achievements, and its structure, to provide input into the review process. See NC Review 2.0 Circulation for Comment at It was circulated on 29 September 2000 and 4 December 2000 to Constituency and GA representatives. Review Task Force archived at

5 Press Release announcing Working Group Chaired by YJ Park charged with 'with actively seeking input from the widest possible set of Internet stakeholders.' Schedule for submission of comments revised to accommodate Working Group. Full archive of the Working Group discussion is found at


7 Comments and discussion on the GA list, e.g.,

8 Marina del Rey Names General Assembly and Names Council meeting, November 2000.

9; reminders of the due date were sent on January 6, 2001 to all Constituency representatives, Chair and Co-Chair of the GA, and the Chair of the DNSO Review Working Group, and are archived at

10 Annex II, and;


12 Annex II; and e.g.,;;; Jonathan Weinberg, ICANN and the Problem of Legitimacy,

13 Link to NC conference call discussing report, relevant subsequent clarifications, and link to task force.

14 For a full listing of comments received, see Task Force member comments requiring clarification during ICANN public comment,;


16 The other two Supporting Organizations are the Address Supporting Organization and the Protocol Supporting Organization.

17 ICANN is responsible for coordinating the assignment of the following identifiers that must be globally unique for the Internet to function: Internet domain names, IP address numbers, and protocol parameter and port numbers. In addition, ICANN coordinates the stable operation of the Internet's root server system. As one of its SO's, under ICANN Bylaws, Article VI-B, Section I, the DNSO shall a) […]advise the Board with respect to policy issues relating to the Domain Name System. b) […]consist of (i) a Names Council ("NC"), consisting of representatives of constituencies as described in Section 3 of this Article VI-B ("Constituencies") elected by those Constituencies and (ii) a General Assembly ("GA"), consisting of all interested individuals and entities.

18 Subject to the provision of Article III, Section 3, of the ICANN bylaws, the Board shall accept the recommendations of the DNSO if it finds that the recommended policy (1) furthers the purposes of, and is in the best interest of, ICANN; (2) is consistent with ICANN's articles of incorporation and bylaws; (3) was arrived at through fair and open processes (including participation by representatives of other Supporting Organizations if requested); and (4) is not reasonably opposed by the ASO or PSO. Under Article VI, Section 2(g) "nothing in this Section 2 is intended to limit the powers of the Board or the Corporation to act on matters not within the scope of primary responsibility of a Supporting Organization or take actions that the Board finds are necessary or appropriate to further the purposes of the Corporation."

19 Universal Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP): Working Group A, Names Council's review of Working Group A report, followed by the Names Council recommendation based on the Working Group A's report to the Board and the final adoption by the ICANN Board.

20 New generic Top Level Domains (new gTLDs): Working Group B and C, Names Council review of Working Group B and C's reports, followed by its recommendations to the Board.

21 DNSO ICANN Board Elections: Two elections held: 1) October 1999, choosing three ICANN Board members for 3, 2, 1 years respectively; 2) September 2000, filling the 1 year expired seat.

22 History of the DNSO at

23 E.g., the response to the questionnaire and the DNSO review process required numerous extensions.

24 Crispin's comments to the questionnaire, with support from the NCC, noted that Working Groups A, B, and C, 'tackled some of the most difficult problems that the DNSO will ever have to face, they were tackled as the very first assignment for the new organization, and there was determined opposition to any progress. Given these difficulties, the DNSO has not done too badly. But there is no question that much better outcomes could be easily imagined, and there is also no doubt that the DNSO should learn from this experience.

25 ICANN Report 'Introduction of New Top-Level Domains', section 1-c.

26 Comments by the ISP Constituency to the DNSO Review Committee, 10 October 2000 (attached); gTLD Registry Constituency to the DNSO Review Committee, 15 January 2001, archived at

27 See AIPLA's comments at Some insight into the current efforts, see report on the consensus and process questions was adopted with 15 yes, 2 no, 4 don't know. The WG adopted the text including the disclaimer about participation levels. While the report attempts to get objective data, it also shows the difficulty of getting widespread objective data.

28 For full information on each constituency, please see links to each constituency accessible from

29 The gTLD Registry Constituency has two vacant seats to be filled by the additional new gTLD Registries.

30 See Annex II, in particular DNSO Review Working Group report sections 2.3, 2.4, and annexes 2, 3, 4, on constituencies and whether interests are adequately represented in existing constituency groups. See also ISP and IPC Constituency comments. See also,;

31 See DNSO Review Working Group report, section 2.2 ("Some including one of the At-Large Board Director, Karl Auerbach recommend to eliminate 'Constituency' structure itself, which has not been working out in the DNSO [Appendix 4]"); DNSO public comments;

32 See Section C, regarding Individual Domain Name Holders constituency.

33 See, e.g.,, section III.

34 See Annex II, in particular DNSO Review Working Group annexes 2 and 3.

35;;; Each constituency has their own process to reach a 'constituency statement'. In cases where there is not a 'constituency statement', there is clarification that comments are by members of a constituency. See, e.g., DNSO Review comments by members of the IPC.

36 DNSO Review Working Group Report, 15 January 2001, Section 2.2, 2.3. Despite extensive debate, the Working Group could not could not reach any decisions on the issue of constituencies and the DNSO.; Also see DNSO comment; (;

37 DNSO Review Working Group report, and annexes 2 (Weinberg) and 3 (Crispin). See also AIPLA DNSO public comments

38 Comments received indicated strong support for the existence of an Individual Domain Name Holders/Owners Constituency. Individual domain name holders and Internet users, are not represented on the Names Council, nor the Non-Commercial Constituency. But see for discussion on accuracy of the statement.

39 November 2000, Marina del Rey meeting.

40 Text adopted by the WG on the individuals' constituency question, adopted by a vote of 17 yes, 1 no, 3 don't know.

41 DNSO Review Working Group Report, 15 January 2001, Section 2.4, and annexes 5 and 7; However, some suggest to first address current constituency structures before initiating process for a new one.


43 On Constituencies and the General Assembly, adopted by a vote of 13 yes, 1 no, 5 don't know.

44 Few comments during the review addressed the General Assembly. See also, section III.D; the GA should not be the forum for individual domain name holders,

45 See Crispin's comments on Working Groups (DNSO Review Working Group report, annex 20 and 21). Working Groups are additionally challenged by misuse of list-serves, as well as strong interests represented by various participants.

46 See voting results from working group. Use of votes in Working Groups is useful for information gathering purposes, but it tends to polarize opinion, and should be used with caution.

47 The gTLD Registry Constituency comments of 15 January 2001. Expertise withdrawing from participation is not unusual due to the enormous list-serve traffic and inappropriate list behavior, thereby leaving only zealots with their own agendas who often have minimal knowledge of the issue, or the entire impact of the debate. Also,;

48 IPC, AIPLA, Comments 10 October 2000. A independent observation, There is a need for structure and methodology for managing working groups. Without a definitive, understandable, methodology, it is very difficult to ascertain that the finished product really represents legitimate, broad-based, consensus opinions. See also,

49 Problems have existed with Working Group chairs not keeping the working group focused on its mandate, or actively advocating that a working group ignore the purpose approved by the NC. This inconsistency causes problems to the consensus building process. An example of this was evident in the DNSO Review Working group, which was mandated to specifically ensure outreach in the DNSO review process. See wg-review archives, and specifically notes by NC members to remind chair of deadline and need to adhere to scope of working group mandate. Looking at posts from 1/1 thru 1/6 indicated that there were approx 1275 posts from 58 parties but 79 % (approx 1020 posts) came from just 18 people. Review of comments show many off-point discussions. However, see also DNSO public comments by current DNSO Working Group Chair,

50 For IETF procedures, see; individual suggestion raised in working group.;, section III.E. See also DNSO public comments by current DNSO Review working group chair,

51 Comments from gTLD Registry and IPC Constituency, as well as DNSO Review Working Group report annexes 2 and 3.

52 See DNSO review public comments

53 Funding and financing of a secretariat, as well as participation in the DNSO for purposes of maintaining list-serves, conference calls, and other matters, requires further attention. See also comments of DNSO Review Working Group and gTLD Registry Constituency. See also, DNSO public comments;

54 DNSO Review Working Group and DNSO Names Council archives and discussion on translation of materials into multiple languages. See also DNSO public comment

55 See, e.g., for related discussions DNSO Review Working Group Report, Annexes 2, 3, 20 and 21; and ISP and IPC Constituency comments.



58 (check on status?)

59 Preliminary reports are included in the appendices from YJ, including the polling data, as appendices 23 and 24 (CHECK). See also;

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