ccNSO Assistance Group: Update to the Evolution and Reform Committee
22 October 2002
ccNSO Assistance Group
Since formed, the ccNSO Assistance Group has been discussing the issues surrounding the implementation of the ccNSO, and possible recommendations to the Evolution and Reform Committee (ERC). On 4 October the Assistance Group provided the ERC with its Status Report on the progress of its work-plan, which is to come up with recommendations on 5 category areas identified out of the Blueprint. These are: scope of the ccNSO as a global policy-development body; process of policy development in the ccNSO; ccNSO membership; structure of the ccNSO; ccNSO Council.
In approaching its work plan, the ccNSO AG is cognizant of prior work by both the ccTLD registry community, as well as other Assistance Groups to the ERC. The existence of prior work is of great assistance to the ccNSO AG efforts in working towards recommendations.
Since its 4 October Progress Report, the Assistance Group has continued discussions on these recommendations and objectives, through on-line discussions and weekly conference calls.
As noted in its 4 October Progress Report, one area that the Assistance Group has focused on is that of scope. The Assistance Group believes that the outcome of the discussions on the scope of the ccNSO will be instrumental in determining the outcome of the discussions in the other areas identified in the Blueprint and is the starting point to build confidence in the ccNSO.
With regard to scope, the Blueprint notes that the ccNSO will be responsible for engaging in activities relevant to country-code top-level domains, "specifically (1) developing policy recommendations to the ICANN Board; and (2) nurturing consensus across the ccNSO's constituencies, including the name-related activities of ccTLDs." While recognizing there are global policy issues relating to ccTLDs, the Assistance Group also recognizes the challenge in identifying what they are, or what criteria are used to determine what they are.
That is, the approach the Assistance Group is taking is one that seeks
to mould a high-level framework to assist in the formation of a Supporting
Organization that has the components and tools to focus authoritatively
on the needs for effective global co-ordination at ICANN whilst providing
a forum that fully represents the local context for ccTLD operations.
The Assistance Group recognizes the complex history of DNS management
and has determined a framework that may provide a sound methodology for
the future to define openly responsibilities and other roles in functional
areas of the DNS management.
The Assistance Group, together with the ERC, would request the ccTLD Administrative Committee to provide time on the ccTLD managers meeting to brief the ccTLDs on the framework and receive input on the draft framework.
According to the Blueprint the purpose of the ccNSO is to be engaged in activities relevant to country-code top-level domains, specifically:
This paper only addresses the first set of activities, the development of policy. It seeks to offer a framework to delineate bits and pieces of the complex relation between ICANN and ccTLD managers/registries with regard to policy issues. Feedback and discussion is sought on the framework as a way to proceed.
Defining Roles of ccTLD Managers and ICANN with Regard to Policy, and Respective Responsibilities and Accountabilities
In the interests of both ICANN and ccTLDs to ensure the stability and proper functioning of the domain name system, it is recognized that both ICANN and the ccTLD registries each have a distinctive role to play. These roles are defined by the relevant policies.
The principal underlying issue in the discussion on scope is the different
views with regard to responsibilities of the ccTLD manager vis-à-vis
the responsibility of ICANN (that is, the local versus global responsibility
issue). This underlying issue is constantly arising when discussing and
trying to identify the different functions to be performed.
In this approach, first, a fully defined policy delineates the policy role. Depending on the subject of the policy those who are involved in defining and setting the policy are determined and defined. Second, within in this, defining the power to implement and act within the boundaries of a policy, that is, the responsibility to act upon a policy. Finally, a well-defined policy clearly identifies the accountability role as a counter-balance to the responsibility role. Policy areas
With regard to the policy area, there is the following functional role/model of a TLD:
Therefore within a TLD two functions have to be performed, addressed in greater detail below:
Looking at the domain name system as a whole, these two functions do not only need to be performed at the level of TLDs but also at the hierarchical higher level (IANA function of ICANN and Root Servers) and at lower levels (such as, for example, the .eu.com). This mechanism is pointedly stated in RFC 1591 is recursive.
Clearly, in the last five to six years, the number of domain names registered has increased exponentially due to the rapid growth of the Internet. As a consequence of this growth the impact on, and requirements by, society with respect to the domain name system increased. As a result, the first function (DEF) became more important in its own right (in hindsight: from auxiliary to name server function to second core-function).
For the same reasons some latent, or secondary functions, have become important in their own right over time as well (such as, for example, WHOIS). However, these added functions derive from and are only secondary to the two core functions mentioned above and are not necessary to run a TLD.
Combining these two perspectives, policy and functions, the following framework emerges:
The framework as presented above offers the possibility to:
With regard to the delineation of the specific policy areas one has to be aware of the trade off between precision/granularity and practical use.
The sample below is as presented in the original paper provided to the assistance group. It is presented here as an example to show the use the framework to describe the current state of affairs:
1. This paper is based on a paper of Bart Boswinkel and Jaap Akkerhuis, working with SIDN, the registry for .nl. The original paper was contributed to the ccNSO Assistance Group for its discussion on scope. The Assistance Group is grateful for the contribution, and has found the framework presented extremely useful to focus thinking. It recommends to the ERC that the framework presented is provided to the community to discuss and provide feedback and input on this type of framework, for further consideration by the ccNSO Assistance Group.
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