Joint Project Agreement – ICANN’s Response

ICANN have published their response to the Joint Project Agreement (JPA)on their website, along with their submission. They have also published ICANN’s address to the U.S. Government’s Department of Commerce (DoC) public meeting in Washington DC on February 28, 2008 that reviewed the JPA between the DoC and ICANN at its mid-point.The address, by Peter Dengate Thrush, addresses a number of issues with the highlights being:

  • ICANN has improved markedly in areas to do with transparency and some major elements of accountability. The blog, the newsletters, the website changes, the detailed, on-time board minutes, the open budget planning processes, the frameworks for accountability and transparency approved by the Board and many other changes are all seen as positives
  • improvements in IANA function
  • most submissions on the JPA to the NTIA want to see the process of transition proceed, while within these submission there is a group that is interested in concluding the JPA after a debate has taken place and amongst those that don’t want the JPA concluded, most want to see a public debate about how that transition might happen
  • consideration of the IANA function in any discussion on the JPA’s future with the role of the United States government in operational matters to do with root zone management needs to be examined as to whether it should continue as it presently stands
  • this broad analysis tells Peter Dengate Thrust that the majority of people are still seeking the transition proposed in the White Paper and looking for a debate on how to get there
  • there were 169 submissions to the NTIA with most from members of the international Internet community that regularly interact with ICANN
  • over 100 separate submissions clearly request the conclusion of the JPA or assume its conclusion within its term in September 2009
  • the technical community has strongly endorsed the need to conclude the JPA and move to completing the transition – including finalising the IANA arrangements
  • the Number Resource Organization, representing the five Regional Internet Registries, states that the JPA should be concluded and that the DOC and ICANN should work together to complete the transition to private sector coordination
  • the Chair of the IAB notes that the IANA function is meeting service level agreements under a separate IETF/ICANN agreement: that separate agreement “is working satisfactorily and we do not believe that any changes in the agreement are necessary at this time”. The main thrust of the IAB submission focuses, however, on what it considers an important condition to be incorporated in the final transition arrangements for the IANA function: a clarification of the boundaries of the IANA registry function and the recognition of the IETF as being the source of authority on technical parameter registry functions, not the DOC.
  • ISOC praised progress made by ICANN since the commencement of the JPA and calls for both continued implementation by ICANN and for ICANN to develop a workable plan for its post JPA future
  • a wide range of ccTLD representatives responded, including the regional organizations; Latin American and Caribbean ccTLD (LACTLD), Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) and Asia-Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD), as well as ccTLD operators from Africa, Europe, Middle East, the Americas and Asia Pacific, in part, calling for multi-stakeholder dialogue within the ICANN process to arrive at a shared vision of what a post-JPA ICANN would entail, as well as how or when transition would be triggered
  • country-code representatives also consider, like the technical community, that the evolution of the IANA function is to be a key part of the transition planning
  • most government submissions were generally supportive of ICANN with the Egyptian government states “as much as we believe that progress has been achieved in those areas as well as many others, we envisage that the Internet community would always expect more from ICANN. That is due to the uniqueness of ICANN’s function and dynamism and never-ending development and innovations in the field of Internet domains and numbers. Nevertheless, it is important to stress the fact that the “need for more” should not be a motive for further extensions of the JPA, nor for the initiation of another similar agreement. We are concerned that decisions that go in such directions would be interpreted as an intention not to complete the transition for the domain name system from the U.S. Government to the international Internet community.”
  • one group who did voice concerns was mostly US-based and reflected intellectual property interests, focused on their concern about the voice for business in the Generic Names Supporting Organization in the context of its proposed reform, and specific concerns about ICANN increasing and deepening its compliance work, especially as it relates to WHOIS compliance for registrars and their resellers. This group focused on specific operational goals with many expressing concerns about the completion of the JPA in terms of not yet having a plan of what would come next, and in particular a plan which ensured that ICANN’s leadership would not be challenged by governments nor controlled by parties under contract with ICANN
  • in the registrar/registry constituency, there was some criticism of ICANN with GoDaddy, Network solutions and PIR recognising the progress ICANN has made, while believing more needs to be done. GoDaddy was critical of several operational aspects and supports the renewal of the JPA upon its expiry. Neustar supported transition, so long as the goals of the MOU and JPA are not undermined.
  • civil society and Internet user voices were well represented with close to 70 submissions. These submissions supported the conclusion of the JPA. Some submissions also focused on improving the voice of civil society and at-large users in ICANN’s decision-making, particularly at the Board level. 64 people simply and in English (often not their native tongue) supported ICANN’s submission
  • improvements to ICANN, what they are doing about it and how they can improve was also addressed with compliance, WHOIS and WHOIS accuracy and better engagement with stakeholders all being addressed NOW (ICANN’s capitalisation)
  • Peter Dengate Thrush believes a useful suggestion for a way forward came from the Government of Canada, and he believes the NTIA should initiate discussions with ICANN, in the context of the current JPA, on issues associated with the next steps in ICANN’s transition to privatisation.

The complete presentation by Peter Dengate Thrush is available from ICANN at icann.org/jpa/chairman-address.html.

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