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Attn: Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform

Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC)
Japan Registry Service, Co., Ltd. (JPRS)

April 29, 2002

Comments on ICANN Reform

Table of Contents:

  • 0. Introduction
  • 1. What is ICANN's mission?
  • 2. Our views on Lynn's perception in the report
    • 2.1. Too little participation by critical stakeholders
  • 3. Our views on the suggested reforms in the report
    • 3.1.The Board of Trustees
    • 3.2.Funding
      • 3.2.1.Funding by Governments
      • 3.2.2.Agreement and Service Fee
    • 3.3. Transparency

0. Introduction

What's important for the Internet governance is not to centralize power and responsibility to a single entity, but to share them with relevant organizations which rely on with one another to realize stable Internet governance. It is important for ICANN to create a situation where the whole Internet community trust it as an 'authority' which maintains IANA functions.

ICANN, since its inception, has been operated based on the concept of a private sector management. It should go forward to complete the transition of functions from the US Government without stepping back its course. In this context, governments should not be central players in ICANN but rather support its private sector-based operation.

ICANN should redefine its mission - what ICANN ought to do and what only ICANN can do - and concentrate on achieving it. And ICANN should be as thin as possible as an organization to the extent that it can achieve its mission.

It is not desirable to take too much time in the process of reforming ICANN, which would result in delay of proceeding its original tasks. There are some possible solutions to reform ICANN, but to begin with, we should focus on a certain single solution and proceed it, provided that we revisit it after a certain period of time.

The following are our comments on the ICANN's mission, the issues raised in the Stuart Lynn's report, and the specific suggested reforms set forth in the report.

1. What is ICANN's mission?

ICANN has two different kinds of missions - the one is what it is required at the phase of taking off, and the other is what it has to achieve inherently. The former mission is to complete the transition of functions from the US Government to the private sector body, which is essential in the sound development of the Internet. The latter mission is focused on the global technical coordination of Internet naming and address allocation system, which is categorized from (a) to (d) as follows:

(a) Authority function for the uniqueness of Internet resources at the global level

This function, the most critical part of ICANN, is to maintain and assure the uniqueness of Internet resources such as domain name, IP address and protocol parameter at the global level. It means the management of TLDs in the area of domain name, and the management of top-level blocks in the area of IP address.

(b) Policy development for realizing the uniqueness of Internet resources at the global level and the stability of its operations.

This function is to develop policies for realizing the uniqueness of global Internet resources and the stability of its operations. This includes policy developments for delegation and re-delegation of TLDs to appropriate sponsoring organizations and for allocation of top-level IP address blocks to appropriate RIRs.

ICANN's responsibility should be for global level. Thus, local policy matters for delegated ccTLDs should be handled by relevant ccTLD Sponsoring Organizations, and policy matters regarding the IP address allocation for lower level organizations should be handled by relevant RIRs (or through the consultation by three RIRs.)

(c) Policy development and implementation for the proper use of global Internet resources.

This function is to develop and implement policies for the issues which can not be solved within the framework of nations and require the creation of global rules. This includes the competitive registrar accreditation and the introduction of UDRP for gTLDs. And the establishment of criteria for RIRs, to which top-level IP address blocks should be allocated, is also included here.

The mission of this category is outside of the authority function for ensuring the uniqueness of Internet resources at the global level and it should not be regarded as the primary mission. We think that ICANN, among all the existing entities, is the most appropriate organization to carry out the function of this category as of today, but it should also be considered to leave it to any proper substitutions once created.

(d) Management of the root zone file and responsibility for distributing its contents to all of the root servers

The management responsibility of the root zone file, which is now under the control of the US Government, should be transferred to ICANN. ICANN is responsible for managing the contents of the root zone file, as well as distributing it from the master server of the root to all of the root servers. The master server in this context is equivalent to the current A root server but it doesn't have to provide resolving function. The operation of the master server is not necessarily handled by ICANN, but could be delegated to any appropriate entity.

The following functions listed in "Toward a Statement of the ICANN Mission" should not be part of ICANN's mission:

- operating the .int registry

ICANN should take responsibility for the policy development for .int operation, and delegate the registry function to any other entity.

- publishing the InterNIC website and related functions

It seems that the current service provision under the name of InterNIC is to prevent any specific entities from monopolizing the use of 'internic.net' domain name and its web site. Assuming that there is no specific purpose for the web site by the name, it might be just redirected to any appropriate page of the ICANN web site, which would reduce the administrative tasks.

2. Our views on Lynn's perception in the report

2.1. Too little participation by critical stakeholders

The Lynn's report points out the lack of participation and the failure of bottom-up process but it is not true as far as the address community is concerned. We are sure it has achieved these goals to some extent. Backbone providers and ISPs are participating in the discussion at the RIR meetings and it is proved that the local meetings such as RIR meetings have been successful in getting more participants.

3. Our views on the suggested reforms in the report

3.1. The Board of Trustees

- Composition Ratio of the Board of Trustees

The ratio of the Trustees, four representing technical fields to ten representing At Large, is not appropriate for ICANN which bears technical coordination. ICANN should raise the ratio of the Trustees representing technical fields compared to Lynn's proposal.

The number of Trustees is reduced to 15 persons from the present 19 persons. It is appreciated from our point of view as we are insisting that ICANN should be as thin as possible.

- Nomination by governments

As described above, governments should not be the central player of ICANN organization.

There is a more important role for governments in the ICANN activities and they should involve themselves to accomplish it. It is specifically the role of the governmental authority in the ccTLD Sponsorship Agreement that is concluded between ICANN and ccTLD Sponsoring Organizations. This agreement is important in that it articulates responsibilities and rights of both ICANN and ccTLD Sponsoring Organization. And we think a part of funding issue would be solved after most of the ccTLDs conclude this agreement. Governments are very important players to promote the conclusion of this agreement in each country in which their role is to maintain and assure the public trust of relevant ccTLD.

Each government should contribute to ICANN by doing what can not be done by others than governments, like the role mentioned above. Regarding the At Large Trustees nomination, it is not necessary that they should be nominated by governments. In addition, there is a concern that the proposed nominating process does not work because of the government's nature of protecting and pursuing the national interest.

- Nomination by Nominating Committee

In ordinary corporation, candidates for board members are nominated by nominating committee and confirmed by shareholders' meeting but not confirmed by board of directors. However, according to the suggested method of the Board election in the proposal, the Board of Trustees is going to confirm the candidates. It is not equivalent to ordinary shareholders' meeting as it lacks that very function. This election method is not healthy nor appropriate in the viewpoint of sound corporate governance.

ICANN should make it sound by seeking either way - making the Nominating Committee completely independent of the Board of Trustees or making other part of the organization than the Board of Trustees to confirm the candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee, the composition of which remains as it is in the proposal. Making some membership organization is one solution.

3.2. Funding

3.2.1. Funding by Governments

We believe the basic principle of ICANN funding is "payment by beneficiary." Theoretically, funding should be supported by the users or beneficiary via address and domain name registries/registrars, which means the burden should be very small per person as it could be shared by many people. To date, most ccTLDs have not concluded the agreement with ICANN, which is one of the causes that the ICANN funding gets not enough. The important role of governments is not to fund ICANN directly but to support the relevant ccTLD for its concluding the agreement with ICANN.

ICANN should understand that the "triangular model" (ICANN, ccTLD Sponsoring Organization and the governmental authority) for ccTLD Sponsorship Agreement proposed by ICANN is hard to accept for many ccTLDs. It was the same for us .jp.
Thus instead of the "triangular model" we had tried to create a "four-party model" which specified the roles of four parties, that is, ICANN, ccTLD Sponsoring Organization (JPRS), the local Internet community representative (JPNIC) and the governmental authority, to conclude our ccTLD Sponsorship Agreement. We believe that this is one of the best practices of cooperation with the government in the local community. In the "four-party model", the "local Internet community representative" and the "governmental authority" are taking roles that are corresponding to the role of the "governmental authority" in the "triangular model". It is important that the local Internet community takes firm control of independence of ccTLD, meanwhile realizing stability and reliability of ccTLD endorsed by "governmental authority".

With regard to the idea of funding by governments, it is necessary to carry out a feasibility study on whether it is practical for each government to fund an NPO in the US. And the present situation of GAC should be evaluated correctly as the number of governments that participate actively is very limited. It would be a serious error if ICANN granted governments the right to elect At Large Trustees in return for their funding, as governments do not represent the stakeholders of the Internet though they may represent the people of each country.

3.2.2. Agreement and Service Fee

Although agreements between ICANN and relevant organizations such as root name server operators, registries and registrars are necessary, ICANN should not stick to make them rigid contracts. For instance, in order to guarantee certain service level of the root name server operation, the agreement would not necessarily be a funding supported rigid contract but it would be enough with an MoU level agreement that articulates the aim of maintaining the stability of the root name servers through geographical, functional and technical distribution.

One issue raised here is that of ccTLDs which have not concluded the agreement with ICANN. We believe that forementioned "four-party model" of .jp is an ideal model, but it is easy to imagine that in some countries relation between ccTLD Sponsoring Organization and government is not good enough to cooperate with each other. ICANN should seek the possibility to conclude MoU which includes the provision of service fee funding based on the confirmation of compliance with RFC1591 or ICP-1 as the minimum requirement for such ccTLD Sponsoring Organizations. Such confirmation should be endorsed by some authority, hopefully and ideally by government from the viewpoint of ICANN.

In addition, possibility of funding by the registries for .edu, .gov, .mil and .int. should be considered.

The shares of funding by relevant organizations should be redefined, by analyzing who is enjoying ICANN's services to what extent, as the funding should be shared according to the level of service provision. For instance, with regard to the services related to domain name (TLD), it is clear that a great deal of weight has been given to gTLDs rather than ccTLDs, and this should be reflected to per-domain rate if ICANN is going to charge to gTLDs and ccTLDs purely by the basis of the number of registered domain name for each TLD.

3.3. Transparency

In the proposal Ombudsman is said to check the Board of Trustees, despite it is nominated by the Board. This is not enough in the viewpoint of check and balance. So the nominating method should be reconsidered.

Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC)
Chairman of the board
Jun Murai

Japan Registry Service Co., Ltd. (JPRS)
President and CEO
Koki Higashida

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