The APAC Regional Plan FY21-25 is an implementation plan of proposed regional activities with outcomes aligned to the objectives and goals of ICANN’s five-year Strategic Plan (which will take effect on 1 July 2020). This webinar discussed the first half of the draft Regional Plan to gather input and feedback from the APAC community. The session covered two Strategic Objectives which the Regional Plan aims to contribute to:
1) Strengthen Security of the DNS and DNS Root Server System
2) Improve Effectiveness of ICANN’s Multistakeholder Governance Model
Other than at APAC Space, anyone with comments on the Regional Plan can submit them directly on the Plan’s Community Wiki page. As a guide, feedback examples are found in a blog post by Jia-Rong Low (ICANN). The next session to discuss the second half of the Regional Plan will be in May.
Details of Session
Strategic Objective 1: Strengthen Security of the DNS and DNS Root Server System
While there are four Strategic Goals under this Strategic Objective, Jia-Rong proposed for the APAC Regional Plan to focus on the following three given the APAC Regional Office’s limited capabilities and resources:
1.1 Improve the shared responsibility for upholding the security and stability of the DNS by strengthening DNS coordination in partnership with relevant stakeholders
The first proposed focus area under this goal was to partner the APAC community in technical projects. Jia-Rong highlighted examples of key projects led by ICANN’s Office of the CTO (OCTO):
i) Identifier Technology Health Indicators (ITHI), which uses various metrics to monitor the health of identifier technologies based on Internet traffic;
ii) DNS Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR), which examines DNS abuse patterns through aggregated data from entities such as gTLD and ccTLD registries; and
iii) DNS Security Facilitation Initiative.
Partners are sought to join the above projects, and the proposed outcome was to have greater APAC representation and participation in such projects. As an example of how participation would be reported, Jia-Rong cited TWNIC which participated in DAAR and ITHI.
The second proposed focus area was to explore other technical partnerships with the APAC community besides those led by OCTO. For example, ICANN had established a Partnership Centre with India’s NASSCOM (National Association of Software Services Companies) in 2019 to jointly focus on technical research. The first project under this partnership was to test the use of the DNS to update IoT firmware, with the results envisioned to contribute to a proposal in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) documenting the mechanism.
During the discussion, community facilitator Edmon Chung suggested that ALSes or other groups could help with raising awareness of the above projects, which would help bring more partners to ICANN. Jia-Rong agreed, noting this approach to partner the wider community through At-Large could also be applied to other focus areas in the Regional Plan. The Regional Plan would be updated to mention partnering with APRALO/ALSes.
1.2 Strengthen DNS root server operations governance in coordination with the DNS root server operators
The proposed focus areas are:
i) Communicate through established channels and participate in key platforms such as regional/local fora to raise awareness on the evolving root server system and how the DNS works.
ii) Grow a network with relevant stakeholders in the region, such as partnering members of the Root Server System Governance Working Group (RSS GWG) to contribute to the governance and technical evolution of DNS root server operations and services.
Jia-Rong elaborated that both focus areas are inter-related. Elaborating first on (ii), Jia-Rong noted interest in the ongoing discussions of the RSS GWG. Here we could partner APAC members in the RSS GWG such as JPRS’ Hiro Hotta to keep interested regional community members informed/updated, thereby forming a network. This network would then be able to contribute to these discussions where applicable.
On (i), Jia-Rong highlighted that it remains important to raise awareness and understanding of the above topic, including on basics such as how the DNS works. While difficult to measure ‘awareness’, the Regional Plan would report against the fora where such topics were raised, such as at national/regional IGFs.
1.3 Identify and mitigate security threats to the DNS through greater engagement with relevant hardware, software and service vendors
There are three proposed focus areas:
i) Communicate through established channels and participate in key platforms to enhance knowledge about DNS operations and security, raising awareness of security threats, and to promote higher adoption of global open Internet standards.
ii) Through capacity development, encourage and promote the deployment of DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC).
iii) Install ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) instances.
Jia-Rong shared that the above were already key aspects of the APAC Regional Office’s work and proposed for them to continue. Elaborating on (ii), Jia-Rong shared that the envisioned outcome was to measure the deployment of DNSSEC (i.e. how many ccTLDs signed DNSSEC, or how many ISPs/network operators deployed DNSSEC validation), rather than capacity development activities.
On (iii), the APAC Regional Office had facilitated the installation of more than 30 IMRS instances in the region since 2013. Jia-Rong proposed for this to continue being a focus area in the Regional Plan. To ALAC Chair Maureen Hilyard’s Zoom chat query, Champika Wijayatunga and Save Vocea (ICANN) replied that there were currently about 200 root server instances in the region (from different operators), of which about 37 of them were spread across 12 economies in Oceania.
Strategic Objective 2: Improve Effectiveness of ICANN’s Multistakeholder Governance Model
While there are three Strategic Goals under this Objective, Jia-Rong proposed for the APAC Regional Plan to focus on the below. He elaborated that it would be more applicable to drive the other Strategic Goals from an organization-wide or global perspective.
2.1 Support and grow active, informed, and effective stakeholder participation
There are four proposed focus areas:
i) Support the APAC community during ICANN readouts and APAC Space.
ii) Develop a regional mentorship program.
iii) Support regional and local Internet Governance (IG) fora.
iv) Develop youth leaders through the Asia Pacific Internet Governance Academy (APIGA).
On (i), Jia-Rong shared that there was now a sizeable APAC community group attending ICANN Readouts and APAC Space. These existing platforms would thus continue to be an area to help facilitate the community’s particpation in ICANN. Jia-Rong highlighted how the definition of participation was a large range – from being informed to contributing to PDP work – and that it was important for us to agree on the various definitions.
On (ii), Jia-Rong sought the APAC community veterans’ support to develop a regional mentorship program to grow the participation base.
On (iii), the APAC Regional Office has been very active in supporting regional and local IG fora, noting that these platforms were where we maintained a network with the regional community. Jia-Rong proposed for this to continue.
On (iv), Jia-Rong highlighted the success of APIGA, where one in four alumni continue to participate in Internet Governance fora, whether at ICANN, IGF, IETF, APNIC etc.
During the community discussion, ALAC member Holly Raiche stressed that she would love to see more regional participation through ICANN’s many avenues, such as weekly ALAC policy meetings, monthly APRALO meetings, and ICANN Learn. Edmon asked if the Regional Plan incorporated some of these tools and platforms. Jia-Rong replied that the APAC Regional Plan will try to reference these as they demonstrated the strong At-Large partnership with the ICANN APAC Regional Office. As for using ICANN Learn, Jia-Rong shared that this was already actively used even though it might not be as applicable to mention in the Regional Plan. For example, a prerequisite for APIGA participants was to attend ICANN Learn.
GNSO Council Vice Chair Pam Little voiced that growing more informed regional participants depended on having a solid participant base to begin with, which the region lacked and more ground work was needed. Jia-Rong responded that the APAC Office tracked ‘regulars’ attending ICANN meetings, Readouts and APAC Space. There was a sizeable group of around 40 regulars (in addition to the veterans), besides a larger network in the hundreds that was kept informed. These 40 regulars was a very good base to start with if some of them could be mentored by the veterans from the APAC community, such as Pam herself. Pam supported the regional mentorship program and volunteered herself as a mentor.
On participation challenges, she cited ALAC’s Policy Forum having more participants from Europe and North America as an example in terms of language and time zone, which the APAC region needed to overcome. She also said the GNSO Council had experimented with the team composition of the EPDP (Expedited Policy Development Process), although the formula was not yet ideal. Instead of a PDP usually formed by anyone volunteering, admission to the EPDP team was by nomination from one’s stakeholder group or constituency. Two team members were considered as being from APAC, but were geographically within European time zones rather than further East.
On time zones and representation, Jia-Rong felt these depended heavily on different stakeholder groups involved and their decision-making processes. Thus, he had not suggested such elements in the Regional Plan but was willing to re-look this if the community provided the feedback.
Edmon enquired on collecting and sharing participation data. Jia-Rong said there was no formal/structured approach so far, although overall regional figures were captured for ICANN’s Annual Report. Any profiling at present was only on individual community veterans with their consent (because of privacy) rather than regulars. He added that the APAC Office was looking into expanding on data collection such as by tracking public comments submitted.
Two ICANN webinars of interest to the community took place around the same time: i) on understanding the fundamentals of DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and DNS over TLS (DoT); and ii) on information and discussion of ICANN’s latest proposed revisions to its operations and financial plans.
To work on incorporating the following inputs raised during APAC Space:
- Include partnering APRALO/ALSes to raise awareness of specific focus areas in the Regional Plan.