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09 August 2019


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  1. First and foremost, this process is probably one of the most significant processes of the history of ICANN, after the new gTLD process.

    This is the plan for the creation of a brand new ecosystem of Root Servers, which includes details of the overall management of these servers both locally and globally, the policy development process, the daily running activities, personnel levels, quality of service, contracts as well as funding of this ecosystem.

    Having read RSSAC0037, all I can say is that I am very impressed by the whole proposal. Of course, the implementation of all of these plans is going to be crucial to the success of this roll-out, but as end users, we can only applaud the plans which are likely to strengthen the security and stability of the Root Server System.

    On cause for concern, though, is the Financing of the whole plan, also defined as the "Finance Function". Whilst the ALAC should applaud that care is being put into finding a way to finance Root Server Operators that are unable to follow-up with the increasing pressure of larger, more powerful servers, and whilst there is a whole section in the proposal that speaks about Financial reporting, the source of this financing is clearly defined as ICANN. There is even a discussion about ICANN org reviewing potential conflicts of interest concerns related to its role as a Root Server Operator (RSO) and "performing the Finance Function".

    ICANN has decided to stop the year on year increase in spending, adding a RSO Finance Function, whereas ICANN would finance a Root Server Operator, should that Operator show that it needs support (there is an option for a RSO to opt-out from being financed by ICANN), the question is where will these funds from from? Will this result in an additional levy on Domain Names, or will this come from an already stretched ICANN budget which might then need to cut Community involvement and outreach budgets further?

    I have heard similar concerns from people in the NCSG.

  2. I agree with your analysis Olivier, this is a pivotal issue and proposal, one well worthy of our deep analysis, consideration and in my view, support... The raising of concern that the necessary financial support of RSOs as needs be, should not come at great cost to other Community and non DNS industry based activity support by is also important to make in a short response as well...
  3. I also agree with your analysis Olivier and do have specific observations that may be prudent to explore when creating new governance structures and modifications within existing established organisational structures. Within the larger ICANN governance model, a new circle of governance has been suggested for the RSO. This structure creates three new sub-governance circles primarily a Root Server System Governance Board (RGB), the Root Server System Standing Committee (RSC), and the Root Server Operator Review Panel (RRP). That is three new structures to govern, provide governance, to staff, to organise, to be made transparent, accountable and operate in the public interest. I agree that there is a broader scope of responsibilities being self-assigned but closely looking at the clarifications being given, this still is within ICANN's remit and the Internet Community has somewhat established an evolutionary multistakeholder mechanism that can already support any new governance system however it is not recommended to create something completely new. Many of the operational explanations given in the RSSAC0037 can be well managed without such new governance structures. According to section 2.1. The statement "ensuring that the resulting membership contains the breadth and balance of skills needed, including technical, policy and governance expertise." can never be achieved in its totality however a great deal of these breadth and balance of these skills are already available across the ICANN community. 

    An independent community group within ICANN can also manage all monitoring, measuring and evaluation of the Root system. This can be a cross-community elected membership that already has recognition and good standing amongst the broad community. The RRP also feels as a conflicting suggestion within this circular governance structure. One group can perform all three functions without the need for creating so many independent functions of each other. The financial requirement is quite a concern as it calls for shaking the pockets of already constrained ICANN financial policy. I personally would not support create a new expense head like this especially when something has been long managed without such a need. Suddenly squeezing ICANN through a new super structure is not useful, recommended or even suggested. 

  4. I agree with both sentiments being expressed:

    the new, more transparent and accountable structure is to be applauded

    the impact on ICANN's budget (and ALAC's budget) need to be considered.  That said, the importance of this major reform must be funded.

  5. I am very impressed by the whole proposal after reading the RSSAC0037.  This is true that a new governance structure is required in future by considering the scale operations, emergencies, research and robust service development as rapidly growing billions of hosts/ users.

    Definitely the  impact on ICANN's budget and ALAC's budget need to be considered in future.

  6. I agree with the earlier analysis, and I believe this document is broad enough, especially as it also guarantees the independence of each of the root server operators.
    I think the internet has grown significantly and it would continue to grow therefore the need for the governance of the root server to continue to evolve. There is also a need to have a sustainable funding mechanism for the root servers systems. The concern to end user with the financing function (FF) would be how to guarantee the continued independence of the root servers from the influence of those funding the RSS. The process of receiving external funding must be transparent,  more especially when government(s) funding is involved.
    The evaluation and selection of new RSO, removal of RSO should also be transparent such that, the criteria that would be used in evaluating the applications and removing RSO should be well defined to avoid ambiguity. Adequate, Impact analysis on end users should also be carried out in case of removal or resignation of an RSO.
    The mechanism for immediate suspension of an RSO that goes rogue should also be more specific in terms of the timeline for recommendation to the board and timeline for the board to take a quick decision to reduce the impact on users.