Public Comment CloseStatement



Call for
Comments Open
Call for
Vote OpenVote CloseDate of SubmissionStaff Contact and EmailStatement Number

31 January 2020


14Y, 0N, 0A

28 January 2020

29 January 2020

31 January 2020

04 February 2020

31 January 2020


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See Google Doc for comment

First draft copied below:


Third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) Draft Report

Accountability and Transparency should be the cornerstone of any organisation and the ALAC is glad to provide comments on the ATRT3 draft report just as we have contributed actively with dedicated volunteers who helped in shaping the work of the review team. In this regard, we believe that it is important for the appropriate arms to fully implement the recommendations of ATRT.


General concerns: 

  1. The lack of differentiation between recommendation and suggestion seems confusing and it might be better to stick to one of them to avoid confusion.   

  1. Clarification is needed on what ATRT identifies and tries to solve with their recommendations. Problems with the current process include: 

  1. Volunteer burnout 
  2. Disparity of ICANNs self assessment and the reviews’ assessment. 
  3. Recommendation overload and prioritization
  4. Most importantly: how will ATRT proposals increase accountability (currently too low, acceptable, … ?) and perceived trustworthiness?

Point 1 will always be a problem, particularly for non-commercial actors (volunteers)  but reduced when less reviews are undertaken or if their workload is reduced. However, that solution impacts on accountability, with longer oversight-less periods. This  could be addressed by having an independent and constant oversight function that could, in some way, serve some of the review functions.

Point 2 likely requires some sort of independent oversight function, and clear rules on how recommendations are given (SMART criteria). This was not the case in the past and could be a contributor but the problem goes beyond wording, considering the level of disagreement. How could this oversight be organized, is another committee a sufficient solution? Transparency would likely be another key building block, e.g. a centralized, up to date tracking tool.  

Point 3 is hard to deal with, as most recommendations seem sensible. However, some key issues have been raised by multiple review teams and appear to be central. 

Point 4 is a key issue of the review, and it must be clearly laid out how options 1 and particularly 2 (as it constitutes a departure from current rules) would address this. How will the options make sure that ICANN org and generally remain more accountable and actually maintains the system in a manner that balances contracted party interests with public interest (e.g. availability, competition, security, …)? 

  1. The ATRT review has produced a considerable amount of work in little time and this is laudable. Nevertheless, from an end-user perspective, ATRT should consider to deliberate the following questions: 

  • How can ICANN better address conflicts of interest? The ICANN community is relatively small, with relatively few actors involved in the process. Conflicts of interest, if perceived or real, can impact negatively on ICANN’s standing.
  • How can the transparency be increased?
  • How can ICANN ensure that in cases where issues persist (after they have been identified by the community), processes are initiated to correct trajectory? Consider, for example implementation being considered incomplete in the majority of cases.
    • For example, if multiple reviews identify the same issue, how can this be fast tracked transparently and effectively?
  • Might it be necessary to “silo off” or ring fence certain functions, including reviews, compliance, and other types of oversight? 
  • How can ICANN improve their responsiveness to community and review team questions and affairs, and what policies should be created to ensure these are dealt with? 

  1. One of the most important issues tackled by ATRT is that of how future reviews, and by extension ICANN’s foremost accountability function would be designed. From an ALAC perspective, the most important consideration is how appropriate oversight and representation of billions of internet users can be ensured going forward. 

It appears that options one and particularly require more fleshing out to inform the community about what they would specifically entail. While the status quo is not working according to a variety of stakeholders, more research and consideration should go into option 2 going forward, or indeed any other solution that is supposed to solve the current concerns. While option 2 addresses some of these concerns, it is too curt to determine its impact. The proposals should be more detailed and consider the pros and cons, e.g. when it comes to specific concern 2.2.

It is obvious that the review team cannot provide a complete solution for a variety of reasons, including procedural and due to the amount of required work, it would be very useful to provide more details on how this approach could look like, and what would have to be considered when putting the proposal into practice. Tackling how these changes would improve on current levels of accountability and transparency is important to maintain ICANN’s standing and potentially its existence going forward. From an end-user perspective, more, not less, accountability and transparency is required from the ICANN community and org. 

A key approach to some of the issues raised could be the use of external, independent review and audit, involving standard compliance and regular external reviews (that should be published, likely in redacted form) drawing, specifically, from parties that are not financially conflicted. 

Specific concerns: 

  1. Prioritization is a complex process that requires a lot of information and support from ICANN org and any teams must include individuals with insight into the ICANN structures and processes. At the same time, this process requires a level of transparency (wherever possible) so that the community can follow and understand the choices made, and must also involve individuals with an “outsider” perspective to ensure a balanced and holistic assessment. Process and outcomes need to be extremely well thought through, resourced, and transparent. 

  1. Concluding SSR (as well as any other) reviews in short, 5-7 day, workshops seems difficult to achieve. Such short time frames will not allow for questions being asked to staff or constituencies. Therefore, the preparations for such workshops need to be extremely well thought through and comprehensive. In terms of accountability, it would be necessary for ICANN to undergo stringent and regular security audits with reports being made available so that the SSR review can essentially review those reports instead of conducting their own research. The review team should consider how delays (e.g. slow staff responses) could be dealt with in this case. 

One option might be to include a level of flexibility for this review, wherein the team can decide to conclude after one two or  three F2F meetings, should further investigation be necessary or in case key information is not available. 

We support the suggested changes to the public comment, public input as well as the accountability indicators. We  believe those changes would make the public comments more effective and show better transparency. We strongly believe that a wide, open and inclusive process should be maintained in policy development process especially with input representing the  multi stakeholder environment. Policy development must be transparent, efficient and should not be biased or skewed towards a group.