ICANN Resolutions » Next Steps in Root Server System Governance
Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.
Next Steps in Root Server System Governance
Whereas, the Root Server Operators (RSOs) are critical members of the Internet community and participate in the ICANN community through the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC).
Whereas, the ICANN Bylaws establish the RSSAC with the role to advise the ICANN community and ICANN Board on matters relating to the operation, administration, security, and integrity of the root server system (RSS).
Whereas, the ICANN Board remains committed to evolving RSS governance based on the model outlined in RSSAC037 and principles expanded in RSSAC055 and in accordance with advice in RSSAC038.
Whereas, the ICANN Board convened (Resolution 2019.11.07.42) the RSS Governance Working Group (RSS GWG) to develop a final model of RSS governance and RSO accountability. Through that resolution, the ICANN Board accepted Recommendation 1 from RSSAC038 and noted that evaluation and consideration of Recommendations 2 and 3 from RSSAC038 was ongoing.
Whereas, the ICANN Board supports RSS GWG efforts to achieve consensus outcomes that implement new RSS governance and RSO accountability and is ready to work with the RSS GWG as its proposal evolves.
Whereas, the ICANN Board affirms that it is in the best interest of ICANN that the RSS GWG outcome is supported by the RSS stakeholders.
Whereas, the ICANN Board welcomes the development of success criteria for RSS governance by the RSOs and RSSAC as provided in RSSAC058.
Whereas, the RSS Governance Board Caucus Group has reviewed RSSAC058 and RSSAC059.
Whereas, the RSS Governance Board Caucus Group recommends that the ICANN Board accepts Recommendations 1 and 2 from RSSAC059 and directs the RSS GWG to incorporate the success criteria for RSS governance from RSSAC058 into its work.
Whereas, the RSS Governance Board Caucus Group recommends that the ICANN Board consider Recommendations 3 and 4 from RSSAC059 as part of its ongoing evaluation and consideration of Recommendations 2 and 3 from RSSAC038.
Resolved (2021.11.18.01), the ICANN Board accepts Recommendations 1 and 2 from RSSAC059 and will consider Recommendations 3 and 4 from RSSAC059 as part of its ongoing evaluation and consideration of Recommendations 2 and 3 from RSSAC038.
Resolved (2021.11.18.02), the ICANN Board directs the RSS GWG to incorporate the success criteria for RSS governance from RSSAC058 into its work.
Resolved (2021.11.18.03), the ICANN Board directs the ICANN President and Chief Executive Officer, or his designee(s), to continue supporting the work of the RSS GWG, RSSAC, and RSOs in the spirit of the advice expressed in RSSAC058 and RSSAC059.
In June 2018, RSSAC published its proposed governance model for the RSS and the RSOs in "RSSAC037: A Proposed Governance Model for the DNS Root Server System" (RSSAC037). The RSSAC037 Model calls for five functions to provide governance, accountability, and transparency for the RSS. The RSSAC concurrently published "RSSAC038: RSSAC Advisory on a Proposed Governance Model for the DNS Root Server System" (RSSAC038). In RSSAC038, the RSSAC makes three recommendations for next steps in RSSAC038 to the ICANN Board.
Since then, the ICANN Board, through the ICANN Board Technical Committee, oversaw the development of a "Concept Paper on a Community-Driven Process to Develop a Final Model Based on RSSAC037" (Concept Paper) as part of its consideration of RSSAC037 and RSSAC038. The Concept Paper proposed a model based on RSSAC037. The Concept Paper also outlined a community-driven process to develop a final governance model for the RSS. This is in response to Recommendation 1 from RSSAC038, which calls on the ICANN Board to "initiate a process to produce a final version of the Model for implementation based on RSSAC037". There are three phases in the community-driven process: Design, Consultation, and Implementation. During the implementation phase, there are two tracks: The Root Server System Governance Working Group (RSS GWG) leads the Structural Track to develop a final model, and ICANN org will lead the Administrative Track to plan for implementation of a final model.
The ICANN Board Technical Committee directed ICANN org to develop a draft charter, operating procedures, and work plan for the RSS GWG. RSSAC037; the Concept Paper; and the RSS GWG draft charter, operating procedures, and work plan were available for Public Comment from May to August 2019. ICANN org summarized the nine submissions and proposed next steps to the ICANN Board Technical Committee. The ICANN Board Technical Committee reviewed the Public Comment submissions, amended the charter and operating procedures of the RSS GWG, adjusted the work plan timeline of the RSS GWG, and recommended the convening of the RSS GWG.
RSSAC037; the Concept Paper; and the RSS GWG charter, operating procedures, and work plan provide a starting point for discussions in the ICANN community about evolving RSS governance. By convening the RSS GWG, the ICANN Board completed its consideration of Recommendation 1 from RSSAC038. The ICANN Board continues its evaluation and consideration of Recommendations 2 and 3 from RSSAC038.
As the work of the RSS GWG progressed, the ICANN Board continued to monitor progress. On 10 June 2021, the ICANN Board sent a letter to the RSS GWG Chair thanking the RSS GWG for its ongoing work, and noting the ICANN Board's support for efforts to achieve consensus outcomes to implement RSSAC037 and RSSAC038. In the letter, the ICANN Board noted the importance of the RSS GWG's final recommendations having the support of all RSS stakeholders. The GWG responded to that letter and noted that it was inviting the Root Server Operators (RSOs) to address these concerns. After this engagement with the RSS GWG, the RSOs began their work toward defining success criteria, as now embodied in RSSAC058. The RSS GWG put much of its work on pause pending the RSOs' input and is expected to restart its work in early December 2021.
The ICANN Board is taking this action now in order to facilitate the RSS GWG's work and to provide clarity that the considerations within RSSAC058 are important inputs to the RSS GWG work. The ICANN Board thanks the RSS GWG for its consideration in awaiting this information.
The ICANN Board also notes that the inputs embodied in RSSAC058 and RSSAC059 will be important items for evaluation and consideration of the resulting recommended model for enhanced RSS governance and confirms that Recommendations 3 and 4 from RSSAC059 will be considered as the ICANN Board also considers RSSAC Recommendations 2 and 3 from RSSAC038 at the appropriate time in the future.
RSSAC058 builds on the accumulated work the RSSAC has produced on evolving the governance of the RSS. By incorporating RSSAC058 into the recommendations of RSSAC038 the ICANN Board continues the work it began in November 2019.
Additional Background on RSSAC Work to Evolve RSS Governance
The RSSAC has been actively working on other documentation that supports the evolution of RSS governance. While this action does not impact any of these RSSAC publications, they are described here for additional background:
In May 2019, the RSSAC published RSSAC042: RSSAC Statement on Root Server Operator Independence. RSSAC042 clarifies and provides further information about principle 10 from RSSAC037, which states that "RSOs must be autonomous and independent."
In March 2020, the RSSAC published RSSAC047: RSSAC Advisory on Metrics for the DNS Root Servers and the Root Server System. RSSAC047 defines measurements, metrics, and thresholds that RSOs meet to provide a minimum level of performance. These thresholds and metrics are the RSSAC's input to a yet-to-be defined evaluation process for future RSOs.
In April 2020, the RSSAC published RSSAC049: RSSAC Statement on Joining the Empowered Community. RSSAC049 updates the recommendations in RSSAC038 to state that the RSO community would welcome becoming a member of the ICANN Empowered Community as part of the implementation of the recommendations in RSSAC038.
In July 2021, the RSSAC published RSSAC055: Principles Guiding the Operation of the Public Root Server System. RSSAC055 restates the eleven principles from RSSAC037 and provides further clarification on each.
Also in July 2021, the RSSAC published RSSAC056: RSSAC Advisory on Rogue DNS Root Server Operators. RSSAC056 informs future RSS governance bodies about the types of RSO activity that might be considered rogue and the risks that these activities may pose to the Internet community. RSSAC056 is informed by RSSAC037 and expands on one of the scenarios provided.
Evolving RSS governance is within the ICANN mission of facilitating the coordination of the operation and evolution of the RSS. It is in the public interest because it supports the enhancement and evolution of the DNS. Supporting the evolution of RSS governance contributes to the commitment of ICANN to strengthen the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS.
Evolving RSS governance will result in significant changes, but those cannot be identified or quantified until recommendations are developed. Any budgetary and financial implications will be handled through ICANN processes that ensure accountability and transparency, including public comments as necessary.