ICANN Resolutions » Operational Design Phase for System for Standardized Access/Disclosure to Non-Public Registration Data (SSAD)

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Operational Design Phase for System for Standardized Access/Disclosure to Non-Public Registration Data (SSAD)


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 25 Mar 2021
Resolution Number: 
2021.03.25.15 – 2021.03.25.17
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, on 24 September 2020 the GNSO Council voted to approve all of the recommendations in its Final Report on the Expedited Policy Development Process on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data (EPDP) Phase 2.

Whereas, the Board has begun its deliberations to consider whether the recommendations in the EPDP Phase 2 Final Report are in the best interests of ICANN community or ICANN.

Whereas, the Board wishes to utilize the newly developed Operational Design Phase process to assess the recommendations and to gather more information as part of its deliberations.

Whereas, the Board notes that on 5 May 2020 a Discussion Paper: ICANN org Cost Estimate for EPDP Phase 2 Team's Proposed System for Standardized Access/Disclosure was provided to the Expedited Policy Development Process on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data (EPDP) Phase 2 Working Group by ICANN org that included an estimate of the costs associated with the start-up and ongoing operations related to the team's proposed system requirements during the Policy Development Process.

Resolved (2021.03.25.15), the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to proceed with the Operational Design Phase for GNSO Council-approved recommendations (#1-18) from the EPDP Phase 2 Final Report on the System for Standardized Access and Disclosure.

Resolved (2021.03.25.16), the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to conduct the Operational Design Phase by addressing the questions outlined in the System for Standard Access/Disclosure to Non-Public Registration Data Operational Design Phase Scoping Document and that the final Operational Design Assessment be delivered to the Board six months from the date of the Board's request, provided that there are no unforeseen legal or other matters that could affect the timeline. In the event that unforeseen circumstances arise, the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to notify and discuss such with the Board and provide an updated timeline for the appropriate next steps with respect to the Operational Design Assessment.

Resolved (2021.03.25.17), the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to consider the 5 May 2020 ICANN org Cost Estimate Discussion Paper during the Operational Design Phase for GNSO Council-approved recommendations (#1-18) from the EPDP Phase 2 report on the System for Standardized Access and Disclosure.

Rationale for Resolution: 

Why is the Board addressing the issue?

Due to the resource investment and complexity that would likely be required to implement the SSAD-related policy recommendations in a timely and predictable manner, initiating an ODP is essential to inform the Board's deliberations, including whether the recommendations are in the best interests of the ICANN community or ICANN. The ODP work will assess the potential risks, anticipated costs, resource requirements, timelines, and other matters related to implementation of the SSAD-related recommendations. It will also transparently provide the Board with relevant information regarding the recommendations in support of the Board's obligation to act on the GNSO recommendations in accordance with the Bylaws. Additionally, the GNSO Council in its 22 January 2021 letter recommended the Board review the original "cost estimate discussion paper" published by ICANN org on 20 May 2020, and subsequently requested a consultation with the ICANN Board to discuss "whether a further cost-benefit analysis should be conducted before the ICANN Board considers all SSAD-related recommendations for adoption." The initiation of the Operational Design Phase will aid in the Board's consultation with the GNSO Council.

What is the proposal being considered?

The Board is taking action at this time to initiate the ODP and directs ICANN org to prepare an assessment of the operational requirements and impact of the SSAD-related recommendations as per the scope specified by the Board for the purpose of informing the Board's deliberation of the recommendations.

Which stakeholders or others were consulted?

The EPDP Phase 2 Team published its Initial Report on priority 1 recommendations on 7 February 2020 and the Addendum to the Initial Report, covering Priority 2 recommendations, on 26 March 2020. Both the Initial Report and Addendum to the Initial Report were subject to Public Comment Proceedings. The Final Report was delivered to the GNSO Council on 31 July 2020. Minority Statements from stakeholder groups were accepted through 24 August 2020, and all statements received by the deadline were incorporated into the Final Report.

In its 29 October 2020 letter transmitting the EPDP Phase 2 team's recommendations to the Board, the GNSO Council requested a consultation with the ICANN Board regarding recommendations #1-18, which outlines the policy for the SSAD. In its 1 December 2020 letter, the Board "acknowledged the GNSO Council's request for a consultation on the SSAD-related recommendations" and noted its plan to "initiate an Operational Design Phase to assess the operational impact of the GNSO Council-approved consensus recommendations." On 8 February 2021, the Board initiated the public comment forum on the SSAD-related recommendations. The public comment forum is expected to close on 30 March 2021.

Additionally, the ODP is a new process that was developed with community input. The first iteration of the ODP concept was published on 1 October 2020. The community and ICANN org discussed the contents of the concept paper during ICANN69. The second version of the ODP was published on 17 December 2020. The ICANN org conducted a community webinar on 13 January 2021 to facilitate a discussion on the updates provided in the subsequent draft of ODP and to receive additional community feedback.

What concerns or issues were raised by the community?

The community provided extensive feedback regarding the SSAD, including its financial implications. The following concerns were among those shared in public comments and minority statements on the EPDP Phase 2 Final Report, as well as in correspondence received by ICANN org, and in other settings:

The SSAD does not fulfill the needs of the community by providing access to specific accurate non-public data in a timely predictable manner.
The SSAD bears significant operational costs and lacks flexibility to ensure it is suitable.
The SSAD falls short of addressing the security, stability, reliability of the DNS system.
The SSAD includes insufficient mechanisms for evolution.
The SSAD may disrupt a stable, predictable and workable access mechanism for the non-public WHOIS information.
The community also provided feedback during the development of the ODP raising the following concerns:

The ODP could provide an opportunity for stakeholder groups to reopen or revisit policy questions that were already settled during the policy development process.
The ODP would alter the roles and responsibilities of ICANN org and the Implementation Review Team that is formed after the Board has adopted the GNSO council recommendations.
The ODP would modify the role of the GNSO Council as the manager of the Policy Development Process.
What significant materials did the Board review?

The Board reviewed the following materials

The 5 May 2020 cost analysis discussion paper, produced by ICANN org for the EPDP Phase 2 team, which provides an estimate of the costs associated with the start-up and ongoing operations related to the proposed system requirements.
The 24 September 2020 GNSO Council resolution of the EPDP Phase 2 Final report recommendations.
The EPDP Phase 2 Final report, received from the GNSO Council, which includes recommendations #1-18 which addresses the System for Standardized Access and Disclosure (SSAD).
The GNSO Council 29 October 2020 correspondence requesting a Board and GNSO Council consultation prior to the Board's deliberations on the policy recommendations.
The GNSO Council's 22 January 2021 letter recommended the Board review and update the original cost estimate discussion paper along with suggested topics for operational impact assessment.
What factors did the Board find to be significant?

The Board considered factors outlined in the cost estimate analysis and the complexity of the SSAD-related recommendations as they propose a new system for ICANN. The Board understands from the community that there are concerns regarding the financial implications and the cost versus benefit of the SSAD. The Board also understands from potential users of the SSAD in the community that there are concerns that such system be effective for its stated purpose and be widely used. The information collection effort will include consideration of the effectiveness of the SSAD and measures to ensure its broad adoption and use. If the recommendations are approved by the Board, the SSAD is a new system that ICANN org will build and potentially operate. The implementation and operation of the SSAD will require significant investments and resources. Furthermore, data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have significantly impacted ICANN org and WHOIS registration data. It is possible that other laws and legal uncertainties may arise during the ODP period that could also significantly impact ICANN org and WHOIS registration data. Thus, ICANN org needs to ensure that the SSAD is designed in a manner that complies with all laws and supports the DNS globally.

Are there positive or negative community impacts?

ICANN org will incorporate feedback mechanisms such as webinars to communicate with the community on the progress of the ODP thus enhancing the transparency of the Board consideration of the GNSO council-approved policy recommendations. The ODA will also provide further clarity on the policy recommendations, thus will likely reduce the time ICANN org and the Implementation Review Team spend on designing processes during the implementation phase.

Are there fiscal impacts or ramifications on ICANN (strategic plan, operating plan, budget); the community; and/or the public?

This resolution will involve dedicating significant organizational resources to completing the ODP during the time period outlined in the scoping document. The community will be asked to provide feedback throughout this time period.

Are there any security, stability or resiliency issues relating to the DNS?

The ODP will consider the impact the SSAD may have on the security, stability or resiliency of the DNS.

Is this decision in the public interest and within ICANN's mission?

In its evaluation, the Board will explore what, if any, are the public interest considerations within the EPDP Phase 2 recommendations. The mechanism for ascertaining the relevant public interest on a given recommendation will be the global public interest procedural framework that the Board is piloting in FY21. The framework will be used as an evaluative tool only for recommendations with public interest considerations.

Is this either a defined policy process within ICANN's Supporting Organizations or ICANN's Organizational Administrative Function decision requiring public comment or not requiring public comment?

This is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment, but it should be noted that the Final Report of policy recommendations and the ODP framework were the subject of public comment as discussed above. Additionally, the ODP itself is an open and transparent process and it is foreseen that the public will be able to provide comments and feedback throughout the design phase.