[IANAtransition] InternetNZ contribution: DNS responsibilities transition from NTIA to Global Multistakeholder Community

Jordan Carter jordan at internetnz.net.nz
Thu Mar 27 09:57:16 UTC 2014

Dear ICANN staff, dear all:

Please find attached as a PDF, and in text below, suggestions from
InternetNZ regarding the process by which the global multistakeholder
community can prepare a plan for the transition of NTIA's global DNS

We offer these suggestions in the hope they form a constructive
contribution to building a process that can deliver a successful transition

This paper is also available on our website:

We look forward to learning from others' contributions and we urge all to
contribute to this important conversation.

Best regards,

Jordan Carter
Chief Executive, InternetNZ

*Process Suggestions for the Transition of NTIA's Internet DNS
responsibilities to the Global Multistakeholder Community*


This paper[1] <#_ftn1> makes some comments for ICANN and the community to
consider in developing what we are calling a conversation - a conversation
to develop the transition plan the NTIA has asked[2] <#_ftn2> ICANN to
convene a process to deliver. We cover the following topics:

·      the purpose & scope of the conversation

·      the principles that should guide the conversation

·      the process that makes sure the conversation achieves the purpose

·      mechanisms and their roles in the conversation

We submit these comments to ICANN in response to ICANN's request for
suggestions on these matters, asked on Monday 24 March for submission by
Thursday 27 March.

The language ICANN is using in respect of this process must urgently become
more consistent: ICANN is not consulting the community, ICANN is convening
a discussion. The wrong language indicates a mind-set that presumes too
much about ICANN's eventual role. We urge ICANN to rise to the challenge
set before it, and enter into this conversation in a spirit of openness as
to what the final outcome will be.

We also note that at the core of this conversation are the IANA functions.
These are currently being well performed. The challenge is to transition
the roles of the NTIA so all these functions are done at least as well as
they are today, and that the security, stability and resilience of the
global Internet is protected and enhanced.

Finally, we do not argue that the material in this paper is definitive or
beyond reproach. It has been prepared in haste to contribute in a tight
timeframe. We intend it as a constructive contribution to the debate.

Purpose & scope of the conversation

For people and stakeholders to be involved, there needs to be clarity on
the purpose of the conversation. We take it that the purpose is:

To develop a transition plan for the matters set out by the NTIA - the
stewardship of the DNS, broadly expressed - that has buy-in and acceptance
from all key stakeholder groups.

For clarity, we argue that this conversation is not a chance for ICANN to
develop its preferred approach based on its interests, or its own take on
what the NTIA has asked it for.

It is important in this process that the scope of discussion is not
constrained at the outset, whether that is in pursuit of a particular
outcome or to prevent a particular outcome.  The NTIA in their current role
is just one component of an overall system with ICANN, IANA and the RZM as
other components.  This system has existed in a stable fashion for many
years and has matured over time directly as a result of the role undertaken
by the NTIA.

The removal of one component of this system automatically leads to many
questioning whether the residual components on their own can form an
equally stable system or whether those residual components must be
rearranged or even whether new components need to be introduced. This
should all be within scope for the community to consider.

Principles to guide the conversation

This is a complicated transition to give effect to, with a complicated
array of stakeholders - many of which may well change views and change
positions as they learn through the conversation.

The following principles could help guide the sort of open and inclusive
conversation required:

*Multistakeholder:* the conversation has to be multistakeholder. At a high
level it should include all relevant and interested Internet stakeholders.
This does not preclude parts of the conversation being more focused and
involving fewer stakeholders - but it does mean the overall transition
approach that emerges has to have multistakeholder agreement.

*Inclusiveness:* ICANN as facilitator of this conversation must make
available resources to allow for it to be fully inclusive, well beyond the
confines of ICANN's usual community and constituencies, and in partnership
with other stakeholders. ICANN needs to recognise its interest in
particular outcomes, and must therefore take an approach that does not
prejudge the answers the conversation may settle on in its role as convenor.

*Flexibility:* there must a clear understanding that various stakeholders
will evolve and amend their views as they learn about the issue and refine
their views in the course of the conversation. Therefore a considerable
degree of iterative and flexible discussion should feature in the
conversation, so that stakeholders have the chance to learn, think, and
then settle on well-informed and well-considered positions.

*Conflict management:* this is an important subject that will generate a
widely varied response. Those facilitating the conversation need to
understand and accept that conflict will be endemic and is a feature, not a
bug. To help respond to this reality, the conversation must be managed in
an open, welcoming and inclusive way that acknowledges the wide variety of
interests and perspectives at play.

*Transparency:* the conversation should be open and available for anyone to
monitor, participate in and contribute to. This applies even to detailed
areas which various focused discussions are happening around, and even to
stakeholders that might generally take a less-transparent approach. In
particular, ICANN must be very transparent in separating and reporting on
resources used to convene and facilitate the discussion, separate to those
resources used to develop or argue for its own perspective or preferred


We recommend a staged process grounded in the principles above, and with
the purpose and scope we mention. Such a process can be usefully divided
around community decision-making milestones that are required within the
process to achieve its purpose.

We suggest the following stages of the process, each stage culminating in
agreement of the global multi-stakeholder community on that stage. The
phases of the process help to focus what will inevitably be complex
discussions by creating an order for decision-making.

Stages suggested to ensure dialogue and collaboration around community
decision-making are:

·       Stage One: Direction for the transition

·       Stage Two: Action plans

·       Stage Three: Roles and responsibilities in implementation

·       Stage Four: Delivery

The stages of the process require community levels and groups to engage
with each other most at the beginning, in Stage One, to develop a shared
understanding of the direction for the transition.

Subsequent stages progressively allow for the expertise and skills of
certain community levels and groups to take leadership roles in certain
areas with a multistakeholder process which threads together such community
work to ensure in an ongoing way consistent with the direction fleshed out
in the early stages.

Stage One: Direction for the transition

NTIA has called for the creation of a "transition plan". A foundation for
this plan is a clear global stakeholder community vision, an agreed
direction for the transition. This needs to be built around shared
understanding and agreement of the subject matter - what is part of the
transition, and what is not.

Facilitation needs to help stakeholders share and develop understanding of
what change is happening, what the current system is, assumptions and
interests at play, and the different potential directions for the future.
An agreed vision for the future must then be negotiated and agreed by the
global multistakeholder community which will take ownership of the DNS.

This stage of the process is *critical*, and has to occur before functional
allocation or systems design become the focus[3] <#_ftn3>. It must engage
all stakeholders to understand their respective roles, perspectives, and
interests. Conflict and dissatisfaction are to be expected and the
principles of the process are critical to ensure the success of this stage.

In order to come to an agreed direction for the transition, through a
multistakeholder process, the process must draw out and clarify community
perspectives towards a shared understanding of things such as the following
(these are examples, not definitive or exhaustive suggestions of what needs
to be tackled):

   - What change is happening?
      - What functions has the NTIA performed that it wishes to step back
      - What are the expectations and requirements in order for that change
      to happen?

   - What is the current situation?
      - How are the DNS functions related to IANA currently performed
      (including how they relate to each other and what is the role of various
      entities involved)?
      - What is the current system of stewardship for the DNS?
      - What accountability do entities within the system have?

   - What are the options for the system in future that ensure the
   stewardship and performance of the functions which are required to maintain
   the DNS system as well or better than the current system?
      - What are the risks and benefits of different models?
      - Who are the winners/losers of potential models?

These perspectives must be brought together in an iterative process that
allows for feedback and interaction between community levels and groups, to
discuss and negotiate the differences in perspective and interest that are
likely to result in preferences for different models.

Mechanisms in Stage One

All related, relevant and interested community levels and groups should be
encouraged to engage in this process, to develop the most complete
understanding of the change, the current situation and the models possible
for the future.

Open, inclusive processes which allow variation in working methods between
community levels and groups should be encouraged, with ICANN convening and
facilitating a thread of multistakeholder process which brings together the
community to share, discuss and work through the potential models, towards
agreeing a vision for the future.

The experience which ICANN has gained through its processes, running
cross-community working groups and convening many community levels and
groups around issues, should enable them to create a process which is wider
than ICANN to find a new system for the ongoing stewardship of the DNS.

Stage Two: Action Plan(s)

Once there is an agreed vision or direction for the transition, actions
plans will need to be developed through an inclusive and transparent

As part of this phase, the process should facilitate community
collaboration to:

   - assess the current situation against the direction,
   - create options for action, and
   - decide on an action plan(s).

The process for assessing the current situation and options for action
could include community level group work to create action plans for
respective areas of expertise and accountability, to ensure clarity on the
current situation and how to work towards the envisioned outcome.

This stage could use the established multistakeholder facilitation from
Stage One to link community level working groups and which allows
transparent reporting on and brings the action plans together. Through
these, various action plans would be evaluated against the ability to
deliver the vision for the future, through this inclusive, iterative,
multistakeholder process.

Stage Three: Roles and Responsibilities

Once an Action Plan is agreed, roles and responsibilities within the
community can be agreed. This is where the focus of structural and
institutional configurations will need to be discussed and agreed. (Note:
this could perhaps be the second part of Stage Two above.)

Decision Point

At the conclusion of this stage, there should be enough material for the
NTIA to be able to decide whether an acceptable transition is possible or
not. The NTIA may like some parts of the plan and not others, and so a
reconsideration of some elements based on NTIA feedback may also need to
occur at this point.

The following stage only occurs if the transition goes ahead.

Stage Four: Implementation

The last stage of the process is implementation and then the ongoing
evaluation of progress and outcomes against the agreed direction for the


ICANN asked for separate feedback on the mechanisms for the process. These
need to be ascertained in the development of the process set out above.

It is clear that throughout, there will be involvement from the ICANN
Supporting Organisations and Constituencies, from the I* organisations and
other ICANN community regional organisations.

ICANN could usefully prepare a list of other interested stakeholders that
it intends to proactively involve in the conversation, and seek global
community input to address gaps in such a list.

27 March 2014



For further information contact:

Jordan Carter (InternetNZ Chief Executive)

jordan at internetnz.net.nz

Jay Daley (NZ Registry Services Chief Executive)

jay at nzrs.net.nz

Keith Davidson (InternetNZ International Director)

keith at internetnz.net.nz

Debbie Monahan (Domain Name Commissioner)

dnc at dnc.org.nz

Ellen Strickland (InternetNZ Collaboration and Community Lead)

ellen at internetnz.net.nz


[1] <#_ftnref1> Available online at:

[2] <#_ftnref2> See 14 March 2014 media release:

[3] <#_ftnref3> InternetNZ's recent papers on this subject (our NetMundial
content contribution supporting the general direction of the IGP proposal
and a short paper + diagrams setting out some potential structural options
[at https://internetnz.net.nz/content/I2014-03-ICANN-IANA-role-structures])
have been aimed at helping community discussion in the lead up to ICANN49.
We fully expect to be learning from the conversation to come, as we expect
others will too.

Jordan Carter

Chief Executive

04 495 2118 (office) | +64 21 442 649 (mob)
jordan at internetnz.net.nz
Skype: jordancarter

*To promote the Internet's benefits and uses, and protect its potential.*
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