[Ssr2-review] FW: Message to the SSR2 Review Team

Denise Michel denisemichel at fb.com
Sat Oct 28 20:27:18 UTC 2017

Emily asked that we pass this on to Team members….

From: Emily Taylor <emily.taylor at oxil.co.uk>
Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 12:09 AM
To: Jennifer Bryce <jennifer.bryce at icann.org>
Cc: Denise Michel <denisemichel at fb.com>, Eric Osterweil <eosterweil at verisign.com>
Subject: Message to the SSR2 Review Team

Dear friends

I was shocked to hear today that the Board has suspended the work of the SSR2 Review Team.  I want you to know that although I stood down in July, I have continued to follow your work closely. It was a privilege to work with you all, and I especially valued the collaborative spirit that Eric, Denise and I established as co-chairs.

I am impressed with the way that the group is starting to make substantive progress, and believe that the LA meeting and the full day in Abu Dhabi have been really productive.

I am sure you will get through this. Please hang in there. You are doing a valuable job on behalf of the ICANN Community and that deserves respect.

FYI - I'm enclosing a copy of a note I sent today to my colleagues on the RrSG.  Please know that I wish you well, and remain supportive of your work. I'm ready to assist in any way.

Best wishes


As you may recall, the RrSG put my name forward to be part of the first Community Review Team under the new bylaws, the Security Stability and Resiliency Review ("SSR2").  I served as Co-Chair along with Denise Michel and Eric Osterweill.  I resigned in July, due to a conflict of interest (I can provide more details if anyone is interested).

I have been informed today that the Board has taken the decision to suspend the SSR2.  I was shocked to hear of this decision.  Having been closely involved in two reviews (the first WHOIS Review Team, which I chaired, and the SSR2) I am aware that these community reviews play an essential part in the accountability of ICANN's Board and the organisation to the global multi-stakeholder community.  The independence of the community reviews is essential in order to fulfil that accountability function.

Skills and experience of the review team.
The independence of the community reviews is recognised in the revised ICANN Bylaws which now give the ICANN community the task of appointing members to these review teams.  If the Board really has concerns with regard to the skills and experience of the SSR2, the proper course is to encourage the ICANN community to identify any perceived gaps and to fill such gaps. However, I'm not aware that such an effort has been made by the Board. From my personal experience, it was a privilege to serve on the SSR2 with a highly qualified, diverse and experienced set of individuals, who like others in the ICANN community give their time as volunteers.  I would especially like to recognise the professionalism, effectiveness and commitment of my co-chairs Eric and Denise.

The scope of the SSR2
The ICANN Bylaws set out the scope of the SSR reviews in some detail, as follows at paragraph 4.6 (c) of the revised Bylaws.  The language of that section expressly requires the SSR reviews to consider:

- implementation of the previous SSR review (SSR1)
- effectiveness of ICANN's security efforts in relation to actual and potential challenges and threats to the security and stability of the DNS
- Whether ICANN's SSR systems and processes are sufficiently robust to meet future challenges and threats to the security, stability and resilience of the DNS
- A requirement to review ICANN's internal and external systems and process, that directly affect and/or are directly affected by the Internet's system of unique identifiers.

The SSR2's Terms of Reference, which I shared with RrSG back in May, are closely modelled on the Bylaws language.  They also contain specific wording to anchor the SSR2's final report and recommendations to ICANN's limited mission and scope.

I've therefore been confused about why the scope has been such a contentious issue for the Board, given that the SSR2's Terms of Reference do little more than parrot the wording of the Bylaws.  Those bylaws require the team to consider issues like DNS security and stability, future threats, ICANN's own internal processes as well as implementation of the first SSR review.

Work rate and progress
My impression of the SSR2's progress is favourable. Although I have not been a member of the team since July, I have kept in close contact and its work remains close to my heart.  It is a small team of volunteers and inevitably - as in any ICANN community group - its members are busy, senior people with many other commitments.  That said, the team has made an impressive start to its work, and in recent weeks has started to find its stride on its substantive work.  I understand that team members were engaged in a productive fact-finding meeting in LA recently, and made extensive, substantive progress in its work at its face-to-face meeting in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

My personal view on the Board's intervention
For the Board now to intervene to suspend the team's work is unwarranted and discourteous, after having team members travel for many hours and at great expense to the ICANN meeting.  If the Board intends to support the independent community review system, this is not the way to do it.   The Board's intervention to suspend an independent review demonstrates that the ICANN organisation is in fact unaccountable to the community, and contemptuous of its volunteers.

I hope that members of the RrSG who are attending the Abu Dhabi meeting will share my concerns, and will make their voices heard to object to the Board's intervention, and insist that the independent community review team be allowed to do their job.


Emily Taylor

CEO, Oxford Information Labs
Associate Fellow, Chatham House; Editor, Journal of Cyber Policy

Magdalen Centre, Oxford OX4 4GA | T: 01865 582885
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