[Rt4-whois] WHOIS Review Team - Briefing

Emily Taylor emily at emilytaylor.eu
Mon Jan 23 11:12:51 UTC 2012

Dear Steve

Thank you for your follow up.

As you say, it's difficult to know how to strike the appropriate balance
between the here and now, and the history.  We were acutely aware that an
entire report could have been done which focused on how we got to where we
are now.  In the end, we felt that as our scope was to look at the extent
to which the current policy and implementation were effective, that we
should allude to the history to the extent necessary, but not make it our
primary focus.  We were fortunate to have members of the WHOIS Review Team
who have lived the history, even if it's only for the past decade or so
(some longer).  I'm sure I speak for the rest of the Review Team in saying,
Steve, that we would value your take on the history of the WHOIS, as one of
the few who have been involved in the Internet's development for the full
40 years. Maybe we could take some time during our call with the Board to
hear from you on this point.

Thank you for confirming that you will organise a response on the mechanics
of the recommendations.  This will be important practical information which
will help in the drafting of the final report.  Thanks also for saying that
you would be open to a more focused session on lessons learned from the AoC
Review processes - perhaps Prague might be the slot for this.

In the meantime, thanks again for your comments and this interaction. All
on the Review Team are looking forward to discussing our draft report - in
form and substance - with you and your Board colleagues.

Kind regards


On 22 January 2012 19:19, Steve Crocker <steve at shinkuro.com> wrote:

On Jan 22, 2012, at 1:52 PM, Emily Taylor wrote:

Dear Steve

Thank you for your recent mail, and for your detailed comments on the draft
report of the WHOIS Review Team.

I will forward your substantive comments on the draft report for
publication, and have cc'd the Review Team so that they have an early view
of them. Your input will receive careful consideration along with the other
public comments.  I will not respond to those substantive comments here,
but look forward to discussing them with you as part of our future
engagement with the Board. You will note that the Review Team has
specifically asked for feedback on who should be tasked with the
recommendations, timeframes and priorities.

Two points:

1. I did not consider my comments to be *substantive* comments in the sense
of agreeing or disagreeing with the facts or conclusions, though I
understand each of us may draw these lines in different places.  Rather, I
was commenting on the quality, i.e. clarity, completeness, etc., of the
report.  I have some thoughts on the substance of the report too, but I
didn't think it was appropriate for me to insert them into the conversation
at this point.

2. I apologize for not clearly understanding you were requesting feedback
on whom should be tasked with the recommendations, timeframes and
priorities.  That will take a bit of work.  I'll get that organized.

I will respond here to the points that you raise about process.  You are
right to focus on it, as it seems to me that the Board has not yet absorbed
the Affirmation of Commitments Reviews into its psyche or planning

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  We take the AoC reviews *very*

I share your view that it is appropriate to take stock at this stage.

You raise concerns about the quality of the AoC Reviews

Apologies if there was a lack of clarity of my part.  My concern about the
quality of reports is not specific to AoC Reviews.  I've been concerned
about this for much longer.  We get reports from many different groups, and
I've developed my concern about quality after seeing quite few reports that
were unclear, incomplete or otherwise not as good as we should expect.

, and seem to suggest that the Board has a role to play in quality control.
I respectfully disagree.  From my perspective, the Affirmation of
Commitments Reviews provide an important accountability mechanism for ICANN
as an organisation, community and Board.  The fact that they are scheduled
to be repeated at regular intervals strengthens their role in evaluating
ICANN's performance over time in key areas.  In that context, the Board has
a role (through the CEO) as co-selector of the Review Team members,
providing input into the Reviews as an interested stakeholder, and
overseeing the implementation of the recommendations.

It is vital for the credibility of the Affirmation of Commitments Reviews
that the Board is not involved in the final editing of the report beyond
providing input with other stakeholders, in an open and transparent manner.
 These are independent reviews, conducted on behalf of the signatories of
the Affirmation of Commitments in the public interest.  They are not Board
outputs.  If the Board decides that the quality of the individuals on a
Review Team is sub-standard (as your reply seems to indicate is your view),
or disagrees with the findings or recommendations, or finds the quality of
the report itself to be poor, these are issues for the Board to raise in
the appropriate manner.  In my view, the most effective way of doing so
would have been for the Board to engage with the Review Team throughout the
process, as others within the ICANN community have done.

If I have misunderstood your intent in this regard, please let me know.

We're in agreement that the Board should not be involved in editing.  We
absolutely don't want to apply any pressure with respect to the content or
judgment embodied in the report.  Equally, we don't have the time or
resources to do detailed editing or provide detailed feedback with respect
to the quality of reports.  But somehow there needs to be some feedback and
review of the quality of reports.

With respect to raising these issues during the process, until the draft
report was available, I'm not sure how we could have commented on the
quality of the report.

With these points in mind, a possible approach might be for the Board to
arrange orientation/training /brainstorming sessions to identify the role
of the Board with respect to the Reviews, and appropriate mechanisms for
the Board to participate in and respond to them. The former chairs of
Review Teams could be involved, as could the NTIA (as the other signatory
of the AoC) or the GAC (as the NTIA's proxy).

I'll be happy to facilitate this.

As for selection of the Review Team members, any issues you have with the
quality of the individuals or distribution of skill-sets you should raise
with your CEO and the Chair of the GAC, who selected us.  I would say,
having had the privilege to lead the WHOIS Review Team over the past year,
that the individuals are of the highest competence, and showed a readiness
both to argue their own corner, and to subsume personal or professional
interests to the public interest in completing our task.  As volunteers,
they also gave generously of their time in an effort to create a timely and
quality output.  In this regard, the early endorsement of our draft report
by both the FTC and Larry Strickling are welcome.

I take no issue with the volunteers who participated on the team.

You particularly asked about our technical expertise.  We were fortunate to
have members of the Review Team who understood the technical issues, the
underlying protocol, and the history of the WHOIS.  We also benefited from
regular interaction with SSAC, in particular Patrik Fältström and Jim
Galvin.  No doubt, if our draft report contains technical errors, they will
continue to guide us with the same patience that they have shown to date.

I think you're referring to my comment that one part of the report seemed
light on the history of whois, which caused me to look at the list of
people on the team and realize how few were technical to note the absence
of people either on the team or referred to in the report who had lived
through the more than forty year development of the whois service.

I don't think this is of the greatest importance since we can look at how
whois operates today and work from where we are, but I would have hoped
that people new to the whois debates would be able to turn to this report
to get a good perspective based on the history and development of issues
related to whois.

Finally, on behalf of the WHOIS Review Team I am grateful for your input,
and look forward to exploring all these issues with you and the Board on
our upcoming call and face to face meeting.





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