Implementation at the Speed of ICANN

The ICANN Board held an Open Session on WS2 implementation during its most recent meeting on 27 January 2019. The basic goals of the session were to clarify when the Board will make a decision on approving the package of recommendations, on what basis, and how the community will be consulted.

As a reminder, only one of the 112 recommendations put forth in the CCWG-Acc WS2 Final Report pertained to human rights. This was the recommendation that the board adopt the proposed Framework of Interpretation, thereby effecting ICANN’s dormant Human Rights Bylaw.

The WS2 recommendations were sent to the ICANN Board for approval on 8 November 2018. In theory, the Board should make their decision within 6 months. That timeline doesn’t seem to be binding, however, and there are a few things that need to happen first:

  • A small Implementation Team of WS2 Co-Chairs / Rapporteurs will be assembled to assist and provide advice as needed;
  • The Board will convene an internal “Caucus Group” to follow WS2 Implementation and report back on progress; and
  • ICANN Org will produce an Implementation Assessment Report to help Board consider report and feasibility of adopting recommendations as a package.

This Implementation Assessment Report will only provide high-level information on timing, costs, and dependencies to help set expectations. Any tradeoffs that may be needed with other policies, programs, or services will have to be consulted with the ICANN Community, though it’s not yet clear how or when that will happen. Until then, resources for WS2 Implementation have only been allocated as a contingency in ICANN’s draft budget for 2020.

Find more information about CCWG-Acc and WS2 here, and subscribe to our mailing list to receive updates on developments.

- February 2019

DNS Transparency Reporting

Transparency reporting has became a popular practice amongst companies across various industries as a means to “know and show” respect for human rights, as described in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. For companies operating online, shedding light on requests received for content takedown, user data, and ancillary data allows public oversight on decisions that directly impact individuals’ rights, thereby creating a more accountable online ecosystem. Moreover, publicizing data about governmental and third-party requests helps inform policy debates, identify systems that are inefficient or subject to abuse, and reduce misuse of executive power or government institutions.

Yet despite transparency reporting becoming a standard practice amongst major platforms and telcos, this practice not been adopted by Internet Infrastructure providers like registries and registrars. In an attempt to change that, a new DNS Transparency Reporting Initiative was launched within the ICANN community at ICANN62 in June 2018. Stakeholders from civil society, academia, registries, registrars, and security services were involved in the initiative. The outcomes were a short guide enumerating internal procedures and best practices for handling requests and a sample template to facilitate tracking and reporting on how requests are handled.

While the CCWP-HR’s focus remains centred upon harmonizing ICANN’s policies and procedures with internationally recognized human rights, we fully support efforts to promote transparency reporting within the ICANN community and embrace the opportunity to provide resources and a forum for discussions related to making the DNS more accountable and rights-respecting.


- December 2018

ICANN HRIAs at the 2018 IGF

The CCWP-HR and NCUC co-organized a workshop to introduce new HRIA models under development in ICANN to the broader internet governance community during the 2018 IGF, held 12-14 November in Paris. HRIAs are an increasingly popular tool in the private sector to identify salient rights, anticipate negative impacts, and mitigate harm.

In the digital space, it remains challenging to define rights-holders amongst internet users and anticipate impacts as technologies evolve. This was highlighted by many attendees, yet there was broad support for companies and standard-setting bodies to introduce human rights commitments and corresponding due diligence mechanisms. Another recurring theme was the value of bridging the internet governance community with the business and human rights field, the benefits of which were showcased during the session.

One area of divergence related to which subset of rights should be prioritized, e.g. children’s, cultural, or LGBTQI rights. HRIA practitioners provided examples demonstrating that impact assessment methodologies can be tailored to address specific, or various, categories of rights. As a result, participants suggested that such tools can make the subject of human rights more practical and tangible while allowing people with divergent positions to engage constructively.

There was widespread multistakeholder support for organizing a Cross-Community Session on the subject of human rights during ICANN64, which will be held in March 2019. This will be an opportunity to gather feedback on ongoing efforts to design and test impact assessments geared toward ICANN policy development processes. Potentially interested parties suggested were the NCSG, NCUC, and GAC working groups on Public Safety and International Human Rights Law. The initial HRIA model can be found here.


- November 2018