Internet Architecture Board


IAB response to ICANN Evolution and Reform, June 2002

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IAB Response to ICANN Evolution and Reform

June, 2002

The IAB has carefully considered the recommendations made by the Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform in their report
of the 31st May 2002.

There are a number of points the IAB wish to highlight in this response.


1. The Protocol Support Organization

The report notes that "Dr. Lynn’s Report and our Working Papers assume that the PSO would be replaced by a Technical Advisory Committee", and also includes the recommendation that "The Protocol Supporting Organization should be dissolved."

The IAB is in general agreement with this recommendation, as the IAB sees no merit in the continuation of the PSO, as currently chartered.


2. The Provision of Technical Advice to ICANN

The report proposes that a standing committee, called the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), be chartered with the provision of technical advice to ICANN. It notes that the TAC could potentially be the body responsible for directly overseeing the technical operational activities of ICANN. The report also notes a potential alternative to a TAC is the option of seeking advice on an ad hoc basis from relevant technical bodies.

The IAB perceives the potential mix of advisory and operational responsibility roles as being not mutually compatible and would not see such a mix as being in the interests of the integrity of the technical advisory role.

Furthermore, the IAB does not see a Technical Advisory Committee as being a pre-requisite for the provision of technical advice to ICANN. The IAB would like to note that technical issues often require specific expertise to properly address and a standing committee would, by necessity, not be able to bring appropriate levels of expertise to every issue that may be referred to the committee. There is also the weakness of having a technical committee operate under an assumption that differences of perspective should be resolved within the committee, and that a committee would be driven by a need to arrive at a single answer, whereas the issue of evaluating alternate technically feasible solutions often has a significant policy component. The concept of a standing committee exposes these weaknesses, whereas the alternative of using a number of technically focussed organizations and individuals on an ad hoc basis to provide comment upon request should be considered by ICANN. In particular, the IAB is willing to discuss liaisons from the IETF and using the IETF as a nominations pool for technical advisory functions for general Internet naming and numbering

The IAB is willing to engage in a dialogue with ICANN regarding the manner in which the IAB, and the IETF, can provide technical advice to ICANN.


3. ICANN Board Positions

The report proposes a number of ex-officio ICANN position positions, including The Chair (or delegate) of the TAC if established, or if not, the Chair (or delegate) of the IAB.

The IAB has concerns about an organizational structure whereby the IAB directly participates in a process to seat members of the ICANN Board. The IAB has argued, and continues to believe that ICANN should separate technical advice from seating individuals on ICANN’s Board. The IAB believes this is a separate function from providing the ICANN board with necessary technical input, and that other IETF-specific protocol management functions should not be the subject of ICANN Board-level planning.

4. IETF Protocol Parameters

The report references a statement of ICANN’s mission which includes the role of coordination of the allocation and assignment of Protocol port and parameter numbers, as distinct from domain names and IP addresses and Autonomous System numbers.

The IAB notes that this role is undertaken for the IETF as part of the process of implementation of "IANA Considerations" in Internet Standards-track protocol specifications (IETF protocols), as specified in the MoU documented in RFC2860, and is distinct from the ICANN role in the management of domain names and unicast IP addresses. This IETF protocol parameter coordination role is an integral component of the IETF’s Internet Standards function. For this reason the IAB disputes the assertion in the ICANN mission statement that this particular role forms an integral part of ICANN’s mission.

The IAB is deeply concerned that the role of the management of protocol parameter assignments for IETF Internet-Standard protocols is being confounded within the deeper issues concerning the role of ICANN with respect to the operation of the domain name system and with respect to unicast IP address assignment.

This situation is not acceptable to the IAB. The IAB is evaluating the best path forward to maintain the IETF’s protocol parameter coordination.

Leslie Daigle,
for the IAB.