What Does the ICANN Board Do?
An Analysis of ICANN Board Minutes for the Years 2005 and 2006
Michael Froomkin, Professor of Law, University of Miami
Peter Huy, Class of 2007, University of Miami School of Law
In an effort to identify the skill set that would best serve future Board members, we
conducted a quick and crude analysis of the most visible evidence available of what the ICANN
Board actually does: the ICANN Board meetings. We recognize that this is perhaps not the best
evidence imaginable: much of what the Board does is done in secret, and Board meetings have
been criticized as somewhat scripted. Nevertheless, many Board members reject these critiques,
and even if it were true that meetings are scripted, they remain important events and do
memorialize many of the most important things that ICANN does. Besides, one has to start
ICANN issues minutes following all official meetings of the ICANN Board, which are
posted to the ICANN website. These ICANN minutes follow a form in which each separate
item considered by the Board is identified by a bullet point. Analysis of these minutes provides
some data as to what the Board actually does, information that sheds some light on the skills
needed by ICANN Board members.
Categorization was conducted by Peter Huy, using his best but undoubtedly subjective
judgment. Mr. Huy consulted minute transcripts to help resolve any doubt in cases that could
not be properly categorized based on the information given in the bullet points themselves. Thus,for example, the items in the topic "Other Business" could not be categorized from that
characterization alone as either legal or technical, but some transcripts detail the "Other
Business," allowing it to be categorized.
Each bulleted item listed in ICANN Board minutes held in 2005 and 2006 was coded as
one of four categories:
- Legal. For example, the bullet-pointed issue of "Consideration of proposed sTLD
Agreements and Applications" was categorized as purely legal due to the
overwhelmingly contractual nature of the issue.
- Technical. For example, the bullet-pointed issue of "Single Letter 2d Level Domain
Name Discussion" was categorized as technical. Aside from the information provided in
the bullet-pointed topic, there was no other information available. A single letter
second-level domain name discussion likely would have included the technical
consequences involved in allowing or disallowing a single letter. There is no mention of
agreements, contracts, or policy, accordingly this item was categorized as purely
- Legal and technical. For example, the bullet-pointed issue of "Proposed Guidelines for
Implementation of IDN's, v.2.0" was categorized as mixed legal and technical. Although
this issue mostly concerns the drafting, approval, and execution of guidelines in regards
to international domain names (IDN), there is also a technical element present. Here the
guidelines are contemplating the evolvement of technical standards and a focus of the
revisions is to minimize the abuse of IDNs for deceptive purposes. Although there is no
description in the transcripts as to whether this was accomplished by technical or legal
means, the underlying technical nature of the issue made it seem inappropriate for
characterization as purely legal. Note that items coded in this mixed category were not
double-counted in either the individual legal or technical tallies.
- Administrative, organizational, or otherwise uncategorizable. For example, the
bullet-pointed issue "2006 Nominating Committee Chair Appointment" was categorized
as administrative because the issue affects the structure of ICANN itself and not that of
domain names. Likewise, recurring bullet points of "Thanks and Acknowledgments"
were also listed as administrative since these items are more ceremonial than either legal
|Legal and Technical
In the two-year period studied, pure legal issues outnumbered pure technical issues by a
more than 7:1 ratio. Even counting mixed issues of law and technology as technology issues, the
ratio of legal to substantially non-legal issues was over 5:2.
These data do not weigh issues by their importance, only by their number. We submit,
however, that the legal issues were not only far more numerous but also at least as weighty as the
technical ones. If this is correct, then this analysis suggests that given what the ICANN Board
actually does, legal experience should be seen to be at least as important as technical experience
although the perfect Board member would of course have both.
 http://www.icann.org/minutes (last visited April 20, 2007).
 The minute transcripts are available via links labeled "Minutes" in the far right column of
ICANNs website where the minutes are posted (http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html
 The 2005 minutes are at http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html (last visited April 20,
 The 2006 minutes are at http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2006.html (last visited April 20, 2007).
 Dec. 4, 2005 at ht 5 tp://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html
 Nov. 8, 2005 at http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html
 Nov. 8, 2005 at http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html.
 Dec. 4, 2005 at http://www.icann.org/minutes/index-2005.html.