ICANN open forum

12 Nov 2018 10:45h - 11:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

An open session about the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and ICANN’s role in the broader Internet ecosystem, with the goal of engaging with the audience about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – two topics which are at the top of the ICANN agenda, and which have an impact on the wider Internet community.

Ms Theresa Swinehart, ICANN, stated that ICANN has been bringing WHOIS (the system of rgeistration data associated to register domain names) into compliance with the GDPR. In that vein, ICANN has engaged in several rounds of extensive community dialogue and in discussions with European data protection authorities, and has also created a temporary specification. This temporary specification is an adjustment to the contract between ICANN and contracted parties to have publicly and non-publicly available information, to comply with the GDPR, Swinehart explained. This temporary specification has triggered an expedited policy development process in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Swinehart pointed out that the ICANN63 meeting gave the board the liberty to limit or lessen the liability of contracted parties, and explore a possible avenue for unified access that is scalable and which works globally. The board put out a conceptual model based on community input on 20 August.  

Ms Sarah Deutch, ICANN, spoke about one of the issues that resulted from the implementation of the technical specification – the third-party access to non-public registration data. The technical specification requires ICANN’s parties to provide reasonable access to personal data to third parties, based on legitimate interest, as defined in the GDPR. Ultimately, Deutch emphasised, it is up to the community to recommend a model for implementation.  

Mr Goran Marby, ICANN, reiterated ICANN’s neutrality in political matters, but pointed out that ICANN should provide technical help in matters of national legislation. Legislation can make it impossible for people to access the Internet, or connect to other people on the Internet. Marby also pointed out that a balance between transparency of the WHOIS system and the protection of privacy of data should be struck.

Ms Avri Doria, ICANN, briefed the audience about the progress GNSO has made concerning discussions on the new gTLD programme. Gathering issues that appeared in the previous round of the programme, of which there were over 90, lasted a year. The policy development process Working Group has been working through them methodically, in sub-groups and in plenary, and is putting out comment periods – two have already been released and the commitment period on the geographic names issue is expected very soon. One of Doria’s main impressions of community expectations is that stop reviews after a round of new gTLDs should be removed. There are several proposals to what kind of round the next one should be and how long it should last, and also several proposals about the succession of rounds.

Mr Leon Sanchez, ICANN, reiterated that the timing for the new round of gTLDs depends on the input of the community. ICANN has received comments, reviews, and advice from almost every constituency within ICANN, and needs to reconcile different viewpoints before the second round of the new gTLD programme. He acknowledge that not all community members agree whether the next round should happen or not. Sanchez stressed that input from the community is key for the outcomes of the different processes that feed into possible next rounds of gTLDs.


By Andrijana Gavrilović