ICANN59 - Johannesburg

26 Jun 2017 to 29 Jun 2017
Johannesburg, South Africa

[Update] Read our event reports below, and scroll down for video interviews with David Olive and Mary Wong, Avri Doria and Leon Sanchez (in English and Spanish).


Event report/s:
Nadira Al Araj

The ICANN Board directed the initiation of the Fundamental Bylaws amendment process on 3 February 2017. The proposed Fundamental Bylaws change is to move one of the responsibilities of the Board Governance Committee (BGC) to a new one.  The new board committee will be named the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee.  It will handle ICANN's Reconsideration Request process, a key ICANN accountability mechanism, as deemed appropriate by the Board.


The Reconsideration Request process responsibilities is one of ICANN 's fundamental bylaws which can only be amended if approved by both the ICANN Board and ICANN's Empowered Community (EC). The EC was incorporated in accordance with California law to legally enforce community powers, following the transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions stewardship.

The proposed fundamental bylaw change was approved by the ICANN Board on 18 May 2017 after the public comment period. The next step as mandated by the bylaws will be for the EC to consider whether it supports the proposed change.  The EC consists of five decisional members: Address Supporting Organization (ASO), County Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), and Government Advisory Committee (GAC).

The Community Forum at the ICANN59 policy meeting was the first to be held in an ICANN meeting.  In consolidation of their position and follow-up as members of the EC, GAC scheduled two sessions in an attempt to finalise the GAC principles and procedures for exercising this role.

In both sessions, GAC member discussions focused on the briefing paper that was initiated at ICANN55 and discussed in depth at ICANN58.  It includes the following GAC principles and procedures. During the two sessions, GAC agreed to consider them as an interim procedure to be finalised by the ICANN60 meeting in Abu Dhabi.  

1. GAC Chair to continue to represent GAC in the EC administration

There was agreement that Thomas Schneider, the current GAC Chair, would continue as the representative in the EC for the ICANN59 Community Forum. It was emphasised that anyone taking this role is acting as a messenger to convey the GAC decisions and vice versa, on issues such as the fundamental bylaws amendment, at the EC.

Other points that were raised on this point and kept for later discussions were about the length or duration of this role. And it was said that it is important whoever takes this role be an informed member and the expectations of this role should be documented in writing. A suggestion of involving more members at the EC level in addition to the GAC Chair was raised due to the intersessionally issues.

2. Proposed Principles for GAC participation in the EC

GAC agreed to test drive the following as interim principles for this instance until further discussion and adoption by the Abu Dhabi meeting:

  • Due to the novelty of this process, adopt a flexible approach and make changes as necessary.
  • Engage in issues of any potential public policy impact.
  • Participate in early stages with a view to assisting resolution of the issue at hand wherever possible.
  • Approach each case on its merits.

Regarding the expected decisional role of GAC operation in the EC, GAC still needs to put in place specific procedures for exercising its rights and obligations in the EC. And it also has to decide a mechanism for supporting or declining petitions at the Community Forum platform.  

3. Application of principles to the Community Forum on proposed changes to fundamental bylaws

It was agreed that GAC must have active participation at the EC from the early stages to avoid escalation of a particular issue. GAC members need to make their voice heard.  Adopting a flexible approach was advised, given the untested nature of the EC. 

4. GAC Procedures for engagement in stages 1, 2, and 3 of the escalation process

The GAC Secretariat will keep the community informed of any developments at the EC, given the fact that e-mails, correspondence, and EC deliberations are now open. Active participation is desirable to avoid escalation, and allow some flexibility. Draft responses will be prepared by GAC leadership for GAC to adopt one of the positions available under the bylaws: support approval, or reject approval, or abstain. Such decisions will normally be provided in written procedures at per GAC practices.  For example, if three or more GAC members object, then a full GAC discussion will be needed by  teleconference or face-to-face meeting within given timeframes.

On how to agree on a position for EC discussions, there was a suggestion to follow the rule of simple majority, as participation in the EC does not constitute GAC advice.  The reasoning for such a suggestion was that using a GAC consensus decision within a GAC position at the EC level would complicate the process, because any formal objection would trigger a full GAC discussion.  If a consensus position is not possible, then GAC will abstain from the exercise of the power in question.

GAC must decide on its final position about the fundamental bylaw amendment within 21 days of the end of the ICANN59 meeting.

5. GAC procedures for engagement in stage 4 of the escalation process. Proposed for agreement by GAC at ICANN60.

It was agreed to continue the GAC discussions and work towards finalising its procedures for stage 4 by the end of ICANN60 in Abu Dhabi.

6. GAC advice to the ICANN Board. Proposed for agreement by GAC at ICANN60.

At their two previous meetings, in Hyderabad and Copenhagen, GAC members started discussing whether and how the GAC should adopt procedures for preparing three possible types of advice to the Board: GAC consensus advice (fulfilling the requirements in the new ICANN bylaws for consensus advice being adopted with no formal objection, and which should be duly taken into account by the Board, and may only be rejected by a vote of no less than 60% of the Board; in case of rejection, the Boar would have to engage with the GAC and try to find a mutually acceptable solution); GAC advice (may receive one or more formal objections, but shall still be duly taken into account by the Board; if the Board takes action inconsistent with GAC advice, it should states the reasons for doing so); and conveying a range of views to the Board (as per GAC Operating Principles).

GAC members will continue discussions on finalising a position on the procedures for preparing different categories of advice by the end of the ICANN60 meeting.

The second session ended with an agreement to continue discussions by e-mail to determine the GAC position on the change to the fundamental bylaws within the given 21 days and formulate GAC participation procedures at the EC by the Abu Dhabi ICANN60 meeting.

Amrita Choudhury

At the meeting of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) with the ICANN Board during ICANN59, the topics discussed included an update on the new Board process for considering and processing GAC advice, ICANN document handling, two-character country and territory codes at the second level, the Board’s response to GAC advice on international governmental organisations (IGOs) protections, and the mitigation of domain name abuse, among others.

On the issue of mitigating domain name abuse, Ms Cathrin Bauer-Bulst (Deputy Head of Unit, Fight Against Cybercrime, Belgium) thanked Mr Göran Marby (CEO, ICANN) for initiating a dialogue on abuse mitigation measures between the GAC, the GAC Public Safety Working Group and the CEO.

Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair) raised concerns over the handling of the existing ICANN document, and the need for following minimum standards to track important information, which include details about the author of the document, its purpose, the address and status. Mr Markus Kummer (ICANN Board Member) responded by saying that initiatives are currently underway to improve the internal processes handled by the Board, while making them more traceable, as well as to develop a new document management system within ICANN. Marby stated that ICANN is exploring modalities to support fact-based discussions within the GAC, as well as between the GAC and the Board. It was also said that efforts are made for the GAC to receive Board responses on its advice earlier, thus avoiding having such responses sent shortly before an ICANN meeting.

To a question raised by the GAC Chair on how the GAC can add value to the annual Global Domains Division (GDD) Summit, and contribute to policy discussion, Marby clarified that the event is not for policy-making, and that ICANN was merely facilitating the meeting and was not responsible for preparing the agenda. Mr Akram Atallah (President, GDD, ICANN ) equated it to the intersessional sessions of contracted parties, and not an event for policies. In response, the GAC representative from Argentina raised the question of geographic name discussions during the GDD, where the GAC could have added value. Marby responded by saying that some cross-community dialogue or exchange of information should be possible.

Ms Lousewies van der Laan (ICANN Board) emphasised the importance of continued dialogue between the GAC and the Board.

Bulst raised the issue of how ICANN was planning to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), since the Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services (RDS) Policy Development Process (PDP) would not be ready by the entry into force of the regulation. Marby emphasised the importance of the GAC's input on issues related to ICANN’s compliance with privacy and data protection law, within the context of the public interest. Burr said that in order to help meet the compliance requirements, ICANN has created several processes, including a GDPR Compliance Consultation Group, and the Next-Generation gTLD RDS PDP, where GAC input would be welcome.

On the issue of IGO protection, Switzerland urged the Board to advise the Working Group on IGO-INGO Access to Curative Rights Protection Mechanisms to take into consideration the inputs shared by the GAC, especially through the Copenhagen GAC Communiqué. The GAC also expressed concerns over the fact that the Board response to the committee’s Copenhagen Communiqué does not adequately addressed issues raised by governments. Marby responded by saying that the Board would support a dialogue and that the PDP process had noted the comments of the GAC.

Brazil raised the issue of the two-character country code and the need to discuss and understand the next steps. He further suggested setting up a task force with members from the GAC, the ICANN Board and other groups.

Iran expressed concerns over allowing two-character country codes at second level in gTLDd without the consent of governments, and changing the 60 day time limit for governments to respond to an application of the two-character country code, and requested for it to be continued on an interim basis. Atallah pointed out that even in the 2012 new gTLD round, there were options for applicants to either get consent from the GAC or implement mitigation measures, and that this option was still available.

Marby suggested creating a task force, comprising of the GAC chair and a few countries, to figure out how information flow can be improved.

South Africa commented that there should be more capacity building in underserved areas related to issues such as the two-character country codes.

Bonface Witaba

The session facilitator, Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair), invited Mr Tom Dale (GAC Secretariat member) to kick-start the discussions. Dale highlighted a number of issues discussed in the New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group (WG), that are of relevance to the GAC.

These include the questions of whether accepting new gTLD applications should be done in the framework of a new round, or whether they should be accepted on an on-going basis, and whether gTLD applications should be dealt with in different categories (something he said the GAC had previously considered in its Nairobi communiqué). He added that the predictability framework and community engagement in the PDP process, safeguards and the term ‘global public interest’, community-based applications, underserved regions, and geographic names were other issues of concern to the GAC. Dale noted that these issues are dealt with in track 4 of the PDP WG, and that the engagement of GAC members in these WG processes varies. In terms of modalities for a more effective GAC engagement in the PDP process, suggestions included reviewing the current GAC topic leads approach, to make sure that emerging issues are tackled, and finding a way for GAC members to engage with the PDP WG in face-to-face meetings, which usually clash with GAC sessions.

Schneider then invited the GAC member country representatives to comment.

Iran thanked Dale or the briefing, saying that it was useful for those that had no time to attend or read about the four tracks of discussions in the PDP WG.
There are several important issues for the GAC to review, such as the option of having rounds of new gTLD applications versus the first come first served approach for allocating new gTLDs. Iran noted that it would be useful for the GAC to develop a view on the advantages and disadvantages of a first come first served approach. It is up to the GAC members to decide how the GAC could most effectively participate in the PDP WG, but such participation should be encouraged.

The UK noted that there is a challenge for GAC members to engage in the large amount of work carried out in the PDP WG framework. The representative sought to know whether there was a forward looking timetable outlining specific issues cropping up in the PDP WG's work.

Such a mapping of issues discussed in the PDP WG and a related timetable, would help identify who in the GAC would be the most capable of engaging in that respective track of work and reporting back to the GAC. This could contribute to enhancing the GAC's involvement in the PDP WG's work.

In his response to the UK’s question, Mr Jeff Neuman (GNSO Council Vice Chair) affirmed that there was a calendar that the PDP WG maintained.
He said that this calendar helped the community map topics under discussion, and at what time they were being discussed. Neuman said that it would be useful if the WG were to share this calendar with the GAC community.

Neuman also touched on the issue of Community-Based Applications (CBAs), and said that there have been discussions on the topic in the WG, and that one area where the GAC could provide useful input is in relation to the value of having CBAs. He noted that it would be important to remind everyone why there was value initially placed on CBAs and on making sure that communities have an opportunity to have a TLD that is right for them. He suggested that the GAC could compile all its previous input on the value of CBAs in a document that could then be shared with the WG.

The UK followed up on the CBAs discussion, saying that he could work on a paper outlining the criticalities of the issue and the conceptual rationale, as well as previous GAC positions.

Switzerland expressed its view on the issue of how the GAC could organise itself better to be able to more effectively participate in the WG saying that it would make sense to try to build something on the current approach of having GAC topic leads. This, however, would require co-ordination from the GAC leadership to keep the idea going .Switzerland noted that it would be useful if the WG members or staff were to engage pro-actively with the GAC. For example, GAC members have contributed to community comments processes, but cannot constantly follow what has happened with those comments. So it would be useful to have feedback from the PDP WG on the input submitted by GAC members.  Also, when the WG discusses questions affecting the GAC, it would be useful to have short and clear communications from the WG asking for GAC feedback on specific questions. This would allow GAC members to prepare compilations with feedback on those questions, or even consensus positions.

South Africa echoed Switzerland’s sentiments regarding the challenges faced by GAC representatives. It also pointed out that in some countries, there are communities which are well aware of Internet related issues, but that this is not always the case when it comes to developing countries, especially in the global south. The representative raised the question of whether the WG is considering a broad based outreach strategy that would ensure there was no biasness towards a particular region when it comes to providing input into the PDP.

Indonesia urged that not only global public interests, but also country interests, be taken into consideration by the community in the PDP. For example, global interests and country interests should both be taken into account when addressing issues such as the use of two-letter country codes and geographic names in the domain name system.

On the issue of geographic names, Switzerland noted that it would be useful to look at the 2012 new gTLD Applicant Guidebook provisions and evaluate what has worked, what has not, and where there is room for improvement. Only after knowing the implementation details will the community be able to enter into a discussion on what the solutions for resolving the remaining issues could be.

The Netherlands said that they believe that providing an updated GAC position on geographic names (having the previously adopted GAC principles updated with advice governments have provided over the past few years) – that the GNSO could relate to when making proposals – could help reduce some of the conflicts in the PDP.

Amrita Choudhury

Mr Chuck Gomes (Chair, Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services (RDS) Policy Development Process (PDP)Working Group) gave a brief introduction to the next generation RDS PDP process, defining the purpose as collecting, maintaining, and providing access to generic top-level domain (gTLD) name registration data and considering safeguards for protecting the data.

He also described the three phases involved in this process: phase one, examining all requirements for gTLD registration data and directory services at a high level; phase two, developing detailed policies to satisfy those requirements; and phase three, creating any necessary implementation and coexistence guidance. He said that they were tasked on trying to reach consensus on what are the fundamental requirements for gTLD registration data. They are supposed to consider: users and purposes and associated access, accuracy, data elements, and privacy requirements. Fundamental question to be answered by ICANN60: is a new policy framework and Next-Generation RDS needed to address the requirements that they are developing? If yes, what cross-cutting requirements must any next-generation RDS address, including coexistence, system model, and cost, benefit, and risk analysis requirement? If not, does the current WHOIS policy framework sufficiently address these requirements? If not, what revisions are recommended to the current WHOIS policy framework to do so?

Dr Jin Galvin (Afilias and Vice-chair Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)) gave an overview of the draft statement of purpose which includes collecting, maintaining, and providing access to data. He noted that consensus had been reached by the working group on four specific purposes for registration data and RDS, which include, among others, the purpose to provide information about the lifecycle of a domain name and its resolution on the Internet.

Mr Rod Rasmussen (member, SSAC) explained that other purposes of the RDS was to facilitate dissemination of gTLD registration data of record, such as domain names and their domain contacts and name servers, identify domain contacts, and facilitate communication with domains contacts associated with gTLD names. He stated that the purpose of gTLD registration data in the RDS will be defined later in this PDP.

There were questions raised on the need for this exercise.

Responding to questions on the accuracy and relevance of the data published currently in WHOIS and whether there was a discussion of elements of data being collected to bridge the gap, Gomes noted that currently the focus was on thin data, or Minimum Public Data Set (data sufficient to identify the sponsoring registrar, status of registration, creation and expiration dates for each registration, name server data, the last time the record was updates in its WHOIS data store, and the URL for the registrar’s WHOIS service) and that the thick data of people and its administration was not under discussion.

Two questions were raised:  How does this address the basic EU data protection criteria and how will protection of the data based on the four parameters raised in the statement of purpose be addressed. Further, if the four parameters are used by people, how can they be protected from phishing, malware, etc. The need to include consumer protection and public safety from domain name abuse into the statement of purpose was emphasised. A respondent also pointed that there was no consensus of what items should be in the statements.

The issue of anti-abuse of registration data was also raised along with a question on how to  include public interest in the definition of accountability of data processing, privacy, and data protection.

On the review and discussion of preliminary agreements reached in relation to gated access to registration data, the deliberation was on what steps are needed to control access to gTLD registration data in the Minimum Public Data Set. Should gTLD registration data in the Minimum Public Data Set be public or should access be controlled. During the discussion, it was shared that per the draft working group agreement (no. 20), gTLD registration data must be accessible without requester identification, authentication, or stated purpose and there should be no policy that prevents RDS operators from applying operational controls, such as rate limiting and Captcha, provided they do not unreasonably restrict legitimate access (no. 21). There was also a discussion on what guiding principles should be applied to Minimum Public Data Set access.

On the issue of review and discussion of Preliminary Agreements reached in relation to privacy, there were discussions on what gTLD registration data in the Minimum Public Data Set should be collected, stored, and disclosed. The working group is now pursuing independent legal analysis to inform its deliberation on key concepts for data protection and privacy. There were questions raised on the words used in the document, on the existing gTLD RDS policy, and on lack of discussion on free speech.

A face-to-face meeting on 28 June will consider the cross-community session inputs to deliberate on key concepts for elements that go beyond the Minimum Public Data Set, along with the additional goals.

Sarah Kiden

The Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), two advisory committees in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) structure met during the ICANN59 meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on 27 June 2017.

The main areas of focus were:

  1. Ways to make GAC/ALAC cooperation more concrete.
  2. New approaches to the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) procedures.
  3. Underserved regions.

Mr Thomas Schneider (Chair, GAC) chaired the session, with input from Mr Yrjö Länsipuro (ALAC liason to GAC), Mr Alan Greenberg (Chair, ALAC) and other GAC representatives and ALAC members.  

Greenberg informed participants that ALAC always receives requests for collaborative projects between ALAC and GAC. He then invited GAC representation at the different At-Large conference calls and working groups, like that on the new gTLDs process, which had become defunct but needs to be reactivated. Schneider informed participants that even with the key barrier of time, GAC is willing to participate in different policy issues. A main concern raised by some GAC members is the numerous e-mails on mailing lists and so much information, making keeping up with discussions hard. Lansipuro then invited leads and members from both groups to suggest ideas to strengthen participation, especially during physical ICANN meetings.

Regarding gTLD procedures, Greenberg informed participants that ALAC was active in the Policy Development Process (PDP), on some occasions contributing to developing applicant guidebooks and giving pointed comments. He added that the new round of the PDP is a much more open process, so it might be difficult for more people to be active. Schneider commented that time and resources need to be dedicated so that there is significant participation.

On the issue of human rights, Mr Mark Carvell (UK representative on the GAC) introduced other co-chairs of the Human Rights and International Law (HRIL) working group: Ms Milagros Castañon (Peru) and Mr Jorge Cancio (Switzerland). The objectives of the group are to consider any appropriate steps that ICANN can take to ensure that its coordination of the domain name system (DNS) is managed in a manner which respects human rights and relevant international law, to cooperate with ICANN’s Advisory Committees (ACs), Supporting Organisations (SOs), and communities. He referred to the cross-community working group on ICANN’s corporate social responsibility to respect human rights, and participate in ICANN work steams, policies, and studies to promote a shared understanding of human rights and international law.

Generally, representatives from different countries and other attendees agreed that participating in the PDP was difficult for different groups/people but is an important step in developing Internet policy. Sometimes, inviting or calling for input in the later stages of policy development may make some participants feel they lack legitimacy, and therefore can hardly influence policy. One GAC representative reminded participants that ICANN employs a multistakeholder approach – this means different stakeholders participate fully in its roles and responsibilities. Participants asked to receive information in advance, and in a summarised format to allow full participation. 

Arsene Tungali

The purpose of this session was for the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) to receive updates from the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) about a number of issues.

The session was moderated by Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair), who started by welcoming GAC members, especially new ones who have just joined the group. He then presented the two main points on the agenda, namely, an update on the ccNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) on retirement and review mechanisms of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs); and an update on the activities of the Cross-Community Working Group (CCWG) on the use of country and territory names as TLDs.

Ms Katrina Sataki (ccNSO Chair) introduces Ms Annebeth Lange, co-chair on the Cross- Community Working Group on the use of country and territory names, and Mr Bart Boswinkel, Senior Director, ccNSO Policy Development Support, ICANN).

Regarding the first item on the agenda, Boswinkel reported that the issue is now up for public comments. He also said that the working group (WG) on ccTLDs retirement and review mechanisms is still welcoming comments from GAC members who think the topic is relevant, until 10 July. On that point, Schneider responded that they have tried to gather comments but since there was not enough substance gathered, they have not submitted them. He wanted to assure the WG that the GAC takes this issue very seriously. Schneider assured them that the GAC will produce more comments with substance in the near future, before the deadline.

Boswinkel mentioned that there was an upcoming meeting of the WG and that everyone interested in further discussion is welcome. The subjects under discussion will be the workings and definitions used under the ISO 3166 standard and the role of the maintenance agency, and how the Public Technical Identifiers (PTI) – the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions operator – treats ccTLD retirements, and the practice and procedures they use with respect to ccTLDs.

Lange presented the second item on the agenda – the use of country and territory names as TLDs, and gave an update on the CCWG activities.

Lange gave a short background to the newcomers. She said that the working group was formed in March 2014 as a result of the study group on country and territory names that had worked before. She pointed out the number of years spent on work without any real consensus from their discussions. The latest report was published for comments in February 2017 but not many comments have been received so far.

Lange said that few voices in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) want to open two letters that are not country codes today (allowing their registration as generic top-level domains (gTLDs)), but that there is broad agreement on reserving those codes for countries that may be formed in the future in the world.

In her remarks, Lange called everyone to make more comments during the public forum because there are difficult geographical questions that still need to be solved despite there being no real consensus on the issue so far. Another solution, she said, would be to establish a new CCWG on this, but she thinks that this would be difficult. She hopes that during the policy forum, many questions will be asked and that they will come up with a solution that will make countries, the ccNSO, and the GNSO happy.

Lange said that people want more restriction because there were a lot of geographic names that were not covered in the applicant guidebook in the first round, which was a problem for some countries. Regarding the guidebook, Sataki thought it was still a useful tool because it took years to put together, and it should not be fixed because it is not yet broken.

Schneider thanked the ccNSO for the updates on the work they have been doing on the issue of geographical names, and the use of territory and country names as TLDs. 

Mamadou Lo

In this session, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) discussed different topics related to the Work Stream 2 (WS2) of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG Accountability). The session was moderated by Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair).

Mr Thomas Rickert (CCWG co-chair) began by giving an update on the state in which the work of the various CCWG sub-groups was in. He said that the public consultations launched by the sub-groups on transparency, good faith conduct, and supporting organisations/advisory committees’ accountability are already closed, while the sub-group on human rights is still looking for public comments. The public comments period for sub-groups working on staff accountability, jurisdiction, diversity, review of the Cooperative Engagement Process (CEP), and Ombudsman are to be determined. 

When it comes to the jurisdiction sub-group, Rickert mentioned that there are two issues that keep coming up in sub-group discussions: relocating ICANN from California to a new jurisdiction, and providing total immunity to ICANN. As these issues have lead to disruptions in the sub-group, the CCWG co-chairs have analysed the discussions and tried to determine whether these points had enough traction to stand a chance of becoming consensus positions at some point. The co-chairs found that the vast majority of group members (as well as the communities they represented) were not in favour of further analysing the issue of moving ICANN to a new jurisdiction, and were against the idea of full immunity. In conclusion, they have advised the sub-group that there could never be consensus within the group on any recommendations to change ICANN's location or to seek full immunity. He said that this does not rule out the possibility of the group considering any other jurisdiction-related issues or addressing partial immunity as a potential solution if there are no other viable alternatives. He stated that the group should work within the existing setup with ICANN being a nonprofit organisation based in California, and look for responses or remedies within this legal context. The subgroup should resume work after ICANN59, once the CCWG plenary has considered the co-chairs conclusion.

Rickert also talked about the fact that the CCWG has asked for an extension to have one more year to continue its work. The request was approved by the ICANN Board during the ICANN59 meeting. However, the extension does not mean an increase in the budget allocated to the CCWG, as there are still funds left from the initial phase.

Regarding the approval process for the WS2 recommendations, Rickert said that it is a complex process, involving multiple layers: reaching an agreement on individual recommendations in the sub-teams, having the sub-teams recommendations approved in the CCWG plenary, conducting public consultations on the agreements, and, finally, putting together the full package of recommendations. At this final stage, the CCWG will only look at inconsistencies between recommendations, and not re-open discussions on individual recommendations.

Russia also pointed out the importance of considering the issue of jurisdiction, and mentioned that the question of OFAC sanctions (sanctions imposed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control) – which has been raised in CCWG discussions – should be seriously considered, as a potential risk to the stability of the Internet worldwide. In Russia’s view, this directly interacts with the issue of the interpretation of California law, and the immunity mechanism could somehow help avoid possible problems. Such issues should be analysed in detail, and it would be regrettable if they were not addressed at this point.

China echoed the point made by Russia, and said that the issue of jurisdiction is a critical one, which relates to the legitimacy of ICANN as an international institution, as well as to the globalisation of ICANN.  

Iran said that the CCWG co-chairs have a very optimistic view of the state of jurisdiction within ICANN. He said that the issue of jurisdiction is not in good shape and the question of limited immunity needs to be discussed thoroughly.

Brazil said that it has agreed with the proposal made by the CCWG co-chairs as a way to move ahead with the discussions in the group. It is a pragmatic approach in the light of the deadlock reached in the group. However, for Brazil it would not be legitimate to participate in the context of an organisation in which any dispute settlement could be forwarded to a national court without the country’s agreement. It is still feasible for the jurisdiction subgroup to explore ways in which the dispute settlement mechanisms within ICANN could have a carve-out from the by-default regime, so that in cases of dispute settlements that have a direct bearing to national interest, they are not automatically addressed by US courts, but guided by rules agreed upon by everyone involved.

South Africa said that jurisdiction is key for overall ICANN accountability, and that the CCWG Accountability WS2 needs to pay attention to that. Sovereignty is key in the discussions on jurisdiction: when issues of national interest are discussed within ICANN, countries want to be able to refer back to their own laws, rather than being propelled into a situation where they have no choice other than to resort to the laws of another country.

Rickert said that it is not the case of discussions on jurisdiction or further debates on finding practical solutions being suppressed. Jurisdiction is a multi-layered term, and the place of the incorporation of ICANN is only one aspect. The group can still look at issues such as which country’s law contracts should they govern by and how should dispute resolution work. He said that these discussions will continue and have to continue, explaining that the community has to try to address the current issues under Californian law, and only where problems are encountered, try to find appropriate responses.  

To conclude, Scheinder said that dealing with issues on jurisdiction is not easy and that the community is aware of the importance of the CCWG Accountability WS2's work.

Arsene Tungali

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) welcomed the Generic Names Supporting organization (GNSO) Council to discuss a number of issues. The first topic dealt with was regarding the developments  on the Red Cross/Red Crescent protection and international governmental organisations (IGOs) names protection.

Mr James Bladel (GNSO Council Chair) reported that the GNSO in co-operation with the GAC and the Board has executed a section of their procedures, called 'Section 16'. Generally, what this means is a review of GNSO recommendations. They have reconvened the working group to examine one or two recommendations to consider issues raised during their facilitated discussions. Bladel said that the they are putting together a working plan and that they are expected to deliver some guidance by the next ICANN meeting in Abu Dhabi later this year. He also spoke about the reconvened Policy Development Process (PDP). Bladel shared their concern of whether or not membership should stick to the original roster of participants or whether a new PDP should be opened up to all interested parties.

Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair), took the floor and congratulated the GNSO for their willingness to open up the discussions on this topic and be pragmatic and inclusive. This, he believes, is one of the keys to success in instances like this.

Another important item discussed during the meeting was an update on PDPs currently under discussion at the GNSO level and the level of participation from GAC members.  Bladel shared four ongoing PDPs with the GAC members:

  • The PDP on Access to Curative Rights.
  • The PDP on the Next Generation Registration Directory Services (RDS), which was meeting that same day and would have a cross-community discussion on Monday. Bladel said that there have been some GAC involvement in this PDP.
  • The PDP on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures, currently addressing issues such as geographical names and their use and application.
  • The PDP on Review of Rights Protection Mechanisms in all gTLDs. Bladel said that the first phase of this PDP is currently focusing on Trademarks Clearinghouse and its Sunrise period. He believes that the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) issue is in there as well. Bladel said that he had little information about the level of participation from GAC members in this discussion; however, he said that it is still possible and the process is still open for more engagement.

During the Q&A session led by Schneider, members of the GAC called on each other for more participation, such as in responding to public comments, and involvement in the PDPs.

On a side note, a GAC member made a comment saying that one of the actions marked as having been completed is the consultation between the GAC secretariat, the outgoing and incoming GNSO liaison to the GAC, and relevant support from staff. She wondered whether a report on this has been shared and asked for clarification on the matter. Schneider responded that there has been no comment from GAC members so far, but he encouraged the GAC member to open or to review the comment, if interested.

At the end of the discussion, Schneider commented on the effectiveness of the GAC participation in some PDPs. He said that the GAC is supposed to give advice to the Board but that there is a problem in the fact that their comments are coming in late most of the time. He encouraged GAC members to do their best to engage as early as they can in various processes. Schneider said that one of the ways to achieve this was to reduce the number of simultaneous ongoing projects, with which some members agreed.

Amrita Choudhury

Two cross community discussion sessions (27 June and 29 June 2017) were organised at ICANN59. The objective of the sessions was to discuss the subject of geographic names at the top-level of the Domain Name System (DNS), an area where there are divergent views amongst the community members.

During the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program, country or territory names as defined in the Applicant Guidebook (AGB), were not permitted. Certain other geographic names, as defined in the guidebook were permitted when accompanied by supporting documentation. There are currently several efforts underway that are separately looking at how geographic names should be handled in the future, focusing on different aspects of the topic. The New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group (WG) is seeking to facilitate a community-wide dialogue that allows for the community to collaborate, understand the various needs, and to consider and debate proposals to address geographic names at the top-level in future gTLD procedures. The goal of the session was to work collaboratively with the community to develop a consensus-driven compromise solution.

The first session was moderated by Mr David Fairman (Managing Director, Consensus Building Institute), who initiated the discussion by providing an introduction to geographic names at the top-level. Ms Avri Doria (New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP WG co-chair) shared the brief history of the gTLD process, the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Group, the parallel efforts undertaken to seek and consolidate views of community members, along with the key criteria to be considered. Fairman then provided a summary of issues and stakeholder perspectives, such as concerns for governments to protect national identity, avoid confusion, maintain consent/non objection, avoiding confusion with ccTLDs, geographic TLDs, the availability of geographic names, positive relationships with governments, clear, fair, predictable, and timely decision making, etc.

Mr Jeff Neuman (Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council Chair, PDP WG co-chair) shared the need to arrive at a compromise on the divergent views and the changes in the strawperson proposal. He spoke about the Repository of Geographical names (RGN) and the various scenarios possible.

Mr Thomas Schneider (Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Chair) shared the GAC's concerns over the new gTLDs and said that geographic names should be avoided unless in agreement with the relevant governments.

Responding to a question on the primary strengths of the stawperson proposal, Neumann responded that GeoPic offers flexibility and certainty, and draws engagement and serves as a good basis for discussion.

There were concerns raised by governments on predictable rules, the need for more clarity around the dispute mechanism, the increased burden on governments, ambiguity and legal uncertainty, the issue of translating national law to international jurisdiction, etc.

Questions were raised on what could be done to make the process more responsive to the full range of interests and concerns, how the PDP process on issues such as having succinct and clear problem statements, distinguishing between geo-categories (country codes, country names, territory names) etc., could maximise the chances for community consensus.

The discussion in the second session was focused on the AGB challenges on geographic names,  the development of guidance on geo names, AGB implementation, the unmet interests regarding the AGB’s rules, and comments from participants regarding the AGB challenges. This was followed by the Cross-Community Leadership elaborating on the process, followed by a discussion on the key geographic name issues to address in the PDP, such as what makes a string a 'geographic name'? When can a geographic name be applied for or delegated to a particular applicant? If there are simultaneous applications for a geographic name, how should this be resolved? How could 'geographic use' be distinguished from 'generic use'?  How can commitments to restrict a TLD to non-geographic use be monitored and enforced?

There were concerns raised that the GAC and Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) members should have been encouraged to be involved in the process on an equal footing. A respondent also commented that the use of geographic terms should not be restricted to the top-level for an applicant holding the matching trademark, and where there is no conflict with national or international law.

As the next step, Neumann encouraged the community to submit their comments on the open list, underlining the fact that the WG encourages dialogue between all the stakeholder communities, in order to develop a set of recommendations by ICANN61.



Bonface Witaba

The session that was co-chaired by Mr J Scott Evans (Associate General Counsel, Adobe Systems Incorporated), Mr Phil Corwin (Founding Principal, VirtuaLaw LLC) and Ms Kathy Kleiman (Founder, ENIAC Programmers Project), sought to deliberate on charter questions pertaining to the Review of Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) in all generic top-level domains (gTLDs) Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group, in addition to soliciting input from the broader community on these ongoing discussions.

Evans took the participants through the agenda, pointing out that the session was a three-hour session, and would be broken into three different parts. He explained that the first part of the meeting would consider the sub-team’s work with regards to narrowing down and clarifying the charter questions, and identifying the data collection needed for the Sunrise period and a Trademark Claims service, supported by use of a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH).  Evans added that the second hour would be spent discussing the work that has been done by another sub-team with regards to the trademark claims notice. The third hour would contain discussions centring around registries, registrars, and how the RPMs are used in the system.

Evans kick-started the discussions by stating that as co-chairs, they took part in reviewing the last round of new generic top-level domains, and like the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group, they were looking at the rights protections in this second round. He mentioned that the overarching aim of the charter was to look at the rights protection mechanisms, to determine if they were functioning as they were designed to, and whether there was any need for changes or revisions to be made. Further, he stated that they had divided their work into two phases and were currently in phase one, a phase that aimed to tackle all the rights protection mechanisms ranging from the Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedures (PDDRP), the trademark claims notices, the Sunrise period, the TMCH, and last but not least the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS).

Corwin intervened to say that the first RPM that the PDP Working Group looked at was the Trademark Dispute Resolution Procedure, which was the only RPM that was applied at the top level. He added that the PDP Working Group was in two phases, and that phase one needed to be completed before the next round of gTLDs. The second phase, he said, was to be focused on the UDRP which is a consensus policy.

Ms Lori Schulman (Senior Director, Internet Policy, International Trademark Association (INTA)) explained that the PDP Working Group took 22 questions that they were asked to consider, including general questions about the RPMs. She said that the Working Group then narrowed down the questions to Sunrise-specific issues where things would be relevant.

Prof. Amadeu Abril i Abril (ESADE Law School, Ramon Llull University in Barcelona) felt that the idea of the Trademark Clearinghouse was destructive for the vast majority of trademark owners and would-be registrants that approach it as registry operators. He pointed out that the failure in the design of the system did not lie with the TMCH, but with ICANN, which failed to implement labels for words that have IDNs.

In his intervention, Mr Rubens Kuhl (Product Marketing Manager, NIC.br) suggested that the PDP Working Group directs trademark owners to exercise care in their trademarks, and that they should not try to register trademarks that do not have a meaning in a specific context.

In response to Kuhl's appeal, Mr Greg Shatan (Partner, Bortstein Legal Group) remarked that unless it was in the rules of the registry, each registrant in Sunrise or otherwise should have the ability to make their own choice about why they are registering in a particular TLD.

The second phase of discussions took off with Schulman exploring the issue of whether the availability of Sunrise registrations for identical matches should be reviewed, whether the matching process should be expanded, and how registrants’ freedom of expression and fair use rights could be protected and balanced against trademark rights. She further ventured into the question of Sunrise and premium name pricing, vis-à-vis its limit on trademark owners’ ability to participate in the Sunrise period.

Schulman explained that the second level domain names that are offered for registration in the determination of the registry were more desirable for the purchaser, and commanded a price that was higher than a non-premium name.

Mr James Bladel (Vice President of Policy, GoDaddy) sought for clarity of the terms 'standard pricing' and 'non-premium' as referred to by Schulman. Bladel’s concern was echoed by Kleiman, who also needed clarity on the definition of 'standard pricing'. Schulman responded by stating that the term was not clear in itself, thus there was a need to have some baseline understanding of it.

Discussions in the last track of the session focused on registries and cyber-squatting.

Mr George Kirikos (President, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. and Leap of Faith Research Inc.) gave instances when. xyz had their price promotion for penny domains. He felt this might have caused one to have data skewed, if one was to take the absolute number of UDRP and URS cases, or cyber-squatting instances.

Shatan pointed out that UDRP/URS data was not the only indicator of a potential case of cyber-squatting. He reiterated that there were a number of different ways to deal with domains that are abusive or infringing.

Mr Brian Beckham (Head, Internet Dispute Resolution Section, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)) emphasised that the UDRP was one of those consensus policies, and that paragraph two of the UDRP required that any registrant who registers a domain name in a gTLD agrees not to infringe third-party rights.

Mr Paul Tattersfield (remote participant) asked whether the PDP Working Group would consider extending 'proof of use' requirements for Sunrise names to all trademarks for the issuance of TMCH notices. His suggestion was guided by the fact that some jurisdictions allowed trademarks for which there are no underlying goods and services to protect.

Kuhl decried the claims implementation, terming it as flawed.  Kuhl suggested that the PDP Working Group revises it. He revealed that there were registrars and resellers that would never support a claims period, and only went to serve a TLD after the claims period had elapsed. He added that this meant that such resellers could only process TLDs that are not in the claims period.

Corwin thanked Kuhl for his remarks and agreed that the claims notice that had been designed did not fit in with the way a lot of registrars operated. He said that the Working Group would be looking at the actual process that registrars and resellers use in the quest to iron out the complexity.

Sarah Kiden

Members of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Regional At-Large Organisations (RALO) leadership discussed policy and process issues related to the At-Large Community, which represents the interests of end-users.

The session was chaired by Mr Alan Greenberg (Chair, ALAC).

Dr Rinalia Abdul Rahim (ICANN Board Member) discussed the priorities of the ICANN Board, which include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): ICANN management is now thinking about how to comply with the European GDPR, and how to ensure that requirements for top-level domain (TLD) registries and domain name registrars comply with privacy and data protection rules.
  • The five-year plan. ICANN is now half way through the plan, the Board and community need to review the plan, to check its status, and see what changes need to be made. Participants were informed that the 2017/2018 fiscal year budget had been approved.
  • There is an on-going ICANN History Project aimed at preserving ICANN’s institutional memory by capturing stories from key figures who helped shape the organisation from its origins to date.
  • The ICANN Board has met with groups such as the Government Advisory Committee (GAC). The Board had also attended sessions such as: Empowered Community, Operational side of ICANN budget, Who sets ICANN priorities, etc.

Abdul Rahim encouraged the community to engage in annual planning for their respective constituencies to help manage the workload. Regarding the Empowered Community model, which is the mechanism through which ICANN’s Supporting Organisations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) can organise themselves under California law to legally enforce community powers, Abdul Rahim responded that the legal department at ICANN has made sure that Board members are aware of the new setup. She noted that ‘ICANN is in a much better position now than it was before, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is process oriented, and the Board and community are supportive.'

Mr Leon Felipe Sanchez (Vice Chair, ALAC and incoming ICANN Board member) shared his perspective as an incoming Board member. He is currently going through on-boarding, a process of getting adjusted to the new Board position. So far, he says that the Board environment looks completely different from the inside. Since Sanchez was part of the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) Accountability Work Steam 1 (WS1), he pushed to get the Board involved from the very beginning of the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA) stewardship transition process. He has committed to keep in touch with the At-Large Community, which elected him to the Board position.

Regarding the next meeting, ICANN60, Greenberg informed participants that two new travel slots had been approved. The grants would be awarded to people active in ICANN work (policy development). RALOs will be asked to nominate volunteers for a working group to establish criteria for the selection of candidates.

Greenberg expounded his view that there was reason to worry in regards to the high penalties associated with the GDPR. His major concern was whether privacy of individuals outweighs the privacy of other information. He mentioned that the privacy and data protection rules are not absolute; for example, when having name server information private, it does not help the global Domain Name Systems (DNS).

On the issue of new generic TLD auction proceeds, ICANN has made USD$240 000 000 from the auctioning of strings such as .webs, .web, .shop, .hotels, .baby, .dot, .salon, .vip, .tech, .buy, etc. Community members were asked to work on defining a mechanism for how the proceeds funds could be allocated.

During the debriefing of the meeting, Mr Yrjö Länsipuro (ALAC liaison to the Government Advisory Committee (GAC)) called on the participation of the At-Large Community in the discussions concerning the issue of geographic names. The GAC has formed a working group to examine the protection of geographic names in any future expansion of gTLDs. Greenberg confirmed the participation of the At-Large Community in the working group.  

Sarah Kiden

Members of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the Regional At-Large Organisations (RALO) leadership discussed policy and process issues related to the At-Large Community, which represents the interests of end-users.

The two-part session was chaired by Mr Alan Greenberg (Chair, ALAC).

Speaking in a private and personal capacity, Mr Göran Marby (Chief Executive Officer and President, ICANN) shared his experience from Sweden regarding the topic of universal connectivity. He gave a short background on Sweden and said that 100 years ago, Sweden was one of the poorest countries in the world, but has since become one of the richest, with a high living standard. Unlike its neighbours, Sweden was not invaded during the Second World War, which means that its industry was not affected by the war. That is when they started manufacturing and doing things together, and the country thrived.

When he worked at the Swedish telecom and postal regulator, Marby's and his team’s main obligation was to provide connectivity. There is a regulation in Sweden that states that everyone must have access to the Internet. By the time he left the post, only 250 households out of 4.5 million lacked connectivity. This was attributed to the Swedish Broadband Forum, which Marby referred to as a ‘turning point’. Participants were encouraged to come up with a strategy for the Domain Name Systems (DNS), IPv6 and other related topics if they were to succeed in universal connectivity. Marby also talked about the Fibre to the village concept, which targeted 280 municipalities. About 170 municipalities funded their own fibre connections and built them themselves. He added that people tend to fund projects or give money when there are benefits. On the issue of spectrum and who it belongs to, he said that they decided that it was an asset to the people, and that its value of that should go back to the people. He said that first, they needed to increase or maintain competition, and second they needed to use it to get coverage. These two points would ensure that they get the money. Currently 80% of Sweden has mobile coverage, the remaining areas which are not covered are places like national parks and reserves. Marby's advice is to do things together, as a joint effort, ‘you have to sit with people and work with them’ in order for the project to succeed.

The meeting went on to discuss the At-Large Summit (ATLAS) III that will take place in March 2019 in Kobe, Japan, during ICANN64. ATLAS is a global general assembly, held once every five years. The first ATLAS was in Mexico City in March 2009, the second was in London in June 2014. Session attendees were tasked with thinking of criteria for selecting participants for the 2019 ATLAS. There were also discussions about the fact that many At-Large Structures (ALSes) seem not to be active, and that there is a need to make them so. Additionally, members agreed that newcomers should be encouraged to participate while other already active participants should get funds to attend the summit.

Mr Patrik Fältström (Chair, Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)) gave an update of the SSAC's activities. According to its charter, SSAC focuses on advising the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet’s naming address allocation systems. Expertise of the committee ranges from addressing and routing, to DNS, DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), domain registry/registrar, DNS abuse, etc. Since 2002, the SSAC has produced 97 publications in the form of reports, advisories, and comments. Outreach is a major function of the SSAC.

Currently, the SSAC is looking into name space issues, harmonisation regarding Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), organisational review – external and internal, and rate limiting issues, among others. Fältström also shared current and future milestones, which include contributions to the Work Stream 2 (WS2) of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG Accountability). WS2 was launched after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority's (IANA) stewardhip transition, to continue addressing ICANN accountability topics. Work Stream 1 (WS1), finalised before the transition, focused on mechanisms enhancing ICANN accountability, which was required to be in place or committed to, within the time frame of the transition.

Regarding security concerns of end users, especially since At-Large represents the interest of end users, Fältström said that digitalisation of society is happening, things are moving to the cloud, and there is business evolution. These things require Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. He thinks that there is not as much effort being put into building a robust Internet, as there is in building applications and solutions. Fältström finished by saying that DNSSEC is important for ICANN.

Cláudio Lucena

The chair of the session, Ms Cheryl Langdon-Orr (Vice-chair, ALAC, ICANN) started the meeting by clarifying that the ICANN community needed awareness raising exercises to prepare for the impact of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). She said that it was necessary to find a clear set of basic concepts and understanding of what it is that the community has to deal with concerning the implementation of the GDPR.

Ms Cathrin Bauer-Bulst (Deputy head of the unit for cybercrime and child sexual abuse, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission) took the floor to suggest one such set of key basic concepts. Bauer-Bulst noted that the overall fundamental right to data protection as enshrined in legal instruments, in practice translates into specific rights for individuals. She mentioned the right to be informed, the right of access, the right to rectify inaccurate or incomplete information, the right to erase data which is no longer necessary or whose consent to process or store was withdrawn, the right to restrict the purpose of collection or processing, the right to data portability, and the right to object to specific types of processing. Another key concept, she mentioned, is the personal data itself, regarded as any information relating to an identified or identifiable person, information which together with other elements might reveal who someone is. Bauer-Bulst highlighted that, basically anything which is done with the data may amount to processing, and that three key actors were relevant to the GDPR, namely controllers, processors, and data subjects. Concerning the applicable principles, she pointed out lawful, fair, and transparent processing, balanced with the interests of data subjects, purpose limitation, and data minimisation. She ended by explaining that the governance structure comprised national authorities, courts, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Data Protection Board, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

Ms Becky Burr (Chief Privacy Officer, Newstar) said that more than 60 data elements that her company (Newstar) collects as part of its privacy duties for contracted parties, are personal identifiable information (PII). She said that merely relying on consent is currently not considered enough as a lawful basis for processing personal data, and that legitimacy should also be taken into consideration, as well as a verification whether the data subject's privacy interests are not being unduly outweighed, and even then, adequate safeguards must be in place. Burr mentioned proportionality as an element to test legitimate interests, which would include an investigation into who wants to use the data element, why, and for what. Only once these issues have been incorporated into the safeguards in place, will the GDPR allow the processing to take place.

Ms Theresa Swinehart (Senior Vice President, Multistakeholder Strategy And Strategic Initiatives, ICANN) started by stating that what ICANN as an organisation is dealing with in terms of the challenges of implementing the GDPR, is a situation which is unique. She said that considering the existence of a deadline, different approaches were necessary to tackle different issues. First, she said that it was essential to understand the implications of the GDPR to ICANN as an organisation, and that an internal task force is currently helping identify where the organisation stands. Concerning the engagement with contracted parties, there is a need to understand the current situation and the implications that the GDPR has on the relevant domain name registration elements that are required from registrars. Swinehart said that she wants to work with the community at events and other dialogue spaces, to help identify which elements are relevant and which steps are necessary under different circumstances, by different actors.

Cláudio Lucena

Mr Farell Folly (Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG)) presented the initiative of a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document for newcomers. The document would include basic definitions to help new members familiarise themselves with the terms, acronyms, and the structure of ICANN. He announced that a first draft with 10 questions to help newcomers would be ready within a month.

Mr Ayden Férdeline (Policy Committee, NCSG) reminded him that Ms Louise Marie Hurel (researcher at the Nucleus for Context Analysis in Brazilian Naval War College’s Center for Strategic and Political Studies, and NCUC) and Ms Kathy Kleiman (Internet Counsel, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC, and NCUC) were also producing related materials for newcomers through the Community Onboarding Program, and called for shared synergies.

Ms Bruna Martins dos Santos (Independent consultant in Human Rights and Internet Affairs, Internet Governance Caucus Co-coordinator, NCUC) presented a review of the issue of geographical top-level domain names. She stressed the difference between geographical domains and 2-letter country codes, highlighting the provisions of  the New gTLD Program Applicant Guidebook (AGB) regarding country and territory names, and geographic names. She pointed out concerns raised  by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO), who argue that the registration of 2-letter domain names could clash with country codes. She also explained that geographic names as TLDs are currently permitted only under the demonstrated support of the government who holds a relationship with it. She finished by suggesting that the issue be more broadly discussed and promoted through a series of discussing articles in blogs and debates at ICANN meetings about community empowerment through the use of geographical domain names. Kleiman noted that if requesting a domain name which aims to criticise or protest against an undemocratic government, has to go through this very government approval, this presents a massive freedom of expression issue.

Mr Elliot Noss (CEO, Tucows) explained that a Cross-Community Working Group is currently establishing procedures by which money from the new gTLD auction proceeds will be allocated. He mentioned that the auction could amount to more than 100 000 000 USD$, and that three things about the issue were most important to the NCUC. First, understanding that the hardest part is figuring out what kind of projects qualify for a legitimate application. Second, anything ICANN does out of its narrow scope could lead to losing its nonprofit status in California, and for this reason the scope of the proposals would probably be construed narrowly to something that deals specifically with DNS, names, and numbers. And finally, that local presence from the underserved communities which would benefit from the funds was necessary, although not yet felt or heard during the process.

Mr Tim Smith (General Manager Canadian International Pharmacy Association) complained that the new TLD .pharmacy which was launched with the aim of distinguishing legitimate from rogue pharmacy businesses around the world, was implemented using exclusionary, anti-competitive criteria, which are impossible for anyone outside of the USA to meet. He said that the objective of the move is to lead to distrust for anyone not using .pharmacy, and that discriminatory practices set a bad precedent for future rounds of TLDs. He mentioned that at the last RightsCon meeting, a panel was held following the establishment of a working team which came up with a draft document (Brussels Principles for safe online pharmacy dispensing), reinforcing access to essential medicines as a human right, and hopes that the initiative is a blueprint for how the issue can be handled around the world.

Ms Brian Schilling (ICANN Director for Consumer Safeguards) introduced himself and said the new function he is introducing will have him look at ICANN’s scope to address abuse issues. Schilling said that a working group is being formed through which the community will decide the structure, priorities, and ways forward of the role.

Mr Jonathan Zuck (Chair, Consumer Choice, Consumer Trust Review Team (CCT-RT)) mentioned that there is no pressing need to expand new rounds of generic top-level domain before addressing the recommendations his team propose in their review. He said that preliminary recommendations issued by the group might have been vague because they felt an intervention was necessary to anticipate whether safeguards would be efficient and attempt to mitigate negative effects, and that was done before they obtained the data they currently have, which will lead to a re-evaluation of some of the recommendations.

Bonface Witaba

Mr Olof Nordling (Senior Director, GAC Relations, ICANN) opened the session by explaining that it would discuss the status and the next steps for exchanges between the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and ICANN, regarding the topic of 2-character codes as second level domains.

He then invited Mr Thomas Schneider (ICANN GAC Chair,) to kick-start the discussions. In his presentation, Schneider stated that the GAC advice issued since 2014 had played an instrumental role in shaping the process developed by ICANN for processing requests from new gTLD registry operators for the release of 2-character labels at the second level. He noted that during ICANN58 in Copenhagen, Denmark, a series of concerns had been raised by some governments regarding the release of 2-character codes.

Iran noted that further clarifications are needed regarding some of the terms used in the ICANN Board resolutions dealing with the issue of 2-character codes. With regard to the initiative of the ICANN President and CEO to create a task force to address the concerns raised by governments, Iran asked for more details regarding the terms of reference of the task force, its composition, and its relation with both the ICANN CEO and the GAC.

Argentina commented that there as been a lack of clear information and proper communication among the different parties concerned by the issue of using 2-character codes at the second level. It stated that it was important to convene a small group of interested parties to review the issue and to come up with better methodologies that would make it easier to understand the underlying issues.

India delved into the discussion by asserting its decision to oppose the use of 2-character codes at the second level. It feels that the delegation of .IN at the second level would culminate in consumer confusion. India also expressed its dissatisfaction with the proposed mitigation measures, terming them inadequate, and suggested the setting up of a working group where the terms of reference could be debated by all GAC members.

On its part, Brazil decried the lack of timely inclusion of GAC members in the decision-making process on the issue of the 2-character code. It called for inclusion in the decision-making process, stating that it was key to building trust.

France asked why the ICANN Board had decided to unilaterally do away with the previous procedures that guided the release of the corresponding country codes at the second level, without consulting GAC. Additionally, it asked about the purpose and deliverables of the taskforce, as well as how the newly proposed ex post mechanism works.

In his response, Mr Cyrus Namazi (ICANN Global Domains Division) pointed out that the provisions had been adopted to mitigate confusion with a corresponding country code, which was fully part of the contract between the registry and ICANN. Namazi added that if a country perceived a mis-characterisation or abuse of their country code at the second level and they were unable to resolve it, they were free to lodge a case with ICANN Compliance for appropriate action.

China suggested the adoption of a mechanism where relevant GAC members could give the green light to the use of 2-character code at the second level prior to its implementation.

Russia echoed France’s sentiments, stating that the previous procedures regarding the 2-character code at the second level had been working appropriately. Russia was critical of the ICANN Board’s decision to amend the procedures without consulting GAC members. It also faulted the proposed mitigation measures by the ICANN Board, stating that they were not adequate in resolving issues regarding the 2-character code at the second level.

The European Commission noted that is would be useful for the task force to have a limited number of members, who would work on the details and report back to the GAC. It suggested that the task force could start by focusing on the results of the survey conducted among GAC members regarding the use of 2-character codes at the second level.

The USA and the UK asserted that they were not part of countries that had a problem with 2-character code at the second level. Their concern, however, was with the procedure, which contravened the ethos of the multistakeholder model.

Kenya expressed its strong opposition on the use of the 2-character code at the second level without the engagement of relevant governments. It deliberated that the use of the 2-character code would place an increased burden on states in terms of monitoring its potential use.

Norway and Germany wrapped up the discussion by supporting the setting up a taskforce to resolve the issues in question.

Amrita Choudhury

This was the first time that the Empowered Community (EC) Administration held a Community Forum in accordance with the revised ICANN Bylaws. The representatives of the EC's five Decisional Participants shared their perspectives on the ICANN Board Governance Committee's (BGC) proposal to move its responsibilities for ICANN's Reconsideration Request process to a new Board committee, that could also handle ICANN's other accountability mechanisms. This proposal, which involves a change in ICANN’s Fundamental Bylaws, need to be approved by both the ICANN Board and the EC.

Mr Stephen Deerhake (Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) councillor and member of the EC Administration) initiated the discussion by giving an overview of who and what the EC is, as well as its administration. He then spoke about the role of the Community Forum in the mechanism for exercising EC's powers. He also mentioned Section 4.2 of the amended Bylaws, which states that 'ICANN shall have in place a process by which any person or entity materially affected by an action or inaction of the ICANN Board or Staff may request ('Requestor') the review or reconsideration of that action or inaction by the Board'.

Mr James Bladel (Vice President Policy, GoDaddy; Chair Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council) said that the GNSO is still collecting its members' feedback. The challenges that they forsee are in gathering feedback from community members on how to participate in the EC. The two areas in which the GNSO is working include: how to select the representatives on the EC, and defining operational procedures and the timelines.

Representing the Address Council, Mr Paul Wilson (Director General, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC)) mentioned that his community has no comment or concern at this point.

Mr Alan Greenberg (Chair, At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)) clarified that while the suggested timeline for action and decision on the proposed bylaw amendments was not an issue for the At-Large community, they would have preferred to see more details regarding the scope of the proposed committee detailed scope of the community. A question was also raised about whether there was any urgency in creating the new committee, or this could have been deferred until the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability finished its deliberations.

Mr Thomas Schneider (Chair, Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)) said that GAC would be adopting a pragmatic approach, and will work on the process in the interim. The timeline was a challenge for them too.

Mr Chris Disspain (ICANN Board), while explaining the Board's rationale, shared the responsibilities and role of the proposed committee, namely, assisting the Board in enhancing its performance; leading the Board in regular performance evaluation reviews; creating nominee recommendations for the leadership position on the Board, and various committees that the Board has; oversight of the Board's compliance of the code of conduct; administration of the conflicts of interest policy; corporate governance guidelines of the Board; appointment of the nominating committee chair, and reconsideration requests.

Disspain elaborated that the committee would not be limited to reconsideration requests only, but would assist ICANN legally, in terms of other outflow from the accountability mechanisms. He also explained the operational process of the committee.

There was a comment that with the New gTLD Programme, the reconsideration requests and other legal issues were increasing and that a separate committee should be set up to deal with these. Disspain responded by saying that in order to address the reconsideration requests, diverse skills are needed, not a new committee.

In response to a question on how to ensure that there are people with legal skills on the proposed new committee, Disspain responded that there would be a Board skill survey, and that the BGC would be doing a gaps analysis of the skills.

There was a query on the pending reconsideration requests and the timelines, to which Disspain responded by stating that there would be an update during the week.

There were other questions raised on issues such as: how the name of the EC was arrived at; the action procedures followed when exercising EC powers; the need for the proposed bylaw change; the applicability of the amended bylaws; the benefits of creating the new committee; whether there were overlaps in the roles of committee members; and whether there would be a need to resubmit any pending reconsideration requests as a result of the change. There was also a comment on the need for the Board to carefully look at the comments made by the EC Decisional Participants. 

The ICANN59 meeting is taking place on 26-29 June 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting will give ICANN supporting organisations and advisory committees the opportunity to have face-to-face discussions on various issues pertaining to ICANN's activity. A detailed schedule will be made available on the event webpage.


ICANN meetings in brief

  • ICANN meetings are held three times each year in different regions of the globe to enable attendees from around the world to participate in person. One meeting each year is also the organisation's annual general meeting, during which new Board members take their seats. 
  • ICANN meetings are free and officially run five days (Monday to Friday). There are also a few pre-meeting workshops and working sessions when the volunteer members of our supporting organizations and advisory committees initiate their work. 
  • ICANN meetings offer opportunity for face-to-face discussions and airing of opinions among knowledgeable people dedicated to the continued stable and secure operation of the Internet. 
  • ICANN meetings offer a variety of sessions such as workshops, open forums, and working meetings on the development and implementation of Internet policies. 
  • Remote participation is possible while the meetings are going on. ICANN offers several tools such as streaming live audio and video, chatrooms, and online question boxes. 
  • ICANN’s Fellowship programme supports attendance at ICANN meetings by selected individuals from stakeholder groups around the world.

What topics are discussed? 

A broad range of Internet-related topics are discussed at each meeting. The agenda is ever changing and as dynamic as the Internet itself, but typically they cover contractual issues with the retail and wholesale arms of the Domain Name System, ways to respond to illegal or abusive use of the Internet’s naming systems, internal restructuring, and new initiatives for increasing competition on the Internet.


Mary Wong and David Olive - ICANN 59
Avri Doria - ICANN 59
Leon Sanchez - ICANN 59
Leon Sanchez - ICANN 59 [Spanish]


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