ICG (and CCWG-Accountability) replied to NTIA’s May letter suggesting the IANA transition process could extend till June 2016 in best case scenario
ICG (and CCWG-Accountability) replied to NTIA’s May letter suggesting the IANA transition process could extend till June 2016 in best case scenario
At the ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires, US government confirmed the process of transition will extend beyond September this year, and experts think that several more intensive months will be needed
The Domain Name System (DNS) handles Internet domain names (such as www.google.com) and converts them to Internet Protocol (IP) numbers (and the other way around). This makes it easier for Internet users to access locations in the Internet such as websites, by simply looking for the domain name of the website, instead of the IP number associated to it.
From an infrastrastructure point of view, the DNS consists of root servers, top-level domain (TLD) servers, and a large number of DNS servers located around the world.
The DNS includes generic top-level domain (gTLD) and country code top-level domains (ccTLD). There are now over 1200 gTLDs, ranging from traditional ones such as .com, .net, and .org, to new gTLDs (introduced starting 2014) such as .pub,, .ngo, or .游戏 (game). While most gTLDs have an open registration policy, allowing the registration of domain names by any interested individual or entity, there are several gTLDs that are restricted to specific groups. For example, only authorised banking institutions can register domain names under .bank. ccTLDs are two-letter TLDs designating countries or territories (such as .uk for the United Kingdom, .cn for China, and .br for Brazil).
Each gTLD and ccTLD is managed by a registry, whose main responsibility is to maintain and administer a database with all registered domain names. For example, .com is managed by VeriSign, while .uk is managed by Nominet. The actual registration of domain names, by end users (called registrants) is performed though registrars. In the case of gTLDs, the registry and registrar functions are clearly separated. For some ccTLDs, the registry can also act as registrar.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ensures the overall coordination of the DNS by developing and implementing policies governing the operation and evolution of the system. For gTLDs, ICANN concludes agreements with registries and accredits registrars. ccTLDs have a special status, in that ICANN does not set rules for how they are administered and managed. There are, however, several ccTLD registries that have concluded some types of agreements with ICANN (such as accountability frameworks, memoranda of understanding, and exchange of letters).
The operational coordination of the DNS is performed through ICANN’s affiliate Public Technical Identifiers (PTI).
In 2012, after six years of consultations and development of a new policy, ICANN launched the New gTLD Program, opening up the DNS beyond the 22 gTLDs existing at that point. Under the programme, any organisation in the world could apply for a new gTLD, including in non-Latin language scripts, as long as it complied with a series of criteria established in the so-called New gTLD Applicant Guidebook. The introduction of new gTLDs was received with enthusiasm by some stakeholders, who saw this programme as an opportunity to enhance competition and consumer choice in the domain name market. Others expressed concern, especially in relation to the potential need for trademark holders to undertake defensive registrations of domain names in multiple gTLDs, for the purpose of avoiding cybersquatting.
Other concerns were raised by governments represented in ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), who called for measures aimed to ensure the protection of end-users and preserve competition on the gTLD market. As an example, in the case of gTLDs representing regulated sectors (such as .bank and .pharm), governments have proposed measures aimed to ensure that only entities having the appropriate authorisations to operate in such sectors could register domain names in such gTLDs.
Although the debate on the introduction of new gTLDs continues, the programme is up and running. There are also discussions within the ICANN community over the opportunity of launching subsequent rounds of applications for new gTLDs.
For more details on the current status of the New gTLD Program, consult the dedicated process page.
The management of ccTLDs involves three important issues. The first concerns the often politically controversial decision regarding the registration of codes for countries and entities with unclear or contested international status. From the beginning, IANA used the principle of allocating domain names in accordance with the ISO 3166 standard for country codes.
The second issue concerns who should manage ccTLDs. Currently, there are several ccTLD registry models in place, with the registry functions being performed by public entities, private companies, or multistakeholder structures. In some countries, the management of ccTLDs is subject to government regulations. Some governments who initially had no involvement in ccTLD management have been trying to gain control over their country domains, seen as national resources. For example, South Africa used its sovereign rights as an argument in win control of its ccTLD. Transition (re-delegation) of a ccTLD to a new registry is approved by ICANN only if there is no opposition from any of the interested stakeholders within the concerned country.
The third issue relates to the fact that, unlike the case of gTLDs, ICANN imposes no rules as to who and how should manage a ccTLD. ICANN goes only as far as delegating or re-delegating ccTLDs on the basis of some high-level guidelines aimed at ensuring that the ccTLD registry is technically competent to manage it, and has support from the local community. In 2005, ICANN’s GAC adopted a set of Principles and Guidelines for the delegation and administration of country code top level domains, intended to serve as a guide to the relationship between governments, ccTLDs, and ICANN. Although some ccTLD registries (e.g. Brazil, Chile, Netherlands) have concluded some type of agreements with ICANN, and many registries are represented in ICANN’s Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), there are several ccTLDs that have shown reluctance to become part of the ICANN system.
The Internet was originally a predominantly English-language medium. Through rapid growth, it has become a global communication facility with an increasing number of non-English-speaking users. For a long time, the lack of multilingual features in the Internet infrastructure was one of the main limits of its future development.
In May 2010, after a long testing period and political uncertainties, ICANN started approving TLDs in a wide variety of scripts, including Chinese, Arabic, and Cyrillic. IDNs have been introduced in several countries and territories as equivalent to their Latin country code top level domains (ccTLDs). For example, in China, 中国 has been introduced in addition to .cn, while in Russia, рф has been introduced in addition to .ru. IDNs are also part of ICANN’s new gTLD programme, allowing for the registration of new top level domains (gTLDs) in scripts other than the Latin one; for example, .сайт (website) and .онлайн (online) are among the new TLDs available to the public.
The introduction of IDNs is considered to be one of the main successes of the Internet governance regime. However, limitations remain, as universal acceptance is still a challenge when it comes to issues such as functional IDN e-mail addresses and recognition of IDNs by search engines.
Since its creation, in 1998, and until 1 October 2016, ICANN managed the DNS on the basis of a contract with the US government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). In line with this contract, the US government acted as steward of the DNS, as every major change made within the system (such as the approval of a new gTLD) required its formal validation. In March 2014, NTIA announced its intention to transition this stewardship role to the global multistakeholder community. As requested by NTIA, ICANN launched a process for the development of a transition proposal. At the same time, work began on the elaboration of a set of recommendations for enhancing ICANN’s accountability towards the Internet community (seen as a necessary step in the context of the transition). The work carried out by the ICANN community resulted in a transition and an accountability proposals, which were accepted by the US government in June 2016, as being compliant with its requirements.
On 1 October 2016, the IANA functions contract between the US government and ICANN expired, and the stewardship of the IANA functions was transitioned to the global multistakeholder community. In practical terms, the transition meant two major changes within ICANN: (1) the establishment of PTI as the IANA functions operator, and, therefore, a more clear separation between ICANN’s technical and policy-making functions; (2) the creation of an ‘empowered community’ – made up of most of ICANN’s advisory committees and supporting organisations – able to enforce a set of community powers such as removing members of the ICANN Board and rejecting ICANN budgets or changes to the ICANN bylaws. See IANA transition and ICANN accountability for more details.
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.
The map, created by Nominet, the registry for .uk, shows the number of domain name registrations within country code top level domains (ccTLDs).
The infographic contains basic information about Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), explaining what they are, how they appeared, and how they look in numbers.
The latest edition of glossary, compiled by DiploFoundation, contains explanations of over 130 acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations used in IG parlance. In addition to the complete term, most entries include a concise explanation and a link for further information.
The book, now in its sixth edition, provides a comprehensive overview of the main issues and actors in the field of Internet governance and digital policy through a practical framework for analysis, discussion, and resolution of significant issues. It has been translated into many languages.
This study explores Internet domain names registration dynamics and tests whether domain registrations are constrained by the depletion of unregistered high quality domain name.
The paper outlines three possible forms of Internet fragmentation: technical fragmentation (infrastructure), governmental fragmentation (government policies constraining access to and use of the Internet) and commercial fragmentation (business actions that prevent access to and use of the Internet). Some of the identified 'top 10' cases of fragmentation are: failure to move to IPv6, blocking new gTLDs, filtering content, digital protectionism, prohibition on transborder data movement, and cybersovereignty.
The report provides a snapshot of the state of deployment of DNSSEC as of the end of 2016. It addressed two main aspects for deployment of DNSSEC: DNSSEC signing (how many zones are signed using DNSSEC and have a chain of trust back to the DNS root), and DNSSEC validation (what recursive resolvers support DNSSEC, and how many clients are using DNSSEC-validating DNS resolvers).
The report provides an overview of the US Department of Commerce’s policies in the field of digital economy over the course of the Obama administration. It covers area such as: management of the Domain Name System, privacy and security online, innovation and emerging technologies, and access and skills.
The report presents findings on the current state of the Internet and the domain name industry in the Middle East and Adjoining Countries region, including: best practices that have affected the growth in domain names; domain name industry and registration data; Internet usage patterns and user preferences; etc.
The report outlines a series of recommendations for changing the DNSSEC root zone Key Signing Key (KSK). The process of changing the KSK means generating a new cryptographic public and private key pair and distributing the new public component to parties including Internet service and other DNS resolver operators, DNS resolver software developers, integrators, and distributors. The KSK is used to cryptographically sign the Zone Signing Key, which is used to sign the root zone of the Domain Name System.
The report provides an analysis of why Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) are a driver of multilingualism, considers aspects related to universal acceptance of IDNs, and presents IDN-related facts and figures.
The brief provides an overview of the domain name industry in the third quarter of 2015, and offers statistics of the number of domain name registrations, the growth in new gTLDs, and the largest ccTLDs, among others.
One section in the report provides information on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) cases filled with WIPO in 2014 and in the first 9 months on 2015.
The study looks into aspects of “Universal Acceptance” of new gtLD domain names, with particular focus on the visibility of names in the new gTLD zones in the web environment.
The report provides information on the relationship between the US Government's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), as defined by the 'IANA FUnctions Contract'.
This report presents quantitative data on the deployment of IDNs to date and looks at the deployment experiences of IDN ccTLDs in selected regions, exploring opportunities and challenges for IDN deployment going forward.
The report looks into the possible impact of the launch of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) on the Internet root server system.
The index provides quarterly information and statistical data on the creation of malicious domain name system (DNS) infrastructure worldwide (the launch of new domain names or the hijack of legitimate domains for cybercrime purposes).
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.
There were several sessions on the subject of geographic names of countries and territories at the ICANN60 meeting held in Abu Dhabi. These include the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) meetings on two-character codes as second level domains (SLDs); country and territory names as SLDs; Working Group to examine the Protection of Geographic Names in any Future Expansion of generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) Meeting; GAC meeting with the ICANN Board; and Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group Face-to-Face Session II: Work Track 5 on Geographic Names at the Top Level.
During the GAC meeting on two-character codes as SLDs, several GAC members, including Argentina, Brazil, and Iran, raised the concern that the points mentioned in the GAC Communique of Johannesburg (ICANN59), which outlined the ICANN Board’s consent to taking into consideration the views of GAC members on the subject, and the ICANN CEO suggesting the formation of a task force to address concerns mentioned in Copenhagen (ICANN58), were not implemented. Further, there were concerns about lack of transparency, and also concerns that ICANN was discussing issues related to two character codes bilaterally with individual GAC members and not with the entire GAC group. ICANN staff further clarified that 25 governments were having bilateral communication with ICANN. Several countries, such as Portugal and Indonesia wanted to know the exact status of the issues raised by the governments, and how they would be resolved.
On the question about resolving the issue related to two characters at SLDs raised during the GAC meeting with the ICANN Board, Mr Goran Marby, CEO, ICANN, said that he would be commenting on this post-discussion with the ICANN Board. He further clarified that until then the current process related to protection of country and territory names would continue. Regarding concerns with country and territory names at the second level, he reminded GAC members that the ICANN Board had passed a resolution which authorised the release of country and territory names at the second level to a registry operator after the governments expressed their agreement to the release.
During the GAC meeting on country and territory names, Mr Thomas Scheinder, GAC chair, referred to the GAC position expressed in the ICANN59 communique on the matter. It was further clarified that for top level domains, the issue was taken up by the co-chairs of the new gTLD subsequent procedures PDP who proposed the initiation of a new work track in the PDP (work track (WT) 5) which would include one representative of the GAC. However, there were concerns raised from Iran about whether the GAC would be on equal footing with others in the working group. Argentina further clarified that Switzerland, in their proposal, had proposed a group of interested GAC members to be involved in the working group, as that would ensure different perspectives. India emphasised the need to amend the existing ISO 3166 list, used within ICANN as a basis for discussion on country and territory names, and expand it further to include territories whose names are not there. The GAC chair further clarified that the conditions for GAC participation in WT5 have been communicated to the concerned parties, and, if those conditions are not met, the committee will need to reconsider its approach.
At the meetings of the GAC Working Group to Examine the Protection of Geographic Names in any Future Expansion of gTLDs, there were discussions on ways for the GAC to participate in the WT5 on geographic names of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group. The GAC working group decided to ask the GAC leadership to constitute a small group of GAC members to participate in the WT5 .
During the GNSO New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group Face-to-Face Session II: Work Track 5 on Geographic Names at the Top Level meeting, the discussion was centred around the elements and terms of reference. The WT5 is dedicated to geographic names at the top level, and is expected to develop a consensus-driven set of recommendations/implementation guidance for subsequent procedures. On the question related to the decision making process, it was clarified that it would be either a consensus or rough consensus. On the question of who will be determining consensus, it was clarified that the co-leads would be the ones tasked with measuring consensus according to the definitions that are in the operating guidelines. Further, on the comments from the GAC, Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) and AtLarge representatives seeking time to consult with their communities and get back before sharing their view, Mr Jeff Neuman, co-chair of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group, stated that the GNSO would not wait for formal approval before moving forward. There were also queries raised as to whether this process is to be seen as a preventive mechanism or an engagement process. On the question related to the timeline for the process, it was to be decided by the working group. The call for volunteers is open till 20 November 2017.
Jurisdiction has been a ‘hot topic’ within the ICANN community for a long time. The ICANN60 meeting was no exception, and the issue was discussed in different frameworks: as part of the face-to-face meeting of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability), in the ‘Jurisdictional Challenges for ICANN’ cross-community session, and as part of the agenda of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), among others.
This report focuses on the cross community session on ‘Jurisdictional Challenges for ICANN’, organised at the proposal of the GAC. The session was structured in two parts: the first focused on the jurisdiction-related recommendations of the CCWG-Accountability; and the second looked at broader community concerns based on the application of the laws of ICANN’s place of jurisdiction.
As part of its Work Stream 2 (WS2), the CCWG-Accountability has a sub-team focusing on jurisdiction-related issues. Recently, the sub-team produced a report with two sets of recommendations: one regarding licenses from the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC), and the other one regarding choice of laws clause in ICANN’s Registry/Registrar Agreements. The sub-team’s report containing these recommendations has been approved in the CCWG plenary, on the basis of a rough consensus (with objections from the Brazilian government) and will soon be published for public comment.
Recommendations related to OFAC. As ICANN is a corporation based in California, it needs to comply with the sanctions imposed by OFAC (OFAC enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries, in line with US foreign policy and national security goals). The CCWG jurisdiction sub-team recommends that ICANN commits to making best efforts to apply for specific OFAC licenses that would allow the organisation to have relations with registrars based in countries affected by OFAC sanctions. As negotiations over obtaining an OFAC licence are a difficult and lengthy process, ICANN needs to be transparent and communicate regularly with regard to the process and progress achieved in securing such licences. The same should happen for future applicants for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). It is also recommended that ICANN studies the costs and benefits of applying for a general OFAC licence.
Recommendations related to choice of laws in Registry/Registrar Agreements. The sub-team recommends that ICANN adopts a menu approach with regard to the choice of laws in Registry/Registrar Agreements. There are no specific recommendations as to what the menu should consist of, but it could include, for example, one country per ICANN region, several countries per ICANN region, the country of the registry’s/registrar’s home office, California/US law. With regard to the choice of venue for arbitrations, there is a recommendation that a venue menu could also be adopted. The current Registry Agreement calls for arbitration with a seat in Los Angeles. Instead, there could be a menu with options for other potential seats.
During the discussions, it was noted that the recommendations related to OFAC address real issues faced by registrars and registrants in countries affected by OFAC sanctions. In this sense, they are needed and could be seen as one of the most important steps in ‘neutralising’ any potential accountability bias coming from US jurisdiction, by allowing people in countries sanctioned by the USA to continue to have access to the DNS. With regard to the recommendations on the choice of laws, it was said the suggestion for menu options could affect how the governing law clause in the Registry/Registrar Agreements is fashioned, leading directly to how contracts are interpreted and enforced. For some, this could have an impact on accountability within the ICANN context.
Brazil explained that it had dissented from the jurisdiction-related recommendations not because it opposes the substance of the recommendations, but because it finds the recommendations to be incomplete, with some issues being inadequately addressed. The dissenting opinion, Brazil underlined, should not be seen as an attack on the multistakeholder model. The country is a supporter of this model, but it is concerned about how governments in this model can have even conditions and be on a truly equal footing. The opinion is also not about moving ICANN to a different jurisdiction, as Brazil accepts what was agreed as part of Work Stream 1, i.e. that ICANN should remain headquartered in the USA. What Brazil wants to see is a continuation of exploring a partial immunity solution for ICANN.
Another point made during the discussion was that, while the IANA stewardship transition process led to the elimination of US stewardship over the root zone, ICANN, as a corporation, has to be rooted somewhere, and it was broadly agreed in WS 1 that California is as good a jurisdiction as any other. Yet, there is still the possibility that the US government will regulate ICANN. But, wherever ICANN is located, there is the possibility that the government there could choose to regulate it or interfere with its operations. The question is how to deal with such possible situations.
On the issue of immunity, it was said that the problem within the sub-team was that there was no viable model identified for achieving it. Observations were made that careful consideration needs to be given to this concept, as immunity could also mean immunity from accountability. Some members of the sub-team were concerned that the concept of immunity could possibly release ICANN from the kind of accountability to basic forms of law that the community wants ICANN to have. Another aspect that was discussed was related to the international organisations’ immunity act in the USA: if this were to apply to ICANN, it would effectively mean having ICANN ask the US Congress what kind of immunities it could have. This was seen as reversing the IANA stewardship transition process.
Some commented that, if the issue of immunity is being discussed, it should be addressed from the standpoint of immunising ICANN from the jurisdiction of all countries (not only the USA).
During the discussions, many were in favour of continuing the debate on how to make progress on the issue of immunities. A point in this regard was to be added to the report of the jurisdiction sub-team: while the discussions on limited or impartial immunity for ICANN did not come to a conclusion during the work of the jurisdiction sub-team, the concerns raised were legitimate, and, as such, there should be a path forward for these concerns to be discussed beyond the CCWG-Accountability work. The issue of immunity was seen by many as being beyond the scope of the CCWG-Accountability, but the community was encouraged to build upon the work of the jurisdiction sub-team when addressing the issue in a different context. There was a suggestion for a new cross-community working group to be established with the sole purpose of exploring the immunity issue.
Discussions on jurisdiction issues were also held within the GAC. As reflected in the communique issued by the committee at the end of the Abu Dhabi meeting, some members welcomed the recommendations of the CCWG-Accountability jurisdiction sub-team, both concerning OFAC (and the efforts to be made by ICANN to apply for OFAC licenses), and the menu options for the choice of laws in Registry/Registrar Agreements. Other members were of the view that the recommendations were insufficient in addressing concerns related to ICANN being located in the USA. Several members expressed their wish for the ICANN community to continue discussions on the issue of limited or partial immunity for ICANN.
The ICANN60 Annual General Assembly Meeting had several sessions focusing on Domain Name System (DNS) abuse and mitigation. The first two workshops (WS 1 and WS 2), organised by Mr David Piscitello, Vice President, Security and ICT Coordination, ICANN, were held under the theme ‘How It Works: DNS Abuse’. Piscitello’s presentations explained various ways cybercriminals are using DNS fraud, hijacking via phishing, social engineering, and data breaches, and gave examples of the most prominent cases such as Avalanche and how it was tackled. Piscitello underlined challenges faced by law enforcement agencies, such as jurisdiction, lack of common criminal law, and the slowness of Mutual Law Enforcement Assistance, as criminals operate at Internet pace. Addressing privacy concerns as well as security, he pointed to alternatives such as tiered access to personal data. He mentioned another cause of security vulnerabilities: developers repeating their peers’ previous mistakes such as continuing using lax configurations.
The Domain Name Abuse Reporting System (DAAR) which uses public, open, and commercial sources such as DNS Zone data, WHOIS data and reputation blocklist (RBL) was the focus of the ‘Abuse Reporting for Fact-Based Policy Making and Effective Mitigation’ cross community session. DAAR and its planned open data initiative’s goal of ‘providing data to support community, academic, or sponsored research and analysis for informed policy consideration’ was discussed. Mr Rod Rasmussen, incoming chair, Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), stated that although the technological aspect of abuse (e-mails, browsers, firewalls detecting abuse in seconds) was solved, the policy aspect was not. He mentioned the use of reverse engineering domain name generators and observing the results to identify abusive users. Piscitello underlined this point saying that a system able to identify which policies worked and which did not was needed. The benefits of opening DAAR data to the public were listed as historical trend analysis, flagging registrars who are not responsive to abuse reports, contractual compliance reporting, and providing data for efficient policy making. Ms Tatiana Tropina, cybersecurity expert representing the Non-commercial User Constituency (NCUC), drew attention to the limited mission of ICANN, the dangers of blurring lines between DNS and content abuse, and risks related to self-policing by the domain name industry instead of law enforcement. Another participant stated that the data DAAR will open to the public was aggregate and could not be used for contractual compliance.
Ms Denise Michel, Business Constituency (BC), drew attention to data showing new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) experiencing 10 times higher abuse than legacy gTLDs, and stated that ICANN is planning to introduce a policy addressing this. How abuse reporting can support registries and registrars in their prevention and mitigation efforts was among the key questions discussed.
‘GAC discussion on DNS Abuse Mitigation’ was the final session of the annual meeting related to DNS abuse. Updates and action points of the Public Safety Working Group (PSWG) were presented to government representatives. The implications and possible benefits the DAAR and its planned open data initiative could have for domain names hosting child abuse material were among subjects flagged by Italy, the UK, Iran, and Australia’s GAC representatives.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr Göran Marby, CEO and President, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), delivered the final keynote speech of the tenth edition of EuroDIG. Marby reflected back on the time he lived and worked in Tallinn, and said that Estonia has made noteworthy progress since then. According to him, it was the power of the Internet that made the fast positive change over the last twenty years possible.
EuroDIG 2017 brought up the timely discussion on how we use the Internet, reminding us that it is not a natural resource, but one that the whole community has to take care of. In 2016, ICANN and the Internet Society celebrated the twenty-fifth birthday of the Internet and the progress end-users experience today. Marby focused on several points correlated with the discussion during the event.
First, he emphasised that partnerships and the multistakeholder model are at the centre of ICANN’s work and provide for the interobjectivity of the Internet. The Internet needs of one end-user differ from those of another, and only interobjectivity can provide co-operation.
Second, in order to protect this interoperability, Marby stressed the importance of technology and the underlying functionality that enables the operation of the Internet. ‘We are not the Internet, but we are what controls it’, Marby said. In regards to technical operability, he mentioned the importance of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), and reminded the audience about 11 October 2017 as a milestone for ICANN, when the new Key Signing Key (KSK) rollover will take place.
Third, Marby addressed the negativity surrounding the current discussion on the Internet, and reminded us of its positive sides. ‘The Internet is not done’, Marby noted, and expressed ICANN's goal of connecting an additional 1.5 billion users worldwide with the current 4 billion connected users. In his view, the key for the future of the Internet is recognising the users' local needs. The future Internet will be both local and global, Marby concluded. Lastly, he reminded us once again that the Internet is not a natural resource, and has to be updated, mended, and fixed all the time by the whole community.
Opening the session, co-moderators Mr Dirk Krischenowski, dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG, and Ms Maarja Kirtsi, Estonian Internet Foundation/.ee, explained that the discussion will focus on issues related to innovation and competition on the domain name market, especially in the context of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), launched by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 2014.
To kick-start the debates, Krischenowski gave an overview of a study conducted by ICANN on competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice in the domain name market. Some of the main findings of the study: new gTLDs contributed to the growth of the market; the sales channel integrated the new gTLDs quickly and lead to much greater consumer choice; many new registrar operators entered the market, especially in former under-developed markets; the number of registry operators increased by a factor of 60; typical TLDs are niche, targeted, and geographic TLDs. Overall, the New gTLD Program has lead to a dramatic increase in consumer choice, a modest increase in competition, and minimal impact on consumer trust.
Ms Elena Plexida, European Commission (EC), talked about the evaluation and revision process that the EC has launched with regard to the regulations for the .eu TLD. She explained that the .eu TLD was formally established by Regulation 733/2002, while EC Regulation 874/2004 set the rules for the registry and the .eu. The .eu TLD was delegated by ICANN in 2005. As the market has continuously changed, these regulations have become outdated, have generated administrative challenges and need a revision. Issues to be analysed during the evaluation process include: whether the .eu objectives have been achieved (to boost e-commerce and empower end-users to create a European digital identity), the legal separation between registry and registrars, whether the registry should be more active in other Internet governance areas (and how).
Mr Jörg Schweiger, DENIC e.G./.de outlined one issue of concern for the domain name industry: How to make sure that domains do not subsurface, in the sense that they exist from a technical point of view, but users are not really aware of them? The industry has been constantly looking for the ‘killer application’ to address this issue. He pointed out that one way to make domain names more attractive could be to build on the discussions about self-determination, sovereignty, and identity. The main objective of .de now is to retain as many domain names as possible, and that the direction the registry is growing in is not necessarily related to innovation per se, but rather to having a secure domain name space.
Ms Lianna Galstyan, Internet Society Armenia, said that the .am registry never had an objective to have a high number of domain name registrations, but rather, to give the community the possibility to register domain names under .am. The same rationale was also behind the launch of the Armenian Internationalised Domain Name (IDN).
Mr Ardi Jürgens, Zone Media OÜ, pointed out that domain names do not exist in a bubble; they are part of a system which includes resources and applications. A healthy growth in the demand for domain names could result in applications and people using domain names for creating value, either for them or society. In the search for a ‘killer application’, the industry should look at young people and try to find a way to create value for them within the domain name space. Compared to social media platforms, domain names have the main advantage of being under the control of the registrant, and this is something that the industry should try to communicate better.
Mr Andrea Beccalli, ICANN, discussed examples of innovation in the DNS, such as the new gTLDs, the introduction of IDN TLDs, and the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC). Even the community work on developing the rules and processes for the New gTLD Program can be seen as a form of innovation. Schweiger, however, argued that the new round of gTLDs does not necessarily means innovation, as it was simply presenting what was on the market already – TLDs. Moreover, most business models surrounding new gTLDs are similar to what had been on the market before their introduction, with only a few exceptions.
Security in the domain name space was mentioned during the discussions as an area that deserves more attention. There are troubling correlations between new gTLDs and ‘innovation in crime’, and there are service providers who have blocked all new gTLDs from their servers due to security concerns. Innovation on the security front should be a priority for new gTLDs. Privacy is also an issue that requires increased attention, as users are more and more demanding in this regard.
The risk of cybersquatting was also raised as an issue of concern for new gTLDs, with regard to the protection of trademarks. It was said that the current protection mechanisms (such as the sunrise period allowing trademark holders to register relevant domain names, and mechanisms for rights enforcement post domain name registration) are helpful, but not sufficient. Such issues are currently analysed within the ICANN framework.
At the end of the session, a point was raised – that it is not actually clear what is innovative in the domain name space, as TLDs have been in place for many years and they are basically the same ‘technology’ or ‘tool’ that they have been since the creation of the DNS.
The Next Generation gTLD Registration Directory Service (RDS) to Replace WHOIS Policy Development Process Working Group was established with the aim to provide the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council with policy recommendations regarding two main questions:
’What are the fundamental requirements for gTLD registration data? Is a new policy framework and next-generation RDS needed to address these requirements?’
The agenda of the session was qualified as ‘unique’, as it aimed to present 19 questions that were developed for Cannataci. It was underlined that questions were developed with the aim to understand more the importance of data protection and privacy requirements in the context of the domain name system.
Cannataci addressed the following questions raised by the chair, in more depth: ‘What do you mean when you say ICANN to specify the purpose of domain name? What criteria should be used to determine the legitimate purposes? What is the difference between primary and secondary purposes?’
It was stated by Cannataci that ICANN needs to consider sustainability. He invited ICANN to look into setting up a transversal group which deals with privacy and other human rights, such as freedom of expression. The group would be open to others to join the discussion, and would help ‘bounce off’ important questions. He emphasised that ‘the purpose of collecting data remains the key’. It is important that the collection of ‘specific personal data’ is one in line with a specific purpose, which can never be a general one: “Jurisprudence does not say ‘Just in case I need it’.”
Addressing the question of primary and secondary purpose for data collection, he stated that it is not up to the regulators to define secondary purpose, and that this needs to be carefully stipulated by the data controller when he/she defines the goal of looking for data. ‘When you talk about the secondary purpose, please be specific and don’t expect or let regulator do it., Cannataci said.
Another question was raised in relation to the Article 6.1. b) of the EU Data Protection Directive which provides that personal data may only be collected for specified, explicitly and legitimate purpose and not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes, specified in Article 7 of the Directive.
‘Under what circumstances might the publication of domain name registration data elements that are personal be allowable?’ Cannataci addressed the question stating that ‘we need to start from knowing whyat all we want to publish anything. If you what to publish personal data, then there must be a reason for it. What is the public interest for publishing the information? Is it transparency, for example?”
He continued by stating that once data is easily associated with an identified or identifiable individual, then it becomes personal data. , such as in the case of domain name, it becomes a personal information. If data related to a domain nameis linked to someone who is identifiable, then it becomes a personal data.He concluded by saying that the question ‘What is the purpose of publishing (personal) data?’ should be the main question.
As the time allocated for the session ended, it was said that the 19 questions would be further fine-tuned, and, once answers are collected, the could be published on the group’s webpage, if the members find that useful.
The joint meeting between the ICANN Board of Directors and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) revolved around several topics of particular interest for governments, including the use of two-letter country codes at second level (i.e. as domain names) in generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
In November 2016, the ICANN Board adopted a resolution authorising ICANN to allow new gTLD registry operators to allow the registration of domain names representing two-letter country codes, as long as the operators implement a set of required measures to avoid confusion with corresponding country codes. Such measures were described in a document released in December 2016 by ICANN’s Global Domains Division. Previous to this decision, GAC issued advice cautioning the Board that the release of two-letter country codes could create confusion among end-users in that they may interpret the domain names as being affiliated with a government or a country code TLD manager.
Many GAC members expressed concerns over the Board resolution, both in terms of process and substance, including:
The Board explained that it had examined the release of two-letter country codes in respect to ICANN’s mission, commitments, and shared values. In its view, the resolution is fully consistent with GAC advice. With regard to the possibility of confusion, there have been measures devised to mitigate such risks, and the Board finds them appropriate.
Moreover, it was said that countries do not own their country codes. These codes are designated at the top level on the basis of the ISO list for country codes. But at the second level there have already been registrations of domain names representing two-letter country codes in both legacy gTLDs and many ccTLDs. Some countries have underlined that it is not within the Board’s right or mandate to decide whether GAC members have rights over two character codes.
At the end of the discussions, the Board mentioned that it is willing to engage into discussions with GAC members that are uncomfortable with the decision, and discuss both the process and the substance, and why the Board thinks that it has acted in accordance with GAC advice. This does not mean that the decision will be renegotiated.
Other points touched on during the meeting were related to:
The Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) started the session by demanding a response from the ICANN Board on how ICANN’s complaint process can be modified. The NSCG feel that the current process should be made more accountable, allow enough time for registrants to respond to allegations, and create a safer environment for registrants who might be victims of harassment and abuse.
Mr Jamie Hedlund, SVP, Contractual Compliance & Consumer Safeguards at ICANN replied that within contractual compliance, the complaints of abuse are handled very seriously. He added that these complaints are addressed as soon as they are presented to them. He further mentioned that the staff work closely with anyone who feels like there has been abuse against them, be it the registrants, registrars, or registries, and encouraged anyone who feels like they are the victims of abuse to bring those issues forward.
The Board replied that ICANN can only act within its mission and is not actually the place for solving issues on content and copyright. They added that the confusion over what ICANN’s role is adds friction, and encouraged communication between the concerned parties to solve the issues outside of ICANN to reach a solution.
The NSCG raised the issue of increasing transparency within ICANN to enhance community participation and understanding. The Board replied that transparency is a major priority and added that the Board's working group on trust, set up in Helsinki, is aimed at increasing the trust of the community. They added that they are exploring methods of engaging with the community, such as by explaining what that Board does to the community, and by reaching out to the community within their own ecosystem in order to address and explain the decision-making process.
The NCSG also raised the issue of Public Interest Commitments (PIC) in the new gTLD registry agreement, which they see as contradicting the consensus processes. Furthermore, they added that this overrides the many hours of volunteer effort, time, research drafting, editing and reviewing spent creating the agreement, and how this should be prevented from happening again, since it harms the multistakeholder model. The Board assured them that these valid concerns will be addressed based on the specifics of the issue.
On the issue of capacity building, the Board added that they are looking at ways to leverage both the Fellowship and the NextGen@ICANN programmes to support community building. They indicated that although this does not solve the immediate problems, efforts are in place to address the long term concerns regarding community development.
The session focussed on addressing the concerns of the Commercial Stakeholder Group of the Generic Names Supporting Organizations (GNSO). The Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers (ISPCP) highlighted the lack of response to their letter on Digital Object Architecture (DOA). The ISPCP then raised the issue of the overlapping of key sessions that place the community under work and time pressure. They added that there are many conflicts in the meetings leading to the community suffering from overwork. The ISPCP suggested conducting some of the sessions with a historical background at alternate settings, including increasing remote participation and cutting down on meetings with sparse participation.
The ISPCP pointed to the number of reviews that are scheduled and questioned the value of scheduling one review after another. They consider this to be very resource intensive with little result. They feel that this is not inclusive and leads to a very narrow line of comments from people who are affected. The ICANN Board then extensively discussed the issue of DOA and the reply to the ISPCP. They promised that a reply to the letter will be sent soon. They also acknowledged that the community is being overworked and said that actions will be taken to address the issue.
The Business Constituency (BC) pointed to the lack of transparency in the staffing process and their proposed inputs on the new gTLD registries. The BC pointed out that with no substantive community inputs, the ICANN staff is playing the lead role in various process. They feel that this contradicts the ICANN Board's commitment to transparency, accountability and being neutral. The BC demanded assurance from the Board that the comments and perspective of the community will be respected. The BC also asked the Board and the staff to consult with the community before they get into negotiations. The Board replied that they have taken into account the comments on transparency and accountability, and that they are looking at ways to enhance the transparency mechanism and also request from the community to understand the fundamental purpose of the contractual documents.
The BC then raised the issue of the Open Data Initiative (ODI) and having access to the data. The Board replied saying that collecting data through the ODI costs time, money and resources and advised the BC to prioritise the data that they need and to be specific with their data requests. They added that they have enhanced the community's power by allowing the community to comment on and veto budget proposals. The BC expressed their appreciation for the outreach and awareness programme and the role played by ICANN.
To address the question on participation and diversity in the working groups, the Board said that they will support increasing the geographical diversity as a priority. The BC advised the Board to increase staff support for the community to address the issue of community burn-out. The BC further pointed out that there are instances where the community loses its morale and there is a need to keep the community energised in order to increase participation.
Update from GAC Working group on the protection of geographic names
The group focuses on how to improve the protection offered to geographic names in any future expansions of gTLDs. Currently, it discusses the elaboration of a set of best practices for new gTLDs in relation to geographic names. The main proposal is the development of a repository of terms, that would reveal stakes and interests of people, communities, or rights holders in particular names, at the beginning of the gTLD application process. This would allow potential applicants to find out about possible conflicts with regard to the strings they consider applying for. The proposal is to have the repository compiled by ICANN, while governments will input names. It could also benefit from lists of geographic names that are compiled by various international organisations.
The idea, still under discussion, has received both support and opposition. Some of the concerns include:
The main argument in favour of such a repository is that it would help avoid future conflicts and litigations with regards to geographic names.
Community-based applications (CBAs) for new gTLDs
An overview was given of the Council of Europe (CoE) commissioned report on CBAs. The report analyses ICANN’s policies and procedures concerning CBAs, from a human rights perspective. The rationale for this report stems from the fact that CoE considers top-level domains as tools that enable people to communicate and access information; they are also important for the enjoyment of freedom of expression, assembly, and association, all of which should be enjoyed without discrimination. The report outlines a series of findings and recommendations, and the objective is to submit these recommendations for consideration in the context of the relevant policy development processes on new gTLD related issues.
For ALAC, it was disappointing to see that the process for CBAs has been set up as such a high bar that only few applicants could meet the requirements to qualify. For future rounds, it will be important to ensure that communities are actively supported to obtain gTLDs. It is possible that ALAC will support at least some of the recommendations in the CoE commissioned report.
GAC draft survey on underserved regions
Within the context of the GAC Underserved regions working group, a survey has been prepared with the aim to understand challenges and capacity needs of governments from under-served regions when it comes to participation in ICANN. The survey is also intended to help GAC respond directly and appropriately to such need, to increase the participation of under-served countries in GAC and broader ICANN processes. The survey is now targeted at GAC members, but the committee hopes that it will be expanded to the wider community, with support from ALAC and others.
ALAC and GAC have a shared goal when it comes to reaching out to underserved communities and trying to encourage and/or empower them to participate in ICANN processes. And synergies and forms of collaborations could be identified in this area.
At Large review
The At-Large community has undergone an organisational review process which resulted in a draft report outlining several recommendations. ALAC finds some of these recommendations easy to accept, while others are see not only be unacceptable, but dangerous to implement. Some recommendations are related to engagement, outreach, and the need to bring new people into At-large activities. ALAC noted that one challenge in outreach activities has always been related to being able to present ICANN in an understandable way, and that the community will try to identify new approaches.
During the discussions, concerns were raised over what some perceive as unsuccessful review processes within ICANN, mainly due to difficulty in finding external independent reviewers who can understand ICANN’s complexity. One significant challenge when it comes to review processes is to achieve the right balance between an independent evaluator and an evaluator that understand what he/she is reviewing.
Cross Community Working Group on ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) Work Stream (WS2) - topics of joint interest
One topic of joint interest for both ALAC and GAC in WS 2 of CCWG is related to the issue of diversity within ICANN.
One concern expressed by ALAC was that there are still instances in which ICANN staff or even the Board considers that they do not have any obligations to parties other than the ones contributing money to ICANN. This is something the two committees could try to further explore, as they are both concerned about the public interest.
One comment made during the discussion was related to the 2012 round of new gTLD applications and the fact that the application and evaluation processes have demonstrated that the existing accountability mechanisms are not always working properly and can even be used for a purpose which is opposite to the one they were created for. As both ALAC and GAC are serving the public interest, the two committees could jointly look into such issues.
The session was dedicated to the discussion of how to protect the acronyms of International Governmental Organisations (IGOs). The discussion encompassed the following topics: a) which names or acronyms should be reserved; b) how to notify IGOs of the registration of a related name; c) the dispute resolution mechanism that could be used to resolve potentially competing legal processes; d) the appeal mechanism if the parties disagree with the results of that dispute resolution.
Mr Bruce Tonkin, ICANN Board, kickstarted the discussion by revising the narrow scope of ICANN’s mandate: to ensure the security and stability of the domain name system. He also listed some of the principles that guide the organisation, such as: the need to carry out its activities in conformity with the relevant principles of international law, international conventions and applicable local laws, while recognising that governments and public authorities are responsible for public policy and taking into account public policy advice. This should be done in a way that respects the multistakeholder decision-making process, ensuring that as many parties as possible are involved in assessing the global public interest.
With regard to applicable laws, the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO) policy development process (PDP) is taking into account the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property, which has some specific provisions that relate to the names and abbreviations of intergovernmental organisations, preventing third parties from getting a trademark against these names. The Article 6ter is only applicable to trademarks and its purpose is to prohibit the registration and use of trademarks that are identical to or present certain similarity with the name or official signs of an IGO.
The current status of discussions is the following, when it comes to the reservation of names and acronyms:
It is important to note, however, that both of these provisions do not protect names in gTLDs registered or top level names created prior to 2012. This means that there is no current protection for com, net, org, biz, info, name, moby, for example. One of the reasons that justify a policy development process is to make sure that the approach is applied to all gTLDs.
An additional complexity is that acronyms are not unique. For example, AU is the acronym for the African Union and that is also the country code for Australia. Many companies use AU as a designation to indicate their Australian operations.
The next topic of discussion was a mechanism that would let IGOs know when an undue registration happens. In this regard, suggestions were received from both the GNSO and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Both agree with the idea of a notification period, based on the experience of trademark protection, but the issue is how this notification should be done, to whom and for how long. The model of a 90-day 'Sunrise period’, proposed by the GNSO, was not accepted by the GAC because the opportunity for abusing a name may come at any time. For the GAC, a permanent notification mechanism should be preferable.
An adaptation of the 90-day period gained traction during the session and it was also suggested that ICANN could be a service provider for giving notification that an IGO name has gone into the DNS. This 90-day approach would allow use of the model of existing mechanisms and avoid re-opening a PDP. When it comes to potential dispute resolution mechanisms applying to IGO-related names, it was felt by some participants that it would be more pragmatic to give IGOs easier access to the existing improved system, unless there is a legal opinion that IGOs would need a separate system because of their immunity.
When it comes to appeals, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that ICANN’s curative rights processes are supplements to existing laws and that ICANN has no authority to compel registrants to submit to arbitration with no legal appeal. What would happen with regards to IGO’s immunity from national judicial process is an issue that deserves further discussion.
The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) held several discussions throughout the week on issues related to new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Governments explored several topics considered to be of high priority (e.g. community applications, geographic names, applicant support). They also engaged in exchanges with the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group (WG) (established within the framework of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) with the aim to determine whether any changes should be made to the new gTLD policy recommendations).
The GAC’s contribution to the New gTLD Subsequent PDP WG
The WG explained that it was collecting input on and exploring substantive issues, within the framework of four work tracks: overall process, support, and outreach; legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements; string contention objections and disputes; and Internationalised Domain Names and technical and operational issues. Several questions related to this issues have been prepared by the group, and the community will soon be invited to provide comments. Early input from the GAC will be welcome, and not necessarily in the shape of formal GAC advice (as elaborating such advice could be a rather lengthy process).
A question was raised as to whether previous GAC advice on new gTLD issues has been taken into account by the WG. In response, it was said that the WG has been considering GAC’s advice, but that, as it explores issues that have not been previously tackled by governments, additional input would be welcome. Several examples were given of issues on which GAC could provide feedback, such as applicant support, categories of new gTLDs, and community applications. These and other issues were discussed in more detail, as outlined below.
Outreach and applicant support
Governments expressed concerns regarding the fact that there were very few applications from developing countries during the 2012 round. Although entities from such countries could have applied for support, this opportunity was not extensively taken advantage of. The WG is paying careful consideration to this issue, looking at questions such as: How to make sure that more applicants are aware of and apply for support? What other issues should be improved when it comes to applicant support?
Another area of concern for governments is related to the use of geographic names as gTLDs. As there are several efforts within the ICANN community dedicated to exploring this issue (including, but not limited to the GAC and the PDP WG), a joint working session is planned for the upcoming Johannesburg ICANN meeting, in June 2017.
Categories of gTLDs
As part of its advice related to the 2012 round of new gTLD applications, the GAC requested that the categories of gTLDs be more clearly separated. The possibility of introducing new categories of gTLDs (in addition to, for example, the brand and community applications, more or less recognised as part of the 2012 round) is now being discussed by the WG, which is trying to determine the impact such a change would have on the application, evaluation, and contracting process. The group is also discussing whether, in case there are clearly defined categories of gTLDs, there should be any prioritisation for some of them. For example, as brand and geographic names are seen by some as among the most sustainable types of new gTLDs, should applications for such gTLDs be prioritised during the evaluation process?
A presentation was delivered on a report commissioned by the Council of Europe (CoE) on the issue of community-based applications (CBAs). The report focuses on ICANN’s policies and procedures concerning CBAs, and CBA-related opportunities and challenges from a human rights perspective. One of the main findings of the report was that it is insufficiently clear on which public interest values are served by CBAs and which categories of individuals or groups should be regarded as communities. Several recommendations are included in the report, on issues such as: the definition of the term ‘community’; community objections (for gTLDs representing names of relevance for certain communities); community priority evaluation; accountability mechanisms; and other concepts for subsequent gTLD rounds (e.g. considering community applications first; inviting applications in staggered batches to better manage workflow; developing an entirely different community track which would include restrictions to ensure applicants are accountable to their communities and provide real benefit to them).
GAC members emphasised the need to further reflect on what kind of changes should be implemented for new application rounds, in order to make sure that the public interest will be achieved in the end. It was also mentioned that community and geographic TLDs could be the ones to be most relevant in the future.
The CoE explained that it did not expect the GAC to endorse the recommendations outlined in the report, but rather to suggest that these recommendations are considered in the context of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP.
Other issues raised during the discussions were related to:
The GAC will continue to explore these and other issues, and to engage with the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP.
Throughout the week, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) held several discussions on issues related to the on-going work on enhancing the accountability of ICANN.
At the start of the discussions, the GAC Secretariat gave an overview of the current activities undertaken in the context of the Work Stream (WS2) of the Cross Community Working Group on ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability). Priority areas for WS2 include: jurisdiction, human rights and international law, improving the accountability of ICANN supporting organisations (SOs) and advisory committees (ACs), transparency, and diversity. Although the group will not be able to keep the initial timeline for completing its work (June 2017), it will work on a proposal for a new timeline, to be presented to its chartering organisations.
Among the various priority areas for WS2, the complex work on jurisdiction issues looks into questions related to ICANN's jurisdiction, including how choice of jurisdiction and applicable laws for dispute settlement impact ICANN's accountability and the actual operation of policies. Some GAC members stressed that jurisdiction issues be tackled not only looking at what is already in place, but also keeping in mind situations that may arise in the future and would need to be addressed, in particular in relation to dispute settlement.
Discussions were held on possible GAC contributions to the various calls for input launched or about to be launched by the various CCWG sub-groups: a questionnaire on jurisdiction-related issues; a draft Framework of Interpretation to assist ICANN in applying relevant bylaws which require the organisation to respect internationally recognised human rights (draft to be soon finalised by the dedicated sub-group); a questionnaire for ACs/SOs, currently under development by the sub-group working on diversity; and draft recommendations for best practices in terms of ACs/SOs accountability (also under development within the dedicated group). While it would be important for individual GAC members to contribute to these calls, the group will also need to consider providing collective responses on issues such as diversity, human rights, and ACs/SOs accountability.
GAC also discussed issues related to the implementation of the new ICANN bylaws, which came into force after the transition of the IANA functions stewardship to the global Internet community. There are several issues to be addressed:
1. A new framework for how the Board is expected to respond to GAC advice
The bylaws define two levels of Board responses to GAC advice:
Governments held initial discussions on possible procedures to identify whether GAC advice is: based on a full consensus in the absence of formal objections (GAC consensus advice), or based on a broad agreement but with a small number of objections (GAC advice). Several approaches were presented, and they are to be further discussed by GAC intersessionally:
It was explained that, in the case of simple GAC advice, the committee has the possibility to define modalities for dealing with one or a very small number of objections, in order to prevent cases when one or a very small number of countries could block consensus. Several GAC members underlined the fact that GAC should simply continue to follow its operating principles and only adopt advice on the basis of consensus. There was, however, willingness to explore a possible mechanism to avoid a veto-blocking consensus within the committee.
2. GAC participation in the Empowered Community (EC)
The EC is a mechanism which allows the ICANN community (represented by its ACs and SOs) to hold ICANN accountable through a number of powers such as approving changes to fundamental bylaws and remove Board members. GAC is a decisional participant in the EC, and, in this context, it needs to address a number of issues:
As discussions on these issues were only initial, governments will continue to explore them in the upcoming period.
The EC is about to be tested. In February, the Board adopted a decision to create a new committee for handling requests for reconsideration (appeals against ICANN decisions). This decision requires a change in the ICANN fundamental bylaws, which requires approval from the EC. It is expected that a part of the third stage in the escalation process (the community forum where decisional participants discuss the issue) will be held during ICANN 59 (June, Johannesburg). GAC members have agreed, in principle, to participate in the initial phases of the escalation process until the June meeting.
The New gTLD Program established auctions as a mechanism of last resort to resolve string contention. Although most string contentions have been resolved through other means before reaching an auction conducted by ICANN's authorised auction service provider, significant funds have accrued as a result of several auctions.
These auction funds have been put aside by the ICANN Board, until there is a plan for the appropriate use of the funds. A drafting team composed of representatives of supporting organisations (SOs), advisory committees (ACs), and the Board was convened, and prepared the charter for the Cross-Community Working Group on new gTLD auction proceeds (CCWG), responsible to devise that plan.
The Chair, Mr Jonathan Robinson, started the meeting in Copenhagen with a recap of the CCWG charter provisions and the legal and fiduciary constraints that need to be observed by the WG. The charter has strong requirements with regards to avoiding potential conflicts of interests: statements of interest need to be filled by members, as well as declarations whether the members (or their organisations) plan to apply for funds. One of the main questions posed to the CCWG members was whether the group believes that ICANN or its constituencies should be able to apply for ICANN auction funds for the future.
There was also a recap of the goals and objectives of the group, as defined by the charter:
The focus of the group so far has been: a) to provide an assessment of CCWG members' skills and expertise, to identify the shortcomings on expertise that may require the supplement of external input; b) to identify topics that may require further briefings/information to ensure common understanding.
During the development of a work plan, the group reviewed the questions proposed by the charter to identify: Are any of them gating questions that need to be answered beforehand? Are any key questions missing? Is any external expertise required to address charter questions? The mapping out of a possible timeline.
Ms Samantha Eisner, Deputy General Counsel at ICANN, started her presentation by explaining that any funds that ICANN spends need to be within the remit of its mission. ICANN also proposed some guidelines and principles for consideration in the work of the group:
A letter from the ICANN Board also details some specific considerations for the group, mentioning certain mechanisms and principles that the Board would like to see considered:
The group conducted a survey as an initial assessment of the charter to determine whether some of the questions contained in the document should be considered fundamental, and whether external expertise may be needed to reply to some of the questions.
The next steps for the group are: a) review the letter from the Board in order to provide an equally substantive response; b) analyse the result of the survey and match it with the questions in the charter.
The session aimed to start a strategic dialogue on the importance of data and metrics in the context of ICANN, especially to enable: 1. evidence based policy making; 2. organisational and community development; 3. a cleaner and safer DNS; 4. the development of new and better businesses; 5. enhancing public trust.
ICANN has already begun to work on some initiatives in this area with the gTLD Marketplace Health Index and the Identifier Technology Health Indicators. But so far there is no strategic thinking around data and the issue is not 'owned' at the most senior levels.
The speakers agreed that requests for more and better data are being made from different parts of the organisation, in initiatives such as the gTLD Marketplace Health Index – which aims to measure market concentration in different sectors of the new gTLD market – and during the work of the Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review Team. Thirty out of fifty recommendations made by the CCT Review Team are data-related.
Data is very important for evidence-based policy development at ICANN: it can help to identify problems, assess how serious they are, and prioritise them. It also allows for an assessment of the implementation – whether the policy was successful in solving the problem or not.
In spite of the importance of data, a large amount of it is not public. Some actors that operate within the ICANN framework own their databases and define how and by whom the information can be accessed.
Building data-driven businesses within the context of ICANN is important as well. Data can reveal important elements in the DNS market, such as market activity and potential slow-down, market growth, competition levels, deficit of innovation, and the perception of registrants. It can also provide market intelligence. For example: for a long time it was believed that registrants prefer shorter domain names, however, recent data suggests that individuals prefer longer and rather descriptive domains.
Data is also important for ICANN and its community to be able to tell their organisational story. There is little information, for example, on the number of jobs directly and indirectly created by the domain name industry, and the levels of community engagement. Initiatives put forth by other organisations, such as the Internet Measurement Project of the Internet Society, have successfully used data to tell a narrative. ICANN needs to use data to tell its story.
In order to bring data to the core of ICANN’s activities, some steps are necessary, such as: a) hiring a data specialist; b) adjusting community expectations when it comes to balancing privacy and openness; c) putting data governance frameworks in place.
With that in mind, ICANN recently launched an open data initiative. The project tasks ICANN staff with the mission of preparing ICANN to open data standards, to improve the way ICANN generates and collects data, and to devise a plan so that the collected data is made public over time.
Some challenges to achieving these goals within the context of ICANN are: a) data has been collected for a long time in different formats; b) there is no document planning framework, there are distributed curation and disperse formats; c) the initiative is not a priority in the budget; d) there is need to reconcile privacy and the possibility of personally identifying data with contractual obligations of the parties involved; e) re-publishing data acquired from third parties presents constraints.
The open data project will start with a pilot, with the following components: a) identify ICANN managed data; b) deploy the pilot project; c) determine a process for making data public; d) listen to the community for prioritisation hints.
The session was organised by ICANN’s Global Domains Division (GDD) and aimed to provide updates on the progress of several gTLD-related reviews, their key milestones and next steps.
The Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review (CCT) was the first process to be discussed. This review aims to assess whether and to which extent the New gTLD Program has enhanced competition in the DNS market, affected consumer trust and increased consumer choice. In the course of their work, CCT members had the goal to be methodologically data-driven and support their conclusions on factual data. They also tried to identify the metrics that could be used to evaluate the implementation of their recommendations.
Some highlights from the conclusions of the report were presented:
CCT’s Initial Report is open for public comment from anyone interested until 27 April. A webinar is going to be organised, probably on 29 March, to present the main findings of the report.
The New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group was the second new gTLD related process to be discussed. In December 2015, the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) approved the creation of the working group on new gTLD subsequent procedures, with the aim of reviewing and improving, if necessary, the 2007 GNSO’s policy recommendations on the introduction of new gTLDs.
The WG clustered its substantive discussions in two areas: a discussion on overarching issues and a discussion based on working tracks.
The four WG’s working tracks encompass the most substantive work of the WG and are dedicated to the following topics:
Questions regarding each of the tracks have been developed and will be put up for public comment. Respondents can choose to answer only a few questions from the questionnaire.
The initial report from the new gTLD subsequent procedures working group is expected to be published at the end of 2017. Related policy development processes will feed into the work of this working group.
The Cross-Community Working Group on Use of Country/Territory Names as TLDs was the third process to the analysed. This CCWG was chartered by the Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) and the GNSO to: a) review the current status of representations of country and territory names, as they exist under current ICANN policies, guidelines and procedures; b) provide advice regarding the feasibility of developing a consistent and uniform definitional framework that could be applicable across the respective supporting organisations (SOs) and advisory committees (ACs).
The discussion in the CCWG started with two letter-codes as top-level domains. There was an agreement among participants in reserving two letters at the top level of the DNS exclusively for the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). The rationale behind this was that ICANN should not be placed in the position of having to decide what is a country: if a new country is created, for example, corresponding two-letter TLDs should be available. The use of country and territory names at a second or other level is excluded from the scope of the CCWG.
When it comes to the reservation of three-letter TLDs, there was no consensus among CCWG participants. As a result, the WG did not make further progress on discussing country and territory names. The WG produced an initial report of its findings and recommendations which is available for public comment until 21 April.
The Working Group dedicated to the Review of All Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) in All gTLDs was created by the GNSO to conduct a review of RPMs in two phases: Phase One will focus on a review of all the RPMs that were developed for the New gTLD Program, and Phase Two will focus on a review of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
The review of the Post-Delegation Dispute-Resolution Policy (PDDRP), a mechanism through which trademark owners bring an action against DNS operators, has been concluded. The working group recommended, for example, that in some cases trademark holders should be able to come together and file a joint complaint against a registry. The review of the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMHC) is close to being completed. It was recommended that having more than one Clearinghouse operator would increase competition.
The working group is expected to wrap-up the review of the Clearinghouse in next few days and start the review of the Sunrise registration rights and Trademark claiming notice.
The Continuous data driven study on root stability (CDAR study) was the last new gTLD-related process to be analysed. The group focused on two main questions: Did the delegation degrade the security and stability of the root DNS system? Can any degradation occur in the future?
The draft CDAR report was published before ICANN 57 (Hyderabad). The study did not notice any degradation of the security and stability of the root as a result of the introduction of new gTLDs.
The public forum is a platform where the community can pose the ICANN Board members questions, either in person or remotely. Two such fora were organised during ICANN58.
Topics which dominated the public fora include: ICANN's jurisdiction, the next round of applications for generic top-level domains (gTLDs), delays in the process of reviewing the 2012 round of new gTLDs, diversity, ICANN's engagement, transparency, data security and privacy, and the ICANN Board's priorities.
In regards to ICANN's jurisdiction, Mr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board, confirmed that ICANN would remain based in the USA and that the sub-group working on ICANN's jurisdiction (in the framework of Work Stream 2 of the Cross Community Working Group on ICANN Accountability – CCWG-Accountability) would be discussing ways to handle issues, should they arise in the future.
Language diversity was highlighted by several community members, and it was suggested that there should be interpretation services at the meetings in the local host language. ICANN community members were encouraged to join the CCWG Accountability sub-group on diversity, to enhance the discussions.
Issues such as the ICANN's engagement, particularly in underserved regions, such as small islands, and the broadening of participation, especially of the next generation, were raised by several participants. The importance of measuring the engagement of participants in ICANN, especially in the subsequent meetings, was highlighted by one community member. Responding to a question on ICANN's initiatives to increase the engagement of the next generation, Mr Ram Mohan, ICANN Board member, shared examples of a hackathon event (Hack2Build) that took place during ICANN57, while Ms Rinalia Abdul Rahim, ICANN Board member, explained how the DotAsia pilot lead to the formation of the NextGen programme. On the question of how to increase engagement in underserved areas and strengthen ICANN's long term engagement plans, Mr Göran Marby, ICANN President and CEO, said that ICANN would base their plans for improving regional support on what they learn. Creating greater awareness and the continued engagement of ICANN was emphasised by participants.
On the issue of privacy and security of data, the need for stricter rules concerning the handling of private data in the context of Whois services was one of the issues raised byparticipants. Ms Becky Burr, ICANN Board member, said that while there is an ongoing discussion on the way in which Whois data is made available and its legitimate use, personal data, including Whois data, can only be processed for legitimate purposes.
ICANN’s continued engagement with Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), and the setting up a data protection or privacy officer, especially to comply with the European data protection regulations, were some of the recommendations made by participants during the public fora. Burr said that the engagements with DPAs would continue and that while ICANN is going through the compliance check-list, the ICANN community is also actively looking at the developments.
A lack of clarity with regard to the next round of gTLDs was addressed by several community members. However, no timeline for the next round of gTLDs was shared by the Board members. On issues related to specific marketing and awareness raising activities in relation to a subsequent round of gTLDs, Mr Akram Atallah, Director of the Global Domains Division at ICANN, said that such activities would be undertaken if the community so decides.
In response to the dissatisfaction that was expressed by some with regard to a Board resolution allowing the registration of two character codes as second level domain names in the new gTLDs, Crocker stated that the matter continues to be under discussion, due to its sensitive and contentious nature. Furthermore, Mr Thomas Schneider, Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) noted that the issue has been of great concern for a large number of GAC members, and that these governments hope they can work together with new gTLD registries and try to find a solution acceptable to all parties.
Addressing the concerns raised about possible unfair competition arising between registrars in Europe and other regions owing to ICANN's plan to designate one domain name data escrow provider at subsidy, Atallah said that after this initiative is implemented in Europe, other regions would be considered as well.
On the questions regarding status and delay of the independent review related to the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) and the independent review process, the Board commented that the review process was ongoing and that they will be able to respond based on the outcome of the review.
Two participants raised questions regarding the complaint mechanism process at ICANN. Marby stated that going forward, complaints would be managed by a complaints officer. Mr John Jeffrey, General Counsel, elaborated on the role of the complaints officer and the ombudsman, and said that the process of filing a complaint has yet to be decided on.
On the question related to the priorities of the Board for this year, Mr Cherine Chalaby, ICANN Board member, explained that the Board would be working on three 'clusters'. These include various priorities, among which: improving the Board relationship with the community, with points such as transparency of the Board, increased engagement, increased diversity, and efficient use of volunteers; improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Board; improving financial stability; enhance the effectiveness of review processes; supporting the ICANN CEO through the creation of an environment where the CEO succeeds; progressing on community public policy issues; progressing on technical issues; and supporting the Nominating Committee (NomCom).
Questions were raised related to transparency in ICANN's selection process of the location for ICANN meetings, the existence of closed sessions, and the expenditure report on travel support to community members to attend various meetings. There was also a request for staff to ensure appropriate planning for the ICANN59 joint session between the GAC, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), on geographic names (i.e. avoiding conflicts with other important sessions). It was observed that there were no sessions on the Public Technical Identifiers during ICANN58.
The involvement of Board members in Policy Development Processes (PDP) was also raised, and it was clarified that, while there is no rule prohibiting Board members to participate in such processes, this has not traditionally been done. The Board was also asked whether it is aware of the various upcoming Internet governance events and activities, and Mr Markus Kummer, ICANN Board Member, confirmed the Board's awareness by talking about their working group on Internet governance. Apart from ICANN taking part in various events, he reaffirmed ICANN's continued support of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), including regional and national IGFs.
Finally, ICANN was applauded for its statement about US Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, its fellowship programme, and the criteria being developed for choosing arbitrators for the Independent Review Panel.
The session was the first meeting between the ICANN Board and the Customer Standing Committee (CSC) after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) stewardship transition.
Mr Byron Holland, member of the CSC appointed by the Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO), started by explaining the main mission of the CSC according to its Charter. He highlighted that the CSC is responsible for monitoring the Public Technical Identifiers' (PTI) performance of the IANA naming function, against the service level expectations in the IANA Naming Function Contract. He also mentioned other responsibilities of the CSC such as participating in reporting, monitoring, conducting surveys, and informing the community about issues related to the performance of the IANA functions. According to him, this role has been assumed according to plan.
Holland explained in detail how the CSC does its work through monthly meetings, which usually take place in the middle of each month. At the meeting, CSC members receive and discuss the PTI report on 63 specific metrics, and decide on the CSC report. He also specified that the meetings are open, that records and proceedings are published on their website, and that the reports are sent to an extensive distribution list. For people who want to stay informed on this issue but do not have time to read a detailed report, he recommended the monthly report, which is only about a page long and gives an update of the IANA functions performance.
Regarding the CSC reports, Holland explained that the CSC rates the overall performance of the PTI based on a number of Service Level Expectations (SLE) achieved – excellent when all the expectations are achieved; satisfactory when not all are achieved – but there is no need for concern; and, needs improvement when actions are necessary. He added that the CSC also reports on metrics that the CSC is tracking closely, on how the SLEs could be adjusted, and on the numbers of complaints.
Holland also listed the CSC activities since October 2016:
To summarise, Holland said that the PTI performance has been very good with only some minor metrics missed and no consumer service impact or operational problems. He also said that the CEO of ICANN has initiated a dialogue with the CSC chair, and that the ICANN community needs to plan for reviews.
After that, the floor was opened to questions and comments from Board members and from the audience. Mr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Boad, referred to the importance of understanding whether the 63 specific metrics are relevant. Mr Göran Marby, ICANN CEO and President, briefly explained the importance of the meeting between the two external Board Members of the PTI and himself as a way of formalising the context between the organisations. Among other questions, Mr Khaled Koubaa, ICANN Board member, asked about the review of the effectiveness of the CSC (to begin by October 2018) and whether a process has been put in place by ccNSO and the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) to work on this review. Holland responded that no work has been undertaken within ccNSO in this regard, but that actions are to be expected.
The ICANN58 opening ceremony took place 18 years after ICANN held its first meeting. Mr Jean-Jacques Sahel, Vice President, Europe (Global Stakeholder Engagement) at ICANN, started the meeting off by presenting the speakers.
The first speaker was Dr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board of Directors, who shared some interesting facts about Denmark, such as it being one of the most connected countries in the world: Danish people are largely accessing the Internet through mobile devices linked to the nation's 100% 4G cellular systems, which last year facilitated a 97% Internet penetration rate.
Crocker introduced the key topic of the ceremony: transparency. He said that the ICANN Board is increasing its transparency and that they are engaged in a pilot programme to a consider opening some of their sessions. He also mentioned that the organisation's direction is clear and that their top priorities are to continue strengthening their technical orientation and the security of the domain name system (DNS). Crocker finished off by highlighting the work of the community towards this aim and he emphasised that empathy and mutual respect should be the basis of all discussions.
Ms Mette Bock, Danish Minister for Culture, talked about the use and importance of the Internet for Danish people. She said that the country is in the top ten of the UN ICT development index and that Danish people are the most advanced Internet Users in the European Union. She underlined the key and critical role that ICANN plays in coordinating and developing the DNS. She further remarked on the importance of new accountability mechanisms within ICANN. Bock thanked the community for their work during the IANA stewardship transition process.
Sahel then gave the floor to Prof. Henrik Udsen, Chair of the Danish Internet Forum (DIFO) & DK Hostmaster, who noted that the multistakeholder model is a vital component in creating a robust solution to many challenges that we currently face, both at a national and international level. An example is the fight against Internet crime, in which the DNS plays an important role.
The next speaker was Mr Göran Marby, President and CEO of ICANN, who started off by highlighting the power of the Internet in giving opportunities to people who would otherwise have none. However, he highlighted that users' needs are changing and that we need to take these needs into account. He went on to share some of the actions that ICANN is taking in order to be more transparent. One of them is the recent creation of the Complaints Office as an additional way for the ICANN organisation to be accountable for and transparent about its performance. Marby explained that it will work with ICANN's various internal complaints processes to assist improvements and collect data about complaints received across the organisation.
The last speaker was Mr David Conrad, ICANN Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, who announced that on 11 October 2017, ICANN will be changing the root zone key signing key (KSK). Before this happens, DNS operators who have enabled DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) validation must update their configurations. To assist operators, ICANN has launched a testbed for them to determine the readiness to support the KSK rollover.
At the end of the ceremony, participants were treated to a special performance by the Tivoli Youth Guard.
The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) met with the Country Code Name Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) to discuss a variety of topics such as various policy development processes (PDP); the retirement of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs); the delegation, revocation and retirement of ccTLDs; as well as an update by the Cross Community Working Group (CWG) on the use of country and territory names as TLDs (CWG-UCTN).
Ms Katrina Sataki, Chair of the ccNSO, opened the meeting and introduced Mr Nigel Roberts, ccNSO Councillor, who talked about the ccNSO PDP to address the lack of policy with respect to the retirement of ccTLDs and the introduction of a review mechanism on issues pertaining to the delegation, transfer, revocation and retirement of ccTLDs.
During ICANN57, in November 2016, the ccNSO Council resolved to appoint a drafting team to develop a charter and delineate the issues pertaining to the review mechanism and retirement of ccTLDs. To that end, a working group to address this issue will be presented to the ccNSO and the Council will be asked to formally start the PDP.
Mr Bart Boswinkel, Sr Director, ccNSO Policy Development Support, ICANN, shared three questions from the ccNSO Council on this process:
Several questions were addressed and three recommendations made. The first one was that the PDP process needs be started for both the review and the retirement of ccTLDs. It was also recommended to have one Working Group at this stage and that this way of organising could be more effective than a Task Force, as the community has more experience with them.
Boswinkel pointed out the next steps, which will involve:
He also remarked that the work is expected to be completed by January 2019, as there will be several rounds of public consultation.
Ms Annabeth Lange, Chair of the CWG-UCTN, gave an update about the work that the group has been doing. She noted that the mandate of this WG was limited to codes and names based on ISO3166, and that its aim is to review the existing policies and find a common framework that all stakeholders could agree on.
The group has been working on developing its Interim Paper for public comment, including the consensus views to date, the issues faced, and the conviction of the group that a harmonised framework is not feasible. She talked about the current status of the CCWG as the group has finalised its discussion on 2-letter codes, but there are still deliberation about 3-letter codes. She made a call to action for the present to read the report and give input.
Lange also referred to the tentative recommendations that this CCWG has made. The main one was to close the CCWG with the end of its current mandate, but to continue working on the issue in another format. In order to do so, there is a need of consolidation efforts. In addition, she mentioned the next steps to take on the matter such as a webinar on 25 April, to discuss geographical names as a whole, and a face to face meeting during ICANN59.
After the presentation, some of the GAC members made comments and asked questions. The GAC Vice Chair from Argentina, Ms Olga Cavalli, spoke about the work that is being done at the GAC Working Group to Examine the Protection of Geographic Names in Any Future Expansion of gTLDs, and she brought attention to the importance of merging their work with this CCWG. Cavalli also stressed that the GAC WG is undergoing an analysis of what happened/will happen with the names that are not on any of the lists.
The New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group, established within the framework of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) held an open meeting in the context of ICANN58, with the aim of advancing its work. As mentioned in its charter, the group is tasked with determining whether any changes should be made to the new generic top-level domains (gTLD) policy recommendations.
In the introductory part of the meeting, it was explained that the group had initially discussed broader issues such as: Should there be a new round of applications for new gTLDs? If so, should the categories of TLDs described in the 2012 Applicant Guidebook (AGB) be maintained, or should new categories be defined? Should there be rounds of applications, or should ICANN adopt a first-come-first-served principle? Currently, the group is focusing on more substantive issues, within the framework of four Work Tracks (WT). These are: (1) overall process, support, and outreach; (2) legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements; (3) string contention objections and disputes; and (4) Internationalised Domain Names and technical and operational.
The meeting continued with general introductions to the WTs, and further, more focused, discussions on a few of the issues covered within these tracks.
WT 1: Overall process, support, and outreach
This track looks into issues such as support and outreach regarding applications for new gTLD, communication (e.g. between ICANN and applicants), fees, and application queuing. Up until now, the sub-group mostly discussed issues related to fees (e.g. whether there should be different types of fees for different types of applications, and what areas should be emphasised when it comes to applicant support), and the possibility of introducing a pre-approval accreditation programme for registry service providers (RSPs).
During the discussions, concerns were raised with regards to the clarity of the new gTLD application process, and references were made to the fact that, during the 2012 round, there were several changes made in the process, after the release of the AGB. Many applicants found those changes as impacting the applications throughout the process. For future rounds, the amount of such ‘late implementation clarifications’ should be reduced, to bring more clarity and predictability into the process.
WT2: Legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements
The second track deals with issues related to the new gTLD registry agreement (whether there should be a template agreement for all types of gTLDs, or different templates for different types of gTLDs), mechanisms for rights protection at the second level – for domain names registered in new gTLDs, reserved names (whether the current policy for reserved names should change), registrant protection, ‘closed generics’, registry/registrar separation, and the global public interest.
On the issue of ‘closed generics’, the question is whether an entity could apply for a generic string, and restrict the registration of domain names to itself and its affiliates. The ICANN Board prohibited closed generics in the 2012 applications round (based on advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee), but the question remains open for possible future rounds. There have been voices both in favour of and against maintaining this prohibition, and comments were made on the need to actually define what a generic term is, and what the difference between generic and specific terms is.
On the issue of reserved names, there seems to be a preference among the group to largely maintain the existing policy regarding reserved names at the second level. Discussions were held on the advantages and disadvantages of producing a more or less definite list of reserved names, for registries to be able to use as reference and have more clarity on what is expected from them (as the current AGB only describes the categories of names that should be reserved).
WT3: String contention objections and disputes
This track looks into aspects related to: objections to new gTLD applications (e.g. on morality and public order grounds, legal rights objections, confusing similarity, etc.) and related costs and outcomes, string similarity in new gTLD applications, community applications (the overall approach to community-based applications, and how community priority evaluation worked), accountability mechanisms.
One of the issues raised during discussions on community-based applications (applications for gTLDs representing certain communities) was the possibility of introducing an ‘expression of interest’ period, during which entities would express their interest in applying for a certain string, and a timeframe would be made available for competing community-based applications to be submitted for some of the strings. A possible introduction of priority rounds for community-based applications was also discussed.
On the issue of string similarity, debates focused on the singulars – plurals cases (i.e. applications for two gTLDs that represent the singular and plural versions of the same word). Some mentioned that TLDs should be seen as public goods, and, as such, used in the public interest. As the public could be confused by singulars – plurals gTLDs, there should be a rule saying that such gTLDs should be prohibited. Others have argued that more attention needs to be paid to the fact that the plural version of an English word, for example, might have a different meaning in another language. It was also said that, instead of introducing a prohibition per se, emphasis should be put on education and awareness-raising among end-users.
WT4: Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) and technical & operational
The sub-group focusing on this track discusses issues such as: IDNs, universal acceptance, applicant evaluation (e.g. the technical and financial evaluation of the applications), name collisions, and security and stability.
Discussions focused on new gTLD applicant evaluations. During the 2012 round, applicants were subject to background checks on criminal, financial, and cybersquatting grounds. As none of the applications failed these checks, two main questions were raised: Should such evaluations be eliminated for future rounds? Or should the requirements rather be enhanced?
The group will continue addressing these and other issues, and plans to issue a call for comments on a number of questions related to the four tracks of work in the upcoming period. A draft version of this call is available. The group intends to publish an initial report for public comment by the end of the year.
The document contains a series of proposals aimed to transfer NTIA’s current stewardship role over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the global multistakeholder community. It is composed of three distinct proposals, from the three communities directly affected by the transition: the domain names community, the numbering resources community (mainly the Internet Regional Registries responsible for the regional allocation and management of IP addresses), and the protocol parameters community (represented by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)).
The accountability proposal outlines a series of recommendations aimed to make ICANN more accountable to the global Internet community. It is complementary to the proposal on the transition of the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to the global multistakeholder community.
The advisory, elaborated by the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and addressed to the ICANN Board of Directors, contains recommendations on a set of parameters considered to be useful to monitor and establish a baseline trend of the root server system.
The guide provides basic information about the so-called IANA functions: protocol parameters, Internet number resources, and root zone management of the Domain Name System.
The proposal, elaborated by ICANN and Verisign, outlines a possible modality for removing US's government's administrative role associated with root zone management (in the overall context of the transition of the US government oversight role over key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community - the so called 'IANA stewardship transition process').
The presentation outlines the role of the US Government's National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the management of the Internet root zone file.
The brief outlines a number of policy suggestions for ensuring the global inviolability of the Internet root zone.
The fact sheet is intended to explain DNSSEC in simple terms.
The guide provides an introduction into domain names, as well as a summary of key aspects related to obtaining and using a domain name.
The paper provides a general overview of what teh Domain Name System is and how it works.
The website offers up-to-date statistics about new generic top level domain (new gTLDs): number of gTLDs, number of domain name registrations, top gTLDs, largest registrars, etc.
The webpage provides weekly updated statistical information on the status of new generic top level domains (gTLD) applications.
At IGF 2016, discussions regarding the DNS revolved around the impact of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) on market competition and Internet security and stability (ICANN New gTLD Program: Exploring Impact & Future Direction - WS63), the role of Internationalised Domain Names - IDNs (Open Forum: ICANN - OF14) in the development of local content, and the lessons learnt from the IANA stewardship transition (A Post IANA Transition ICANN - WS64).
This year, for the first time, the discussions on controversies related to the ICANN and the IANA functions took a different angle, following the finalisation of the IANA stewardship transition process. Discussions focused on the role of the community in the process, and the future of ICANN’s multistakeholder model. Sessions discussed the implementation phase of the various reforms, and the accountability process.
Aspects related to the Internet architecture were touched on during the WSIS Forum. Internet Fragmentation (session 169) discussed the need to maintain an open, unique, and global Internet, and looked at various types of risks (of technical, governmental, or commercial nature) than can lead to Internet fragmentation. The expansion of the DNS with over 1000 new gTLDs was the focus of ICANN New gTLD Program Reviews and Lessons Learned (session 141). ICANN is currently undertaking reviews of the new gTLD programme (its impact on competition, consumer choice, rights protection, etc.). These are expected to inform a decision on whether and when there will be a new round of the programme.
In CCWG Accountability (session 186), the discussion focused on the IANA stewardship transition process and the related work on enhancing ICANN’s accountability, both processes being de- scribed as a remarkable example of a working multistakeholder model. The transition and accountability proposals were seen as a compromise reached by various stakeholders who shared the same goal: ensuring that, as the transition takes place, Internet technical functions continue to work well and ICANN becomes more accountable to the community.
The discussions on the IANA transition during the IGF 2015 need to be looked at from the broader process which has been ongoing for the past few months. Specifically, the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) recently completed its work (with only one outstanding item related to accountability), while the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) agreed on the development of the Triple E approach (engagement, escalation, and enforcement) and on the Sole Designator model.
At the IGF, two main discussions took place. The first was in relation to jurisdiction and the fact that ICANN is subject to the laws of California. Although the question was floated as to whether ICANN would serve the global public interest if it remained subject to California’s jurisdiction, the conclusions of the workshop on National and Transnational Internet Governance: Jurisdiction (WS 135) were quite clear. It was concluded that the stability of the existing operation of ICANN in California should not be disturbed, and that the few motivations for change are political and not realistic. In addition, the new arrangements which would see ICANN remain in the USA are sound. They allow for future change, but no change is foreseen. The discussion on jurisdiction continued during a parallel session on IANA Functions Transition: A New Era in Internet Governance? (WS 72).
In another discussion - Multistakeholder Internet Governance - IANA Stewardship (WS 163) - ICANN was urged to put more effort into ensuring greater diversity in its engagement process. Contributors to the ongoing process are not representative of the whole community, as statistics show that most contributors are from North America and Europe, whereas Africa and Latin America are hardly represented in the exercise. In addition, ICANN’s participation model is a challenge to some contributors; extended conference calls and time zone differences were among the examples used to urge ICANN to enhance its outreach programme. The next step is for CCWG-Accountability to publish a high-level overview of recommendations and a summary of changes from the second draft proposal.