At the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) public meeting in Durban, the ICANN Board held a session with its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and covered the following major topics:
ICANN’s Proposed Strategic Planning Panels
These panels will be convened to tackle five issues that, ICANN’s CEO Fadi Chehadé stated, were determined at ICANN’s last public meeting in Beijing and need to be discussed and resolved as a community.
GAC members pushed Mr. Chehadé for additional information about how these panels will interact with other parts of the community, how transparency will be ensured, and how governments can be closely involved. Mr. Chehadé stressed that government input would be welcome either through membership on these panels, or through feedback throughout the discussion process. These panels will conduct its business transparently, holding public town hall meetings (either virtually or live) and publishing documents for comment.
Category 1 Safeguards, Singular/Plural Versions of .EXTENSIONS, and Dotless Domains
The GAC and ICANN Board discussed Category 1 Safeguards (.EXTENSIONS relating to consumer protection, sensitive strings, and strings linked to regulated markets); the GAC’s ongoing concerns over applications for potentially confusing singular and plural .EXTENSIONS, and the GAC’s concerns about dotless domains, which could allow, for example, http://search to resolve to content in .SEARCH. No conclusions have been reached as of yet, but the Board does expect to advance discussions in August, when a commissioned report on the issue will be completed.
The New gTLD Registry Agreement (RA) and the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA)
The European Commission highlighted the fact that certain provisions in the RA and RAA may violate national privacy laws and this will create certain inherent disadvantages in contracting. The Board acknowledged this concern but did not have much to say in reply.
Internationalization and Outreach
Multiple GAC representatives brought up the need for increased outreach to developing countries and inquired about the Board’s intentions to further “internationalize” ICANN through new engagement centers, particularly in Geneva. Mr. Chehadé stated that many international organizations have a presence Geneva, and ICANN has until now been absent from that city and from the dialogue that takes place there. He went on to note that ICANN’s office in Geneva is about investing time to engage with international organizations and foster an understanding and appreciate of ICANN’s multistakeholder model of Internet governance.
Keeping the organization transparent
Heather Dryden, chair of the GAC, stated that the group is working on a code of conduct, and that the group needs to be transparent about its discussions and decisions in the same way as other parts of the ICANN community. Mr. Chehadé brought up new transparency measures enacted for ICANN’s project management team; each project is assigned a budget number and real-time status updates so that the public can keep track of the progress and costs of ICANN’s efforts.