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ICANN monthly magazine - September 2007

September 2007: ICANN magazine

ICANN monthly magazine

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September 2007


In this issue:


Welcome to the second issue of ICANN's monthly magazine. Each issue will cover the latest news and events, plus outline how you can interact with the organization.

PLUS this month we have set up an online poll asking what information you want from ICANN, how you want it, and how you currently interact with us.

ICANN is making decisions that directly affect all those that use the Internet, whether governments, businesses or individual Net users.

We help coordinate the names and numbers that are vital to producing one globally interoperable Internet. Our decision-making processes are open to all and we welcome all those equally passionate about how the Internet evolves. 

If you have any questions, comments or queries please feel free to contact ICANN's general manager of public participation: kieren.mccarthy@icann.org.

Links
Policy Matters
ICANN Board
Interview with the CEO
The Great Reclamation
Participation
Other news
Announcements

 

Tell us what you think: online survey
Online survey
One of ICANN's most important jobs is to provide information on its processes. To that end, we have a series of publications, systems and websites to elicit input and comment from the Internet community.

But is it enough? Are we providing sufficient information? Is it in the right format or on the right topics? Are you using the various means of interacting with ICANN? If not, why not? What can we do to improve?

We have set up a quick and easy six-question online survey to find out from you what you want. It will take less than five minutes, but we will use it to help decide the future course of providing information about ICANN and its processes.

So please do take a few minutes out from your day to complete the survey. We will be very grateful for all help received.

Take the survey

Take the survey

Policy Matters

IDNs

Background info

For years people have dreamed of the truly multi-lingual Internet, where the names of websites as well as the content on them, can be represented in the world's different languages.

After years of technical and policy development work, a fundamental milestone in the creation of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) has been reached with approval by the ICANN Board to introduce no less than 11 test top-level domains to the root of the Internet.

Literally test TLDs - the term "test" will be translated into Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil and put up on the Net. The top-level domains will host a series of wikis and people from across the world will be encouraged to run free in the new space so ICANN can see how the IDNs function on the real Internet.

In terms of policy, the ccNSO, GAC, GNSO and ALAC will produce responses to a ccNSO-GAC issues paper on the public policy issues of introducing IDNs. The ccNSO is considering launching a Policy Development Process (PDP) on the issue. 

Key dates:
  • Sep: The "test" IDNs will be put live into the root
  • Oct: The ICANN meeting will see large amounts of policy work and discussion
ICANN staff contact(s): Tina Dam



REGISTRY/ REGISTRAR AGREEMENTS

The review of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) - the contract that defines the relationship between ICANN and companies that register domain names (registrars) - has been under review since the collapse of registrar RegisterFly.

Six suggested amendments to the RAA have been posted on the ICANN website and a public comment period on them, which is also open to other suggested changes, started on 30 July. It will close on 10 September.

The feedback from that will be used to draw up draft amendments, which will then be put out for a second public comment period. Other ICANN constituencies will be invited to contribute their views.

Discussions surrounding amendments to the RAA will form part of public discussion at the Los Angeles ICANN meeting in October, both at the public fora, and possibly in another workshop on the matter.

Registries

In the meantime, a number of registry agreements are being reviewed. The ICANN Board approved renewal of the .name registry contract to 2012 at its 14 August meeting. The approval brings it in line with registry contracts covering .biz, .info and .org.

There are also ongoing negotiations for the .aero and .museum agreements, updates on which are on the Board agenda for its 11 September meeting. The .museum renewal will be considered by the Board on 16 October.

Also, the .post new sTLD is in a new stage of negotiations, with a comment period opened on the most recent communication between the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and ICANN. There is also a comment period open on the .museum contract extension.

Key dates:
  • 30 Sep: Comment period on .museum closes
  • 6 Oct: Comment period on .post closes
  • 16 Oct: ICANN Board will consider renewing .museum agreement
ICANN staff contact(s): Tim Cole (Services - RAA changes) and Craig Schwartz (Services - Registry agreements).



IPv6

Background info

Although ICANN plays a limited role in the much larger issue of the global upgrade of the network to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) from the current IPv4, IANA staff are among those most aware of the technical issues surrounding IPv6.

IANA staff, in both official and personal capacities, continue to give presentations on the issue at conferences across the world. So do a number of ICANN Board members, including chairman Vint Cerf.

At the most recent ICANN meeting in San Juan, the Board passed a series of resolutions concerning IPv6 including that it would "participate in raising awareness of this situation and promoting solutions".

At the most recent ICANN meeting in San Juan, the Board passed a series of resolutions concerning IPv6 including that it would "participate in raising awareness of this situation and promoting solutions".

IANA has recently allocated large pieces of IPv6 space to the Register Internet Registries (RIRs). You can also read how IANA reclaimed a large piece of the IPv4 Internet space last month below (see The Great Reclaimer).

Key dates:
  • 12-15 Nov: The Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
  • 2009: The earliest suggested date for when the free pool of IPv4 address will run out
ICANN staff contact(s): Leo Vegoda (IANA)



To be covered in the next newsletter:
  • Independent review
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Ombudsman

ICANN Board

The ICANN Board

Recent Board meetings


The Board met on 14 August 2007 to discuss, among other things, the selection of a company to run ICANN's data escrow programme (where domain name ownership details are stored by a third party in case of registrar problems). The Board approved Iron Mountain for the role.

Other items discussed included: renewal of the contract for the .name registry, due to expire on 4 January 2008 (it was approved); a range of redelegation requests for Dominica, North Korea, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. Dominica's request was approved and the remainder will go forward to the next Board meeting on 11 September.

Importantly for the progression of Internationalized Domain Names, the Board approved the addition of eleven test domains into the root that will be used to evaluate the performance of IDNs in the real-life Internet environment rather than in a lab setup.

The Board also: chose Paris as the location for the June 2008 meeting; approved recent legal expenses; reformed the members of a number of Board committees; and extended the lease of ICANN office space in Marina del Rey for four years.

Preliminary minutes for the full meeting are up on the ICANN website. Full minutes should be available soon.



Future meetings

The Board will hold a meeting on 11 September. The agenda is up on the ICANN website and includes:

  • Discussions on the new .post registry
  • Discussions on renewal of the .aero and .museum registries
  • Delegation requests from North Korea, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslavia
  • Recommendations from the Board Governance Committee on the Nominating Committee
  • An update on the Whois policy process
  • Approval of Board review terms of reference for public comment
  • Discussion and possible selection of the site for the February 2008 meeting
 



You can view all past, current and future Board meetings, along with minutes and agenda on one webpage on the ICANN website at http://www.icann.org/minutes/.

Interview with the CEO
Paul Twomey - CEO and President, ICANN
The President and CEO of ICANN, Dr Paul Twomey, answers a few questions about reviews, retreats and the Indian IT revolution.

What have you been up to this month?
I've been working on a combination of things. With Doug Brent [ICANN COO] I've been working on a series of operational reviews; we've had a strategic retreat with the board; and I've been working closely with Rajasekhar Ramaraj [ICANN board member] on building relations with the Indian business community and also with the Indian government.

What are these operational reviews?
Well, one of the things the board committee, particularly Njeri Rionge, has been pushing over the last twelve months has been to have an ongoing process of operational review, and so we established an operational review panel.

The idea is actually to review each business unit within the ICANN staff process, and look for opportunities for improvements, particularly with a mind towards working to adopt some sort of quality performance measure or test for the staff functions of ICANN over the next several years.

What have you found out?
The big message that came out of it was, that as ICANN's staff functions have grown to meet the demands of the community, some units have done well in developing internal processes, managing work; other units need to do better at doing that developmental process. And probably the most challenging aspect is the need for managing certain processes across all the units... that needs to be improved.

I don't find this surprising in an organizational sense. The staff function for ICANN, say when I first became president, was very small; essentially everything was done by people who could meet around the water cooler. But that, of course, meant that a lot of things didn't get done: we didn't have enough staff. As we've been able to increase staff numbers to support the community and deal with the depth and complexity of the work coming from the community, part of our aim has been to ensure that each unit manager runs their own affairs and makes sure it runs well.

Getting on to the board retreat...
The board retreat was an opportunity for board members to meet face to face and be able to talk through, in a more informal setting, the issues they see in front of the organization. There were two key aspects: one was talking through what they thought should be their input into the strategic planning process, so they had a chance to talk through in great detail what strategic issues were facing ICANN and what particular insights they had for the next three-year cycle.

The second conversation was their own thinking about succession: recognizing that Vint is moving on as chair. The board members were having an open discussion amongst themselves about what sort of characteristics they'd be looking for in a new chair, and some discussion of potential options. That's a conversation which clearly hasn't come to any conclusion and which is still an ongoing discussion among the board members.

As CEO, what changes do you think Vint leaving will have on ICANN and its Board?
Well I think there's no doubt that Vint's been an outstanding contributor to ICANN - just as he's been an outstanding contributor to the entire Internet. I think we should recognize though that there is no Vint Mark II.

We also have to recognize that whoever moves into the position of being chair is simply not going to be the same person. It's probably healthy that it's not - it's good to have a different style. But I think, very importantly, we ought to recognize why there's the chair of ICANN. The chair of ICANN's role is to be the chair of the board, and to be something of a public face for the organization.

You mentioned new relationships with India - why India, and what have you been doing?
Well, India is a very large country, its economy is growing at high single-digit growth rates; it has a significantly growing middle class; a very large IT outsourcing business, process outsourcing and now increasingly R&D-based IT industry, particularly in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

So Rajasekhar Ramaraj, our board member from India, was keen - and we've been keen - to organize a sort of outreach to Indian business, which we did in Bangalore, and also further with industry associations in Delhi.

And what is ICANN telling the Indians?
Well, what it is that ICANN does or does not do. The community that co-ordinates the unique identifier system is at the very heart of their whole business model, particularly for the business-process outsourcing, the software outsourcing industry... The very fact that all those people can build those very successful businesses in India is because they can ensure that their customers' customers can be reached by the software they're writing very easily - instantly.

ICANN stands for a single interoperable Internet, and their business success has been based upon a single interoperable Internet, and I think they recognize that - they haven't heard it expressed that way.

Steve Crocker also attended and he talked a lot about DNSSEC, IPv6 - the need for IPv6 uptake - and I think that was taken on board in India. We spent some very interesting time with the Indian CERT. Traditionally inside ICANN, I think, we've seen the sort of security details that the CERTs are worried about as just being an application-layer concern and therefore outside our remit. But there are application-layer aspects to what they do. Where the two Venn diagrams intersect is in things like flux of IP addresses, spoofing of domain names, use of tasting of domain names - potential ways of setting up attack sites, and spoofing sites.


One of the big events just after the Los Angeles meeting in November is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio where the topic of 'critical Internet resources' is going to be discussed. What role do you see ICANN playing at that meeting?
I think the fact that critical Internet resources are one of the agenda topics is a good thing. Very importantly, though, the function ICANN does is only a small part of what critical Net resources are, and I think it's important - especially for developing countries - that that discussion also has to be about critical infrastructure and application-layer stuff as well as simply the domain name system and IP addressing.

But nevertheless, in terms of DNS and IP addressing, I think that ICANN, the Regional Internet Registries and others have a great story to tell, and we're proud to go out and tell that story: what we do; how multi-party stakeholder models work; the increasing number of country codes and governments that have been involved in our work; the way in which the policy procedures work; the further internationalization of ICANN as an international non-profit organization: I think those are all good news stories, so we'll be confident and happy to go forward and have that discussion.


Thanks
Thank you.

The Great Reclamation
Reclaiming an IP block
It's easy to forget in the day-to-day administration and management of the Internet's names and numbers that the network is still a young invention with a living history - one that is still be written as we speak.

A recent effort by IANA to reclaim a part of that old network for new users helped put that history into context.

After several months' spent locating and contacting 29 organizations and obtaining their permission, IANA has managed to free up one up of the 256 blocks of IP addresses that make up the current Internet.

The "slash-8" was number 14 if you view IP address as a list of 256 items and was assigned to the Public Data Network. The space was specifically set aside in June 1991 to connect IPv4 networks to the ITU's X.25 networks.

In that sense, block 14.0.0.0/8 is a piece of history. The X.25 protocol was one of the first efforts to use the new packet-switching technology to produce a more reliable, digital network. It preceded the OSI model that was pushed heavily by the ITU but which was finally set aside in favor of the TCP/IP model that the Internet as we now know it runs on.

Detective work

But despite X.25 still being in use in a few countries, its IP address block is no longer needed, and so IANA ran through all the recipients of IP addresses in that block since 1991, and asked if they would agree to return their allocation. In some cases, the contact information was out-of-date; in others, there was no contact information. But after some detective work by the technical community all those in charge of the 984 addresses in use were tracked down. At the end of August one final registrant was researching the status of one last address.

In the first seven months of 2007, IANA has allocated nine slash-8s to the RIRs (Regional Internet Registries), who then allocate them to organizations and businesses in their regions. Block 14 and its 16 million IPv4 addresses will be made available in the next few months, leaving just 47 blocks in the free pool of unallocated addresses. Or, put another way, with the Internet's growth as it is, the Public Data Network will buy roughly one month's worth of expansion time.

The reclaim is unlikely to be repeated. We estimate it took six minutes per address. Fine when less than 1,000 exist in a block of 16 million, but a whole other world when the addresses have entered mainstream Internet use.

The future's... big

The solution to the diminishing pool of IPv4 addresses is, of course, the step up to IPv6 networks. Barely 0.1 percent of the IPv6 address space has been allocated so far. And of that, only a tiny fraction is in use. How big is IPv6? If you could fit all IPv4 addresses into an iPod, it would take something the size of the Earth to contain IPv6. We're unlikely to need to go through a similar reclaiming exercise with IPv6 any time soon.
 

Participation

PUBLIC COMMENT

There was a bumper crop of public comment periods during and ending in August, including: the draft management operating principles; the new gTLD paper; and the latest iteration of ICANN's Strategic Plan.

You can view full details of all these comment periods on a specific August public comment page here.

Meanwhile, there are four comment periods currently open that will close this month, which are: a request of information covering the issue of domain tasting - which includes two online polls (see below); changes to the RAA (see policy above for more details); independent review of the Nominating Committee; and review of the .museum contract.

They can all be found, with full links, at the top of the main public comment webpage.

   


ONLINE SURVEYS

Following on from a successful experiment with feedback on new gTLDs, the online survey system that ALAC has been using for several months has been expanded to the recent domain tasting request for comments.

There are two surveys asking people what they think and if they have extra information that might be useful. The first is a broad survey covering people's experiences with domain tasting and their views on various suggested ways to tackle the issue. The second, produced by the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC), is a more in-depth review of how people - in particular businesses - have been impacted by domain tasting.

So far, the surveys have proved popular since they represent a fast, easy and structured way to gather information and views on particular topics. We continue to run the traditional email forums and will be analyzing how the two work alongside one another, while keeping one eye on a possible reform of the forum process. 



BLOG

A series of interesting and thoughtful blog posts and comments this month, from a discussion over whether we should spell ICANN "Icann", or Internet "internet"; to two podcasts of Board members Steve Goldstein and Susan Crawford talking about the history of the Internet and ICANN respectively. Also: a quick review of the history of new gTLDs, and some commentary on an effort by a financial services company to differentiate themselves through their use of a .org domain. 



PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SITE

There have been several threads of discussion on the public participation site recently - most concerning ideas for new gTLDs. Would-be registrars from across the world have also been seeking information on how to become ICANN-accredited. ICANN staffer Baher Esmat wrote the first post in Arabic covering the IGF process.

The public participation site is open to all interested individuals, who are free to blog directly to the site, or comments on others' posts as soon as they have registered. The site also runs feeds of news from ICANN and from the community on each page.



OUTREACH

ICANN conducts periodic outreach events with universities. Events were held in Lisbon, Portugal and San Juan, Puerto Rico during the last two ICANN meetings.

In advance of the ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, ICANN will conduct a number of small outreach events with universities in Los Angeles. The first events have been scheduled for 27 September 2007 at USC and USC-ISI. Additional events are being planned.




More details on participating with ICANN can be found at: http://icann.org/participate/

Other News

Delhi meeting: ICANN, together with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology of India and the Internet & Mobile Association of India, held a workshop in Delhi last month.

The event covered the domain name industry and Internet governance and was attended by Shri R. Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India; Dr. Gulshan Rai, Director, CERT-In; and ICANN Board members Shri R. Ramaraj, Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Security and Stability Committee, and ICANN CEO, Paul Twomey.

You can read Dr Twomey's thoughts and feelings about the meeting in his interview above.

Global news: ICANN has developed a joint proposal with UNESCO for the IGF meeting in Rio in November focussing on the multi-lingual Internet. Preparations are also underway for a joint ICANN/TWNIC meeting in Taiwan in October covering security, IDNs and IPv6.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ICANN and the UN Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia (UN ESCWA) aimed to encourage the implementation of IDNs in the Arabic language was signed.

For more news from the Middle East region, visit regional manager Baher Esmat's webpage here.

Announcements

 

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function.

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

Interview with Jacqueline Morris
Jacqueline Morris - ALAC chair
Jacqueline Morris is chair of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC). She is an Internet specialist based in Trinidad and Tobago, and a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies.


What do you see as ALAC's role in ICANN?

Well the idea is that we should have loads and loads of people getting excited about being involved in these things, get input from them as to what are the important issues regarding the technical governance of the Internet, take this to ICANN and say "these are issues that are important to our people".

We should also do it the other way and get stuff from ICANN and say "this is what they're going to do, and what do you think about it, and how do you think it's going to affect you?" But we're still in a structural transition period at the moment. We've been asking for input from the RALOs [Regional At-Large Organizations] on a lot of things, and some of them are setting up their structures so that they can go out to their membership.


One of the criticisms against this new ALAC system with ALSes (At Large Structures) and RALOs is that it is unnecessarily bureaucratic. Do you think there's something to that?

I don't think it's bureaucratic, because we don't have any rules at the moment! So it can't really be bureaucratic. We have the bylaws which are very loose - as they should be - and now we have to actually work out the details.

Some of the RALOs are bureaucratic - that is true. Some have spent days and months building their structures and their general assemblies and their rules and regulations, and their operating principles and so on and so forth. They actually have more paper than ALAC has.

But now we (ALAC) have to put in some rules, because we have people coming in who are basically taking orders from their region, and that makes it a lot more difficult to achieve that whole consensus and collegiality thing,


What is the main thing you want to achieve while you are chair?

The main thing is to get it all working properly or at least to a good-enough level. It used to run on rough consensus; now we have to put in some rules and not be as informal as we were. And we have started doing that - writing down why we do what we do, documenting it and so on. And that unfortunately is taking up an awful lot of time - it has to be done, but it also takes away some of the energy from policy, which frustrates some people. Like me!


What's on your mind at the moment?

Well we have an internal working group on the Registrar Accreditation Agreement. We've got out working group on IDNs, which has about 20 people on it, already set up. And then there's an ad hoc working group for each committee that people are liaising to, so we've appointed a liaison to Security and Stability advisory committee, and that has a little discussion group. We'll know we're really cooking with gas when we get a liaison to the GAC. Not from the GAC - to the GAC.

One of the biggest issues around At-Large has always been the ending of the At-Large elections to be replaced with the Nominating Committee (in 2003). Are you watching the NomCom review that's going on at the moment?

Yes. Everybody's talking about the NomCom review. I have spoken to the reviewers [Interisle Consulting Group], I've given them names of people in the At Large who are both pro and anti the NomCom concept. Personally, I think it is important to have people who are not elected by a constituency. I think of the NomCom people as kind of like the House of Lords - not beholden to anybody in particular.

But one thing that I have been telling people all along is that we'll get Board representation when we prove that we are viable and useful and sensible. But they're not going to give it to us just because we say so, or just because we're nice or just because it's our birthday. We'll get it because we earn it, not because we think we deserve it. It's not our birthright. Until we prove that we deserve it, it won't happen.
 
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