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ICANN monthly magazine - December 2007

December 2007: ICANN magazine

ICANN monthly magazine

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December 2007


In this issue:

  • Where are we up to with Registrar Accreditation Agreement changes?

  • Are you compliant? Find out what ICANN is doing to make sure

  • What has the Board decided since November?

  • What is ICANN going to do about the JPA?

  • News from around the world, the CEO and much more...


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

The more astute of you will be wondering whether you have missed the November magazine. The answer is no, you didn’t. Since the October magazine came out at the end of October in an effort to capture the latest information just prior to the Los Angeles meeting, and with this magazine held back in order to get details of the final Board meeting of the year prior to the holidays, there will be no November 2007 ICANN magazine. This should be a one-off and 12 magazines covering each month will appear in 2008.

ICANN makes 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
Participation
Other news
Announcements

Policy Matters

Contractual compliance


The Contractual Compliance Department has been in place since November 2006 to ensure that registrars and registries are complying with their contractual obligations with ICANN.

There is still much work that needs to be done to reach the long-term goals outlined at its inception but in its first 12 months, the department - recently expanded to three members - has made significant progress. Among other things it has: published the Contractual Compliance Program description; carried out and published the results of registrar and registry audits [pdf]; published a proposed advisory to clarify the Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy; as well as analyzed consumer complaints and provided statistics on them

On top of this, the compliance department has carried out a number of investigations into registrars and registries; published information to assist registrants in resolving problems with registrars; and updated the InterNIC website to better assist consumers in finding information and resolving complaints regarding Internet Domain Name Registration Services.      

Key dates:
  • Feb 08: Publication of Next Compliance Report; Publication of Whois Accuracy Study Progress.

ICANN staff contact(s): Stacy Burnette, Director;
Khalil Rasheed, Compliance Audit Manager;
Constance Brown, Compliance Specialist



New registry services

In November 2005, the ICANN Board approved a process to consider requests for contractual amendments to registry contracts. The idea was to provide a fast and transparent route for registries to innovate and evolve as the domain name system continues to develop.

There were four such requests in 2006, and five so far this year, with the most recently approved being a request by .coop to release go.coop from its reserved names list (permission needed because of the protected country-code approach taken within the domain name system).

All requests are clearly outlined on a single webpage, with all relevant documentation for each provided within its own box. Links to other relevant information, including the process through which registry services are evaluated, and the final report from the GNSO that outlined the policy process that created the system can also be found in the left-hand menu bar on that page. The webpage can be found at: http://www.icann.org/registries/rsep/.

The number of requests for new registry services is expected to increase in 2008, and with a raft of new gTLDs expected to be released some time next year, the registry service evaluation system is expected to become busier and more significant as registries try to differentiate themselves within an increasingly competitive market.

ICANN staff contact(s): Patrick Jones



Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA)


The contract that defines the relationship between ICANN and companies that register domain names (registrars) is under review.

Following discussion with registrars, an initial six suggested amendments to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) were posted for public review (two more have since been added). That public comment period provided a further 50 suggestions, and a Working Group from the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), which represents ordinary Internet users, produced a report into the RAA review which put forward a further 37 proposals for change. A similar review [pdf] by the Intellectual Property Constituency of the GNSO produced 19 suggested changes. On top of which the registrars have also put forward a few suggested changes.

ALAC held a special workshop [pdf] at ICANN’s most recent Los Angeles meeting (transcript) exclusively covering the RAA changes.

ICANN is currently working with registrars to arrive at new amendments following the extensive feedback. The results from that will be put out for a second round of public comment, most likely in time for ICANN’s meeting in Delhi in February.

Key dates:
  • 10-15 Feb 2008: Delhi meeting - second round of public comment on suggested amendements
ICANN staff contact(s): Tim Cole (Services)




To be covered in the next newsletter:
  • Translation
  • Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)
  • New gTLDs

 

ICANN Board

The ICANN Board

Recent Board meetings



The Board has met four times since the last magazine.

It met twice on the same day at the annual ICANN meeting in Los Angeles on 2 November: first as the outgoing Board and then again after new Board members had taken their places as the incoming Board.

Highlights of the full resolutions from that meeting are given below:

  • The formation of an Internationalized Domain Name Working Group (IDNC WG) to review the issue of introduction of certain non-controversial IDNs into the root.
  • The Board asking for an analysis of issues that may arise when implementing new gTLDs to be drawn up by staff and presented to them for their January meeting.
  • Other supporting organisations and advisory committees were asked to review the ccNSO recommendation for a change to ICANN’s regions.
  • MoUs with the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission of the Organization of American States (CITEL) and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO)
  • Renewal of the .museum agreement; a proposed bylaw change for ALAC; terms of reference for the RSSAC review
  • Thanks to all those involved in the meeting - including the participants
  • Special thanks to the retiring Board members, in particular Vint Cerf, who stepped down as chairman.



The second meeting of the Board on 2 November comprised the new Board members taking their seats and selecting a new chairman and vice-chair: Peter Dengate Thrush and Roberto Gaetano respectively. Board committee assignments were also announced.

You can see the full new Board, together with their committee assignments on the Board webpage.



The Board also met on 20 November. A preliminary report is available online.

Highlights were:

  • Discussion of possible conflicts between the current Whois policy and national laws in other countries
  • Tied in with this there was discussion of a proposed change to Telnic’s contract for .tel covering its Whois policy
  • Barbados’ .bb top-level domain was redelegated to the Government of Barbados’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development’s Telecommunications Unit.
  • New systems for allocating and keeping track of ASNs and IPv4 address blocks were discussed and approved
  • Review of the UDRP resolution process for domain names was discussed and put on notice
  • Lengthy discussion of the external consultants to be hired to help implement the new gTLD application process
  • A quick review of ICANN’s attendance at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)



Finally, the Board met on 18 December. The agenda is available online and a preliminary report will be available soon. In the meantime, highlights included:

  • Approval of the Strategic Plan (to be posted publicly in the new year)
  • The Board authorized necessary technical steps to support IPv6 for root server operators
  • Action on .tel contractual amendment
  • Update on new gTLD process
  • Discussion of Joint Project Agreement with the NTIA
  • Discussion of President/CEO’s performance review goals
  • Whois conflict of national laws procedure
  • Other business
 


The Board will meet again in Janaury. An agenda will be posted shortly.




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 Vint Cerf, ICANN’s future and the Los Angeles meeting.

Last month saw the second annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro. You as president and CEO, plus both the retiring and new chairman of ICANN, and an number of key staff were there. How do you think it went?

I think the meeting went very well, and it made progress on Athens. It had a full participation and I hope coming into the next one that we can continue to ensure continued and increased business interest in the IGF.

ICANN thinks that having a healthy IGF is pretty important. Our community ought to understand that there needs to be a place for people to bring their concerns and that that place ought to be serious. There are still people out there that would like to see the Internet work in different ways, and if the IGF is not a place where they can voice that and be heard and have it discussed they will find other places to do that - and those other places will not necessarily be multi-stakeholder.

I was very pleased that the Secretary-General of the ITU, the leadership of UNESCO and myself were able to speak about multilingualism on the Internet - that’s an important initiative and we are going to work further on that.

We had quite a few interesting meetings with representatives of the ITU including Malcolm Johnson, head of ITU-T, talking about ways of working together. Both myself and the chairman are keen to see that develop. As an aside, we just welcomed at the last Board meeting Reinhard Scholl, an ITU representative and the TLD liaison. Reinhard will be a great contributor to the Board.

But back to the IGF: there were some sessions and some people that spoke about ICANN in certain ways, but frankly I don’t think those sessions or those particular comments got much resonance. Unlike the early days of the WSIS, there was no energy around those topics and the whole issue of ICANN’s legitimacy is clearly in the rear-vision mirror.

Just as "critical Internet resources" is a much bigger topic than simply domain names and IP addresses, I think critical Internet resources is only a small subset of the issues facing a worldwide community coming to terms with this phenomenal technology - this Internet.

If there was one thing with respect to ICANN it was the role of the United States government. And that is part of the JPA review process. So there is a process to deal with people’s concerns and we can point people to it. Apart from that, it was a great conference and we look forward to New Delhi.


With regard to the JPA - the Joint Project Agreement ICANN has with the United States government - the USG announced it will have a public consultation in March. What is going to happen with that? Does ICANN think the USG will step away? Has ICANN fulfilled all the requirements?

First of all, you’ll recall that [Deputy Assistant Secretary] John Kneuer in the opening of the ICANN Los Angeles meeting announced they were starting the process for the mid-term review, and he made the point that it was a partnership - a partnership between the Department of Commerce and ICANN. And Vint Cerf, the then chairman, also said it was a partnership and that he also welcomed the process.

We have been working very hard as an organisation to get many of the things we undertook as part of the JPA - and more importantly the key principles put in place by the ICANN Board in September 2006 - completed. As Kneuer also said, it is the Board itself that is ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not ICANN is meeting those responsibilities.

There will be a significant set of statements about our progress against those undertakings in the next month. We would ask members of the community to wait until they have seen these statements because that will give them a benchmark where they can say ’okay we have seen what ICANN has done, what’s our view with that?’

I should say that I have been overwhelmed with responses from people saying they want to respond and their response is basically that ICANN is doing a good job and it is time that this US oversight role starts to draw to a close. If people have got those views, now is the time to make sure they get that message across.


One of the most significant bits of work ICANN has produced recently is the registrar data escrow program where registrant data will be held in trust. ICANN recently signed an agreement with Iron Mountain to supply this service. What does it mean for registrars and registrants?

Well, data escrow has been a part of the Registrar Accreditation Agreements since the very beginning. We should also note straight off that the vast majority of well-operating registrars already have escrow in place for their data. And we don’t require that they have to hold the data in escrow with the provider that we have helped establish.

Having said that, some registrars don’t. So we have put in place a data escrow program, working a lot with the registrar community, and a provider for that data escrow which we will make available to registrars to use. I’ve no doubt Iron Mountain is a very professional organisation, it has a very good reputation and people seem to taking it up.

This program now firmly becomes part of our ongoing compliance program to ensure that not just the vast majority but that every registrar holds their registering information in escrow, and that that will be available in the case of registrar failure.


One of the biggest issues at the moment in terms of ongoing discussion is the so-called "fast track" for internationalised country code top-level domains. Where is ICANN with that?

The issue of introducing internationalised domain names into the top level domain space is a very complex one. It’s very complex technically but it is also very complex in policy terms.

We are moving from an environment of having 37 characters in the top-level string to potentially having tens and tens of thousands and that can cause a number of various complexities. When it comes to top level domains there is also the whole issue of ICANN ensuring it does not determine what a country is.

From Jon Postel’s days, we have relied on the ISO 3166-1 list to say this is what the code for a country is. But there is no IDN equivalent of the ISO 3166-1 list. So the GAC and the ccNSO have been working together to determine the policy questions for the long-term resolution of that conundrum. And that work has been done and that work will most likely commence soon under some form of policy development process.

The Board expects that work will take several years and will eventually result in someone determining an authoritative list - but it will not be within ICANN. But we’ve had the ccNSO actually ask - after consultation with the GAC - ask the country-code operators around the world to go ask their governments which communities would like to have an IDN string related to the territory. And we’ve had some responses to that. Those responses have essentially come from places with Arabic, Cyrillic, Indian languages, Chinese, Japanese and so on. A working group has been established to look at this, find what the potential issues are and how they should be taken forward. We are expecting a report back in New Delhi [February 2008].

But it is my expectation that we are likely to see some strings of this nature - so-called internationalized ccTLDs - come into the root some time in the second half of 2008.


Would you say this was an example of the multi-stakeholder model working?

Well, if you don’t mind the pun, if you had tried to look at this issue purely through technical fora, or purely through government fora, or purely through business fora, what you would have had was people speaking Greek and other people speaking Chinese. People would have spoken straight past each other.

I think it is only the experience of having worked in a multi-stakeholder environment in ICANN. I think it’s taken the community nine, ten years learning how to make a multi-stakeholder organsiation work - I think it’s that experience that has enabled us to be where we are now.

It would have been not only virtually impossible, but a destructive and negative issue for quite some time if we’d tried to address this thing in a purely technical environment or a purely government environment.


Thanks

Thank you.


Participation

PUBLIC COMMENT

An exceptionally busy month again for public comment periods on ICANN’s work.

There were a glut of comment periods opened last month just prior to the Los Angeles meeting in order to provide people with time to review documentation before physically meeting to discuss the issues. Those comments periods have since closed, alongside other comment periods.

In total, nine public comment periods that were open last magazine have since closed.

In addition to them, a further five public comment periods have been opened on: new gTLDs; RSSAC review terms of reference; Inter-registrar transfer policy; and ALAC bylaw change. All these have also since closed.

As the magazine goes to press there is one new comment period opened on an issues paper being prepared for possible IDN ccTLDs.

You can view full details, as ever, on the public comment webpage. All closed forums should have a summary and analysis of the comments received clearly labelled.

Closed forums can be found on the December and November archive pages.




BLOG

The blog continues to provoke interesting posts and discussions. Perhaps most interesting was the simple post "There are not 13 root servers", which started an intriguing discussion about the technology behind the Internet’s foundational servers. On the same lines, A Root with a view gave some fascinating facts about what is going on out there from the perspective of the L-root server - in particular where the queries where coming from. Quite why ".belkin" featured so highly is a matter of conjecture.

At the same time, the latest stats on the IDN root test were released; reports given on various technical meetings across the globe; a cyber security report released; and the first two of what will hopefully be a wealth of future posts in French appeared, with aim of providing the French-speaking people in the community with pertinent information in their own language.





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

Other News
Prague meeting: ICANN held a European regional gathering for registries and registrars in Prague from 12-14 December. The agenda included a policy update, ICANN strategic plan, IGF, data escrow, RAA revisions, IDN, new gTLD process, transfer policy, compliance and other discussions of issues of importance to the attendees.

Sixty people attended - the largest attendance so far at a regional gathering. Twenty-one different registrars were joined by nine registries.

Initial feedback appears to show that the participants appreciated the sharper focus on their issues than a general ICANN meeting provides.

IGF: As mentioned in the CEO’s interview above and linked to in the announcements below, ICANN attended the Internet Governance Forum in Rio in November. While there, ICANN agreed to work with the ITU and UNESCO on creating standards for multilingualism online; and also signed an agreement to work with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

Announcements

The following announcements were made in the past month:


The following announcements were among those made since the past magazine:

14 Dec: Nominating Committee invites statements of interest
7 Dec: Fellowship application round opens for Paris meeting
29 Nov: Background report into IPv4 global policy released
15 Nov: ICANN commends successful IGF meeting
13 Nov: Steps taken for multilingual Internet
12 Nov: Public comment period opened on UDRP provider application

9 Nov:
2 Nov:


A full list of announcements is available online at: http://www.icann.org/announcements/

News alert email subscription
 

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 Chris Disspain
Chris Disspain, chair of the ccNSO
As chair of the ccNSO, Chris Disspain represents the interests of the country code top-level domain managers..

So what’s on the ccNSO’s radar at the moment?

Recently we have taken the first step to running a policy development process in respect to IDN ccTLDs. The first step is the production of an issues report which will address a couple of questions.

One is whether or not the existing bylaws cover IDN ccTLDs - as opposed to just ccTLDs - and if they don’t, should they?

And secondly, should the ccNSO launch a policy development process to work out what the policy should be?

We have also completed our own review of the ICANN geographic regions and made some adjustments to our own internal rules, plus recommended to the Board that there be a full review of the regions involving all of the relevant supporting organisations.


What is the importance of that review?

Because the current regional split creates a situation where,  for example, a North American region is entitled to three councilors but which has a total of only seven possible members of the ccNSO. At the same time as an Asia Pacific region that has three councilors but which has a total of 72 possible members of the ccNSO.

And also circumstances where because of the citizenship rule territories in say the Pacific Ocean have no choice but to be part of Europe. So we have recommended a full review. Whether or not that will lead to a change in the whole regional structure of ICANN, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t necessarily need to because the issues I have just outlined are only really of significance to the ccNSO and the ALAC.

The other thing of course with respect to IDNs is what’s happening in the working group on the possible fasttrack approach. So while this issues report is being dealt with, at the same time a working group is going to work out whether or not it is actually possible to release a small number of uncontroversial IDN ccTLDs prior to the full policy being developed.

What is the concept behind the "fasttrack"?

That there are clearly some territories that have a pressing need for an IDN ccTLD sooner rather than later. Given that it’s abundantly clear that any policy development process with respect to IDN ccTLDs is going to take some time - possibly two years or more - if we can find a way of releasing the pressure for those with a pressing need, then we should do so.

Now, we may not be able to do so - it may not be a foregone conclusion that this will actually work - but we certainly owe it those particular territories a consideration of whether it is possible.

What about the fact the ccNSO has been where the action has been recently?

We’ve certainly been getting significant attendance at our meeting - at the last meeting we had 150 or so attendees. I wouldn’t want to suggest we’ve been making waves or anything - it’s just that a lot of stuff that has come up in the past 12 months or so has involved the ccNSO. And we’re not shy about putting our hand up and say ’hey something needs to happen about this’.

We don’t always reach consensus - but unlike a GNSO where you can have competing interests, we are all country code managers, so we all tend to come out of discussions roughly the same way.

And I think that means we are often capable of coming out with things a little faster, and that make us seem perhaps a bit more dynamic.

 
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