BRIEFING NOTE - Overall summary of the Paris meeting
What was it?
ICANN’s 32nd international public meeting was one of three held annually to conduct policy development and outreach. It was hosted by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and Agifem, a non-profit organization made up of several French Internet companies and organizations.
The meeting was opened by the Eric Besson, France’s Minister of State for forward planning, assessment of public policies, and development of the digital economy.
1,672 people participated from 166 different countries, making this ICANN’s biggest ever meeting. The participants engaged in a wide range of discussions about the Internet’s domain name system and related issues.
Further information about the meeting, including presentations and transcripts, is available at http://par.icann.org/.
ICANN’s next international public meeting will take place in Cairo, Egypt, beginning on 3rd November, 2008.
What happened and what are the next steps?
Many meetings, workshops, public forums and informal discussions were held over six days by the different stakeholders of the ICANN model:
• business interests
• civil society
• governments and government agencies
• Internet service providers
• the technical community
Several key issues and themes evolved over the course of the meeting. They are summarized below.
ICANN’s Board of Directors took a significant step forward on the introduction of new generic top-level domains (new gTLDS - extensions to the domain name system in addition to, for example, .COM or .INFO). The Board approved the policy recommendations on new gTLDs developed by the GNSO, ICANN’s policy development arm for the generic name space. The Board directed ICANN staff to further develop and complete a detailed implementation plan.
New generic top-level domains were a featured topic of conversation during the meeting. The week began with a dedicated two-and-a-half-hour interactive session where experts from different industries and sectors around the world shared a diversity of views about the potential changes to the Internet as the New gTLD Program is launched. The workshop was presented with MARQUES, the Association of European trademark owners, which represents trademark owners’ interests before EU and other international bodies.
ICANN staff updated the community on how new gTLDs may be implemented, including a timeline and recent steps taken to address potential disputes. Similar updates were presented to the various stakeholders including the GNSO Council.
New gTLDs were also discussed at the Public Forum, later in the week. During the meeting, a number of suggestions for new gTLDs also emerged. The discussions on new gTLDs were the subject of worldwide and widespread press coverage including by BBC, CNN, NBC, Les Echos, Business Week, Le Monde, Liberation, The Times of London, the Financial Times, and other media outlets all over the world.
More information is available on ICANN’s new gTLDs page (http://www.icann.org/topics/new-gtld-program.htm). This web page includes a factsheet on the topic written in plain language and accessible to a general audience.
The Board approved the policy recommendations on new gTLDs, drawn up by the GNSO, and directed ICANN staff to further develop and complete a detailed implementation plan.
Before the new gTLD introduction process is launched, the Board will be given a final version of the implementation proposals of the proposed process after a community review.
More information can be found online at: http://www.icann.org/topics/new-gtld-program.htm
IDNs and IDN Fast Track
Much of the discussion about Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) during the Paris meeting centered on the work of the IDNC Working Group (IDNC WG). The IDNC WG was chartered by the Board at its November 2007 meeting. Its participants were appointed by the following supporting organizations and advisory committees of ICANN: the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), GNSO, Government Advisory Committee (GAC), At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC).
The group has been working on the issue of an accelerated introduction of IDNs (the “fast track”) where specific, non-controversial country-code top-level domains in non-Latin scripts could be approved and added to the Internet’s root without having to wait for the full approval process to be finalized.
The IDNC WG released its draft final report on the feasibility of this approach for public comment two weeks prior to the Paris meeting. The report provided a number of high-level recommendations and received broad approval from the ccNSO and the GAC.
On the broader topic of IDNs, the Director of the IDN Program, Tina Dam, gave updates to the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, describing progress on technical and other IDN implementation issues. IDNs were discussed at the Public Forum, and a progress update was also given on the final day of the meeting.
Of particular interest was how finalization of the IDNA protocol revision would impact top-level IDN domains, in particular when and how they will be introduced.
The Board asked the IDNC WG final report to be posted for public comment and asked staff to produce a detailed report on implementation issues, following consultation with the community, in time for the next meeting in Cairo in November 2008.
More information can be found online at: http://ccnso.icann.org/workinggroups/idnc-charter.htm and at http://icann.org/topics/idn
Improving Institutional Confidence
The Paris meeting saw the release of three documents from the President’s Strategy Committee (PSC) outlining a new “Improving Institutional Confidence” public consultation.
This consultation’s aim is for the community to discuss possible changes to ICANN in the lead up to the completion of the JPA in September 2009. This work has been led by the PSC whose role is to provide advice to the Board.
The three documents – Improving Institutional Confidence in ICANN, Transition Action Plan and Frequently Asked Questions – were used as the basis for a two-hour discussion session. During a public meeting on the issue, the PSC explained how the consultation would work and how people could find out more information at each stage. The issue was also given a dedicated timeslot in the Public Forum.
The documents are currently out for public comment (closing on 31 July).
The consultation process outlined in the Transition Action Plan will be followed. The entire community is encouraged to read the documents and send their comments in before 31 July.
The documents will then be revised and put out for additional comment in September 2008 in preparation for further discussions at the Cairo meeting in November. A final report by the PSC will be provided to the Board in December.
More information is available online at: http://icann.org/jpa/iic
The independent review process requires each of ICANN’s Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees to undergo review every few years to make sure that the organization as a whole continues to serves the needs of the global Internet community.
There are several independent reviews currently underway or soon to be launched. The Board of Directors is also undergoing an independent review in 2008. The Paris meeting saw a number of updates on the current reviews.
The GNSO’s review has been completed and it is now in the implementation stage. The Board approved all but one of the recommendations developed by a special Board working group to improve the effectiveness of the GNSO's policy activities, structure, operations and communications. Recommendations to be implemented include:
• use of a working group model for future policy development
• a revised policy development process
• enhancements to the different constituencies that make up the GNSO
• improved communications.
The Board deferred its final decision on one recommendation - restructuring the GNSO Council – and decided to give the GNSO one last chance to submit a consensus recommendation on how to structure the Council before it makes its final decision in the next few weeks. The Board requested that the GNSO convene a small working group to submit a consensus recommendation on Council restructuring no later than 25 July. The group is to include one member from each constituency, one of the current Nominating Committee appointees, and one member from each liaison-appointing advisory committee (if that advisory committee so desires).
In a related development, the GNSO Council postponed a vote on a top-level GNSO Improvements Implementation Plan and called for a 21-day public comment forum on the document. That open public comment forum closes on 18 July 2008.
Two public sessions and two informal sessions were held to discuss a report from the ALAC’s independent reviewers. The Board’s ALAC review working group held its first sessions. The draft report is currently out for public comment.
Board of Directors
The Boston Consulting Group was selected as the consultant to perform the independent review of the Board of Directors.
A working group created by the Board Governance Committee is working on recommendations following the independent evaluators’ report on the Nominating Committee.
The Board established three working groups to review future independent review reports. They will cover: the Board, the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC), and the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC).
The reviews will continue to progress through each step in the review process. Updates will be provided at the Cairo meeting in November.
More information including links to each of the reviews and public comments pages can be found online at: http://www.icann.org/reviews/
Registrar Accreditation Agreement
More progress was made on improvements to protections for registrants provided through the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA – the contract ICANN holds with companies that register domain names on behalf of registrants).
15 revised changes and amendments were published in a report currently out for public comment (the comment period closes 4 August 2008). The amendments were outlined in meetings with individual Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, as well as a dedicated one-and-a-half-hour public workshop. RAA amendments also had a specific timeslot for discussion during the Public Forum, and were further outlined at the final day’s report session.
There are four categories of amendment to the RAA:
• Enforcement tools, including graduated sanctions, liability and audit provisions
• Protections for registrants, including possible improvements to data escrow and the ability to make resellers comply with RAA obligations
• A more stable registrar marketplace, including training for registrar operators
• Modernizing the agreement, bringing it up to date with changes in the use and reuse of domain names
The amendments will be revised following input during the public comment period and then shared with the Board, who will determine the next steps.
More information can be found online at: http://www.icann.org/topics/raa/
A paper covering possible changes to ICANN meetings themselves was put to the community in a number of different sessions, including several Supporting Organization and Advisory Committee meetings, the opening day public forum, mid-week Public Forum, and the closing-day reports session.
There were two main recommendations in the paper:
• that ICANN move from three to two meetings a year; and
• that one of those meetings be held in a “hub” city.
There was a broad range of views and discussion on both points, as well as discussion of the change to the Paris schedule which saw the meeting end a day earlier on Thursday, rather than on Friday.
The meetings paper is out for public comment until 10 July and will be revised following feedback from the community.
More information can be found online at:
A number of information sessions on the new Internet Protocol were held in order to the make community more aware of support issues and to outline ways forward.
The ALAC, ccNSO, Registry and Registrar constituencies were also addressed by experts on this topic during their own meetings. Business leaders were given an overview as part of the Business Access Agenda. IPv6 was also discussed during the Public Forum.
The GAC heard from several individuals and organizations, including the OECD and the Names Resource Organization, about current trends and the challenges to IPv6 deployment worldwide.
A factsheet written in plain and clear language has been produced: “IPv6 – The Internet’s vital expansion - October 2007”. It explains the protocol upgrade to a non-technical audience and is available here: http://www.icann.org/announcements/factsheet-ipv6-26oct07.pdf
Business Access Agenda
For the first time, a specific agenda and series of targeted meetings and discussions were held for business leaders in an effort to engage business more effectively within ICANN’s processes.
The agenda included briefings on the most significant topics facing ICANN at the moment, including new gTLDs, IDNs and IPv6, and a meeting with the Board of Directors. It was organized in cooperation with the E-Business, IT and Telecoms Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce.
• The Board approved a recommendation by the GNSO to tackle “domain tasting”.
• The FY09 ICANN operating plan and budget of $57.1m were adopted by the Board.
• Approval was given to a plan by PIR (the Public Interest Registry) to add the security protocol DNSSEC to the .org registry.
• An “At Large Summit” was approved to enable representatives of Internet user groups (At-Large Structures) to meet together within the next year, most likely at the Mexico City meeting in March 2009.
• The SSAC published a number of new reports and survey results relating to security and stability of the Internet. (http://www.icann.org/committees/security/)
• A number of policy development processes were started or advanced at the GNSO including Fast Flux and inter-registrar transfers.
• The GAC reiterated its strong support for a number of studies into the use and abuse of Whois data, and asked for clarification from the Board on whether studies would depend on the outcome of the GNSO Council’s decision. The GNSO Council created a working group to review recommendations for Whois studies.