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Tuesday, December 10. 2013
Following a first briefing given in Brussels last June, ICANN is holding another such meeting next week, once again in Brussels.
These are great opportunities to catch up on the latest ICANN and domain related information. But whilst new gTLDs were the focal point of the June 25 briefing, this time the developing Internet Governance situation is set to hold center stage.
The draft agenda includes updates on the new gTLD program and ICANN developments in general, but will then focus on the larger IG debate, preparations for next April's Sao Paulo meeting, the 1net initiative and the high level panel on the future of Internet Governance.
Contact ICANN's Brussels office for further details.
Tuesday, October 15. 2013
When it announced the panels last July, ICANN had planned the following five:
In the end, only four panels remain, with panels 2 and 5 above integrated under the same "ICANN's role in the Internet governance ecosystem" roof.
The list of participants is an impressive "who's who" of ICANN and other Internet organisation alumni and includes the inventor of the DNS Paul Mockapetris, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee and the co-designer of basic Internet technical protocols such as TCP/IP and ex ICANN Board Chair Vint Cerf.
Wednesday, October 2. 2013
The ICANN Board met on September 28, 2013 and took the following decision on the review of the GNSO:
Whereas, under ICANN's Bylaws the next review of the GNSO was due to commence in 2013.
Whereas, the SIC solicited and considered public comments on whether the review should be postponed and a new schedule for the review be established within the next six months.
Whereas, it is important that the review of the GNSO take into account the outcomes of ICANN's strategic planning efforts and the Accountability and Transparency Review Team 2's work, which can only be achieved through the initiation of a GNSO review in 2014.
Resolved (2013.09.28.09), that the Board directs the SIC to schedule the review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), which is mandated by ICANN Bylaws Article IV, Section 4, to commence in 2014, and that preparations for this Review commence as soon as feasible.
This is welcome news as the current bicameral structure clearly no longer fits the ICANN ecosystem now that new gTLDs are nearly here.
The GNSO has 2 houses. The Contracted Parties House is for the registries and the registrars. The Non Contracted Parties House is home to the Business community, ISPs, the Intellectual Property professionals and the non-commercial community.
With the advent of new gTLDs, the clear delineations between all these different groups have blurred and the bicameral structure no longer seems able to provide the balance the GNSO needs.
See the full resolutions from the September 28 meeting here.
Wednesday, October 2. 2013
As a reminder, the Nominating Committee (NomCom) is designed to ensure skilled individuals go into key ICANN leadership position. Every year, its recruitment and selection process leads to appointments for positions on the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organisation – ICANN's policy-making body for generic domains), the ccNSO (country code Names Supporting Organisation) and ALAC (At Large Advisory Committee).
Moreover, the NomCom appoints 8 of ICANN's 16 voting Board members.
As befits such a crucial function, the NomCom's leadership is designed to ensure maximum efficiently. Each year, the ICANN Board selects a Chair and a Chair Elect. This second position will shadow the Chair for a year in order to be fully prepped for when it rotates into the Chair role the following year.
In addition, each year the Chair also chooses an Associate Chair, basically a Vice Chair position. The Associate Chair is normally the previous year's Chair, in order to ensure the experienced built up during that previous year is not lost on the next committee.
The Chair and Chair Elect positions are ICANN Board appointments requiring a full Board resolution to be approved.
For the 2014 NomCom, Cheryl Langdon-Orr, the 2013 Chair Elect, has been confirmed as 2014 Chair. Cheryl asked Yrjö Länsipuro, the 2013 Chair, to accept the Associate Chair role for this year. And I have been nominated as Chair Elect for 2014.
Wednesday, May 1. 2013
The Nominating Committee (NomCom) is tasked with recruiting to key leadership positions within ICANN.
This year's NomCom is searching for 3 ICANN Board members, 3 members of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), 2 people to sit on the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) Council and one person for the Country-Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) Council.
Anyone interested now has until May 15, 23:59 UTC to send in an application. It's also possible to suggest people which would be well-suited to these different positions.
The NomCom's website has the full application procedure.
Wednesday, April 10. 2013
(This article was first published on Circle ID) ICANN's Nominating Committee (NomCom) is both a strange animal and a precious resource. Having a committee charged with first recruiting, then selecting suitable candidates to hold key positions within ICANN is something that is often little, or even mis, understood. Within the ICANN community itself.
By the very nature of its recruitment role, the NomCom has to remain secretive. About who the candidates are, at any rate. But that doesn't mean the rest of the NomCom's processes must remain so.
The feeling that the NomCom has at times lacked transparency became very evident last year, when the 2012 NomCom Chair Elect – the person chosen by the ICANN Board to be the NomCom Chair for the following year – refused to take up that position.
Read the rest at Circle ID.
Thursday, January 31. 2013
ICANN CEO speaks at the Amsterdam Registry/Registrar meeting on Friday January 25, 2013. Photo Stephane Van Gelder Consulting.
"No, the new gTLD program isn't ready!"
"Yes, I was wrong on the Trademark Clearinghouse!"
Fadi Chehadé showed some strong leadership qualities during last week's ICANN regional registry and registrar meeting in Amsterdam. Honesty and courage.
The ICANN CEO flew to Amsterdam even though he had been meeting the world's business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Just going to the trouble of leaving the high and mighty to spend a couple of hours with ICANN's contracted parties showed real business acumen. Registrars and registries are, after all, his main customers.
What started out as a speech soon turned into a heart to heart. As he responded to questions, Chehadé made some surprisingly honest comments.
First, he recognised that the invitation-only Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) meetings held late last year were not coherent with ICANN's model of community-developed policy.
I've been saying so all along so it was gratifying to hear Chehadé recognise that once policy is developed through due process, it should not be renegotiated behind closed doors. Even if the people trying to reopen those discussions are pushing valid points, they should be part of the proper policy development process so that the full community can weigh in. Another argument I have been making.
Next came another startling admission. The new gTLD program should have been delayed by another year because as it stands, there is no way it's ready for launch.
"We're like a start-up right now," Chehadé said. "We're working non stop, as hard as we can. But if it was up to me, I would delay the program by at least a year!"
When a CEO is ready to admit he might have been wrong, this not only shows the right kind of humility for the job, it also signals that he's using every little faux-pas to learn and improve.
Add to that an ability to simply say it like it is, whilst remaining positive, energetic and wilful, and you have a powerful mix of real leadership abilities.
After feeling Chehadé's drive and energy in Amsterdam, I am no longer so worried about ICANN. It has a found itself a world-class leader in Fadi Chehadé. Good thing too, because ICANN still has to deal with some major headaches as it struggles to evolve and be worthy of the mantle the new gTLD program has thrust upon it.
That of gatekeeper to the Internet.
Wednesday, January 2. 2013
Bloomberg has asked a spate of leading law and online experts to predict what we should expect for 2013 in a variety of areas.
I am proud to have contributed to Bloomberg's "expert insights". Topics include new gTLDs, trademarks and the new Internet, ICANN's new leadership, Internet governance in general, the social media explosion and computer fraud among employees.
Even though contributors were asked to provide "twitter-style" short comments, the result is an in-depth look (the article runs over 20 pages in print version!) at what experts in these fields expect for the coming year.
Bloomberg published the article, which includes a fascinating summary of the experts' leading predictions for 2013, on their online platform on December 28. They plan to follow that up with a print publication starting tomorrow (January 2). Excerpts from the article will also be appearing on Bloomberg's blogs and platforms in the coming weeks.
Here are my contributions as they appear in the article:
Under "Trademarks on the New Internet"
Expect around 1,200 new gTLDs to be approved for the Internet in the next couple of years. Some could even launch in 2013! Let's hope this bold expansion of the Internet doesn't take trademark holders back to the dark old days of the Wild Wild Web. But look on the bright side. New IP protection mechanisms developed for new gTLDs may end up improving trust and safety for TM holders on the Web.
Under "Internet Governance"
In 2013, look out for repercussions from the ITU's December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications. Bids by some U.N. member states to govern the cost of Internet traffic and regulate the internet itself may pave the way for more attempts to curb the freedom of enterprise, choice and innovation that the internet has given us all.
Under "ICANN: New Leadership, Old Problems"
2013 will be the first full year under new leadership for the body that oversees the management of domain names and IP addresses. New CEO Fadi Chehadé has a strong business bias. His challenge: Balancing a natural drive to get things done through top-down management decisions with ICANN's unique bottom-up, consensus-driven processes.
Year in, year out, the WHOIS debate rages on. The antiquated domain owner ID card system is decried by all. Some (law enforcement for example) get riled by WHOIS databases that have incomplete or false data. Others (businesses and individuals who own domains) worry about data privacy issues. All hate it that there's no unique WHOIS, with each TLD having its own specific format. The good news? ICANN really wants to fix WHOIS in 2013.
All signed "Stephane Van Gelder, @stephvg, Chairman and Managing Director, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd., United Kingdom/France."
Friday, December 14. 2012
The 2013 Nominating Committee (NomCom) is working hard to provide more detailed information on what it is doing.
A new initiative for this year's committee is a Report Card that is to be produced after every NomCom meeting as a quick guide to current actions.
Having had the idea and stupidly not keeping it to myself, I have been "awarded" the task of drafting the Report Cards These are then reviewed by the full committee before being given a final seal of approval by the Chair.
So here's the latest Report Card. Highlights include:
- Outreach efforts, including at Baku IGF and WCIT Dubai.
- A proposal to update the GNSO NomCom Appointee assignment process.
- A report on the ccNSO's NomCom Appointee criteria.
Thursday, November 8. 2012
The 2013 Nominating Committee (NomCom) has just launched its website and announced the positions it is looking to fill.
If you fancy being on the ICANN Board (3 seats) or serving on the Generic Names Supporting Organisation Council (2 seats), the country code Names Supporting Organisation Council (1 seat) or the At Large Advisory Committee (3 seats), you have until May 1, 2013 to apply.
The NomCom is a crucial part of ICANN's drive to bring new blood, expertise and talent to its key management structures. The committee was created in 2003 and is renewed every year.
The 2013 NomCom plans to announce its selections in September.
Thursday, October 18. 2012
ICANN's last international meeting of the year is just about to end. The new gTLD program and ongoing negotiations with the Registrar Accreditation Agreement were among headline items.
New gTLD applicants will be drawn in lots.
For new gTLDs, the main point of discussion in Toronto was an ICANN proposal to draw lots to determine which TLD applicants get to be approved first.
ICANN is proposing to organise a draw, on an unspecified day between December 4 and December 15, 2012.
IDN applicants will be given priority under the proposed scheme, but everyone else would have to go through the drawing process. Here's how that would work:
No matter what position an applicant draws, ICANN will not start signing any new gTLD contract until after its first meeting of 2013, in Beijing from April 7 to April 11, to give evaluation teams sufficient time to carry out their work.
Delegations, i.e. actually inserting a new gTLD into the Internet root, will remain limited to one thousand TLDs per year, as was always planned.
Currently, ICANN has 1923 new gTLD applications in its pipeline, as 7 applicants have withdrawn from the process and sought a partial refund of their application fees.
ICANN told by EU agency that proposed data verification measures infringe data protection laws.
Negotiations have been going on for months between ICANN and accredited registrars to agree on a new version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), i.e. the contract governing the relationship between the registrars and ICANN.
These were based on a set of 12 recommendations made by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) and registrars have engaged in these negotiations with a very real desire to see progress. This has been achieved in several keys areas, some examples of which are:
Most of these improvements are aimed at bringing the whole registrar community to the best possible level. However, two LEA requirements worry registrars. The first one is a request to validate WHOIS registrar data using either telephone or email methods. The second is a request for registrars to collect registrant data and keep it for up to 2 years.
The strong reservations expressed by registrars were given further voice by a letter from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, an advisory group to the EU, sent to ICANN Chairman Steve Crocker and ICANN interim CEO Akram Attalah on September 26, 2012. The letter suggests that some of the requirements may actually be unlawful under European law!
Since the letter became public, many in the ICANN community have suggested that it is now high time to put an end to the RAA negotiations. The current intent is to conclude them by December and publish a new version of the RAA, which could then be approved in the first quarter of 2013.
ICANN gets personal
New ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé has said he wants to work on clarity and communications. One concrete step towards this is the Toronto unveiling of a new, personalised ICANN website. Regular users of the www.icann.org website will find the new portal gives them greater flexibility to aggregate content of interest to them.
This includes great features such as listing content according to language, which fits perfectly with Chehadé's stated intent to boost internationalisation for ICANN and will be of considerable help to those non-English users that have up to now found it difficult to understand what goes on at ICANN.
The new website is based on a personal account access, giving the added benefit of allowing users to customise the site to their needs. This is the first change of this magnitude made to the ICANN website since it was launched.
Tuesday, October 9. 2012
ICANN's 2012 Annual General Meeting is about to get under way in Toronto, Canada. These international meetings are a key part of the Internet's technical governance. ICANN's main prerogatives are threefold: to manage the Internet numbering system (IP addresses), naming system (domain names) and the protocols that go with both.
So what is to be expected of the Toronto meeting?
A new CEO…
Although he was appointed in June, new ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé was not due to start before October to give him time to wind up other business activities. But Chehadé was already very active at the June ICANN meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, and has kept very busy since.
"I have spent the past two months asking myself and many others from all over the Internet community worldwide the same questions," Chehadé said on September 14, the day he officially took over as CEO two weeks earlier than planned. "How can ICANN work better with its stakeholders to bring all interested parties to the table to debate and agree how to improve the DNS? How can we ensure that all global citizens can share an open Internet which is sustainable and resilient?"
I can personally attest to the truth of the above statement. Chehadé spent the summer months talking to ICANN community leaders to understand the key issues and build his strategy for this challenging organisation. In August, he contacted me as Chair of ICANN's GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organisation) and spent more than an hour explaining his approach.
Exclusively, I can reveal here that Chehadé is implementing a 4 step management plan based on 1) seeking mission clarity, 2) achieving operational excellence, 3) increasing internationalisation and 4) maturing the multi stakeholder model that is at the core of ICANN's DNA.
Chehadé has already taken a number of high profile decisions, including appointing both a Senior Advisor for Government Affairs to lead all aspects of government engagement, an area of critical importance for ICANN to get right, and a Director of Stakeholder Engagement. In what is a clear sign of Chehadé's drive towards making ICANN less US-centric, both roles have been based out of Europe rather than the organisation's California offices.
Toronto will be Chehadé's first meeting as full-on CEO and his challenge will be to carry the momentum and the energy that his first few months on the job have generated.
…and new TLDs
Toronto will also be the first ICANN meeting held after the end of the official comment period on the 1,900-or-so gTLDs applied for as part of the new gTLD program. But a lot remains to be done.
The program's prior rights protection systems are still not ready. The Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) is designed to provide a cheaper and quicker alternative to the traditional Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure for trademark holders who face an infringement. However the model is still being debated and in desperation, ICANN recently put out a call for URS operators. None of the potential operators ICANN had previously contacted feel they can manage the URS for the intended submission fee of around $300!
The Trademark Clearing House (TMCH) is the database planned to hold trademark information so that new gTLD registry operators have a central repository against which to check domain name registration applications being made in their TLD. However, here too, the current ICANN model has come under criticism, with two existing registry operators going as far as to propose an alternative model!
Protecting prior rights is a key part of the new gTLD program. ICANN must get this right if it is to allay fears that companies will be called upon to defensively register thousands of domain names matching their trademarks when upwards of a thousand new gTLDs are launched on the Internet.
This is such a key area that the US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)'s Larry Strickling felt the need to prod ICANN in a recent letter. Strickling, ICANN's previous boss from the days when the organisation was still under contract with the US government, is still extremely influential. When he speaks, ICANN tends to shut up and listen. "NTIA remains concerned (…) regarding the limited progress of the Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension," wrote Strickling, in a clear "get a move on" message to ICANN.
Several workshops on the new gTLDs, the URS and the TMCH, are planned for Toronto. These will begin before the meeting itself officially starts, with the GNSO's weekend working sessions when ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz will address the GNSO on these two systems on Sunday October 14.
All about contracts
I wrote recently about the contractual negotiations currently ongoing between ICANN and its accredited registrars.
These negotiations are also crucial for domain registrants and are set to continue in Toronto, both through behind-the-scenes meetings and public updates planned during the week for the benefit of the community.
For me, Canada will be a very special meeting. After four years on the GNSO Council, including one as Vice Chair and two as Chair, I am term-limited and will therefore be moving on.
I will be staying very much involved having been elected by ICANN's Registrar Stakeholder Group to represent it on the Nominating Committee for the next year. The NomCom is an important part of the ICANN structure. Expect details on how it works in a follow-up article soon.
In the meantime, a reminder that ICANN meetings are free and open to all. So if you happen to be in Toronto from October 13 to October 18, why not stop by and listen in?
Listening in is also possible remotely, as all ICANN meetings are extensively transcribed and recorded. Full ICANN Toronto schedule and participation details (including remote participation) can be found here.
Wednesday, September 26. 2012
Toronto will be my last meeting as a GNSO Councillor. After 4 years, it's an emotional time. All the more so thanks to the truly great people I have been fortunate to work with in that time. My special thanks to all the support staff at ICANN. It's been challenging at times, fascinating and even fun. But most of all, it's been inspiring!
Wednesday, August 1. 2012
To ICANN, GAC advice is like the word of God. As part of the deal to end contractual oversight of ICANN by the US government brokered in 2009 and embodied by ICANN's "Affirmation Of Commitments" (AOC for short), the world's governments were given pride of place at ICANN's table.
So when the GAC provides "advice" to the ICANN Board, what it's actually doing is telling the Board that it either sits up and takes careful notice, or there will be trouble.
As a consequence, GAC advice has powerful repercussions for the ICANN community in general. But up until now, that advice (traditionally – but not exclusively – handed out as part of the GAC's end-of-ICANN-International-meeting communiqué) has been hard to track.
To remedy this, ICANN has just launched a GAC Advice Register. This groups advice and also provides information on what, if anything, has been done in response.
The register is not complete yet and appears to be missing anything beyond the actual advice itself, but as work on it progresses and its various boxes are filled with information like who the responsible party is within ICANN to take action on the particular piece of advice or what the Board's response is, it should prove a valuable tool for ICANN watchers.
Thursday, May 24. 2012
At last, ICANN's generic names supporting organisation (GNSO) has a new website. Still at gnso.icann.org, the site aims to be a lot easier to navigate and more intuitive, whether people surfing the site are experienced ICANN and GNSO watchers or quite the opposite.
Ongoing GNSO projects are now easier to find, and the GNSO's working groups get their own tab to highlight what they are currently working on. There are explanations of what the GNSO does and how it works. And the front page has an "acronym buster" to help navigate the jargon that we all love to use at ICANN.
Give the new site a try. I think it's a big improvement!