Report on ICANN 50

Posted by Jyoti Panday at Jun 29, 2014 01:00 PM |
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Jyoti Panday attended ICANN 50 in London from 22-26 June. Below are some of the highlights from the meeting.

From 22- 26 June, ICANN hosted its 50th meeting in London, the largest congregation of participants, so far. In the wake of the IANA transition announcement, Internet governance was the flavor of the week. ICANN’s transparency and accountability measures emerged as much contested notions as did references to NETmundial. This ICANN meeting clearly demonstrated that questions as to the role of ICANN in internet governance need to be settled.


Coinciding with ICANN meeting was the 2nd At-Large Summit, or ATLAS II, bringing together a network of regionally self organized and self supporting At-Large structures, representing individual Internet users throughout the world. The goal of the meeting was to discuss, reach consensus and draft reports around five issues organized around five issues organized around thematic groups of issues of concerns to the At-Large Community.

The subjects for the thematic groups were selected by the representatives of ALSes, each summit participant was allocated to thematic groups according to his/her preferences. The groups included were:

  • Future of Multistakeholder models
  • The Globalization of ICANN
  • Global Internet: The User perspective
  • ICANN Transparency and Accountability
  • At-Large Community Engagement in ICANN

Fahad Chehade Five Point Agenda

ICANN President, Mr Chehade in his address to the ICANN community covered five points which he felt were important for ICANN in planning its future role.  The first topic was the IANA Stewardship and transition, and he stated that ICANN is committed to being a transparent organization and seeks to be more accountable to the community as the contract with the US government ends. Regarding the IANA transition, he remarked that ICANN had received thousands of comments and proposals regarding the transition of IANA stewardship and understood there would be much more discussion on this subject, and that a coordination group has been proposed of 27 members representing all different stakeholders in order to plot the course forward for IANA transition.

His second topic was about ICANN globalization and hardening of operations. He said that ICANN has about 2-3 years to go before he is comfortable that ICANN operations are where they need to be. He applauded the new service channels which allows customer support in many different languages and time zones, and mentioned local language support that would add to the languages in which ICANN content is currently available. Chehade spent a few minutes discussing the future of WHOIS "Directory" technology and highlighted the initial report that a working group had put together, led by Jean-Francois Poussard.

Next he covered the GDD, the Global Domains Division of ICANN and an update from that division on the New gTLD program. He mentioned the ICANN Auction, the contracts that had been signed, and the number of New gTLDs that had already been delegated to the Root. Internet Governance was Chehade's 4th topic of discussion, he applauded the NETmundial efforts, though he stressed that internet governance is one of the things that ICANN does and it will not be a high priority. He ended his speech with his last point, calling for more harmony within the ICANN community.

High Level Government Meeting

During ICANN London, UK government hosted a high-level meeting, bringing together representatives from governments of the world to discuss Internet Governance and specifically the NTIA transition of the IANA contract.  Government representatives recognized that the stewardship of IANA should be a shared responsibility between governments and private sector groups, while other representatives stressed giving governments a stronger voice than other stakeholders. The consensus at the meeting held that the transition should not leave specific governments or interest groups with more control over the Internet, but that governments should have a voice in political issues in Internet Governance.

GAC Communiqué

GAC Communique, is a report drafted by the Governmental Advisory Committee, advising the ICANN board on decisions involving policy and implementation. Highlights from the communiqué include:

  • The GAC advises the Board regarding the .africa string, saying it would like to see an expedited process, especially once the Independent Review Panel comes to a decision regarding the two applicants for the string. They reaffirm their decision that DotConnectAfrica's application should not proceed.
  • The GAC mentioned the controversy surrounding .wine and .vin, where some European GAC representatives strongly felt that the applications for these strings should not proceed without proper safeguards for geographic names at the second level. However, the GAC was unable to reach consensus advice regarding this issue and thus did not relay any formal advice to the Board.
  • The GAC requested safeguards in the New gTLDs for IGO (Inter-Governmental Organization) names at the second level, and specifically related such advice for names relating to Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Civil Society in ICANN and Internet Governance

NCUC, or the Noncommercial Users Constituency,  voice of civil society in ICANN’s policy processes on generic top level domain names and related matters, as well as other civil society actors from the ICANN community organized a workshop to provide an opportunity for open and vigorous dialogue between public interest advocates who are active both within and outside the ICANN community.

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