This briefing note is also published on the Sydney meeting site at http://syd.icann.org and linked to on the front page of that site.
What was it?
ICANN’s 35th international public meeting is the first of three held annually to conduct policy development and outreach. It was hosted by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), AusRegistry International, operator of Australia’s dot-au register, and auDA (.au Domain Administration), the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the dot-au domain space.
The meeting was opened by New South Wales’ premier Nathan Rees, and Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy.
Premier Rees spoke about the impact and importance of the digital revolution, the important role that ICANN plays with the Internet, and the possibilities that new generic top-level domains will open up.
Senator Conroy spoke about the Australian government’s plan to build a high-speed broadband network connecting everyone in the country, using fiber to reach 90 percent of homes and businesses, and wireless and satellite technology to reach the remaining 10 percent.
There were 1,054 attendees to the conference from 106 different countries. The largest group came from the United States (286), followed by local hosts Australia (224). 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://syd.icann.org.
ICANN’s next international public meeting will take place in Seoul, South Korea, beginning on 25 October 2009.
What happened and what are the next steps?
Many meetings, workshops, public forums and informal discussions were held over seven days by the different stakeholders of the ICANN model:
- Business interests
- Civil society – – including the At-Large Summit of individual Internet user representatives
- 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.
WHAT HAPPENED: The four “overarching issues” that need to be addressed before the introduction of new top-level domains were the focal point of the meeting. Those four issues are: trademark protection; malicious conduct; security and stability; and demand and economic analysis – more details on each below.
There was also a more general update session on the new gTLD program on the Monday morning that outlined the most recent documents and changes made to them following the second public comment period of the Applicant Guidebook.
The issue of how to protect trademarks in the event of a massive expansion in the domain name space was the most visible of the four overarching issues.
The authors of a report (IRT report) that proposed a number of solutions to the issue outlined their findings in numerous sessions and received feedback from the community. A main session on Wednesday afternoon also addressed the issue.
Three suggestions were the centre of most of the debate: the creation of a globally protected marks list, where a trademark registered across the world was given special rights to block domain registrations with that trademark in; an IP clearinghouse, where trademark holders are able to submit their information once in a common format and it be used across all gTLDs; and a uniform rapid suspension (URS) process that would enable a domain to be suspended if its registrant did not respond to a trademark holder’s request within a specific time period.
A session on Wednesday afternoon addressed the concern that a large expansion of the domain name space will present new opportunities for abuse of the DNS, such as phishing, malware, the distribution of illegal content, and so on.
The broad concern is that with a large number of new companies entering the domain name market – both registries and registrars – that there will not be sufficient awareness of the problems of dealing with the criminal element online. As a result, there is an effort underway to find the best solution to pre-empt future problems without introducing unnecessary controls.
Security and Stability
A session on Wednesday focused on the Security, Stability and Resiliency Plan for ICANN as an organization, which was recently put out for public comment.
Demand and Economic Analysis
Two economic analysis reports were published a few weeks prior to the Sydney meeting and a special session held on the Monday to cover, in particular, the issue of registry-registrar separation.
ICANN introduced the registrar market shortly after its inception in order to produce greater competition in the domain name system. The approach was effective, reducing the cost of domain names to the user and greatly increasing consumer choice. With the expansion of the domain name space, however, the community has been reviewing whether the existing system where registrars and registries are kept strictly apart remains the optimal approach.
NEXT STEPS: Feedback from the meeting, as well as comments sent to recent comment periods covering both revised excerpts of the Applicant Guidebook and papers related to the overarching issues, will be used to produce a third version of the guidebook for the Seoul meeting in October.
The first applications for new generic top-level domains are expected to be received in the first quarter of 2010.
The new gTLD program webpage contains the latest information as well as extensive background information on the whole process:
Trademark Protection and Malicious Conduct session:
Security, stability and resiliency session:
Economic analysis session:
Economic analysis reports:
New gTLD update session:
IDN Fast Track
WHAT HAPPENED: A session on the Monday afternoon gave the latest information and updates on the IDN Fast Track process.
The session focused on the ongoing implementation efforts of the Fast Track and covered details such as the application process, the relationship between the IDN ccTLD managers and ICANN, financial contributions, and IDN Tables and variant management.
In terms of documentation, the latest version of the Implementation Plan was published prior to the meeting, as well as three papers that identified open issues where further input from the community is needed. A public comment process was opened prior to the meeting and closed on 15 July.
An introductory session to IDNs was also given on the Sunday before the meeting.
NEXT STEPS: Feedback from the meeting, as well as comments sent to the public comment period on the Implementation Plan and papers will be used to produce a revised version of the Implementation Plan.
Remaining tasks include: production of an online application form; IDNA implementation; finalizing the evaluation process; formation of a stability panel; and finalizing a linguistic process.
The aim is to finalize the Implementation Plan in time for the Seoul meeting in October.
The Fast Track webpage contains the latest information on the process as well as extensive background information:
You can also view the broader IDN program webpage at: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/
Monday Fast Track session:
Fast Track implementation plan public comment period:
IDN introductory session:
Operating Plan and Budget for FY2010
WHAT HAPPENED: The Operating Plan and Budget was outlined during a Monday session, concluding six months of work and repeated community consultation. The budget was approved by the Board during its public meeting on the Friday.
In broad terms, the budget expects revenue of $63.6 million, with operating expenses of $54.4 million (a 4.9 percent growth over 2009 and in line with a promise not to grow more than five percent). There will be a contribution to the reserve of $4.9 million.
Full details of where ICANN will spend the money and where it comes from were outlined during the session and are also available on line.
NEXT STEPS: Now the Operating Plan and Budget is approved, ICANN will shortly begin its Strategic Plan process until January. The Strategic Plan will then be used to create the Operating Plan and Budget for FY2011.
There will be several periods of public comment during the process for community input and review, all of which will be announced on the front page of the ICANN website.
The Financial webpage contains full information about ICANN’s budget as well as links to other resources:
Monday session on the Operating Plan and Budget:
Improving Institutional Confidence (IIC)
WHAT HAPPENED: A report that provided detailed proposals following the year-long improving institutional confidence (IIC) consultation was published prior to the Sydney meeting for review.
The report was the focus of a session on Wednesday. Two proposals in particular were the focus of attention, both requiring bylaw changes. One would allow the community to request review of a Board decision through a majority vote, and the second would establish an independent review body for Board decision.
Other changes, including looking for ways to improve participation across Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, a staff code of conduct, and the production of executive summaries of documents, were highlighted in a number of Board resolutions on the Friday.
NEXT STEPS: The proposed bylaw amendments have been put out for public comment until 25 September. The other changes will be developed by either staff, the CEO, or a new Board-GAC working group and put out to the community for review.
Information about the documents, the public comment periods, the regional meetings and the Implementation Plan can be found on dedicated IIC webpages at: http://www.icann.org/en/jpa/iic/
Wednesday IIC session:
Public comment period on bylaw changes:
DNSSEC Interim Solution
WHAT HAPPENED: A few weeks before the start of the Sydney meeting, ICANN outlined an interim solution for digitally signing the root zone. The solution sees ICANN working with the US government and VeriSign to help secure the domain name system through the use of the DNSSEC protocol.
A session was held on Wednesday that went through that solution as well as through broader issues with respect to the rollout and use of DNSSEC.
NEXT STEPS: ICANN will work with the US Department of Commerce and VeriSign on the interim solution with the goal of a signed root zone as soon as feasible in 2009.
Announcement of interim solution:
Joint AC/SO meeting
WHAT HAPPENED: Representatives of ICANN’s Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations, as well as ICANN Chief Operating Officer Doug Brent met to discuss issues of joint interest.
A single-page summary of the event was produced the next day and discussed within the different groups during the week.
Broadly, the meeting concluded that there was significant frustration and exhaustion due to the volume of work. A lack of visibility of the impact that volunteer input has on decision making, particularly for Board decisions, was also highlighted.
Other issues raised included: that the purpose, roles and responsibilities of volunteers, staff and Board are not clear; levels of trust are low; the Board operates at too operational a level; and the current processes are not scalable, particularly as the organization continues to grow and internationalize.
Possible solutions to these issues were also discussed and included: prioritization of the workload; better scoping of issues at the start of policy processes; improved accessibility to issues by providing summaries; and improved contact between groups.
NEXT STEPS: The meeting summary will be posted for community review and discussion and use to inform further discussions at all levels of the organization in an effort to find and implement solutions to the issues raised.
The ACSO session:
New Board members and CEO
Two new Board members took their seats at Sydney, and a new CEO for the organization was named.
Ray Plzak and Mike Silber joined the Board, replacing Demi Getschko and Dave Wodelet. Rod Beckstrom was named as the new CEO and replaced Paul Twomey, who will stay on in the role of Senior President until the end of 2009.
The Board webpage provides more information: http://www.icann.org/en/general/board.html
The full set of Board Resolutions at the public meeting on Friday can be found online at http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-26jun09.htm.
A transcript of the meeting can be found at: http://syd.icann.org/files/meetings/sydney2009/transcript-board-meeting-26jun09-en.txt
A short summary of resolutions is given below.
Board minutes highlights
- 2010 budget and operating plan approved
- A ban on the use of redirection of DNS records for all gTLD registries i.e. registries won’t be allowed to display anything but an error message if someone types in a domain name that hasn’t been registered
- A new working group of the Board and GAC to review the GAC’s role within ICANN
- The publication of two proposed bylaw amendments to improve accountability: one to allow the community to vote for a review of a Board decision; and a second to established an independent review body.
- A series of initiatives from the Improving Institutional Confidence consultation: look for ways to improve participation across Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees; a staff code of conduct; the production of executive summaries of documents.
- Introduction of a new CEO
- Staff to work on GNSO stakeholder charters and present them for decision by the Board at its July meeting; the new GNSO Council to be seated in Seoul
- Staff to produce a new version of the Applicant Guidebook, incorporating feedback from the meeting where appropriate, in time for the Seoul meeting in October
- Structural Improvements Committee (SIC) and staff to work on new GNSO constituency applications and provide recommendations as soon as practicable; SIC recommendations for the review process – including an expansion of the timeframe for review cycles from three to five years – to be published for public comment
- Dot-pro registry given permission to allocate single and two-characters domains
- Seoul official chosen for next meeting
- Working group created to look at the issue of specifications for the internationalization of registration data i.e. allowing for Whois records to be produced in more languages and scripts
- Charter approved for working group to review ICANN’s geographic regions
- Changes in Board Committee membership
- Working group for ccNSO review approved
- Changes to SSAC membership approved
- Acknowledged receipt of At Large Summit Final Declaration as well as the final report of the ALAC review
- Thanks to: Paul Twomey for his work as CEO; the local hosts, scribes, interpreters and other people that help the meeting run effectively; the IRT team for their report on trademark protection; the sponsors and community.
You can view edited videos of the conference’s main events as well as full videos of events in the main ballroom and the ccNSO at: http://syd.icann.org/video
Pictures of the conference can be found at: http://www.icann.org/photos/