Seoul meeting briefing note

by Kieren McCarthy on November 6, 2009

Briefing Note – Overall Summary of the Seoul Meeting

What was it?

ICANN’s 36th international public meeting was the last of three held annually to conduct policy development and outreach. It was hosted by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and KISA(Korea Internet & Security Agency), a public agency that plays a major role in developing and researching the Internet in Korea.

The meeting was opened by three local dignatories: Mr. See Joong Choi, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission; Mr. Heung Kil Ko, Senator and Chairman of the Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee of the National Assembly; and Ms. Hee Jung Kim, president of KISA. 

Mr. See Joong Choi spoke about how the Internet was 40 years old, and the impact it has had in that time. He talked about how important IP addresses were as assets for the future and that they become a common resource for all. And he welcomed the introduction of IDNs as paving a “new way toward the future”.

Mr. Heung Kil Ko spoke about how Korea was a leader in the knowledge and information society, with 77.6 percent of its citizens online. He spoke of the importance of an efficiently and stably managed IP address system, as well as dealing with security threats such as hacking and phishing. The conference would hopefully lead to close ties between ICANN and Korea, he added.

Ms. Hee Jung Kim also heralded the introduction of IDNs, and welcomed a recent change in the agreement that ICANN has with the United States government as strengthening the autonomy of the IP addressing system.

There were 1,207 attendees to the conference from 111 different countries. 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://sel.icann.org.

ICANN’s next international public meeting will take place in Nairobi, Kenya beginning on 7 March 2010.

 

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
  • Registrants
  • Registrars
  • Registries
  • The technical community

Several key issues and themes evolved over the course of the meeting. They are summarized below.

 

Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)

WHAT HAPPENED:  The most significant progress at the Seoul meeting was the approval of the “fast track”, which will see a limited number of internationalized domain names introduced to the Internet’s root possibly before the end of the year. To celebrate the occasion, a special evening reception was held on the Monday.

The fast track was formally approved by the Board on Friday, and although there remain concerns about their introduction, the Chairman noted it as an historic achievement and the vote was met with a standing ovation by the audience. Dozens of press articles from across the world also recognized the event.

For the first time, Internet users that speak something other than Western languages will be able to represent an entire Internet address in their own language.

NEXT STEPS: Applications to the fast track will open on 16 November.

MORE INFORMATION:

Official announcement of the approval: http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-30oct09-en.htm

Fast track webpage:
http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/

 

New gTLDs

WHAT HAPPENED:  The third version of the Applicant Guidebook, as well as a range of other papers and explanatory memoranda, were produced for discussion at the meeting. A main session on the program was held on the Monday.

In particular, additional work was done on the “overarching issues” that need to be addressed before the introduction of new top-level domains (see below for more specific information).

ICANN staff revised the deadline to the opening application date for new gTLDs. Instead of giving a date, or quarter, the launch date will be dependent on community efforts to find solutions to the overarching issues. This approach prompted some in the community to argue that ICANN needed to demonstrate its determination to the process.

The result at the end of the week was a compromise solution, approved in a Board resolution, that asked staff to look into how to introduce a system for allowing “expressions of interest” to be shown in new gTLDs.  That process may allow for likely demand to be gauged and provide useful data to move some discussions from theoretical to pragmatic.

The Applicant Guidebook is out to public comment until 22 November.

 

Trademark Protection

The issue of how to protect trademarks in the event of a massive expansion in the domain name space continued to be an issue of much debate. A special session was held on the Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Following public comment on a report produced for the previous meeting in Sydney (the IRT report), possible solutions to the issue were reduced from four to two in a staff paper released prior to the meeting. Those solutions are: the creation of an IP Clearinghouse, or database of validated trademarks; and a Uniform Rapid Suspension process for use in clear-cut cases of trademark infringement.

That paper has been put to the GNSO for review.

 

Malicious Conduct

Two sessions on Monday 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.

Summaries of the input received so far on this issue as well as a report by ICANN staff with proposed mitigation measures were posted for review prior to the meeting and a panel discussion dug further into both.

 

Security and Stability

A session on Wednesday focused on a report that review how the Internet’s current systems could scale to accommodate new Internet extensions, as well as other security related issues such as the introduction of a more secure form of the current system, called DNSSEC.

Broadly, there are some concerns that if a large number of extensions were introduced to the Internet at the same time, that the systems currently in place would not be able to cope.

There was some discussion about whether the report effectively recommended that new gTLDs would need to be delayed or spread out over time, although there was no agreement on that point and it remains for ICANN’s Advisory Committees in this area (RSSAC and SSAC) to review the report, public comments on the issue and report back to the community.

The root scaling report is out for public comment until 29 November.

 

Demand and Economic Analysis

Further economic analysis will be commissioned by ICANN in order to address outstanding concerns raised following review of the two previous economic studies.

 

NEXT STEPS: Feedback from the meeting, as well as comments sent to comment periods covering the third version of the Applicant Guidebook and papers related to the overarching issues, will be used to produce a fourth version of the guidebook for the Nairobi meeting in March.

Staff will review the possibility of introducing a system where potential gTLD applicants are able to provide “expressions of interest” in new Internet extensions in order to help the work move forward more effectively.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

The new gTLD program webpage contains the latest information as well as extensive background information on the whole process: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-program.htm

Root scaling study session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7084

Trademark Protection session: http://sel.icann.org/node/7116

Malicious Conduct and new gTLDs session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7117

Malicious Conduct and Consumer Protection:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7288

Registry/registrar separation session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7083

New gTLD update session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/6739

 

Strategic Planning

WHAT HAPPENED: ICANN held its first strategic planning session for 2010 was held on Wednesday morning.

The strategic plan is the process by which the organization’s priorities are mapped out, feedback is received from the community, and all the input is pulled into an Operating Plan, from which the organization’s budget is decided and allocated.

The session was more interactive than previous years with an online survey asking people to rank the importance of various areas of work e.g. implement new gTLDs, strengthen accountability, etc.

The plan recognized four main areas of focus for ICANN: preserve DNS stability and security; promote competition, trust and consumer choice; excel in IANA and other core operations; maintain ICANN’s long term role in the Internet eco-system. Within these, no less than 18 projects were highlighted as being of strategic priorities over the next three years.

NEXT STEPS: A draft plan will be drawn up based on community feedback and provided to the Board for review. The plan will then be put out to public comment in early December, with the second set of feedback used to draw up a revised plan to be put before the Board for approval in February 2010.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

Strategic plan session: http://sel.icann.org/node/7103

Online survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Auve9xOKvl0YbWhg1NLKmA_3d_3d

 

Affirmation of Commitments

WHAT HAPPENED: The Joint Project Agreement (JPA) that ICANN had with the US government concluded in September and was replaced by an Affirmation of Commitments.

Under that Affirmation, ICANN becomes accountable to the global Internet community and a series of reviews are outlined that help ensure a high degree of public, global accountability.

A special session was held on the Wednesday afternoon where the Chairman and CEO took questions about the Affirmation and also outlined a path forward for carrying out the reviews.

The Affirmation was also given an hour-long slot at the public forum on Thursday.

 

NEXT STEPS: The Affirmation outlines a number of reviews. An initial draft of how these might work will be produced following community feedback and presented at the next ICANN meeting in Nairobi.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

The Affirmation of Commitments: http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-30sep09-en.htm#affirmation

Affirmation session: http://sel.icann.org/node/7481

 

GNSO Improvements

WHAT HAPPENED: After years of hard work, the new GNSO Council sat for the first time in Seoul. There are now two main stakeholder groups: Contracted (made up of registries and registrars), and Non-Contracted (made up of commercial and non-commercial interests).

A new chair was chosen by both houses – Chuck Gomes – and he will work alongside two new vice-chairs: Olga Cavalli (Non-Contracted) and Stephane van Gelder (Contracted).

 

MORE INFORMATION:

The GNSO Improvements webpage:
http://gnso.icann.org/en/improvements/

The GNSO Council session: http://sel.icann.org/node/6708

 

Independent Reviews

WHAT HAPPENED: A number of sessions that covered the review of specific parts of ICANN were held during the week.

Currently, two bodies are in the implementation phase: GNSO and ALAC. The GNSO process was largely finished with the sitting of the new Council; whereas the ALAC met the Board’s Structural Improvements Committee to discuss the implementation of its changes.

Meanwhile, going through the Working Group stage (i.e. just before implementation) there is: the Nominating Committee; Board; and SSAC.

Other reviews ongoing included: RSSAC (just at the start of the working group period); ccNSO (just about to head into the review process); and ASO (terms of reference for its review being drawn up).

 

NEXT STEPS: The reviews will progress through the clearly defined processes in each case. More sessions will be held in Nairobi to discuss and review that progress.

 

MORE INFORMATION:

ALAC and Board SIC session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7183

Nominating Committee review session
http://sel.icann.org/node/7094

Board review session: http://sel.icann.org/node/7252

SSAC review session:
http://sel.icann.org/node/7098

 

Board members and Councillors

Since this was ICANN’s annual general meeting, there was turnaround in Board and Council members.

In particular, Roberto Gaetano, Steve Goldstein, Wendy Seltzer and Thomas Roessler left the Board. From ALAC: Jose Ovidio Salgueiro, Fatimata Seye Sylla, Vanda Scartezini, Nguyen Thu Hue, and Sivasubramanian Muthusamy all ended their terms. And from the GNSO: Tony Harris, Philip Sheppard, Greg Ruth, Tony Holmes, Ute Decker, Cyril Chua, Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza, Maggie Mansourkia, Jon Nevett, and Steve Metalitz all left the Council.

Special mention was given to leaving GNSO chair Avri Doria and leaving NomCom chair Tricia Drakes.

Peter Dengate Thrush was re-elected as chair of the Board, and Dennis Jennings as vice-chair.

 

Board Resolutions

The full set of Board Resolutions at the public meeting on Friday can be found online at http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-30oct09-en.htm.

A transcript of the meeting can be found at: http://sel.icann.org/meetings/seoul2009/transcript-board-meeting-30oct09-en.txt

And video recordings of proceedings can be found in two parts at:
http://icann.na3.acrobat.com/p77419459/ and
http://icann.na3.acrobat.com/p19863704/

 

Other Matters

Pictures of the conference can be found at: http://www.icann.org/photos/

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