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Why Accountability Matters at ICANN

Posted August 7th, 2014


The ICANN circus rolled into London in June. Over 3,000 delegates signed up for a seven day festival of all things domain related held in the less than glamorous setting of the Hilton Metropol on the Edgware Road (known to Londoners as Little Beirut). First on the bill was the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum which focussed on “investments, partnerships and security”. Next came a High Level Government Meeting attended by ministers from 77 countries and apparatchiks from 11 IGOs. The future of internet governance was the main topic of debate. By the time the ICANN meeting started, delegates from within the domain industry, including a strong representation of brand owners including at least a dozen MARQUES members, were exhausted by talk of the impact of Edward Snowden and the digital divide and turned to matters they were more accustomed to such as the launch of the new gTLDs.

The hottest topic to emerge was ICANN’s accountability. As a result of its efforts to develop a process for the transition of the IANA stewardship from the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to the global multi-stakeholder community, the spotlight has been thrown on ICANN itself. Can this not-for-profit corporation incorporated in California be entrusted to police itself if given responsibility for the IANA function of adding strings to the world root? The community lined up at the microphone in the Public Forum on the last day of the meeting to voice concerns. To the amazement of everyone, including 20 rather startled Board Members arranged in a horseshoe at the front of the packed assembly room, all seven constituencies that make up ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) which creates policy, spoke with one voice. In an unprecedented development they called unanimously for the creation of an “independent accountability mechanism that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community”. Although ICANN, currently, has a number of redress mechanisms these are widely seen as ineffective, non-transparent, time consuming and expensive.

Why is this important? ICANN operates through bottom-up consensus. The views of four main stakeholder groups – registry operators, registrars, non-commercial interests and commercial interests – are weighed against each other as policy is created. Generally everyone is pleased or disappointed in equal measure. However, in recent months the ICANN staff under the leadership of President and CEO Fadi Chehade has blurred the line between implementation and policy. Issues which don’t belong inside ICANN have been allowed to surface – for example whether the .wine and .vin new gTLD applications should proceed without additional safeguards for wine producers. When this topic emerged in London, we were treated to the Belgium government representative calling the Chair of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) a liar, the Spanish government demanding “a change not only of the GAC but of ICANN itself” and European Commission declaring it will “not at all hesitate to take legal actions”.

Brand owners need ICANN to rise above governmental politics. ICANN must be transparent and accountable if it is to fulfil its stewardship role for the internet. We need a stable and secure internet addressing system, where rights protection and the rule of law prevail. The next 12 months are critical. When the ICANN community gathers again in Los Angeles in October 2014 there may be more to report on the replacement directory services for whois that are being mooted or the success of the URS rapid suspension scheme but for the time being, all eyes are on governance.

nickwood1

 Nick Wood

Nick is Managing Director of accredited registrar Com Laude. Nick.wood@comlaude.com

 

Posted in Accountability, Conferences, Events, gTLDS, ICANN by  

 
 

.рф Already Taking Applications

Posted November 16th, 2009


The Russian domain registry .RU is accepting sunrise applications for Cyrillic character trademarks under .рф, the Cyrillic translation of .RU. This extension has not yet been granted by ICANN as the ccTLD fast-track application process only opened today, but the registry is so confident that it will be approved that they are accepting applications in a tandem process. They expect to approve sunrise applications from 25 November 2009, although the sunrise will continue until 25 March 2010.

If you have a Russian trademark that you would like to protect under this new IDN, please note the following:

  • Applications must be based on a Cyrillic trademark registered in Russia
  • Only Cyrillic characters are acceptable (ie not in combination with ASCII)
  • Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Applicants must provide a stamped copy of the trademark certificate and a copy of the trademark owner’s certificate of incorporation
  • The official sunrise application fee is 1200 Roubles
  • The registry has not indicated whether there will be a landrush period following the sunrise

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Posted in CCTLD's, ICANN, IDNs by  

 
 

Newsflash from Com Laude: 1 and 2 character .de Domains

Posted October 20th, 2009


From Com Laude

On Friday 23 October at 9am (CEST) DENIC, the German domain registry, is permitting the registration of 1- and 2-character domain names under .de.  As there is a maximum of only 1332 names available, and 300 registrars will be competing for them we expect all the names to be registered very quickly.  Some registrars have banded together to secure what they regard as the most valuable terms which can be resold at high prices.

Sedo, the domain name auction company, is running a pre-auction whereby interested parties can place bids which will then be forwarded to a group of registrars – the registrars are incentivised to placed the highest bids at the front of their queues.  Currently tv.de and pc.de have both attracted maximum bids of EUR 36,000.

With each registrar only being allowed to submit four registration requests a minute for these domains, competition is going to be high.  It is not certain that the long term value of a 1 or 2 character domain under .de will match the sale price.  After all with new gTLDs on the horizon, it is likely that ccTLD registrations will diminish in importance.

Nick Wood is Managing Director of Com Laude

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Posted in Auctions, CCTLD's by  

 
 

ICANN Slows the New gTLD Program and Consults IP Community

Posted March 31st, 2009


This view of ICANN’s latest move is brought to us by Nick Wood, Managing Director of Com Laude and a member of the ICANN board appointed Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT).

ICANN, as many of you know from past NameSmash posts has embarked on a program of expansion that will see the domain name system grow dramatically with the introduction of hundreds of new gTLDs.

If ICANN succeeds then in five years time, the 250 country code (ccTLDs) registries of today could be overshadowed by a thousand or more gTLD registries run by entrepreneurs and affinity groups, cities and even brands. The business of protecting trade marks in the domain name system will change forever as the number of registered domains expands from 170 million to 250 million, maybe many more.

(more…)

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Posted in CCTLD's, Enforcement, gTLDS, ICANN, Internet Security, IPC, WIPO by