I was fortunate to be able to attend the ICANN 37th Public Meeting in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. This location was in keeping with policy to locate meetings in different continents by rotation. A recent security
alert caused the number of delegates, particularly those working for larger American corporations, to cancel at the last minute. Those concerns proved to
be unfounded, thankfully, and the smaller-than-usual number of delegates, about 700, made for a cosy and productive meeting, ideal for networking, in the 1970s style concrete and dark wood Jomo Kenyatta Conference Centre.
Andalucia.com is a member of the Business Constituency of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This is the organization
which has the overall responsibility for the coordination of the Internet's domain name and IP address space. To protect this space ICANN operates on a multi-stakeholder, bottom-up consensus-building policy-making arena.
The business community delegates were delighted with a number of policy decisions that the ICANN Board took on the last day of the meeting.
New gTLDs ( .anything) (info link: http://www.andaluciaws.com/articles/icann-2008.htm). TLDs are Top Level Domains.
The board decided to abandon the ‘expression of interest' pre-application round. Business Constituency members believed that this initiative had lost its
purpose (to help the organization estimate the number of gTLD applications), and businesses were concerned that applicants were being required to sign up before
all the overarching issues, such as limits on trademark protection, had been resolved. So it is now full steam ahead and I calculate applications for gTLDs
will open in the first quarter of 2011.
The other matter of interest to the business community was the change in the default position on vertical integration. Vertical integration in an industry is when the suppliers also become the supply chain. After much lobbying by the community the ICANN board resolved that within the context of the new gTLD process, there will be strict separation of entities offering registry services and those acting as registrars. No co-ownership will be allowed.
International Domain Names - This is the program to allow domain names containing non-Latin character strings. It is being fast-tracked in the country
code domains. Thus far 19 countries have applied, representing 11 languages. The countries include Egypt, the Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Palestine, Quatar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Taiwan and China. An overiding concern is the ‘string similarity' and the potential for confusion and deliberate phishing of business users. Imagine clicking on sölbank.es by mistake.
Another issue is recognizing that some language communities use variant characters (eg Chinese), and will be affected by the management and implementation of these in new TLDs. The board resolved to take into account remaining public comments on the proposed model and to undertake a study on the usability of the DNAME resource record as a part of a supported mechanism for managing TLD strings containing variants.
In March 2007 the ICANN board denied an application by the ICM Registry, Inc. to run a .xxx registry, "a voluntary adult top-level domain". The ICM then filed an application for an Independent Review.
When the Independent Review Panel was constituted, both ICM and ICANN submitted additional papers setting out their respective positions on the matter. From 21-25 September 2009, a live hearing was held in Washington DC, where both sides submitted documentary evidence and witness testimony. On 19 February 2010, the Panel issued its 2-1 majority declaration with findings in favour of ICM.
At the Nairobi meeting, the ICANN board resolved to direct ICANN's CEO and General Counsel to post the report of possible process options on the ICM matter for public comment, which will enable the community to
provide input on the board's processes. Do you have a view on this adult top-level domain? Post your comment on the public forum.
Next Public Meeting
The next public meeting is in Brussels in June 2010. The location of the third meeting, in December 2010, will be in the Latin American region. Board approved the budget for the meeting without reference to a specific location.
Rumours are that the contender cities are Cartagena (Colombia) or Buenos Aires, so start practising your Cumbia and Tango!