The Seoul ICANN meeting is over and my reaction to it is complex. On the one hand, the meeting felt like a fresh start: it was a showcase for the optimistic, likeable and accessible new President, Rod Beckstrom; it marked the end of the Commerce Department JPA; and it put into place a new domain name policy making structure with a revitalized and somewhat more empowered civil society segment (the NCSG).
On the other hand, ICANN's continuing inability to define an ongoing process for the routine addition of new top level domain names, and the multiplication of new obstacles in their attempt to do so, hung over the meeting like a thick cloud of gray Seoul smog. It produced a deadening feeling that we have been on the same stupid treadmill for 10 years.
The new “Affirmation of Commitments” was, naturally, a major topic at the Seoul ICANN meeting. In the short meeting held to discuss it, ICANN seemed more interested in discussing methodology than in talking about the purpose and scope of the reviews. The audience, however, wanted to talk about accountability. The following comments, circulated afterwards by Becky Burr, reflect the tone of much of the discussion:
At the Seoul meeting the Registrar Stakeholder Group has adopted a position paper supporting the removal of rules that prohibit them from selling names in TLD registries they own or control. Prior to this, many observers of the controversy assumed that it was only Demand Media (ENom) and a few other large registrars who supported the removal of this restriction from new TLDs. Now we see more of an industry-wide cleavage between registrars and registries.
The all-important direct meeting between the ICANN Board and the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), which represents civil society in ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization, took place today. It cleared up a number of misunderstandings, providing a sobering reminder of how badly things can go awry when bureaucracy mediates between the Board and ICANN participants.
A lot of interesting issues are simmering as we head to the Seoul ICANN meeting.
For civil society activists, the highlight of the week comes when the Noncommercial Users Constituency meets with the ICANN Board in an attempt to resolve differences over how the new Noncommercial Stakeholders Group will be organized.
The 2009 Giganet scholarship award, intended to promote participation and scholarly work in Internet governance, has been awarded to Dr. Robert Bodle for his paper, Social Media and Global Internet Governance: Innovations and Limitations, which will be presented by him at the 2009 Giganet Symposium. The Internet Governance Project, which gives the award, would like to thank all applicants and congratulates them on their contributions
ISOC-NY is hosting a forum, “Civic Representation in ICANN: What Now?,” tonight at NYU's Warren Weaver Hall from 18:45-20:45 (EDT). IGP's Milton Mueller, consumer advocate Beau Brendler, and longtime ICANN participant Danny Younger will debate the ongoing GNSO reforms occurring at ICANN, and the possible structures for civil society participation in its policy making activities. You can watch the debate live here and join the discussion.
Affirming the results of a 2007 survey and consistent with numerous comments submitted in a 2009 NTIA proceeding on DNSSEC, ccTLD operators have again indicated in a new survey they want ICANN to sign the root. Their request stands in stark contrast to the June announcement made by the DoC which maintained the current root zone management arrangements and recommended Verisign sign the root zone.
The report states:
“Just like in the 2007 survey, an overwhelming majority of the respondents represents the opinion that ICANN/IANA should be the signer of the root zone. The support for ICANN/IANA has even clearly increased compared to the previous study – from 68% in 2007 to 76% in 2009.”
The first Internet Governance Forum-USA was held last Friday in Washington DC. During the closing plenary session panelists from all stakeholder groups agreed the IGF is a useful exercise that contributes positively to Internet governance. “(The IGF) deals with global issues, transnational issues, ones that require coordination across political boundaries, and that is probably the most important thing about the IGF,” IGP's Milton Mueller said. “We cannot deal with the Internet in a purely national context. We don’t want to put the Internet back into boxes for the purposes of regulation.”
The government of France has weighed in with a positive statement on the ICANN Affirmation of Commitments. The full text is available here in French and in English.