ICANN 51: EuroDNS précis Los Angeles (episode one)

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From October 12 to 16, 2014 the ICANN community held its quarterly meeting in the organisation’s hometown of Los Angeles. Luc, our legal eagle, swooped in to join the 2300+ participants who attended. On his return, he summarised what went on in two blog posts. Written in his usual inimitable style...

From Russia with love

Unless you're returning from a 520 days simulation of a journey to Mars, you must at some point have heard about Edward Snowden's leaking of NSA documents.

Following this revelation that the US government was not acting as the unbiased and above reproach overseer of the Internet everyone thought, and more importantly due to the (overplayed) indignation of the world’s governments. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced on March 14, 2014 its intent to migrate key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community.

As a first step, NTIA asked ICANN to bring together global stakeholders to develop a proposal for the transition of the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system. The current agreement between ICANN and NTIA for the management of these functions expires on September 30, 2015. ICANN is scheduled to submit its proposal prior to this date.

To do so, ICANN has setup the IANA Stewardship Coordination Group (ICG) which is a group comprised of 30 individuals tasked with drafting the proposal based on the Internet community’s input.

The purpose of the ICG work will not be an attempt to revise the bottom-up policy development processes which ICANN relies on, but rather a defining set of mechanisms to ensure that ICANN will be accountable to the community.

Los (arc)Angeles de Internet

The LA meeting opened with a speech from US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who insisted that, “the United States would not allow the global Internet to be co-opted by any person, entity or nation”, thus setting the tone for the week.

After meeting with community representatives during the week, the ICG announced that their aim is to release a finalised proposal for NTIA review in July 2015. During this presentation the coordination group reminded the community that its role was limited to the coordination and liaison between the different stakeholders; and as such, encouraged every interested party to submit its input regarding this stewardship transition.

From Snowden to snowball

By putting this transition in motion less than a year ago, NTIA has put ICANN in the limelight and indirectly forced it to listen to the community on a range of matters encompassing more than just the transfer of a technical function.

Europe Coordination

As an example, ICANN is finally giving its regional offices more power. Which in our case means that an EMEA office was setup in Istanbul and it will lead and coordinate engagement activities related in and for Europe.

During a dedicated session for European players, freshly appointed VP for Europe Jean-Jacques Sahel explained that his team is putting in place collaboration tools which will allow European stakeholders to coordinate their action towards the public as well as legislative bodies.

Human rights

Another consequence of this transition was that ICANN held a session to discuss the compatibility of ICANN policies and procedures, and human rights. Where normally the only rights discussed within ICANN are those of the Intellectual Property kind, this counter-balance is more than welcome.

In addition, this effort has been spearheaded by Thomas Schneider, the Governmental Advisory Committee representative for Switzerland, who was elected as Governmental Advisory Committee chair during this meeting.

We can expect this issue to remain in the spotlight.

New head of compliance and new function

Only a few days prior to this meeting, ICANN announced that - despite the highly positive results reached by its former head – its compliance department would now be managed by Allen Grogan in his capacity as Chief Contract Compliance Officer and Consumer Safeguards Director.

We are yet to see what this “Consumer Safeguards” sui generis function encompasses and strongly hope that this won’t serve as an excuse for ICANN to meddle with cases outside its mandate.

Whilst this hands-on approach by ICANN should be welcomed, it's important that the fundamental distinction between naming and website content be strictly respected at all times.

Furthermore it should be remembered that there are issues directly and purely related to domain names which ICANN has yet to properly address.

Data privacy... again

EuroDNS applied on 2nd December 2013 for the granting of a waiver to the personal data retention obligation contained in the 2013 version of the RRA. At publication of this post, we haven’t received any official reply from ICANN.

As per the procedure defined at Section 2 of the Data Retention Specification, we are from a procedural standpoint still discussing with ICANN, "the matter in good faith in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the matter”. Therefore we only retain customers’ personal data for the period of time necessary for the provision of services. Inasmuch as domain names are concerned, EuroDNS only retains personal data of its former customers for a six month period following the expiration and/or transfer of their domain name. This period fitting both the minimal delay set by the European Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of data, as well as the Registrar Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy.

While ICANN seems to recognise that the current waiver application process would have required more than a swiftly put together plan by a few members of its staff, registrars don’t have the luxury of waiting for the drafting and implementation of a better-thought-out one.

Indeed as previously mentioned, fully abiding by the RAA terms would automatically lead to a breach of Luxembourgish law which is sanctioned by a heavy fine as well as a prison sentence.

Because we realise this is an awful lot to digest and you probably visited our site to register your perfect domain name, we've broken up this précis into two parts. Once you've registered your brilliant .NINJA domain name, come back and read the rest of this post on Tuesday morning.

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