ICANN 51: EuroDNS précis Los Angeles (episode two)

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This post from legal eagle Luc, is the second part of a two piece précis detailing the highlights of the ICANN meeting which took place in Los Angeles between October 12 and 16, 2014. The first part is available here .

Privacy Proxy Accreditation Programme

This meeting was also the occasion for the members - EuroDNS being one - of the Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues Working Group to meet in person.

This group, which convenes on a weekly basis via a virtual meeting room, has endeavoured to define the basis for an accreditation programme for providers offering a WHOIS privacy service such as the one recently launched by EuroDNS.

Considering this accreditation will become mandatory for every provider and that this service has often been abused in the past, the discussions in this group are always passionate. Nonetheless, meeting in person proved useful as it allowed them to clarify certain misunderstandings that had arisen during the virtual meetings. Whilst the Internet is incredible for communication it's not yet able to replace real meetings.

One million domains suspended for no reason?

As a member of the Registrar Stakeholder Group, EuroDNS attended the meeting during and met with the ICANN Board. As part of this exchange, registrars asked members of the Board if they had been provided with statistics from Law Enforcement Agencies establishing whether the measures they're required to impose on all registrants had had any positive effect on their investigations.

Regrettably, no actual answer was given and worse, some board members went as far as pretending that it was the first time registrars were asking

Whilst the current activation process includes an inherent risk that domain registrants will see their domain names deactivated. At EuroDNS we've implemented this obligation in a way that reduces the risk of an unwanted suspension, but still such risk cannot be overlooked.

Although all data necessary to demonstrate the harm caused to Internet users is readily available, there is very little chance that this dangerous process will be overturned for purely publicity reasons.

However, the RAA in its 2013 version also foresees that at a later stage, registrars “validate that all postal address fields are consistent across fields”. Which in layman’s terms means that every registrar would need to have access to a database of every address that exists in the world!

Setting aside the fact that no such database exists, building one would be a financial black hole as well as a data privacy nightmare.

This is why EuroDNS, like the majority of the registrars of the Stakeholder Group, is trying to prevent these new obligations becoming enforceable without first being proven that the current measures have any positive effects.

Right Protection Mechanisms

During a dedicated session, stakeholders from all sides of the new gTLD programme table shared their experience with the RPMs available to right owners.

The feedback given confirmed EuroDNS’ own experience that while not yet perfect, the system allows for trademark owners to be efficiently protected if they take the appropriate actions. Be it, registering their marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse, or initiating a URS proceeding.

Regrettably the low number of domain names applied for during the applicable Sunrise periods (average of 118 on 228 TLDs) demonstrates that right owners are not sufficiently informed about the new gTLD programme and of the means at their disposal.

fr.VIN and us.WINE?

As with every ICANN meeting, it closed with a GAC communiqué indicating amongst other things that:

  • It does not oppose the availability for public registration of two character domain names, including those corresponding to country codes.
  • ICANN should continue to focus on WHOIS accuracy.
  • It is concerned that the new gTLD programme committee hasn't adopted all of the specifics proposals on safeguards.
  • It considers that the public comment period is an important transparency mechanism and in addition, asks that relevant governments be alerted by ICANN about these requests as they arise.
  • Prior to the next meeting, it will work on various issues including legal considerations and the possible role of human rights considerations.

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