ICANN79 Spotlight: Enhancing GAC Expertise for Better Internet Governance

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At ICANN79, the spotlight was on enhancing the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) expertise, a pivotal factor for effective global internet governance. This article explores the urgent call for improved knowledge among GAC members to navigate the complexities of internet policy and DNS technologies.

Table de Matières

The critical role of GAC in shaping Internet Policy

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) plays a major role within ICANN, guiding on public policy and internet governance
Unfortunately, there are no requirements regarding the knowledge its representatives must have to advise the Community.

ICANN79: Addressing the gap in GAC expertise

During ICANN 79, the Contracted Parties, representing the registries and registrars groups, convened with Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) representatives. The GAC serves as an advisory body within ICANN, tasked with providing guidance on the public policy aspects of ICANN's responsibilities concerning the Domain Name System. Its primary role involves evaluating ICANN's initiatives and protocols, considering their potential impacts on governmental bodies and ensuring alignment with national laws or international agreements.

However, despite its crucial function, it's evident that each country perceives its role within ICANN differently. This discrepancy arises from variations in knowledge and expertise among GAC representatives regarding DNS and the internet. Not all countries have dedicated ministries for the digital economy, and even when they do, ministry members may not necessarily represent them at ICANN. Certain countries seem to hold a lottery before each meeting to decide who to send, while others have representatives for life.

The need for enhanced training among GAC members

In contrast to registrars, who undergo training and certification to ensure proficiency in registrar services and maintain their accreditation by ICANN, GAC representatives have no such obligation. Additionally, ICANN has announced upcoming training courses tailored for registry operators.

While ICANN conducts capacity development workshops, these are typically focused on specific topics and may not provide the comprehensive industry understanding needed by GAC members.

Simplifying Industry Presentations for GAC understanding

Furthermore, the quasi-diplomatic nature of the GAC must be considered with each representative trying to advance the interests of their countries and allies, sometimes to the detriment of the industry.

In light of these observations, Contracted Parties are now systematically introducing their presentations to the GAC with a basic explanation of the industry’s functioning, the differentiation between each type of registrar business, and the role of each party in the DNS chain.

Towards mandatory GAC training for better governance

However, the consensus suggests that a more structured educational approach could significantly benefit ICANN's operations and benefit the community if GAC representatives were required to undergo mandatory training courses on industry realities beyond ICANN policies.

About the Author:

Luc Seufer is the Chief Legal Officer at EuroDNS. He's been deep in the trenches, negotiating with ICANN to make the internet a safer place. With tons of experience in the domain name world, he's super passionate about tackling DNS abuse and making the online world a better place for all of us.

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