ICANN (the organization that runs the domain name system of the Internet) will be meeting in Durban, South Africa starting tomorrow (June 13). ICANN claims to be in the final stages of its planned roll-out of more than 1300 new top level domains (the part of a domain name to the right of the dot). However, there are serious concerns that the new gTLD program is not ready for prime time. Security and stability concerns abound. Features of the Trademark Clearinghouse are still in flux. ICANN has adopted certain items of “GAC Advice” (the GAC – the Government Advisory Committee – is the body through which governments provide input to ICANN), but much has been done hastily, as sort of a “bolt on.” Other elements of the GAC Advice are still under discussion between the ICANN Board and the GAC, and will doubtless be the subject of much energy in Durban. Implementation of the GAC Advice (beyond tacking a few paragraphs on to some agreements) is also a big question mark.

This promises to be an interesting meeting, and I am on my way there. As I write this, I am online in Amsterdam, waiting to board an 11-hour flight to Jo’burg, before heading on to Durban. Thankfully, you will not have to endure 15 to 30 hours of travel to see what’s going on in Durban. I will be posting a series of “Dispatches from Durban” with news from Durban, and analysis of how it will affect brandowners, consumers and the world we live in.

Until then….