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Domain Dispatches: NETmundial Day 1 – A Parade and then a Circus

NETmundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, opened Wednesday, April 23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Around 800 participants representing governments, private sector, academia, civil society and the technical community filled the room, with at least twice that participating remotely. The morning session consisted entirely of a parade of speeches from dignitaries, most from government, with a smattering from other stakeholder groups. A few themes and a few speeches stood out. After the introductory remarks came perhaps the most stirring speech, from Nnenna Nwakanma. Africa Regional Coordinator of the World Wide Web Foundation. Dressed in colorful and striking African garb, she began, "My name is Nnenna. I come from the Internet." She went on: "I work to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely. That is what I do for a living." She called NETmundial the "World Cup of Internet Governance."… Continue Reading

Domain Dispatches: NETmundial Is Right Around The Corner

On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Sao Paulo, Brazil will host NETmundial - the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance. Approximately 800 people will descend on Sao Paulo to spend two days and nights discussing, debating, arguing, cajoling, pleading, and demanding potential changes in the governance of the Internet. Hundreds more will participate remotely, at "remote hubs" and through the Internet (of course).… Continue Reading

Straight from Singapore #3 (Jet Lag Edition) – Monday: ICANN Begins, For Those Who Think ICANN Begins on Monday

(Between jet lag and the pace of ICANN-related events, it's taken a while to summarize the events at ICANN 49 in Singapore...) Monday, March 23, began with the Opening Ceremony, even though the work of ICANN started on Saturday for many attendees. This ICANN meeting is freighted with history - Singapore was the site of ICANN 1, and also the site of ICANN 41 in 2011, where the New gTLD Program was officially approved. And now it has become the official kick-off for the IANA transition, the biggest change in the structure of Internet governance in many a year. Steve Crocker, Chairman of the ICANN Board - himself freighted with history - kicked off the Opening Ceremony, then ceded the floor to Fadi Chehade, President and CEO of ICANN. Not surprisingly, much of the Opening, after the Ceremony, was devoted to Internet Governance - the IANA transition and the upcoming NETmundial meeting. Immediately after the Opening, the room was turned over to a meeting that wasn't even on the schedule two weeks ago - "IANA Accountability Transition." After touching on other developments at ICANN, Fadi walked through a series of slides, showed ICANN's vision of how the transition process should go - and subtly pushed a plan where oversight of the IANA function is transferred to a global "multistakeholder mechanism" (not a separate entity), while the IANA function remains ensconced within ICANN, functionally separate and insulated from the policy business of ICANN. While this may be the wish list for ICANN management, others definitely disagreed on both points. An active discussion followed. The community made it clear, in comments from the floor, that ICANN needed to respect the bottom-up, consensus-driven multistakeholder process in facilitating the discussion and process of development.… Continue Reading

Straight from Singapore: Special Edition on the IANA Transition

House Republicans have introduced a bill to block the IANA transition. These are the same Republicans behind the quickly-called hearings set for April 2. "America shouldn't surrender its leadership on the world stage to a 'multistakeholder model' that's controlled by foreign governments," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). This seems to ignore a number of the points set out in the NTIA announcement, which specifically says that any government-led or intergovernmental-led solution will be rejected. On top of that, an implementation of the multistakeholder model to assume the IANA oversight functions hasn't been proposed yet. The process of developing that implementation hasn't even been proposed yet. Yet somehow, these lawmakers believe they need to pull out jingoistic rhetoric to support wild-eyed claims that the Internet could turn into "another Russian land-grab."… Continue Reading

Straight from Singapore #2: The Beat Goes On

The second day of ICANN49 was "visiting day" for the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), with various ICANN staff and stakeholder groups meeting with the GNSO. Meanwhile, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), ICANN's mini-United Nations, huddled in another room, also receiving visitors from time to time. The GNSO was visited by Cyrus Namazi and others from the Generic Domains Division (GDD), the group within ICANN staff tasked with running the New gTLD Program and dealing with existing gTLDs as well. We received a breakneck summary of the status of applications. Most objections to the new gTLDs have now been resolved - only 14 are still left to resolve. It looks like ICANN will be running some "last resort" auctions to resolve contention sets (where there are multiple applicants for the same domain name). In last resort auctions, ICANN keeps the money paid by the winning bidder. In private auctions or other arrangements, the losing bidder(s) get paid by the winning bidder. The last resort auction is only used where the bidders cannot agree among themselves to resolve the contention set privately (hence the "last resort" name). Some thought there would be no last resort auctions, so this was a mild surprise. The real surprise from the GDD came out when they announced their intention to measure and track the economic and social impact of the new gTLDs, in order to prepare for round two of new gTLD applications. Round Two? Round Two? Many have asked if there would be a Round Two; now. It appears that Round Two is a "when" and a "how," not an "if." For those of you who survived Round One, this is big news. If you felt left out, this is good news. If you are a first round applicant, this may be bad news, as more competition floods the market. If you are a brandowner, still trying to figure out how to police and enforce your trademarks in over 1,000 new domains, be prepared to redouble your efforts. Brandowners should look at Round Two skeptically - is it needed? Can issues in Round One be resolved? Can it be stopped? Be prepared to spend time, money and effort on these questions, if you want to help shape the answers.… Continue Reading

Straight from Singapore #1: ICANN Goes to Singapore, and the World is Watching

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is descending on Singapore for its 49th semi-annual meeting: #ICANN49. A week ago, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, dropped a bombshell - the United States would relinquish its oversight of key functions of the Internet: the "IANA functions." The NTIA decreed that ICANN would oversee the transition of this oversight to the "global stakeholder community," and the NTIA wanted it done by the end of September 2015, when the current "IANA contract" expires. This announcement changed the focus, the agenda, and the tone of the ICANN meeting. After the "Snowden revelations," it was clear that "Internet Governance" was going to be a major topic - but on a theoretical level, with no particular timeline and no particular role for ICANN. Now, with a real project, a real role and a real deadline, ICANN and the ICANN community are on the clock and under the microscope.… Continue Reading

First New UDRP Decision Issued for gTLDs

In the first of what are likely to be many Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) and Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) cases related to the new gTLD program, CANYON.BIKE was transferred to Canyon Bicycles GmbH of Koblenz, Germany. This seems to have been a relatively easy decision for the arbitrator, since the Respondent's defense was "that he registered the disputed domain name to enlarge his network and 'get in (friendly) contact with Canyon.' The Respondent submits that a lot of people in the cycling industry did not know of the forthcoming new gTLDs and he therefore registered some domain names 'to protect companies' from domain squatting. The Respondent adds that before he was able to contact the Complainant it filed the present Complaint." The Respondent made this claim even though he was seeking money from the trademark owner for the domain name, and had advertisements at the domain name for the trademark owner's competitors.… Continue Reading

The Time to Prepare for ICANN’s gTLD Rollout is Now

If you want to avoid being sucker-punched as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launches new top level domains to compete with .com, .net, .org and others now in use, Reed Smith's client alert, Clashes, Collisions, Delays and Decisions: ICANN, NTIA, Verisign and ANA Weigh In on 'Name Collisions' and the Readiness of the New gTLD Program is a must read. At stake is not just a brand's intellectual property rights, but also the integrity and security of every company's network. Be prepared, or be sucker-punched.… Continue Reading

The Download from Durban: Reflections on ICANN 47

I think I've finally recovered from my trip to Durban, South Africa, to attend the 47th meeting of ICANN (International Association of Assigned Names and Numbers - the organization that oversees the Internet's domain name system and everything around it). After blogging from the belly of the beast, I now have the luxury of some perspective on the goings-on in Durban and the results of that meeting. Several important points came out of Durban and a few epiphanies along the way that are worth sharing.… Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #6: The Final Countdown (or maybe not…)

Thursday was the last day of ICANN, and two things were eagerly awaited - the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) Durban Communiqué and the ICANN Public Forum. The Durban Communiqué will update the GAC Advice from the Beijing Communiqué, clarifying (hopefully) the GAC's position on a number of burning issues. The Public Forum is where anyone (in the room or participating remotely) can approach the microphone and ask questions (or make statements) to the ICANN Board and staff...… Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #5: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once, When You’re Not Anywhere At All?

On Wednesday, ICANN 47 is in full swing. There are as many as nine meetings going on at once, with overlapping times with even more meetings. Cloning would be a good idea. I'm beginning to figure out tactics for being in two places at one time, some of the time - sitting in one meeting while following the "scribefeed" (live transcription) of another, checking the ICANN "twitterverse" for updates, emailing with colleagues and cohorts from meeting to meeting, etc.… Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #4: In the Belly of the Beast

Tuesday is Constituency Day and Music Night. My Tuesday began bright and early with a breakfast for the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) with the GAC. This was our chance to rub shoulders with the government reps. I sat next to the rep from Nigeria and discussed the role of the GAC in the ICANN policy process. We both seemed to think that the GAC should be more closely involved, which would avoid the "parallel tracks" that seem to occur, including with the IOC/RCRC WG. Another highlight - we were actually in a room with windows. Of course, we had the morning sun, so we baked quite nicely. Constituency Day then moved on to the CSG meeting. The CSG includes the Commercial and Business Users Constituency (CBUC), the Internet Service and Connectivity Provider Constituency (ISCPC), as well as the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC). We are the regular business users of the Internet - those that are not "contracted parties" with ICANN. We heard from several other ICANN groups. Of greatest concern was the presentation from the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) - the "name clash" issue has the capacity to compromise the security and performance of thousands of private networks worldwide. This was reported in such a deadpan tone that Mikey O'Connor of the ISCPC pointed out (in an even more deadpan tone), something like: "So, what you are saying is, my house is burning down, my children are inside, there's gasoline in the garage, and there are no fire trucks in the neighborhood." To view our previous update from Monday, please visit: http://www.adlawbyrequest.com/2013/07/articles/icann/dispatch-from-durban-3-welcome-back-my-friends-to-the-show-that-never-ends/… Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #3: Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends

ICANN 47 kicked off this morning and I have now seen ICANN in all its glory. 1800 delegates, 92 countries. Some participants in African traditional dress; almost everyone else in business casual. The day began with the formal Opening Ceremony and President’s Opening Session. I wish I could tell you it began with the release … Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #2: The End of the Beginning (or the Beginning of the End?)

My Sunday started bright and early, with a 7:30 breakfast meeting between the Commercial Stakeholder Group and the GNSO members on the ICANN Board. After admiring the sunrise over the Indian Ocean, I grabbed the shuttle bus for a brief ride over to the land of windowless rooms. At breakfasts, several concerns were raised. One of these was the "name clash" issue: internal networks (such as most businesses employ) have long used internal top level domains (such as . mail and .corp, among others) for technical purposes. Since these top level domains didn't exist in the "outside world" this raised no issues. Now that these domains have been applied for, they will exist "outside." As a result, an Internet user typing in yourname.mail could find themselves in your private network (and while your network might be secured, what if our Internet user is up to no good?). Conversely, your internal network could experience problems where the same domain name exists inside and outside. The extent of this problem is unknown and has only recently been considered. It appears that the risky top level domains could be delayed while this is worked out, but that is far from certain. Also discussed was the heavy funding in the ICANN Budget for "engagement," (i.e., P.R. and outreach) while compliance appears to get short shrift. Of course, compliance is not sexy or revenue-producing, but without enough "police on the streets" the new gTLD program could be even more dangerous in practice than it appears to be on paper...… Continue Reading

Dispatch from Durban #1: ICANN 47 Day 1 (or is it Day -2?)

Driving in to Durban from the airport this morning, I caught my first glimpse of the Indian Ocean: endless, exotic, deep, and full of mystery, it stretched to the blue horizon. While the Indian Ocean is more beautiful, it seems like ICANN 47 will be just as endless, exotic, and deep. Only time will tell what ICANN 47 is full of. Although ICANN 47 does not officially start until Monday, the weekend features a number of working meetings of various ICANN groups, and is the unofficial beginning of each ICANN meeting. I spent my day in the meeting of the GNSO Council. The GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization) is a multistakeholder group tasked with developing policy recommendations for the gTLD (generic Top Level Domain) system - the domains we know and love (like .com, .net and .biz) and the domains yet to come (like .wtf, .sucks and .cool). The GNSO Council consists of representatives from each of the stakeholder groups that make up the GNSO.… Continue Reading

ICANN goes to Durban (and you can too)

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.... Greg Shatan… Continue Reading

A Prerequisite for Protection – ICANN’s “Trademark Clearinghouse”

Over the last few years, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") has continued to press forward with its efforts to increase the number of generic top-level domains ("gTLDs"). Although ICANN believes this expansion will increase competition and choice in the domain name space, various groups, including advertisers, have lingering concerns that the expansion will further erode Internet security and force them to incur significant expenses to protect their brands. In an attempt to address these concerns, ICANN has implemented a limited number of protection mechanisms. However, these protection mechanisms are only available to those who register their mark(s) in the Trademark Clearinghouse, a global repository of trademark data that launched on March 26, 2013. Thus, in the midst of an expansion that is already riddled with uncertainties, brand owners are now faced with the difficult task of trying to assess the value of ICANN's unproven protections, and determining which marks, if any, are worth registering in the Trademark Clearinghouse.… Continue Reading

ICANN Forges On

ICANN is fast approaching its release of a tsunami of new top level domains.  Advertisers are simply not ready for what lies ahead and the millions it will cost.  For the latest update on how no one seems to be able to stop ICANN’s juggernaut, please read “DOJ Antitrust Division refuses to issue review letter … Continue Reading

Open Letter To The Board Of Directors – Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Numbers

Dear ICANN and Members of the ICANN Board: In just five months, since the Association of National Advertisers formed the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (“CRIDO”) and organized the global constituencies that have partnered and irrefutably shown that serious problems with ICANN’s proposal to open the DNS to unlimited TLDs remain unresolved despite years … Continue Reading

Association of National Advertisers Challenges ICANN Authority to Establish New Top Level Domains

Today, in a letter to Mr. Rod Beckstrom, President, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) detailed major flaws in the proposed ICANN program that would permit applicants to claim virtually any word, generic or branded, as Internet top-level domains once the application window is opened in January … Continue Reading
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