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 The Download from Durban: Reflections on ICANN 47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ICANN goes to Durban (and you can too)

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