Access at 51st ICANN International Public Meeting

  With numerous internet governance discussions scheduled, the 51st International Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been going on this week in Los Angeles, USA. Access staff is there, participating in a variety of pre-events, workshops, and high-level meetings, and we want you to follow these discussion.

ICANN is the international non-profit organization that brings together individuals, governments, companies, non-commercial actors, and the technical community to debate and develop policies to coordinate the domain name system. ICANN meetings are held three times a year in different continents and are always multistakeholder — meaning that they bring together representatives from the corporate world, government, and civil society.

Cool. Why should I care?

In March 2014, the US government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to end its 16-year oversight of ICANN. Since then the internet community has been engaging in various formal and informal discussions on the implications of this transition process. This was evident at ICANN 49 Singapore and also at ICANN 50 London where Access continued its participation as part of on-site Civil Society participants in advocating for ICANN accountability and transparency during this transition period.

As we spend the week in Los Angeles, we ought not to forget the ICANN 50 meeting in London,  had its interesting developments of which some include:

  • France’s attack on ICANN over ‘.vin’ and ‘.wine’ domain name suffixes

  • Unanimous statement from all the stakeholder groups and constituencies of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization expressing discomfort with ICANN’s current lack of transparency and accountability

Other events that have shaped the Los Angeles discussions include:

  • Government Advisory Committee proposal to ban top level domains that use a geographic word unless permission granted from governments (this goes back to the ‘.vin’ and ‘.wine’ polarised discussions and also on other human rights concerns at ICANN)

  • ICANN’s recent plan for “Enhancing Accountability”

Two important matters seem to have shaped all 2014 ICANN’s meetings:

  1. Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Transparency- Access promotes “enhancing ICANN accountability” and supports the position of various civil society actors in the internet governance process as expressed during the NetMundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance which concluded in April 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil; where a submission by Gabrielle Guillemin on behalf of Article 19 and Best Bits (of which Access is a member) focussed on this particular issue and called for accountability of the ICANN Board.

  2. Promoting human rights within ICANN- Greater awareness regarding ICANN’s role in considering human rights has resulted from several recent incidents, such as where an activist received a death threat as a result of her home address being available on the public Whois database that compiles the name, address, email and phone number of everyone registered to manage a domain name for a website.  As regards promotion of human rights in ICANN procedures and policies, Access supports the statement by the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group within ICANN (NCSG provides a voice and representation in ICANN processes to: non-profit organizations that serve noncommercial interests and nonprofit services). Access echoes NCSG’s call that, “the AOC should be amended to ensure that ICANN’s decisions are fully consistent with human rights standards. In this regard, ICANN should guarantee that decisions related to the global technical coordination of the DNS are made in a transparent and accountable manner and crucially, “for the protection and advancement of human rights and Internet freedoms” rather than “in the public interest,” which is a standard that lacks sufficient specificity in this context.

Here’s a guide to some of the panels and events that Access has been in involved in (transcripts can be found on the links to the sessions):

CS @ ICANN: Enhancing Civil Society / NGO Participation in ICANN [Access participating]

[Saturday, October 11] 16:30 to 19:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Pacific Palisades)

The session was basically a networking session for Civil Society actors in internet governance and will have participants from advocacy and research organizations based in the U.S. and beyond who are involved in human rights, privacy protection, freedom of expression, access to knowledge, development, and related issues.

GNSO Working Session LA Sunday 12 October 2014 [Access participating]

[Sunday, October 12] 09:00 to 16:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Constellation)

The  GNSO (Generic Generic Names Supporting Organization is the ICANN Supporting Organization responsible for developing policy for the domain name system). Access staff are members of the GNSO through the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG). The session involved discussions on ICANN accountability and transparency activities, discussion with ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehadé,  further discussions on IANA stewardship transition / accountability discussions, and GNSO meeting with ICANN board.

GNSO Translation and Transliteration of Contact Information PDP WG [Access participating]

[Monday, October 13] 15:00 to 16:30 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Westwood)

Since the working group’s inception in 2013, Access staff have been members of the working group. This Policy Development Process Working Group has been tasked by the ICANN Generic Names Supporting Organization Council to address issues related to the potential need to translate and/or transliterate contact information data. The Working Group (WG) has developed an initial report. WG members gave a brief overview of the initial report and encouraged discussion with the multistakeholder community during this face-to-face meeting.

ICANN’s Public Responsibility [Access participating]

[Tuesday, October 14] 08:30 to 09:45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Olympic)

This was a discussion session on ICANN’s Public Responsibility, exploring the work of the Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD). Access took part in this multistakeholder discussion.

Non Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) [Access participating]

This was a discussion for members of the NCUC which is the civil society community. The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in ICANN’s GNSO.

NCUC advocates positions on domain name-related policies that protect and support noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. Among its key areas of interest are human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, access to knowledge, diversity and consumer choice, development, and global internet governance.

Human Rights and ICANN [Access participating]

[Wednesday, October 15] 13.15 to 14.45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Plaza Pavilion)

This was a civil society led discussion session on ICANN’s decisions and whether they are made “for the protection and advancement of human rights and Internet freedoms.” Access took part in this multistakeholder discussion.

2015 and Beyond – An Internet Governance Update [Access participating]

[Wednesday, October 15] 16:30 to 18:15 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

This session provided a discussion on internet governance activities in 2014 including NetMundial, the Internet Governance Forum (held last month in Istanbul), the World Summit on the Information Society Multistakeholder Preparatory Platform (WSIS MPP, amongst others.

Enhancing ICANN Accountability [Access participating]

[Thursday, October 16] 08:30 to 09:45 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

This was a discussion on ICANN’s accountability to internet users and to members of the ICANN community. It was a great opportunity for interest parties to push for more accountability especially in the current IANA transition process.

Community Discussion with the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) [Access participating]

[Thursday, October 16] 10:00 to 12:00 PDT. ICANN 51 Main Venue, [Hyatt Regency Century Plaza] (Room: Los Angeles)

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) is comprised of individuals selected by each represented stakeholder community. The Los Angeles meeting allowed for  a discussion with the multistakeholder community on various aspects of the IANA transition.