Postcard from Silicon Valley (kind of)

Posted by Paul Szyndler on 15 March 2011

[caption id="attachment_206" align="aligncenter" width="292" caption="ICANN 40"]ICANN 40[/caption]

Greetings from the 40th gathering of ICANN: The “Silicon Valley Meeting*” in San Francisco.

As with any ICANN meeting, there are a great many issues for discussion and (occasionally) decision.

The top of the list is the ongoing dialogue between the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee on issues surrounding the introduction of new gTLDs. The involved, and sometimes thorny, discussions are a continuation of a two day gathering between the parties in Brussels late last month and are expected to take up another two full days. The documents released by both the GAC and Board show that, while there are some areas of agreement, there a large number of unresolved issues and yet more points of potential conflict. The areas of deliberation include: root zone scaling, consumer protection issues, economic impacts of new gTLDs, objection mechanisms, geographic names and mechanisms for providing opportunities for all stakeholders.

To state the obvious, the entire future of the new gTLD process – what it will look like, when it will actually happen – hangs on the outcome of this discussion. Just as importantly, the meeting represents the first time the ICANN Board and GAC have sat down and worked through issues in this level of detail. Whether or not you believe the consultation triggers formal ICANN Bylaw provisions regarding the Board’s handling of GAC advice, it will be an important litmus test of whether the two groups can work effectively together, and whether the existing inputs of other stakeholders will be considered and respected in the discussions.

The other “highlights” of ICANN SF include:

  • The ongoing work of the AoC-mandated WHOIS Review team
  • The likely approval of the long-standing, and often contentious, application for a new “.xxx” gTLD
  • The NTIA’s consultation on the future of the IANA functions
  • The ICANN Board’s preliminary response to the numerous recommendations and issues of concern raised in the Final Report of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team
  • The implementation of the ccNSO Delegation and Re-delegation Working Group’s   recommendations for improving the documentary guidance upon which ICANN and IANA take operational and policy decisions relating to the operation of ccTLDs.
  • The eagerly-anticipated appearance on Wednesday of President William J. Clinton, whose administration initiated consultations in the mid-late 1990’s that lead to the formation of ICANN.

The full meeting schedule shows just how much will be on this week – feel free to follow and interact with the meetings online! Thanks also to the dot-nxt site, which provides a far more comprehensive and elegant summary of the meeting than I could possibly attempt here.

Off to the Welcome Ceremony now. And so it begins……


* Not actually in Silicon Valley