By Tim Switzer, COO and CFO
ICANN delegates from all around the globe (1,800 registered from 92 countries) arrived this past week in beautiful Durban, South Africa for the 47th meeting of ICANN. In spite of it being “winter” in Durban, visitors experienced plenty of sun and pleasant temperatures in the ocean / beach city.
After a busy weekend of working sessions, the meeting kicked off Monday with Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board, commenting that a new focus was to add a third “E” to his goals of ICANN being Efficient and Effective and that is for the Community to have Empathy in its interaction with each other.
He then introduced the special guests and hosts which were:
- -Dr. Hasmukh Gajjar, Chair of ZADNA
- -Dr. Elhan Ibrahim, Africa Union Commissioner
- -Lukonga Lindunda, a young man doing great things to advance the Internet in Africa
- -Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General ITU (via video)
Their comments were inspiring as it is clear Africa is very focused on the importance of the global Internet. Specifically, Dr. Obrahim commented that the “Internet is one of the greatest gifts of the 20th Century”. And Lukonga talked about some of the “grass roots” activities he and his friends are doing, commenting that “we are creating locally relevant solutions using local people”. Dr. Toure shared his opinions about the roles of ICANN and ITU.
Fadi Chehadé then took the stage for an exciting announcement that both the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) and the Registry Agreement (RA) were approved by the ICANN Board and we were ready for the first signatures. The first Registry Agreements for New gTLDs were signed by ARI Registry Services, Donuts and Core – the exciting news, given ICANN’s global focus, is that these were for 3 IDN TLDs (Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic). In addition the new RAA was signed by Go-Daddy, Momentous, MarkMonitor, MailClub France and Kheweul.com (the first African registrar to sign). These are major milestones for the New gTLD program and truly puts us a big step closer to new innovation on the global Internet!
Fadi also announced 5 ICANN Strategy Panels as part of the Strategic Planning Process, these are being put in place to “inform” the process. These are:
- - Public Responsibility Framework, Chaired by Nii Quaynor
- - Identifier Technology Innovation, Chaired by Paul Mockapetris
- - ICANN Multi-Stakeholder Innovation, Chaired by Beth Simone Noveck
- - ICANN’s role in the Internet Organizations Ecosystem, Chaired by Vint Cerf
- - ICANN in the Future of the Internet Governance, Chair is TBD
As the week progressed, obviously a key focus was on New gTLDs with numerous ICANN breakout sessions and key discussions being held around this in the RySG, NTAG and GAC meetings. Progress has been made as Initial Evaluations continue on schedule. Evaluations with draw numbers up to 1,300 will be completed by Friday July 19. ICANN published a timeline that showed the first TLDs being placed in the root in early September and the first Sunrise to be launched by early October.
The key New gTLD “operational and implementation” issues still being worked out are the Trademark Clearinghouse, the PIC DRP and Pre-Delegation Testing. These are important issues to “get right”, are critical from an overall New gTLD Program timeline standpoint to keep on track and I believe that good progress was made during the week.
GAC Advice is another matter. Three months after Beijing, after several ICANN Board NGPC meetings, a public comment period and several GAC / NGPC meetings in Durban, Category 1 strings are where they were in April – unresolved. The GAC Communiqué basically says they will “continue the dialogue with the NGPC” on this matter. This timeline is frustrating, which was evident from the Community’s comments during the first 1½ hours of the Public Forum. We are confident that the GAC and NGPC will continue to prioritize, focus and work diligently to address Category 1 strings in a proper and timely manner.
I was encouraged by the GAC reinforcing their position that the ICANN Board NGPC should take into account strong support from a Community for a particular application, clarifying that this Advice is not just intended for applications fitting the ICANN definition of “community”.
It was a busy and productive week – DotGreen is optimistic about the progress to make the launch of New gTLDs a reality, and we’re hopeful that final issues can be resolved quickly and appropriately. We look forward to .GREEN being “live” and we are excited to bring “all things green” online in a global manner!
One last comment – it was pretty special to be in South Africa for the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela, a truly great world leader. At the beginning of the Public Forum, we heard a stirring birthday tribute to this great global leader – inspiring!
See you in Buenos Aires!