Community Surprised by ICANN Announcement of Five Strategy Panels to Facilitate Cross-Community Dialogue

          

Members of the ICANN community assembled in Durban, South Africa were greatly surprised by announcement on the meeting’s first day that no less than five new strategy panels were being formed to “serve as an integral part of a framework for cross-community dialogue on strategic matters”.

Difficult Durban Dialogue between GAC and NGPC

Durban is a lovely beach city on the Indian Ocean with idyllic winter weather, but you might as well be on Mars if you’re ensconced in the vast windowless meeting rooms of its International Conference Center. That’s where ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) spent a good part of Saturday, July 13th, engaged in a dialogue with the non-conflicted members of the New gTLD Board Committee (NGPC) about how to have a constructive dialogue over the coming months geared toward understanding all, and implementing at least some parts, of the GAC’s safeguard advice for “sensitive” new gTLD strings encompassing regulated industries and professions.

ICANN Downgrades Registrants’ “Rights” to “Benefits”

We got pretty excited recently when ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade said that registrants were ICANN’s primary customer[1] – but we must now curb our enthusiasm in light of the final treatment of registrants’ rights in the newly approved Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA).

EU Registrars Empowered to Seek New RAA Data Retention Exemption

ICANN’s Board approved the new Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) on June 27th, and its Resolution doing so noted that “the Board has accepted the GAC Advice in the Beijing Communiqué that the "the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement should be finalized before any new gTLD contracts are approved.”" -- and cited as a “highlight” that “The 12 Law Enforcement Recommendations that served as the impetus for these negotiations are all addressed” including “new data retention obligations”[1]. However, a newly disclosed June 6th letter reveals that ICANN was already aware that EU-based registrars would have solid grounds to seek an exemption from those very data retention obligations.

ICANN CEO: Registrants Rule!

ICANN held a briefing in Brussels on Tuesday, June 25th and ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade was the leadoff speaker. We’ve reviewed some detailed reports from those in attendance, and the most startling and refreshing statement made by CEO Chehade was that new gTLD applicants will be managed as ICANN’s licensees – that he regards the registrant/user as ICANN’s “customer” and that is the party that ICANN primarily serves.

U.S. IP Strategic Plan Cites ICANN Role – Contemplates URS “Course Corrections” and Monitoring of New RAA Compliance

The White House has just released the “2013 JOINT STRATEGIC PLAN ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ENFORCEMENT” issued by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), and ICANN efforts are discussed at some length. The Report makes clear that U.S. activities within ICANN are regarded as an integral part of the government’s overall strategic efforts against IP infringement.

ICANN WG to Recommend Four Day Extension of UDRP Response Time

ICA has been informed by ICANN Staff that the Working Group (WG) on the Locking of a Domain Name Subject to UDRP Proceedings appears to have settled on a recommendation that domain name registrants who are Respondents in a UDRP proceeding be granted an automatic right to request and be granted a four day extension of the deadline for filing their response. This would be the first increase in UDRP response time since the Policy was established.

ICA Seconds Call for Strengthened Registrant Rights Statement

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) has endorsed and suggested additional improvements to the alternate statement of Registrants’ Rights and Responsibilities (RRR) proposed by ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG). ICA’s comment was filed in regard to the “Proposed Final 2013 RAA” (Registrar Accreditation Agreement); the RRR is one component of the RAA and all ICANN-accredited registrars will be required to link to it for the informational benefit of their customers.

ICANN’s Approval of ACDR as UDRP Provider Leaves Standard Contracts Issue Unresolved

The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution (ACDR) has been approved as a UDRP provider by ICANN’s Board of Directors. However, the language of the Board resolution of approval leaves unresolved the critically important issue of whether all UDRP providers will be placed under a standard and enforceable contractual agreement.

ICANN Response to ICA: URS Providers will become Contracted Parties

Responding to questions posed by ICA Counsel Philip Corwin at the Public Forum in Beijing, ICANN is now on the record that it is developing a standard contract for all providers of the new Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) rights protection mechanism (RPM) for new gTLDs, and that more URS providers will be selected. This action sets a strong precedent for ICA’s long sought goal of placing UDRP providers under a standard contract.