ICANN Paris Domainer Guide

Philip CorwinBlog

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This guide is intended as a helpful overview of the activities scheduled during the ICANN meeting in Paris for members of Internet Commerce Association (ICA) as well as for other domain name registrants attending the meeting. We hope it will prove useful, especially for those who have not previously attended an ICANN meeting.

The first part of the guide gives a day-by-day overview of meetings that may be of interest to professional domain registrants. The second part gives some background detail on the issues that attendees may want to speak out about during appropriate public forums. We have tried to give you a sufficient working knowledge of these issues to observe and speak knowledgably, while giving you the latitude to expand on this background material with your own experience and views. If you choose to make public comments during the meeting we urge you to be succinct and forceful but polite and constructive. Also be aware that, like any other meeting, some of the greatest benefits and knowledge come from hallway conversations and informal networking – and that most members of the ICANN Board and Staff are happy to speak with you.

ICANN Overview

ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit entity established to transition U.S. Government management of the DNS to an entity based on the principles of stability, competition, bottom-up coordination, and representation. ICANN develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers including gTLD domain names.

The GNSO Council functions as a quasi-legislature for ICANN gTLDs. The GNSO Council has a large influence on ICANN policies, as it with input from gTLD constituencies often recommends and shapes the initiation of a Policy Development Process (PDP) on critical issues, and recommends policies for consideration by the ICANN Board. ICA applied for membership in GNSO Commercial and Business Users Constituency (CBUC) in January 2008 and became a member after the ICANN meeting in New Delhi.

More information about ICANN structure is available at http://www.icann.org/structure/.

Daily Activities

ICANN’s 32nd International Public Meeting will be held at Le Méridien Montparnasse 21-26 June 2008. The meeting agenda is online at http://par.icann.org/en/schedule. It should be checked for the times and meeting rooms of all the events noted below, as last-minute revisions are sometimes made. The activities noted below are a selected list of those events that we believe are of the greatest interest and importance to domainers, but it is by no means the complete list of official meetings scheduled in Paris.

Saturday, June 21 ICANN Paris meeting starts unofficially with GNSO Council working sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will be a busy day for the Council with the following topics on the agenda:

  • GNSO Improvements – As a new member of CBUC, ICA has endorsed the GNSO Improvements proposal put forth by the CPUC and other user constituencies.
  • Whois study proposals – Whois privacy is a contentious issue primarily between IP interests and privacy advocates. There is also an underlying issue involving national laws of many countries that are at odds with public whois information for individuals.
  • Inter Registrar Transfer Policy PDP on Denial Definitions – ICA, Executive Director, Michael Collins and ICA member, Mike O’Conner were on the drafting group for this PDP aimed at closing loopholes that permit registrars to deny transfers away outside of the intention of ICANN’s Inter Registrar Transfer Policy.
  • Inter Registrar Transfer Policy PDP A – New IRTP Issues
  • Fast Flux discussions
  • Front Running
  • Single Character Second-Level Domain Names
  • IANA/ICANN names – what is the process for changing Reserved names
  • Beyond the new gTLD process

Sunday, June 22 GNSO Council continues its working session at 10:00. They also meet with the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) in an open meeting at 18:00 about IDN ccTLDs.

Monday, June 23 The ICANN Paris meeting officially opens. At 11:00, there is a workshop on Protection for Registrants in an Evolving Market. This participatory workshop will provide background and will solicit public discussion to identify actions that might be taken as part of the new gTLD introduction. ICA encourages domainers to participate in this workshop.

At 16:00, there is a program on new gTLDs. At this session representatives from different industries and sectors around the world will have the opportunity to present a diversity of views about the potential changes ahead and the Internet space as the New gTLD Program is launched. There is also going to be a short update on the implementation development.

Tuesday, June 24 As usual, Tuesday is a day for constituency meetings. ICA will be observing discussions and activities of all GNSO constituencies and participating as a member of CBUC. The CBUC is made up of people and entities often motivated by IP interests. CADNA is encouraging “brand owners” to join CBUC and many have responded to CADNA’s call which increases IP interests’ dominance in the constituency. We encourage domainers to attend and join CBUC because the constituency could benefit from more diverse business participation. Thank you to the domainers who have joined.

At 17:30, ICANN Board meets with GAC in an open meeting.

Wednesday, June 25 The GNSO Council meets again on Wednesday at 8:00 and will decide many of the issues discussed in the weekend working sessions following Council Members receiving input from constituencies on Tuesday. There is an Open Forum at 16:00. This forum offers the opportunity for all participants to learn about issues of relevance to the community and to share their opinions and suggestions for those issues. The ICANN Gala takes place off-site at 19:00. Be sure to get your Gala tickets early as these are usually gone long before the event.

Thursday, June 26 A Registrar UDRP Compliance Workshop takes place in the afternoon. While compliance is not of great concern to most domainers, the meeting notes state that the meeting will also include “challenges and the future direction of the UDRP”. We know that there are some IP interests that would like to see a quicker and cheaper means to take infringing domains. ICA does not support cybersquatting, but we do want to make sure that domainers do not lose the ability to defend generic domain usage.

At 15:00 the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees make their reports to the Board. The Board meets for two hours immediately following these reports. It is not clear how the Board will accomplish its work in two hours. The Board normally meets through most of the day on Friday. The agenda for this meeting isn’t published yet. The Board meeting concludes the ICANN Paris meeting.

Domainer Issues

New gTLDs and new IDN ccTLDs – What are Registrants’ rights in similar TLDs?
There are a lot of concerns by registries about new TLDs that may be confusingly similar to the TLDs that they manage. They have expressed concern about similarity visually, phonetically and in meaning. The last one, in meaning, is probably the most difficult for which registries can claim rights or lodge an objection. Otherwise, VeriSign, .com registry would probably have been able to prevent .biz from being added.

The registries’ concern about similarity of new TLDs rolls downhill to registrants. As an example, if .comm (for communications) were to be added, trademark owners will certainly be granted a sunrise period during which they can register domains matching their marks. However, what about generic domain owners; should they be entitled to protect their domain investment from typos at the top level, to the right of the dot by getting a sunrise period for similar TLDs?

Lack of Transparency for ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)
This is one issue that has not improved. We have addressed it at more than one ICANN meeting and in our response to US Department of Commerce’s request for feedback in ICANN performance. All meetings of the GAC and its working groups during the Paris meeting are closed to the public and the press except when they meet with the ICANN Board or Supporting Organizations. This is completely counter to ICANN’s claims of achieving greater transparency in its operations. The GAC is increasingly influencing a broad range of ICANN policies and actions, and this trend will likely continue as U.S. government oversight of ICANN diminishes. What are they planning behind closed doors? Why the secrecy? It isn’t good for ICANN that the GAC continues to operate in such a clandestine fashion. All meeting of the GAC should be open to the public and recorded and published at ICANN.org just like those of the Supporting Organizations.

Inter Registrar Transfer Policy (IRTP) – Two separate items before GNSO Council
The Drafting Group for IRTP Issues PDP on Clarification of Denial Reasons included ICA’s own Michael Collins and Mike O’Conner. The Group succeeded in clarifying language on two of the reasons for which registrars are allowed to deny transfers. Most important to domainers, we clearly defined that registrars can only deny a transfer based upon a previous transfer within 60 days if the transfer was a transfer from another registrar. Some registrars had interpreted that a registrant transfer was sufficient to deny a transfer. The Group was not able to clarify two other reasons for denial and recommends to the Council that they be included in the other PDPs on IRTP. This is not a contentious recommendation and the Council is expected to do as recommended by the Group.

The other item is a recommendation from a GNSO group of volunteers that again included Mike O’Conner to initiate five new PDPs to address IRTP issues.

Domain Tasting – Two separate measures to stop abusive tasting before the Board
The first measure being considered to stop tasting is a budget item that requires registrars to pay the ICANN fee, currently 20 cents, for registrations above a small allowance deleted during Add/Delete Grace Period (AGP). The second measure is similar, but is a policy measure imposed upon all registries that have an AGP requiring the registries to not refund registrations above the minimum allowed by the policy.

ICA supports the first measure and believes that this is likely sufficient to stop abusive tasting. If it does not, then other measures including imposing new policy on registries prohibiting AGP refunds could be considered. Many registrars are opposing the second, one-size-fits-all policy approach for all gTLDs. However, the public sentiment against tasting is so great, with many people encouraging ICANN to completely eliminate AGP, that both measures could pass in Paris.


If you are attending Domainer Meeting and/or ICANN Paris, please let feel free to introduce yourself or say hi to me, Michael Collins. If you have any questions about ICA or want to let me know that you will be in Paris contact me at https://www.internetcommerce.org/contact_us. I look forward to seeing you in Paris.