Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Panelists:
Rod Beckstrom – ICANN President and CEO
Peter Dengate Thrush – Chairman of ICANN Board
Chuck Gomes, Chairman of GNSO
Jayantha Fernando – Sri Lanka’s GAC Representative ­
Ram Mohan – SSAC Liaison to ICANN Board

The purpose of this session was to report on ICANN’s work and achievements. In particular the panelists discussed the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC), new gTLDs, IDN ccTLD Fast Track and DNSSEC. Rod Beckstrom was chairing the panel. He started off with an overview of the 4 topics mentioned above, then he asked panelists to speak to the details of the topics. He said that the AOC recognized the success of the ICANN model and declared its independence. On new gTLDs, Rod said it was an example of the multistakeholder model, and pointed out to the complexity of the process that involved a wide range of stakeholders, who had been deliberating to get the work done. On IDN Fast Track he highlighted the fact that millions of Internet users got their IDN ccTLDs live in the root using their native scripts. IDN ccTLDs in Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Sinhalese, Tamil, Thai had recently entered the root. Rod described DNSSEC as a significant upgrade in Internet security, and added that its deployment had come as a result of the cooperative work by IETF and the Internet community.
Peter Dengate Thrush spoke in detail to the AOC. He began with a historical snapshot on the formation of ICANN and the MOU (shopping list) with USG, which had changed in 2006 to what was called the JPA (more goals oriented). In 2009, the JPA was concluded, and a new arrangement (AOC) was put in place, which shifted ICANN to a different kind of oversight (it used to be done by USG, but with the AOC it’s done by the whole community). Peter then talked about the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT), its composition and its work. He said the group had been working on 4 areas: 1) reviewing accountability and transparency of the ICANN Board; 2) the role of the GAC; 3) review ICANN’s public participation; 4) Board decisions and if/how they could be challenged. He talked briefly about the way the team had been working and its interactions with staff and Board, and the work underway leading to the final report the team should produce by 31 December 2010. Peter concluded with headlines about the 3 other review teams on whois, security, and consumer protection.
Chuck Gomes gave a brief introduction on new gTLDs since the beginning of its policy development process in 2005, through the Board’s approving of the policy and directing staff to work on implementation, all the way to the different draft implementation guidebook issued over the past 2 years. Chuck highlighted some of the work being done such as the vertical integration issue of whether registries and registrars should remain separate in terms of ownership; concerns raised by the GAC regarding morality and public order; support needed for new gTLD applicants from developing countries; issues remained to be solved with regard to IDN gTLDs. In all these efforts, Chuck made the point that all these were example of cross community work and deliberation.
Jayantha Fernando talked about IDNs and the Fast Track Process. He pointed out to the multistakeholder effort that led to the launching of the process in November 2009. He listed that countries that got their strings live in the root as well as those who passed string evaluation. Jayantha spoke to the 3 stages of the IDN FT application (preparation, string evaluation and delegation) and reflected on the local experience of Sri Lanka in each of the 3 steps.
On DNSSEC, Ram Mohan said it was considered the biggest structural improvement in the Internet in the past 20 years. He described in simple terms what DNSSEC was and what security problems it meant to mitigate. He alluded to the Kempinsky flaw and emphasized the community collaboration to fix this flaw, and the continued effort that eventually led to the root signing. He added that 20 TLDs had deployed DNSSEC so far, and 14 more were on the way.
As a comment, Rod showed the audience where in ICANN’s Strategic Plan (one page summary sheet was distributed) did each of the topics discussed by the panelist lie. Rod also spoke briefly to the Strategic Plan and its main components: DNS stability and security; consumer choice and competition; IANA and core operations; healthy Internet ecosystem.
There was a question by Sabina (.de) on the Strategic Plan noting that under DNS security and stability there was an objective on “more secure TLD operations” and the question was whether ICANN had expanded its mandate to include TLD operations. The answer was that ICANN had not expanded its mandate; ICANN would not get into the TLD operation business; ICANN’s role had always been to coordinate efforts and ensure the stability and security of DNS, and that was what ICANN had done in DNSSEC. A following question by the same attendant on whether ICANN had a coordinating or a regulating role. The answer was it had a coordinating role. Another question by a gentleman from Bangladesh on IDN ccTLDs, that his country had already applied to get its IDN string, yet it was not mentioned by the panelist when he listed the countries that applied in the FT process. The answer was that applications through the FT process would not be made public until they pass the string evaluation phase, or unless the applicants chose to make them public.