Sunday the 22nd of March, 2015, 8pm GMT. I notice an email from 2pm that I hadn’t had a chance to look at: Robin Gross, NCUC Member of the Cross-Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability, henceforth also CCWG), is stuck in San Francisco. Do you think you could get on a plane tomorrow to Istanbul?
I quickly looked at my schedule for the next week, some meetings with clients that I knew quite well and who wouldn’t mind me moving things around and one critical conference call but I could take that from Istanbul.
I replied to the mail: “Yes, let’s do this.”
Monday the 23rd of Mach, 3pm GMT: I am at Dublin Airport collecting my last minute tickets from Turkish Airlines. The customer service agent remarks “Wow that was a last minute booking!”. I laugh, agree and go to take my place in the ever increasing line for security screening.
This was the start of my whirlwind first ICANN Face-to-Face meeting. With Robin Gross stuck in San Francisco I managed to grab a flight and get to Istanbul to make sure that the NCUC still had strong representation in person for this critical meeting of both the CCWG-Accountability (March 24-25) and the Cross Community Working Group to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions (CWG-Stewardship, or CWG) (March 26-27). Having been an active participant in both groups even if not the official “Member”, I felt that if I was making the journey across Europe, it was in the interest of both NCUC and the CWG for me to remain for the CWG-Stewardship meeting that was going to be taking place right after the conclusion of the CCWG-Accountability meeting. Ed Morris has written an excellent overview of the CCWG meeting on the NCUC members blog here, so I won’t attempt to replicate the fantastic information that he shared. I will instead focus on the workings of the CWG-Stewardship.
I had been a participant of the CWG-Stewardship since its inception in September 2014, coming from a background in Security and Risk Management. My initial goal was to make sure that the security and stability of the root was core to any discussions and planning that was occurring. However as I became more interested and involved, I realised that I too was a stakeholder in this transition. And it was at that point that I found my home in ICANN within the NCUC. In her remarks to the CCWG-Accountability on Tuesday the 24th of March, Valerie D’Costa, one of the Expert Advisors to the CCWG-Accountability, spoke of “stakeholders who don’t know they’re stakeholders”… and I think at the time I started working with the CWG-Stewardship I fit into that description perfectly!
As the CWG-Stewardship kicked off its meeting on Thursday 26 I was extremely impressed with the level of expertise in the room, with almost all aspects of society represented from academics and civil society to legal professionals. These included Holly Gregory and Sharon Flanagan from Sidley-Austin, the legal firm that the CWG (and also CCWG) have engaged to provide advice to the group on possible structures and commentary on the various legal questions that the group had formulated in the previous weeks and months of discussion.
What followed was 2 days on intense work by everyone involved. Through discussion, debate and working to a strong common goal we looked in depth at the various models available to use to structure the “Post Transition IANA” (PTI) as the group had taken to calling the various options on the table. By Friday 27 we had managed to take 7 models, do an in-depth practical and legal analysis, and reduce that number down to 2 core models that we would ask both Sidley-Austin and the community to do a deep dive into as the leading candidates for the future model of IANA. This amount of work involved people reaching across the aisle on both sides and agreeing that in the end what we all want is the same, namely a strong stable internet with strong governance principles and above all a strong multistakeholder ethos in action at its core.
Finishing up on Saturday morning the group had worked in my estimation over 1250 man hours including many working breakfasts, lunches and dinners over the 2-day period, culminating in a strong basis for the draft proposal which will be going for public comment at the end of April 2015. A series of webinars are being held to bring everyone up to speed on the latest developments both in Istanbul and since then, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of the internet to attend and to provide comments and feedback during the public comment feed.
Further information on the webinars can be found here.
In conclusion, my trip to Istanbul was a fantastic experience, a great chance to meet friends and colleagues whom I had only ever spoken to on phone calls or via emails, and a powerful example of multistakehoderism in action.
About the author
James is the Director of Cyber Invasion Ltd, a Security and Risk management consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. He works with non-profits and at risk charities to educate their employees and staff on the ground in the areas of secure communication technologies and operational security matters. He has been a member of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency of ICANN since February 2015 with a focus on Privacy and Security matters in ICANN. He currently is working on both streams of the IANA Transition (CWG and CCWG) as a participant, and is active in the Privacy/Proxy Services Accreditation Issues PDP Working Group and the Implementation Advisory Group on WHOIS Conflicts with National Laws.