“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” — Nelson Mandela
Attending ICANN 59 in Johannesburg, as part of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) fellowship program, further convinced me of the validity of this citation of the legend of freedom in South Africa. The experience did not only confirm a previous thought of mine that ICANN is indeed a World of Everything: Business, NGOs & IGOs, Technologies, Consumer Protection, Culture, Human Rights, Child Protection and many more, but also that a better job can be done in terms of outreach, inclusiveness and ownership through policy making.
ICANN 59 was my second attendance of an ICANN meeting after ICANN 55 in Morocco. But the outcome of this year’s policy meeting event was way above expectations. Indeed, being a NCUC fellow and mentored by Renata Aquino Ribeiro gave me the opportunity to gain an insightful knowledge of general policy meeting framework and to also meet and exchange fruitfully with many experienced people who are also the focal points for various issues at ICANN and can guide you about how to get engaged.
II. MEETINGS EXPERIENCE
Pre-ICANN 59: NCUC Outreach event at Braamfontein, Johannesburg
The outreach event organized by the NCUC on the 23rd and 24th of June 2017 was an excellent opportunity for newcomers to know more about the constituency as well as a chance to interact with the local community key players such as Internet Society Gauteng Chapter and Association for Progressive Communications. Members also took great advantage of this unique opportunity to meet physically and exchange views of various subject matters in a more comfortable environment.
During this event, I particularly appreciated the panel held in the afternoon of June 24th to discuss about domain names, privacy, freedom of expression and human rights. The panelists were composed of:
1) Tim Smith, Pharmacy business executive, from the CIPA – Canadian International Pharmacy Association. He presented the use of an online tool for searching medicines while defending the need for changes in regulation in a “.pharmacy” domain name.
2) Avri Doria made a presentation on the new gTLDs (geographic and territories names) subsequent procedures and their implications.
3) Niels Ten Oever raised issues and questions associated with the intersection of domain name governance and Human Rights in the Internet.
4) David Cake discussed about freedom of expression and trademarks
5) Stephanie Perrin closed the panelists list with discussions on data privacy and its history within the ICANN
Regarding the use of .pharmacy domain name, there are many related themes that are interesting to think about. The intervention of Tim Smith of this new domain name really pointed out how we can leverage domain names usage to save lives, protect children, defend human rights and freedom of speech. However, when it comes to trademarks, experience reveals that too much regulation can hinder innovation.
My work on FAQ for NCUC and the chance to present it to the group during ICANN
I presented my work on the NCUC FAQ at our Policy Session. Attendees really appreciated this initiative and expressed their willingness to contribute more. I announced that I would send out the link of the document when it is edited by the Executive Committee so that we can gather more comments and always improve and update it. It was also noted that it is important to work in close collaboration with the onboarding program team to avoid duplication of efforts.
III. THE POLICIES DISCUSSIONS
ICANN 59, among many other past conferences, was a policy forum. That said, it was the place for many discussions regarding all ongoing Policy Development Processes (PDP), including the Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Service (RDS) PDP to replace WHOIS, the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP, the Rights Protection Mechanisms in all gTLD PDP; just to name a few.
The use of Internet nowadays is raising too many challenges that require close attention to user privacy and security. Therefore, and as said above, an important question was raised earlier to determine whether new requirements should be considered for the gTLD registration directory services and if a new protocol is needed to address those requirements. This was the starting point of the GNSO Registration Directory Services (RDS) Policy Development Process (PDP) in January 2016. Actually, I am active member of this WG PDP where I always take the opportunity to raise concerns about users interests in line with the NCUC priorities, and our work is divided into three phases:
Phase 1: Policy – Requirements definition, to establish If and WHY a Next-Gen RDS is needed
Phase 2: Policy – Functional Design, to detail What a Next-Gen RDS must do
Phase 3: Implementation guidance on How a Next-Gen RDS should implement policy
During ICANN 59 we exposed a compiled list of possible requirements and this policy forum was an opportunity to discuss with the community to consider opinions from people outside the working group. Taking into account feedbacks and suggestions from the ICANN 59 participants, the Working Group will determine possible trade offs and continue its works towards the next step. ICANN 60 will be the occasion for this working group to release its first initial report by using rough consensus on fundamental requirements in five areas to answer the main question: Is a new policy framework and a next-generation system needed to address these requirements? The following areas will be covered by the report:
Users and Purposes : Who should have access to gTLD registration data and why (for what purposes)?
Registration : Data Elements What data should be collected, stored, and disclosed?
Privacy : What steps are needed to protect data and privacy?
Gated Access : What steps should be taken to control data access for each user/purpose?
Data Accuracy : What steps should be taken to improve data accuracy?
Rights Protections Mechanisms
Rights protection discussions were initiated in June 2014 by the GNSO Council to consider whether existing curative rights protection mechanisms should be modified, to address the needs of International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in order to protect their names and acronyms at the second level in both existing and new gTLDs. Experienced members of NCUC are holding leadership positions on those aspects and Ms Kathy Kleiman is again an example of a great contributor from our constituency. The Working Group dealing with Rights Protection mechanisms has been tasked to consider whether the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) should be amended to resolve the problems faced by IGOs and/or INGOs, and, finally, to make some proposals. The WG is finalizing its initial report and require some feedbacks from the users community.
New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP
The PDP on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures initiated in December 2015 and chartered in January 2016, is intended to determine what, if any changes need to be made to the existing policy recommendations from the 2007 Final Report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains (TLD), such as:
Clarifying, amending, or overriding existing policy principles, recommendations, and implementation guidance; Developing new policy recommendations; and, Supplementing or developing new implementation guidance
Taking into account that there is a great interest in this subject and over 1,000 TLD delegations exist, reviewing the existing policies is a big challenge, and ICANN 59 demonstrated once more that there are too many divergences leading to too many proposals of methodologies to consider. This makes it harder for the WG leadership team which includes also another experienced member of the NCUC, Avri Doria.
Attending the policies discussions confirmed me that NCUC is playing a big role in ICANN in order to implement good policies to ensure safe, secure and fair Internet. Therefore, I will continue to volunteer, work and contribute to the achievement of this priceless objective.
IV. CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS
Overall, it was a good opportunity to attend this meeting as a participant of NCUC fellowship. I encourage the Executive Committee to continue this initiative as well as the outreach events which are an unique occasions to increase awareness and bring in newcomers. However, I noticed that the NCUC outreach event held in Johannesburg could have a better attendance ratio of non-NCUC members. Only few people were not members of our constituency. I, therefore, suggest that key performance indicators (KPI) are set up for the organization of such events in the future so that we can have efficient means to measure their successes. KPIs can range from the number of attendees, ratio of local participants, ratio of non-NCUC members, ratio of random internet users; to the number of newcomers who join the NCUC following the event.
On a separate note, I would like to suggest that initiatives such as NCUC onboarding program be broadcasted on the forum so that people can be aware at early stage and contribute. For instance, this could ensure that the FAQ and other related initiatives are conducted in close collaboration with this program since the beginning to avoid duplication of efforts and increase efficiency.
Last, but not least, a reminder:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
My opinion, following this famous phrase of the freedom legend in South Africa – Nelson Madiba Mandela, is that NCUC and ICANN should always seek to speak the users’ language with the aim of gathering more people for a better (safe and fair) Internet for all.