ICANN61 – a cross-community meeting

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit corporation with responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic and country-code top-level domain name systems, and root server system management functions. ICANN meetings are held three times each year in different regions of the globe to enable attendees from around the world to participate in person.

ICANN61 (the 61st public meeting) was the Community Meeting held between 10-15 March 2018 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. ICANN61 was organised in cooperation with PR Top Level Domain, bringing together 1,542 attendees at 271 public sessions and focusing on community-related issues.

Given its remit, ICANN relies on the support of many different types of groups and sub-structures: ‭advisory committees‬, ‭supporting organizations‬, standing committees, working groups, review teams, task forces, and more. Examples include:‬ ‬

  • ALAC - At-Large Advisory Committee and the At-Large community, the voice of the individual user in ICANN.‬
  • GAC – the Governmental Advisory Committee serves as the voice of governments and international governmental organizations in ICANN's multi-stakeholders representative structure.
  • EURALO unites European internet end-user voices within the At-Large community. EURALO consists of internet-related civil society and consumer interests.
  • GNSO - the Generic Names ‭Supporting Organization‬ fashions (and over time, recommends changes to) policies for generic top-level domains (e.g., .COM, .ORG, .BIZ). ‬‬‬
  • NCUC – the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for civil society organizations and individuals in the ICANN bottom-up policymaking organ, the GNSO.

One of the main points on the ICANN61 agenda tackled the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance linked to WHOIS. The WHOIS service is not a single, centrally-operated database. Instead, the data is managed by independent entities known as "registrars" and "registries". Any entity that wants to become a registrar must earn ICANN accreditation. Similarly, registries are under contract with ICANN to operate a generic top-level domain, such as .COM, .ORG, or one of the new gTLDs such as .STORAGE and .LINK.

As explained in a recent blog post by ICANN President and CEO, Göran Marby, ICANN provided representatives of the Article 29 Working Party with an initial approach to a plan of action, by sharing their "Interim Model for Compliance with ICANN Agreements and Policies in Relation to the European Union's GDPR" (or the "Cookbook"). The Cookbook provides explanation and rationale for the developing plan of action. The Cookbook also highlighted and requests guidance on some of the key points of divergence within the ICANN community.

Given the efforts of ICANN to facilitate dialogue between internet community members at their public meetings, various programmes had been set in place over recent years, such as supporting the participation of stakeholders through the Fellowship Program (for internet governance professionals), NextGen (for students in the field) and even the Global Indigenous Ambassadors Program for underrepresented indigenous communities.

At ICANN61, the voice of youth as part of the current and next generation of internet users was catered for in the public forum and other sessions, raised by advocates for youth and children's digital rights (from the non-governmental, to the private sector).

ICANN61 was an excellent opportunity to interact with stakeholders interested in global online safety campaigns including Safer Internet Day (SID), especially given the participation of SID Committee representatives from Armenia, Chad, Congo and Uganda.

In terms of Better Internet for Kids (BIK) cooperation with ICANN, there was a noteworthy collaboration in 2016 specifically for the youth programme, with a webinar about ICANN's role in internet governance.

The Post-ICANN61 Policy Report is available here. The full schedule on ICANN61 sessions, recordings and transcripts are available here.

For more information, see the ICANN website and social media accounts (including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).


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