ICANN in Wellington

I was planning to blog later this week about the ICANN meeting in Wellington but as the Government’s announced today’s its partial funding, I might as well combine them together. As I am the Chair of the Organising Committee I should in theory know a little bit about it all.

The Government contribution is very welcome of course (thank you Trevor). It is around $85,000 + GST. The overall conference costs are six to seven times more than that, and the Govt contribution goes towards the fact around 90 Governments will be amongst the participants. The remainder of the costs are met by InternetNZ and various private sector sponsors.

ICANN does a number of things. Some are important but routine such as allocate IPv4 and IPv6 address space out to regional registries. The two areas of most interest are with country code top level domains and generic top level domains.

ICANN effectively ultimately decides who the manager of a country code registry is. In most cases this is non controversial but sometimes they have to make a judgement call when there is a disagreement between a Government and an incumbent. As you can imagine this is a potential political minefield. ICANN also serves as a place where country code managers discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. ICANN however does not set policies for country code registries as this is a matter for each local community.

ICANN also make decisions about generic top level domains. The decisions, which in theory are meant to be technical co-ordination, have some huge business and regulatory impacts in the multi billion domain name industry.

ICANN decide what gTLDs there will be, which company will be the registry for them, under what terms the registry will be run and also imposes some global policies such as how to transfer names, how to deal with intellectual property disputes. As one can imagine this attracts a lot of lawyers.

Now ICANN is an imperfect beast. Many of its decisions are controversial and don’t even start me on their process. But it is light-years better than having the UN run things. And one of the ways it is better is that any member of the public with an interest in such issues can attend and participate in their meetings. Now most people won’t fly to a meeting unless they have a strong reason to do so, but being in New Zealand later this month does give NZers a unique chance to attend for low cost. There is *no* registration fee, which is one reason it costs a lot to host. You can pre-register at the meeting link above.

Having said that this isn’t a meeting I would recommend you attend just for fun. Many of the sessions are specialised, and if you have not been following domain name issues, then you might get quite bored.

However for those interested, here are a list of some of the meetings and their suitability for attendance (my personal opinion):

Saturday 25 March

Asia-Pacific Top Level Domain Association AGM. Unless you are actively involved with a ccTLD unlikely to be of interest.

Sunday 26 March

Introduction to ICANN for new participants. Goes from 11 to 12 and then a lunch afterwards where you can meet ICANN board and staff.

Also running all day is a global meeting of ccTLD Managers. This is an informal meeting which normally discusses case studies, best practices etc. Again of little relevance to most, unless you follow this stuff closely.

Monday 27 March

The ccNSO meets all day Monday and Tuesday. This is the formal grouping of 25 or so ccTLD Managers which belong to the ccNSO. It is also open to other ccTLDs to attend and participate if they wish. It will discuss a mixture of best practices; of issues between ICANN and ccTLDs such as the issue of redelegating the management of a ccTLD, levels of fees paid etc; and also views from country code managers on other ICANN issues such as the .com contract.

Tuesday 28 March

As well as Day 2 of ccNSO there are a number of workshops which could be useful for interested persons:

* Workshop on Internet Governance (08:30-10:30)
* DNSSEC Workshop (10:30-12:30)
* IPV6 Workshop (13:00-14:00)
* ICANN Operational Planning Workshop (14:00-15:30)

Finally there is an open forum from 1530 to 1830 on generic top level domain issues.

Wednesday 29 March

Security wonks might find interesting a public meeting of the Security & Stability Advisory Committee (08:30-09:30)

The main debate starts at 1300 with the ICANN Public Forum. Here you have reports and debates on every issue ICANN deals with ranging from should .xxx be created to should Verisign have .com forever.

Thursday 30 March

The public forum continues from 0830 to 1230

Friday 31 March

The official ICANN Board meeting starts at 0830. One can watch but not participate (that is why they have the public forums the day before) and they are usually fairly dry affairs. However with a vote likely on the .xxx proposal it may be of more interest than usual. However don’t expect great debates at the meeting – the board has usually worked out an informal majority or consensus the day before, and the formal meeting will be to record resolutions, votes and statements for or against.

If anyone wants more information feel free to ask. As agendas go online I’ll link to them. Also be aware the views here are mine in a personal capacity.

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