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What is 'On-Tap' at ICANN 38 - Brussels (There's More to Belgium than Beer!)

Graham Chynoweth

As the shorter of the ICANN interregnums comes to a close and the ICANN faithful finalize their dinner reservation agendas for Brussels, it is time again for a preview of what will be 'on-tap' at next week's ICANN meeting. While, as always, there is a lot going on in ICANN Land, a scan of the blogosphere and ICANN list serves suggests that the four most discussed topics will be:

(1) the continued saga of nTLDs (more specifically, the battle over VI and the potential emergence of "categories");
(2) how ICANN is doing at fulfilling its obligations under the AOC;
(3) what changes will make it into the New-New RAA; and
(4) the signing of the Root and the continued roll-out of DNSSEC.

Before discussing the topics, I'll note that while many of you reading this post will undoubtedly know all the ICANN jargon, issues and politics inside and out, some of you may not be so (un)lucky. Thus, for those of you that don't yet have total familiarity with how ICANN works, background information on the issues that are currently areas of focus and an understanding what all the acronyms mean, I've included some resources at the bottom of this post (including some links to the great ICANN Start podcast series).

Also, as usual, Dyn Inc. will follow up this post with video blogs from Brussels starting next week (see past coverage: Nairobi, Seoul, Sydney, Mexico City). So, if you want us to try to get a question answered or have an issue that you want explained, just post it as a response here, and I'll see if I shed some light on the subject.

On-Tap in Brussels

nTLDs - Vertical (or Registry-Registrar) Integration and 'Categories'

Draft Applicant Guidebook V.4 is out, and while progress has been made on whittling down many of the 'big issues' that need to be resolved before the application process launches, one issue that hasn't reached resolution is whether (and if so how) registrars will be able to both remain registrars and compete with registries in running nTLDs. This debate over 'Vertical Integration' should be interesting to watch because there are serious policy implications for nTLDs and the registrant community and serious economic implications for registrars and registries. Also of interest with respect to the new TLD program is whether the Government Affairs Committee led discussion, which started in Nairobi, dealing with new TLDs that are (arguably) in different categories (e.g., 'community', 'brand', etc.) differently will continue in Brussels and whether such differential treatment would lead more quickly or more slowly to the launch of the first new TLD.

The Affirmation of Commitments

The AOC and the process for its review (new acronym alert - the Accountability and Transparency Review Team = ATRT) is still in its infancy, but the members of the ATRT will be out and about looking for feedback on how ICANN is doing on staying accountable and transparent to its stakeholders. Given the topic, and fact that transparency and accountability are two seriously loaded buzz words in the ICANN community, there is little doubt that assertions of ICANNs transparency and accountability, or lack thereof, will make it into more than a few discussions in the halls and at the bars.

The New-New Registrar Accreditation Agreement

The push for a New New RAA is gaining momentum, with the joint GNSO-ALAC Drafting Team and the IRTP-B and PEDNR Working Groups all looking at how the contract could be changed to achieve certain policy objectives. The Drafting Team, in keeping with its broad mandate, canvassed the globe and came up with more than 100 potential amendments, including a number from the law enforcement community. The ITRP-B and PEDNR working groups, which have been working steadily on figuring out ways of improving registrants experience with renewing (PEDNR) or transferring (IRTP-B) their domain names, have also generated policy ideas that could result in RAA amendments. The swirl of debate about all these potential amendments should be interesting to watch. Many people see the changes as the beginning (or perhaps middle) of the end of the relatively free market regime that has historically dominated in the registrar services space while many others see the changes as necessary due to shifting market, security and registrant needs.

The Signing of the Root, Continued DNSSEC Rollout and DNS Security

In just a few days, on June 16, 2010 in secure facility just outside of Washington, DC, the first 'key signing' ceremony will take place, marking a significant milestone in the implementation of DNSSEC. This step in the continued rollout of DNSSEC will be a topic of discussion for a variety of reasons, including the obvious, like how it is enabling a more secure and reliable Internet, and the not so obvious, like how it moves the DNS past one of the scaling factors that caused some to want to delay the launch of new TLDs and how it demonstrates ICANN institutional and technical competency in the face the expiration of the IANA Contract.

New(er) to ICANN Resources

ICANN START – This project, started earlier this year by ICANN's Director of Policy Communications, Scott Pinzon provides great and mercifully brief introductions on a variety of important policy and technical topics:

The 'RAA' - Margie Milam, Senior Policy Counselor, describes the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, why it affects more than just registrars, and why law enforcement agencies want to amend it.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-06-raa-20100528-en.mp3

IPV4 Depletion - Leo Vegoda, Manager of Number Resources, explains what IPv4 and IPv6 are; when the Internet might run out of IPv4 addresses; and how moving to IPv6 could affect registries, registrars, businesses, and individuals.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-05-ipv6-20100429-en.mp3

Consensus Policies - Margie Milam, Senior Policy Counselor, explores the definition of 'consensus policy' in the ICANN context, and along the way clarifies the difference between a registry and a registrar.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-04-consensus-policy-registries-and-registrars-20100329-en.mp3

'ccTLDs' - Bart Boswinkel, ICANN's Senior Policy Advisor to the Country Code Name Supporting Organization, introduces listeners to country code Top Level Domains, how they are assigned, and why country codes are more popular than .COM in some regions.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-03-ccnso-20100301-en.mp3

'IRTP' - Marika Konings, ICANN Policy Director, explains what the IRTP is and why it matters. Host: Scott Pinzon, Director of Policy Communications.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-02-irtp-20100127-en.mp3

'Redirection & Wildcarding' - Dave Piscitello, a Senior Security Technologist, explains what these types of synthesized DNS responses are and why they harm the Internet.
http://audio.icann.org/icann-start-01-redirection-and-wildcarding-20100127-en.mp3

ICANN Acronym Meanings:

http://gnso.icann.org/acronyms.html

http://www.icann.org/en/magazine/ (Look for the ICANN Acronyms Explained Section)

Dyn Inc.'s ICANN Video Blog:

During the past four ICANN meetings Dyn Inc. has series of video blogs with people in the halls on the issues and will do so again at Brussels starting next week.

ICANN 37 - Nairobi

ICANN 36 - Seoul

ICANN 35 - Sydney

ICANN 34 - Mexico City

By Graham Chynoweth, VP Busniess Operations & General Counsel, Dyn Inc.
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Share your comments

Forgot one thing... Graham Chynoweth  –  Jun 15, 2010 7:47 AM PDT

As John correctly points out in his post on this topic, what is happening next with the .xxx TLD will certainly be getting tongues wagging!

Thanks, and one more acronym aid Scott Pinzon  –  Jun 15, 2010 2:17 PM PDT

Thanks for the kind words about the podcast, Gray.
One more resource that anyone should know about when trying to understand ICANN papers: the Acronym Helper, over at http://www.andalucia.com/icann/.
Andalucia Web Solutions generously created this resource and donated the code to ICANN. We expect to move it to the GNSO site later this year.
Bookmark it for a nimble, well-maintained reminder of what any ICANN acronym stands for!
-- Scott Pinzon, Director of Policy Communications, ICANN

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