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ICANN70 Virtual Community Forum: What to Expect?

On 19 February 2020, ICANN announced that ICANN67 would be held via remote participation out of an abundance of caution associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Little did we know at the time that twelve months later, ICANN meetings would still be held via remote participation. For a community that has been accustomed to meeting face-to-face at least three times a year since ICANN1 in Singapore in March 1999, this has created a tremendous challenge for how we conduct our business.

Planning an ICANN meeting is a considerable undertaking at the best of times, and ICANN has adapted well to every new challenge, but this latest one has been extremely difficult to overcome.

One of the biggest challenges being the time zone. It doesn't matter what time you schedule a session or a meeting; there will be at least one or more regions of participants that are significantly disadvantaged. I'll be in Australia for this meeting, so I'll be feeling the pain of my fellow community members in the APAC region.

The lack of face-to-face community interactions has certainly impacted our ability to make progress on substantive issues, such as DNS abuse. Over the last 12 months, there have been many sessions dedicated to this topic, but these have been generally unsatisfactory because the virtual format is not conducive to real-time interaction and exchanges as the communication is essentially one-way. Also, there is no opportunity for follow-up hallway discussions that can often help with understanding respective decisions.

What can we expect at ICANN70?

While ICANN70 officially runs from 22 to 25 March, a number of preparatory briefings have already been conducted, along with a number of sessions with the ICANN Board.

Generally, the Board identifies a topic that they want to discuss with the community groups, but for this meeting, they asked the community groups to identify the topics for discussion. The Contracted Parties House (CPH) met with the Board on 16 March, and topics for discussion included the Final Report of the Security, Stability and Resiliency Review Team.

In the weeks leading up to ICANN70, the ICANN Board conducted a workshop that included a Strategic Outlook trends exercise, discussion about the SSR2 Final Report, the System for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD) to non-public gTLD registration data as well as recent developments regarding the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The number of sessions scheduled for ICANN70 is considerably less than the in-person meetings. The Plenary Sessions are generally well attended; however, only one is scheduled for ICANN70:

Registry Voluntary Commitments: Getting it Right – This plenary session will discuss the pros and cons of Registry Voluntary Commitments as well as possible improvements and alternatives.

The CPH will hold an open house to provide the community with an update on DNS Abuse related initiatives being undertaken by the RySG and RrSG together and separately; and is also intended to provide an opportunity for folks to ask questions.

One of the positives from the virtual meeting format is that with fewer sessions, there are fewer session conflicts, and more people seem to be migrating to GAC and ALAC sessions. The GAC will have a number of discussions about DNS abuse mitigation as well as Subsequent Procedures.

The ALAC has identified 3 policy sessions:

  • The Future of ICANN's Mandate and the Development of the DNS: Voices of the Next Generation!
  • Reimagining ICANN's Role; Responding to National Pressures
  • Applicant Support: What Does Success Look Like?

The meeting will close with a Public Forum and ICANN Board meeting.

If you want to attend any of the sessions, you will need to register for the meeting, and in an attempt to ward off Zoom-bombers the links to the sessions will only be available 24 hours before they commence. More information is available at: https://70.schedule.icann.org/.

If you just want to preview the schedule, I recommend you go here first:
https://meetings.icann.org/sites/default/files/icann70_schedule.pdf

Following the meeting, the GoDaddy Registry team will look to do a review of the ICANN70 Virtual Community Forum and discuss some of the main topics that were covered.

To learn how you can benefit from partnering with GoDaddy Registry and help your organisation to manage, commercialize and grow your top-level domain, email [email protected] or visit www.registry.godaddy.

By Donna Austin, Head of Registry Policy at GoDaddy Registry

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