ICANN62: Panama City, Panama

ICANN62: Panama City, Panama

Please enjoy this recount of our Director of Registry Operations, Gaurav Vedi, time spent at the ICANN62 Policy Forum held in Panama City, Panama.

As I return from Panama City, Panama after attending the ICANN62 Policy forum (25-28th June) at the Megapolis Convention Center, I carry wonderful memories of the ICANN conference, people of Panama and their hospitality and beauty of Panama City. After three years, ICANN returned to Latin America for the Policy Forum and for the first time, Panama City was chosen for the Internet community’s activities. Panama City is a dynamic metropolis where modernity, commerce, and amazing historical landscapes create the perfect backdrop for the ICANN62 meeting. This city is a natural hub for the world’s commerce as it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through its canal and a perfect connecting point for the Internet community.

This is the second Policy Forum meeting of this year, which is shorter than the other two yearly meetings (usually around March and October) and doesn’t include an Opening Ceremony or Public Forums. Instead, more time is dedicated to policy work and close interaction between ICANN’s stakeholder groups. This meeting was critical for ICANN’s multi-stakeholder community, as community members worked together to navigate the implications the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has on the future of the WHOIS system, RDAP replacement of Whois and Expedited Policy Development Process (ePDP) for Temporary specification.

ICANN62 opened with 2018 Multistakeholder Ethos Award presented to Stéphane Van Gelder in the morning’s Welcome Session. The ICANN community as a whole along with contracting parties recognized the great contribution of Stéphane towards Internet governance, stability and security. Unfortunately, Stéphane passed away right after ICANN61 in Puerto Rico in a tragic accident and his wife collected the award on his behalf. Stéphane will always be remembered by Internet community as a stalwart with sharp focus on key details on several policies.  

The conference was marked by some key sessions:

GNSO Expedited Charter Development:

On 17 May 2018, the ICANN Board approved the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. The ICANN Board took this action to establish temporary requirements for how ICANN and its contracted parties will continue to comply with existing ICANN contractual requirements and with community-developed policies as they relate to WHOIS, while also complying with GDPR. Per the requirements of the procedure for Temporary Policies, this Consensus Policy development process on the temporary specification would need to be carried out within a one-year period. Therefore, the GNSO Council has formed a drafting team to develop an Initiation Request for an Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) including a proposed EPDP Team Charter in order to respond to the ICANN Board’s adoption of the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data. The session provided an opportunity for the community to engage with the GNSO Council to understand the EPDP initiation and chartering process, and was primarily intended to provide the community with an opportunity to provide input that will help inform the subsequent deliberations of the drafting team, which were aimed at finalizing the EPDP Initiation Request as well as EPDP Team Charter for GNSO Council consideration. The community members discussed EPDP Scope (mission, purposes, objectives, goals, deliverables, timeframes) along with reporting and escalation mechanisms.

RDAP pilot Working Group:

The community members working on RDAP as a replacement for Whois service discussed the technical aspects, challenges, response profiles of RDAP and next steps to continue the work in the right direction with community help. The community leaders discussed possible options to provide secured tiered access using RDAP from all aspects while agreeing to apply important feedback from the community.

Cross community session on Whois/RDS policy – Post-GDPR steps:

Efforts to reach community consensus regarding updating the WHOIS system has historically been challenging. With the adoption of the Temporary Specification, the Internet community needs to try and devise an “ultimate model” for a next-generation registration data directory service that meets the needs of various stakeholders with a legitimate interest in domain name registration data while also respecting applicable privacy and data protection laws.  In this cross-community session, panelists engaged with the community to discuss the key policy changes resulting from the Temporary Specification, and how to move forward with developing a final Consensus Policy that moves beyond the temporary policy toward a more permanent solution for the RDDS. Though it appears that the community is moving in the right direction, the effort to bring all multistakeholders (SOs, ACs, GACs, DPAs etc) on board with a concrete solution will be challenging. Panelist presented different viewpoints which make GDPR solution less clear in future. The community hopes to resolve these challenges ahead of ICANN63 in Barcelona and should have clear picture on solution.

Final Thoughts…

Last but not the least, the conference also provided a great way to reconnect with industry leaders, policy makers and old friends from the internet community. The daily community networking cocktail was the perfect way for networking, strategic alliances and/or business development. Oh….And combined with the awesome spirit of the 2018 FIFA World Cup among the locals, this made the choice of this location all the more great for the Conference!!!


For more information about ICANN62 or what was discussed in this post, please visit the ICANN website at www.icann.org.