Archive for March, 2010

Unhappy Mondays

Monday, March 15th, 2010

One of my last days in Dublin before I moved back to DC consisted of:

(a long dreary tale of visa woes) (more…)

Internet’s Government Advisory Committee is raising its game

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

http://www.youcellar.comAt the ICANN GAC (Government Advisory Committee) and Board meeting this week in Nairobi, the first topic was the GAC Secretariat. The question was ‘how can the GAC get more secretariat and policy support for its  work?’. For a dry and dusty sounding question, it actually touches on crucial issues of the role of governments in coordinating the domain name and numbering systems. Today I can happily report that last night, GAC moved much closer to pooling funds for secretariat and policy support. Brazil and the Netherlands are already committing funds to the project. This will be a very important step for the GAC as it will help it to be more effective within ICANN, and also demonstrates governments’ real commitment to the process.

The big reason GAC needs to beef up its support system is so it can do real work between ICANN meetings. Right now significant intersessional work, such as that on the GAC’s principles on IDN ccTLDs, is the exception and not the rule. The GAC wants to have input on the public policy aspects of big ICANN decisions, but it moves too slowly to play its full and expected role.

Asking everyone else to slow down to GAC’s pace just doesn’t cut it. The delays caused create ill will amongst the rest of the community and mean the GAC has less clout than it thinks it should have. Or, as non-GAC people might put it, the GAC wakes up towards the end of a long and public policy process and tries to insist on fundamental changes. As Ray Plzak – co chair with Heather Dryden of a Board/GAC working group – said, the GAC has learnt the hard way that “the longer you wait in a process, the stronger your statement has to be.” And the harder it is to have any impact, and the less your peers in other stakeholder groups think of your ability to be a team player.


About comment settings on this blog

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Comment moderation isn’t normally switched on at this blog, but comments are held when they’re from new commenters. Sorry for any delays this causes. If you’ve already posted a comment here, your future comments won’t be held for moderation. If you’re posting your first comment, I’ll approve it as quickly as I can. And thanks for commenting!

Whither .XXX?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

http://www.cobrasoft.beWhat’s going to happen this week on .XXX? Nairobi is the first public board meeting since the independent review panel’s nonbinding declaration in February  that ICANN acted against its own rules in refusing to go ahead with .XXX. Reports that ICANN is going to ‘do something’ about .XXX have gone around the world via BBC news, and even surfaced on the radio in rural Ireland. The ICM team are out in force here in Nairobi, and there is endless speculation about what will happen at the Board’s meeting on Friday.

ICM has no interest in being fobbed off with an invitation to join the new gTLD application process. That process is horribly delayed, of still uncertain timing and outcome, and would expose ICM to immediate competition from other porn-related TLDs. ICM has assiduously played by the rules and understandably does not wish to go to the back of the queue.

This could go one of two ways. First and most likely, the Board will fulfill its legal obligation to consider the panel’s decision by having, and being seen to have at its public meeting on Friday, a discussion of the ruling. Then, perhaps regretfully, it will punt on any action by adopting some sort of delaying mechanism. One way to buy time and maybe even some credibility would be for the Board to put the 2007 registry contract with ICM out for another round of public comment. ICM says it will take legal action if there’s any delay, though this might be hard to justify if it’s ‘just one more’ round of public comment. (more…)

My completely unreliable notes of the GAC/Board meeting on 9 March

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I seem to have done a lot more typing than thinking today. It’s what my old LSE prof, Patrick Dunleavy would call a classic work displacement technique. One method I use to keep me focused on very long sessions is to take close to verbatim notes – it keeps my mind from wandering and makes me think harder about what I hear. As I’ve spotted that the public GAC/Board meeting that just finished only has an audio stream on the meeting website, I’m posting my Completely Unreliable Notes in case they’re useful to anyone else.

I hesitate to post these notes as the last thing I want to be known as is Typing Girl. This may be ICANN and it may be 2010 and the day after International Women’s Day, and not an episode of  Mad Men. But the next thing I know, someone will be slapping me on the rump as I fetch their coffee. (In much the same fashion that Alec Baldwin grabbed Kathryn Bigelow’s after he gave her the 2nd Oscar. Classy guy.)

Anyway, I’ll run the risk of the perils of patriarchy and reproduce the notes after the fold, as a public service. Enjoy.

Disclaimers: if you read anything surprising or controversial, check against the audio recording in my link above. I’m far too lazy to put people’s proper names, and in the case of a couple of GAC reps, I don’t actually know them. So employ your best guess that ‘Bertrand’ is the suave Frenchman, Bertrand de la Chapelle, Rod B is indeed ICANN’s CEO Rod Beckstrom, and ‘Norway’ is, ahem, the government representative from Norway. Full list of GAC members is here. (more…)

ICANN Nairobi; CEO throws down the gauntlet to African governments

Monday, March 8th, 2010

After an amazing dance performance to open its Nairobi meeting this morning, ICANN’s CEO and President Rod Beckstrom threw down the gauntlet to African governments. In his opening speech, Beckstrom got quickly through the usual platitudes about the Internet’s potential to speed up economic development. He instead highlighted successes in development led by using a more bottom-up approach (the ‘Internet approach’) and identified Kenya as a leader. But despite all this good work, Beckstrom noted, there are still a billion people in Africa that need to be connected. What should be done for them?

Beckstrom invited east African heads of state from the IGAD meeting in this building tomorrow to come over to the ICANN meeting, taking ‘a few small steps for them and making a big leap for the Internet in Africa’. Then he told us how he really feels…

Beckstrom threw down the gauntlet to all African governments, asking them to:*

  • Shatter telecoms monopolies. He asked ‘how can the poorest people on earth pay the highest internet prices?’ and called out high connectivity costs as an impediment to development.
  • Dispel the untrue stories about the Internet circulating in Africa, specifically the myth that there aren’t enough IPv6 addresses for African countries. He said Afrinic, the regional Internet registry for Africa, is one of the finest RIRs in the world and has over a trillion addresses to give out already. Globally, IPv6 create enough addresses to give a million each to every man woman and child in the world. Beckstrom called on African leaders to hold their ministers responsible and dispel those dishonest scarcity stories. He went so far as to say that people who spread dishonest stories cannot be trusted to make policy.
  • Get more involved in Internet policy making. 19 African countries are represented on ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee, but over 30 are missing. If these countries don’t have a seat at the table, how can they shape the future of the Internet?
  • Look at the Internet not just as a part of critical industrial structure, but as a platform for the future and for development.

Stopping just short of calling unnamed government people liars, Beckstrom unleashed some bold rhetoric about IPv6 and how, implicitly, untruths about the numbers available are being used to further a political agenda that is emphatically not bottom-up, not multi-stakeholder and not in the interests of anyone who wants an innovative, open and end to end network. It was a brave speech which, by some accounts, had already been toned down to better meet the political sensitivities of the region. Many thought it still went too far. (more…)