What to expect for ICANN 59?

SafeBrands is attending the ICANN meeting in Johannesburg this week. As part of the new meeting format established last year, the week will be focused on Policy issues and skip many of the community gathering opportunities. While it translates into a smaller attendance, it also means that the delegates will be more focused on key subjects that will be important to many Internet users, and extremely relevant to corporations. Here is a quick overview of what our team will be following particularly closely.

Progress on the new gTLDs: it is fair to say that, since the 2012 Round, progress towards the next one has been quite slow. The main reason for the delay is that ICANN wants to learn from its mistakes and see what can be improved from the previous process before launching the new one. This week’s meeting will be an opportunity to hear from the working groups that have been set up over the last years to do just that, bringing the community closer to an actual set of rules. It may not seem like much now, but considering the first round took 5 years and saw 8 versions of the Applicant Guidebook we will take any progress we can get.

WHOIS with a twist: with two sessions devoted to “Registration Directory Services”, this would-be successor to whois will sure be front and center. Whois has always been a hot issue within the ICANN space: its evolution from a technical tool to a database essential to law enforcement officials and trademark holders willing to identify the holders of cybersquatted or nefarious domains already kept members of the community busy for more than 10 years. However, the introduction by the European Union of the General Data Protection Regulation will make discussions about privacy even more important. GDPR will be enforced on May 25th 2018 and will apply to any organization that processes data about individuals relating to the sale of goods or services to citizens in EU countries. Because “personal data” is defined as any information related to a natural person that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person, data such as IP addresses falls very much within scope. As a California corporation ICANN has had difficulties to grasp the EU framework so the fact that the subject has its own session is an important sign.

RightS Protection: obviously essential to trademark holders and corporations, the various Rights Protection Mechanisms that have been devised as part of the new gTLDs Programme will be subject of a session at the end of the week . They will be joined by two sessions dedicated to Geographic Names and probably discussed by dotBrands applicants gathered within the Brand Registry Group.

Of course, as with all ICANN meetings, what is not on the schedule is probably even more important. Watch this space to read what our team on site has learned during the week… and if you are concerned by the above subjects, or any other in the ICANN world, we can help you get heard. Feel free to contact us and engage!