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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ICANN made huge strides – Beckstrom

Chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Mr. Rod Beckstrom, has declared the just ended 2009 as a year of huge strides for the ICANN community.

Mr. Beckstrom, who made this known in his review of ICANN’s activities in 2009 tagged ‘A message from the CEO’ said 2009 is a historic year in the Domain Name System (DNS).

He pointed out that after six months as ICANN’s CEO and President, he was enormously impressed by the huge strides ICANN community made, not to mention the years of collaborative work, dedication and professionalism by the ICANN community in preparing the way.

According to him, a singular achievement is the signing of the ‘Affirmation of Commitments’ between ICANN and the United States (US) government in September.

This Affirmation, he said, brings to an end a series of amendments to the original 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ICANN and the US government, the last of which, the Joint Project Agreement (JPA), expired on 30 September, 2009.

“The Affirmation broadens ICANN’s reporting commitment to the entire global Internet community, and it cements the ICANN multi-stakeholder bottom-up model,” he declared, expressing optimistic that a series of reviews embodied in the Affirmation will help ensure a high degree of public, global accountability throughout the ICANN community.

Another noteworthy achievement, he said, was the launch of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) Fast Track Process in mid-November, stressing that the culmination of 11 years of technical preparation and 7 years of policy development.

“Internationalized Domain Names represent the greatest advance in the use of names on the Internet since its inception 40 years ago. For the first time in Internet history, non-English speakers across the globe will soon see Internet addresses completely in their own language. To date, 16 applications representing six languages have been completed.

In March, the Board ratified a global policy for allocating the rapidly depleting IPv4 address blocks. Under this policy, when only five blocks of IANA IPv4 addresses remain, each of the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) will receive one block, or approximately 16 million addresses. We expect this to occur in 2011.

After much development work, public comment, and collaboration with the registrar community, in May ICANN’s Board approved an amended Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) that includes many new protections for domain name registrants encompassing data escrow, no name deletions or auto-renewals unless the registrant is notified, strict registrar responsibility and accountability requirements, and more.

“ICANN-accredited registrars representing over 87 percent of all gTLD registrations have signed or asked to review the 2009 RAA. In 2010, we expect to see additional RAA amendments being considered, along with the creation of a registrant rights charter,” ICANN chief said.

On the focus on contractual compliance, he said, significant results were made in the just ended, including more timely de-accreditation of noncompliant registrars and transfer of their domain names to accredited registrars.

“In 2009 over 20 registrars were terminated or not renewed, up from seven registrars in 2008,” he declared, emphasizing that the grounds for registrar terminations and non-renewals were broad and more varied than in any previous year, and encompass terminations and non-renewals based on Whois noncompliance, data escrow noncompliance, failure to pay fees, insolvency and UDRP noncompliance.

And to further enhance global enforcement efforts, Beckstrom said, a contractual compliance senior director was hired in the Asia-Pacific region in 2009.

“In 2010, ICANN will continue to augment its contractual compliance programme by conducting a registrar transfer policy audit, publishing the findings from the Whois Data Accuracy Study and continuing to aggressively enforce the provisions of the registrar and registry agreements,” he said.

In addition, he noted that ICANN community grew remarkably in 2009 with a number of countries joined the Governmental Advisory Committee, including China, Georgia, Iraq, Mongolia, the Philippines, and the Russian Federation, which bought the number of countries represented on the committee to just over 90.

“The At-Large community added roughly 20 individual Internet user groups, or At-Large Structures, including the first from Pakistan, sending the total worldwide past 135,” he asserted.

Equally, he said, ICANN signed formal accountability frameworks or exchanges of letters with the country-code top-level domain operators for Aruba, Austria, Bolivia, Haiti, Korea, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Singapore, and Uruguay, bringing the total number of such agreements to 59.

As said by him, the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) also welcomed notable additions such as Russia (.ru) and the European Union (.eu), boosting its membership to 100 country code operators.

While last December, saw ICANN and the Swiss-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) signing a historic agreement which gives the UPU managing authority over .post as a top-level domain. This agreement came about after long negotiations, public review through ICANN’s public comment process, and consideration by ICANN’s Board of Directors.

“An equal level of effort was required from representatives of the UPU. The result is a new top-level domain for the provision of new and exciting services by the UPU member states,” he said.

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