Domain Name Policy, Internet Governance & Kobe Beef at ICANN 64

By Oreoluwa Lesi

The 64th ICANN public meeting took place in Kobe, Japan from March 8 to 14, 2019 and I had the honour of being able to participate in it.

It was only my 3rd ICANN public meeting, but a far cry from my first (ICANN 61 in San Juan, Puerto Rico), where I was lost and adrift in the sea of acronyms and ICANN lingo. By the time I got to Kobe, I was not quite the DNS policy expert (rather far from it, as a matter of fact), but I had mastered a number of the ICANN-specific terms, had a better appreciation for the work ICANN does and in what ways it is different from the broader field of Internet Governance.

Oreoluwa Lesi at the ICANN 64 public meeting
Oreoluwa Lesi at the ICANN 64 public meeting

I was also an active member of the Not for Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC), where I have been serving as the Secretariat of its Executive Committee since July 2018. NPOC’s mission is to represent not-for-profit organizations by addressing their operational concerns in the generic Top-level Domains (gTLDs) through the ICANN Policy Development Process (PDP) in the scope of the GNSO. Examples of gTLDs are .com, .org and .net.

Operational Concerns are defined as issues arising from the use of the gTLDs by the not-for-profit organizations to achieve their own mission. Those include: Domain Name Fraud, Intellectual Property Abuse, Privacy, Security, Stability and Resiliency, as well as transparent registration and continued ownership of domain names.

Some of the important work that NPOC has been doing over the last year include revising the Charter, which sets out guidelines for our operations; redesigning our website; and developing outreach materials. We have also been putting together a policy committee to coordinate NPOC’s policy contributions within the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO).

In Kobe, NPOC successfully organised a Constituency Day, which is a session open to NPOC members and other ICANN community members interested in learning more about our work. We presented and launched the new NPOC website (https://npoc.org/), which contains a wealth of information about ongoing activities within the constituency, as well as guidelines on getting involved with NPOC’s work. NPOC’s Policy Committee Chair broke down the Expedited Policy Development Process on the Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data, popularly referred to as EPDP.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was put into law by the European Union in May 2018, specified certain data collection and sharing restrictions. This affects ICANN directly, because the registries and registrars with which it has contractual relationships, have until now collected and displayed data collected from people and organisations who buy domain names.

This EPDP Team was chartered to determine if the temporary specifications for gTLD registration data (i.e. the data collected in the process of purchasing domain names) put in place shortly after the enactment of GDPR, should become an ICANN Consensus Policy as is, or whether it needed to be modified.

It was an incredible feeling to understand this seemingly complex piece of proposed policy and best of all, I could see an opportunity for NPOC to contribute comments on the EPDP Phase 1 report.

By the end of the ICANN 64 meeting, NPOC realised the importance of continuing to seek ways to collaborate with other constituencies, stakeholder groups and advisory committees.

NPOC also committed to more collaborative efforts by its members to submit comments to provide feedback on proposed policy recommendations and agreements. I am looking forward to this first for me: an opportunity to help write a public comment and contribute to ICANN’s policy development process.

Another first for me: I tasted the much spoken-about Kobe beef and yes, it was even more delicious than I imagined. Amongst all these memorable events though, the best of all was that I started to find my feet in ICANN.

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