ICANN’s first virtual meeting, March 2020.

by Maureen Hilyard, ALAC Chair

The announcement by the ICANN Board Chair Maarten Botterman that his first ICANN meeting as Chair was going to be virtual due to the increased developments of the coronoavirus outbreak globally, would have been a great challenge for him in his new role. The ICANN community were given two weeks to prepare a whole changed programme to incorporate what we could salvage from our preparations for Cancun and to provide this in a way that would hopefully be just as effective, but virtual.

Following on from the ALAC’s most recent policy advice to the Board on DNS Abuse, a decision was made during the CPWG (Consolidated Policy Working Group) that DNS Abuse was going to be the focus of our interventions in ICANN67, in line with what had been proposed in the At-Large Policy Platform. Despite the change in late February that the ICANN meeting was going to be virtual  rather than F2F, this did not change our original decision.

Jonathan Zuck, Vice Chair Policy, introduced the DNS Abuse topic by making a Call to Action for At-Large to speak out on DNS Abuse, especially in light of our request to the Board not to proceed with the next round of new gTLDs until due to what was being seen to be insufficient protections in place with regards to DNS Abuse and its impact on end-users. This session seemed to capture the attention of other sections of the ICANN community. Firstly, because it began with a home-grown video production on the issue (which unfortunately could only be shown during the presentation for copyright reasons) and then it concluded with a quiz on the topic which was won not surprisingly by the Vice Chair of SSAC, Julie Hammer. This introductory session really did demonstrate how far we have come with regards to engaging participation in policy development within At-Large, with many thanks to the innovations that are being introduced to this work by Jonathan and his CPWG team. His second DNS session was a more formal look at the technical implications of Contractual Compliance in the fight against a considered rise in the incidence of DNS Abuse. Active discussion involved ICANN’s Head of Contractual Compliance, Jamie Hedlund, and the Vice President of Policy from GoDaddy, James Bladel, giving a registry/registrar’s perspective on the issue.

Our next session was taken by APRALO’s ALAC member, Holly Raiche on the use of the DNS over two transport systems – the transport layer and HTTPs and the policy implications of encrypted DNS. While the transport systems have some overlap, end-users would not notice because the difference only affects network operators. The purpose of encryption would be to provide greater protection of user privacy. The discussion however did look at the disadvantages as well as the advantages of the systems and involved SSAC’s Barry Leiba who is their expert on DNS over DOH/DOT and Paul Hoffmann, ICANN’s Principal Technologist. Holly recently gave a presentation on this and other At-Large sessions @ICANN to the APAC Hub community.

Our final policy session was taken by Vice Chair Joanna Kulesza whose “One World, One Internet” resulted in our best audience numbers and participation with the keynote speakers, Board Vice Chair Leon Sanchez, giving the ICANN Board’s perspective on geopolitics;  Veni Markovski explaining UN perspectives on cybersecurity and cybercrime; NCUC’s Milton Mueller’s presentation focused on fragmentation which is a mismatch between territorial boundaries of government and the global connectivity of the internet. He saw governments as trying to fit cybersecurity into their national security systems and making names and numbers fit within boundaries. However, his conclusion was that this will not work because names and numbers are global. They work globally and to attempt to control them will not work. Before the audience became actively engaged, ex-Chair of the SSAC, Patrick Faltstrom, spoke about the various layers that make up the internet network and that each layer has its own responsibility for security for which there are major technical challenges. Gone are the days where one telecommunication system was owned by one player. At each layer of the network there are various players which increases the risk of fragmentation even within the network system itself. During the rest of the week’s programme, we maintained our interaction with the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) where Justine Chew updated them on the status of At-Large’s scorecards on Subsequent Procedures and Hadia Elminiawi, updated the EPDP on registration data. We also met with the Board and exchanged views on DNS Abuse and the PIR sale, as well as their attendance at the final wrap up session where they gave their views on the first virtual meeting. Any formal decisions about when F2F meetings will resume will be made during the next April Board meeting.

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