The 3rd ICANN public meeting of 2019 is being held in the Canadian city of Montréal from November 2nd until November 7th. Not only is it the 3rd meeting of the year, but it’s also the organisation’s AGM, which means that several people will be rotating off the various boards and committees to be replaced by the new holders of those positions.

I’ll be attending the ICANN meeting on behalf of Blacknight and as usual I’ll be trying my best to keep up with all the various sessions and meetings being held throughout the week.

So what will be the focus of this meeting?

While the meetings never officially have an actual focus or theme, there’s usually one or two key topics that most of the ICANN community is fixated on.

For the meeting in Montréal I strongly suspect that there will be two themes:

  • Abuse
  • GDPR and whois

Abuse, which we’ve talked about quite a lot over the years, is a perennial theme in many respects.

Bad things happen on the internet. It would be disingenuous for me or anyone else to deny that. However there is no “silver bullet” that will make it all go away overnight. And many of the proposals that have come out over the years usually involve making it much harder for people to register and manage domain names.

Within “ICANN land” there are contracts and policies which are binding on registrars (like us) and registries. There are clauses specifically designed to deal with “abuse” and what our obligations are under the contracts. Some, however, feel that the contracts don’t go far enough and that the rules governing domains and who and how they get registered should be changed in order to deal with the potential for abuse.

Several of the biggest companies in the internet industry, including ourselves, have made it very clear that we will take action on DNS abuse. You can read more about that here and here. Bottom line we won’t stand idly by, but we aren’t going to become the internet police either.

Whois has been a hot topic at ICANN for years. The first time I attended a meeting over a decade ago it was being discussed and that’s a trend that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

I’ve written about the whois debacles several times over the past few years, so rather than rehash it all I’d invite you to check some of the older posts here.

Essentially when you register a domain name you have to provide your contact information. With the gTLDs (think .com or .blog) that contact information was available to the public via a directory service called “whois”. A lot of people had issues with this, as they viewed it as a privacy issue. Others liked being able to access the information for a multitude of reasons, not all necessarily “evil”.

With the introduction of GDPR last year and a general sea change with respect to how seriously privacy is being taken whois went from being “open” to pretty much “closed”. Of course some people hate this and really really want things to go back to how they were previously.

Others, while in denial to a greater or lesser degree, are pushing hard for some form of “access” to domain registrant details.

It’s a fairly contentious topic and there’ll be plenty of hyperbole from all involved.

Other topics that will get covered in Montréal will range from new domain extensions, trademark issues, internet access and domain transfers, to name but a few.

It’ll be a very busy and hopefully productive week!