ICANN660I’ll be in Munich next week for the New Domains conference. With the launch of so many new domain name extensions over the coming months (and years) the internet is going to be seeing a lot of changes.

While those changes are welcome (more choice) there are going to be issues and headaches (in fact there already are)

ICANN is a US based and very much US centric entity. Sure, it has been trying to paint itself as being more internationalised these days, but it doesn’t take much to lift that veil and see that it is still essentially a US corporation.

Both registrar and registries have to enter into contracts with ICANN in order to be able to offer domain names. So what happens when the contracts are written by Americans and based on US law, specifically California law?

What if you’re trying to push a domain extension primarily in Europe? How can you do that when you’re forced to contract with a US entity?

What about data privacy?

What about data transfer? ie. transferring data from the EU to a 3rd party in the US.

These are all questions that are being raised.

And for a variety of reasons I’ve ended up on a couple of the panels and sessions dealing with the interesting conflict and challenges when ICANN’s US based paradigms come face to face with reality, with local law (and customs) that can often be at odds with each other.

And what about a TLD that’s being backed by a government? Can ICANN really impose restrictions on a national government? Are they dumb enough to try?

I’ll try to touch on some of these topics during my presentation on Monday in Munich which is followed by a panel session with a lot of lawyers plus ICANN’s Cyrus Namazi.

Here’s the press release about it:

Blacknight CEO to Speak on ICANN Contract Issues at The Munich Conference on New Top-Level Domains.
Dedicated panel will explore discrepancies for registrars between ICANN contract requirements and national laws

October 25, 2013 – Carlow, Ireland – Leading Irish domain registrar and hosting company Blacknight announce their participation at The Munich Conference on New Top-Level Domains.

Hosted by united domains, The Munich Conference offers the opportunity for the New TLD community to meet and discuss issues that are unique to their interests. Among those encouraged to attend are trademark owners, attorneys, TLD applicants, registrars, marketing professionals, hosting companies and registries.

The event, which is geared toward the domain industry, will take place in Munich from October 27-29, 2013 at the Sofitel Munich Bayerspost Hotel. The sessions are geared toward strengthening competence in marketing strategies, connecting with service providers and staying informed about emerging opportunities and challenges

Speakers include ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade, Jordan Buchanan of Google and Sarah Langstone of VeriSign. Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon will participate on the panel “ICANN Contract vs. National Law”. Non-US domain registrars have long struggled with portions of the ICANN Contract (which is a condition of ICANN accreditation) that would place them in direct conflict with national law.

“I am proud to be a part of the Munich Conference on New Top-Level Domains,” Neylon explains. “It offers those of us directly involved in New TLDs an intimate forum in which to focus on issues that effect us and I am particularly pleased that the conference is highlighting the problems non-US domain registrars face via the ICANN Contract. For many of us, to sign the ICANN Contract, which we must do to receive ICANN accreditation would place us in violation of national laws in the countries in which we operate.”

Neylon continues: “While we don’t believe ICANN would encourage us to violate our local laws, we feel that if the organization aims to present itself as an international body, it must become more sensitive to its non-US partners. When it comes to contracts and legalities ICANN has adopted an almost Janus-like approach. On the one hand ICANN tells registrars and registries (contracted parties) that it cannot oblige them to breach national law, at the same time they impose contractual conditions that put registrars and registries in direct conflict with their local laws. I applaud the efforts of ICANN to become more responsive to the international aspects of its behaviour, but it’s still got a long way to go.”

Other panels include a marketing talk on “How major companies/businesses plan to use their new gTLDs” and Google’s gTLD strategy. The Munich Conference on New Top-Level Domains is open to anyone who wishes to attend. For more information on this event, please visit http://www.newdomains.org/

For more information on Blacknight, including a full suite of domain and hosting services please visit http://www.blacknight.com


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