The Internet governance summit, the 25th ICANN AGM was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 17 to 22 September 2022, bringing stakeholders together in a tense geopolitical context.
This 75th meeting of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, brought together stakeholders for the first AGM in hybrid form since Montreal in November 2019. Both the 22nd (October 2020) and the 23rd (October 2021) meetings had been held entirely online. In order to favour the collaboration and participation of the Internet community, a growing number of sessions are being interpreted at least into English, French and Spanish. Three Afnic representatives were present in Kuala Lumpur, and another three followed the debates remotely, as did members of the Association, registrars and users.
Renewal of the organisation’s management bodies
As announced during the opening ceremony by the chair of ICANN’s Board of Directors, Maarten Botterman, he will be replaced as chair by Tripti Sinha. Tripti Sinha, a member of the ICANN Board since 2018, is CTO at the University of Maryland which operates one of the Internet’s thirteen DNS root servers. She becomes ICANN’s seventh chair and the second woman to occupy the position. The appointment as vice-chair of Danko Jevtovic, a member of the board of governors of the Serbian Internet registry RNIDS, taking over from León Sánchez, was also announced.
In the support organisations and advisory committees, the chair of the GNSO Council (Generic Names Supporting Organization) falls to Sébastien Ducos, who replaces Philippe Fouquart. On the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), which includes EURALO for our region, Jonathan Zuck shall take over from Maureen Hilyard as chair. Lastly, on the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), Paraguayan representative Nicolas Caballero will replace Manal Ismail, the Egyptian representative, with effect from ICANN 76, which is scheduled for March 2023. Also expected in March 2023 is the announcement of the new management of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), since the term of office of Alejandra Reynoso will come to an end.
On the subject of diversity in ICANN in terms of participation and governance, the chair of the At-Large Advisory Committee for Europe (EURALO), Sébastien Bachollet, also presented the initial results of a survey on management diversity in ICANN. In this regard, the terms of reference for the holistic review (ATRT3 Rec 3.1) are open for comments until 10 November 2022.
A full agenda in a tense geopolitical context
The agenda for this 25th AGM of the Internet community called for several priority issues to be discussed, among them the handling of abuse, the internationalisation of domain names and their universal acceptance and the accuracy of registration data of generic domain names. The opening of new generic TLDs continues to give rise to tensions, with several players insisting that the community, especially regional and local authorities, should wait for regional reform before proceeding. New internationalised generic TLDs were also referred to as a means of bringing the Internet closer to users.
The fight against online abuse was seldom far from delegates’ minds. The DNS Abuse Standing Committee (DASC), launched in 2022 by the ccNSO with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon while taking account of the diversity of national registries (ccTLDs) and providing a forum for the exchange and sharing of information among ccTLDs, distributed a survey with the aim of collecting reliable data. Abuse was also discussed in the GAC, the ALAC and the gNSO.
A plenary session also addressed the question of Internet fragmentation with regard to the domain name system (DNS). While this is a well-worn subject, from rivalry among Internet protocols to the emergence of new legislation, the debate continues on what is to be understood by fragmentation. There is general agreement that fragmentation reduces the scope of the Internet, threatening its interoperability and a unified user experience. John Crain, CTO of ICANN org, also stressed the importance of the work carried out in defining common standards by the ICANN multi-stakeholder community. To the poll question “Is the Internet currently fragmented?”,53% of respondents replied in the affirmative. ICANN needs to take up this matter as part of its mandate before the fragmentation gets any worse.
Also notable was the talk by the CEO of the Regional Internet Registry for Africa, AFRINIC, Mr Eddy Kayihura, who referred to the difficulties encountered by the organisation when confronted with the freezing of its bank accounts by the Mauritius authorities following the disputes with Cloud Innovation and the impact in terms of stability of the Internet ecosystem in Africa.
Lastly, the session on current geopolitical and legislative affairs provided a round-up of the various new laws affecting the Internet. We note the emergence of new laws around the world such as China’s “Personal Information Protection Law” (PIPL) applicable since November 2021. In the EU, the Digital Services Act (DSA) was adopted on 4 October 2022, the transposition of the NIS2 Directive is expected for 2024 and several texts are under discussion, notably on geographical indications and cyber resilience. Continuing from the opening ceremony in which Goran Marby had stressed the importance of maintaining the multi-stakeholder model and a single Internet, ICANN org presented the resolutions on the Internet that had been addressed in Bucharest at the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and called on the community to participate in particular in national delegations.
Next diary date 11 to 16 March 2023 in Cancún, Mexico, for ICANN 76.
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