ICANN56: policy forum in Helsinki

Ellen StricklandBlog post from Ellen Strickland, Community Programme Director at InternetNZ
14 July 2016

Late last month, I attended the first ICANN Policy Forum - the new name and format for the midyear meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It took place in Helsinki, Finland.

I attended along with the Chief Executives of DNCL and NZRS and Chair of NZRS, who have their own work within ICANN. My own focus is on issues which impact or are of importance to the Internet community and Internet users, with a current focus on human rights.

InternetNZ, as well as being involved in the country code top level domain (cctld) community, is a member of ICANN as an 'At Large' organisation. There are many other civil society organisations involved also, which focus on the role of Internet users in domain name policy, including how they can interact with and are impacted by ICANN processes. The At Large constiutency, and how it functions within ICANN, is currently being reviewed. Therefore, as an At Large organisation, we are taking a keen interest in this review, so I attended the meetings related to this over the week.

Other hot topics included ongoing discussions about the potential uses of the funds generated from the last top level domain name auctions, as well as discussion around plans being drawn up for a next round of auctions and how past processes can be improved to better serve diverse Internet users.

I am also currently involved in a cross community working party on ICANN and Human Rights, which met over the week to progress work on scoping and communicating the issues and potential solutions related to corporate and social responsibilities of ICANN in relation to human rights. This can be quite challenging work as human rights is a complicated area for discussion and something which the ICANN community has only recently begun to address. The working party is committed to supporting this discussion, helping promote human rights best practice as related to ICANNs mandate, with the recognition that human rights apply and should be respected for all, both on and offiline.

Our working party met with a governmental working party on human rights and international law, and we look forward to continuted cross community collaboration on this important topic. A plan is in place to release infographics at the next ICANN, in November, which will help scope and frame the complex topic of human rights in relations to ICANN's specific mandate and work, to encourage and support discussion within wider ICANN spaces.

An important topic for ICANN overall at the moment is planning for the stewadship transition of IANA - the process which manages domain numbers and names, from the US government to ICANN. The plan for this transition, which was drafted by the global multistakeholder ICANN community, was succesfully approved by the US Govermment's NTIA earlier this year. A range of workstreams with a large diverse set of community stakeholders are now working on the steps required to implement this plan. One important change from the IANA transition plan, from my perspective, is that the ICANN By Laws will be amended to include reference to human rights. You can read more about this process in a previous blog by our Chief Executive Jordan Carter, who was a part of the wokring group:
ICANN's journey to global control - a recap and update

ICANN is, of course, an important forum for sharing best practice and learning from experiences of other country code top level domain (cctld) operators like .nz. In one such sharing session in Helsinki, Jay Daley from NZRS presented InternetNZ's MoU between the Government and InternetNZ - which generated great interest and support for this New Zealand approach. New Zealand's Government representative to ICANN, Nicola Treloar from MBIE, was in attendance in Helsinki as well, to discuss this exciting development with those interested. You can read more information about the MoU here:
.nz domain name management recognised in new MoU