ICANN in LA – day 3-6 (Tuesday-Friday)

OK, a belated catch up on what happened in LA at the recent ICANN meeting. Of course, the biggest thing to come out of the meeting news wise was Vint Cerf stepping down from the position of ICANN Chair being replaced by Peter Dengate Thrush, with Roberto Gaetano remaining Vice-Chair.The Tuesday night gala to send of Vint at Sony Studios, complete with Star Wars themes, and final board meeting with Vint as chair seemed to have him quite emotional. I’m sure I heard Vint’s voice being rather emotional! For those who aren’t aware, Vint was unable to stand for the board again due to the limits imposed on the number of terms for board members.There was much talk in the corridors leading up to Friday’s board meeting as to whether it was going to be Peter or Roberto who would be the new chair. Nobody, not even ICANN staff, seemed to have an inkling as to which way it would go. But by Friday at least the board had worked out among themselves who would get each position, so the votes were by acclamation.There were wonderful tributes to Vint by a number of the board members, as well as to the former vice-Chair Alejandro Pisanty who was in attendance by telephone. Various committee members were also recognised for their service.On the Tuesday night gala at Sony Studios, as well as speeches from a number of board members praising the work of Vint, there were also video testimonials from Al Gore, Dr Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Arab Republic of Egypt, Dr Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Google, Commissioner Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission (Information Society and Media) and Dr. Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.The video testimonial is available from http://icann.org/announcements/announcement-2-01nov07.htmSome of the other major issues be addressed during the ICANN meeting were:
Whois requirements remain as is
There has been much debate as to what to do with the required information for Whois. This debate has been ongoing for seven years, and still hasn’t reached a resolution. The debate’s opposing sides consists of privacy advocates who want registrant information shielded from public view to protect the individual registrant’s personal information while “businesses, intellectual property holders and members of law enforcement have argued for open access to the WHOIS database, saying it helps them go after phishers, trademark infringers, copyright violators and scammers.”It was decided to conduct further studies as to the future of Whois, decided by vote, 17-7. There were a further two votes. One, a “so-called ‘sunset’ option that would have allowed domain name registration companies to stop making the data available through Whois, was narrowly rejected, 13-10.” And the final vote “a proposal to give Internet users the ability to list third-party contacts rather than their own private data in the Whois databases”, was lost 17-7.Press coverage on Whois can be found at:
www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/10/30/1193618831592.html [AP]
www.pcworld.com/article/id,139211-c,sites/article.html.Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs)
ICANN has been keen to publicise its work in the area of IDNs, and has been very successful. It’s taken quite a while to get there, but from all reports is making sure and steady progress. There are critics about the time taken, but with the IDN test sites being live now, I think we should all be pleased. ICANN, with good reason, say IDNs require a lot of planning before they can be made widely available.”The introduction of the IDNs is absolutely one of the most important changes to the domain name space since its inception,” Vint Cerf said during the meeting. “It’s taken many years to get to the point where there is confidence that we understand how to do this.”Languages other than English
As part of ICANN’s attempt at outreach to the world, they have had translators in many of the sessions into some of the more popular languages. This was greeted with enthusiasm by many attending, with speakers from the floor keen to speak in their own language, where translators were available. For the English speakers amongst us, there was also the English-only version of the transcription on the screen in the main room. Personally, I think this was a great addition to the ICANN meeting. One notable omission was Arabic, and hopefully this will be included at the next meeting in India as an option.IPv6 transition
There is ongoing debate about the transition to IPv6 at every ICANN meeting. From what I can tell, the debate in a nutshell is this. We will run out of IPv4 addresses around 2010. But there is a significant cost involved for those involved to migrate to IPv6 by organisations such as ISPs. At the moment there is little demand for IPv6, so nothing is done. But unless something miraculous happens, the change will come when there are internet users clamouring for IP addresses. And ISPs, among others, will be forced to spend the money in a hurry to convert. So everyone seems to be leaving it to the last minute to become organised. I guess business being business, and very competitive at that (mostly), one organisation spending the money now will markedly increase its costs. So maybe some body needs to step up to the plate and mandate it. But this is probably not possible.And of course, a lot more was debated and I could write on forever, but then, most people would not keep reading! An outline of some of the major issues discussed is available through ICANN’s daily conference newsletters, available from their website at losangeles2007.icann.org/newsletters