Tag Archives: Chris Disspain

Chris Disspain Looks At The Highlights of 2019 And What His Final Year On The ICANN Board Might Hold

In the latest Domain Pulse Q&A series looking at the year in review and year ahead, we speak to ICANN board member Chris Disspain. Chris discusses the progress of the next round of new gTLD applications, the challenges of GDPR has thrown at ICANN relating to WHOIS, a 2019 highlight being finalisation of the new strategic plan especially in the way the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done and then what the future may hold for him after he completes his term on the ICANN board. He also would like to see a little more kindness “in the ICANN context”.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Chris Disspain: The challenge of GDPR and its relevance to WHOIS has consumed an immense amount of time in 2019. And universal acceptance is a real issue for many especially but not exclusively in the IDN world.

The finalisation of the new strategic plan has been a highlight especially the way that the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done. And the streamlining of reviews work!

There are always lowlights. Calling them out isn’t necessarily helpful.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

CD: Enjoying my last year as a board member, making a difference and riding off into the sunset….. only to return later in 2021 wearing a different hat…..Or perhaps not!

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

CD: Every issue has both a challenges and opportunities  … Some examples for us are GDPR, various contractual matters, the sub-pro work, ccNSO work on retirement of ccTLDs, the ongoing work on IGOs acronyms, the ongoing community work-load and so on.

DP: How have new gTLDs fared in 2019?

CD: Some good, some bad I expect. But given that different gTLDs have different measures of success that’s quite a hard question to address. A brand likely doesn’t care about registration levels. A geographic may have a limited market and be happy with that. I guess the only real test will be to see what sort of applications come in in a next round.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

CD: Significant but it’s a long track that needs to be carefully navigated. As a board member (actually the only current board member) who was on the board from the beginning of the last gTLD round I know many of the issues that will need to be dealt with in the updated policy. Some of these are complicated and contentious but I’m hopeful that with the extraordinary work of the Sub-pro WG and the support of the community generally we’ll get there reasonably soon.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

CD: Well, in the ICANN context, I think a little more kindness would be good. And a ‘fix’ for the structural challenges within the GNSO would make a huge difference to the ability of the ICANN multi-stakeholder model to deal effectively and efficiently with the constantly changing industry dynamic.

Chris was also the founding CEO of Australia’s ccTLD policy and regulatory body, auDA.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Q&As in the 2019 series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member Chris Disspain (here).

ICANN Has New Leadership Team With Chalaby as Chair, Disspain Vice-Chair As 60th Meetings Ends

ICANN announced a new leadership team to head the ICANN Board of Directors at the organisation’s 60th public meeting held in Abu Dhabi last week. The 19th Annual General Meeting, Cherine Chalaby and Chris Disspain were officially appointed as the new Chair of the ICANN Board and Vice-Chair respectively.

ICANN's 60th Public Meeting (ICANN60), held in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for the first time, featured a tribute to Dr. Stephen Crocker, who retired from the ICANN Board after this meeting. A number of tribute videos are available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQziMT9GXafXYZhNuVpS6kT5lxjq3vWdv.

Data protection and privacy rules, particularly the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), were a hot topic during the meeting. Many discussions across the community focused on gaining an understanding of the main concerns for various stakeholder groups and calls to action for ICANN org and Board. They also focused on encouraging the community to continue discussions, and find a balanced path forward in the shorter term, including as part of related current policy work.

However no resolution was made regarding GDPR and the directive becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018, with only one ICANN meeting to be held in the intervening period.

In addition, the community's policy and advice development work continued, and many community groups welcomed new leaders and participants.

For Chalaby, the Nominating Committee first selected him to serve on the Board in December 2010. He was elected as the Vice-Chair in 2015, and is succeeding Crocker, who served as ICANN Board Chair since 2011.

The country code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) selected Disspain to join the ICANN Board in June 2011. He is an active ICANN community member and served as the Chair of ccNSO from 2004 to 2011.

“I'm deeply honoured to be elected as the Board Chair,” said Chalaby. “The Board had enough confidence in ICANN's maturity to elect me even though I do not come from the long and distinguished line of 'Masters of the Internet Universe.' I look forward to the future with great hope and enthusiasm, particularly to the partnership we will continue to build with the ICANN community.”

“Cherine has been an excellent Vice-Chair over the past two years. This is evident from the unanimous support from all members of the Board in his election as the next Chair of the ICANN Board. I'm proud and excited and will work with him closely for a smooth and orderly transition of responsibilities,” said Crocker.

The Board also welcomed new Board members León Sanchez (LAC), Matthew Shears (EMEA), Avri Doria (NA), Sarah Deutsch (NA), and Manal Ismail (Egypt) as the Governmental Advisory Committee Liaison to the Board. They replaced outgoing Stephen Crocker, Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Asha Hemrajani, Markus Kummer and Thomas Schneider.

A total of 1,910 participants attended 325 public sessions at ICANN60. It was the first time at an ICANN meeting for 704 of them. There were 277 attendees from the Middle East region.

Chalaby To Be New ICANN Chair, Disspain Vice Chair

cherine_chalaby_imageIn a wrap of the recent workshop ICANN held in Montevideo, Uruguay, the current Chair Steve Crocker posted a blog with a few updates on what came out of the workshop. The most noteworthy was the announcement that there was unanimous support for the future election of Cherine Chalaby as the next Chair of the ICANN Board.

The formal election will take place at ICANN’s Annual Meeting at ICANN60 in Abu Dhabi, to be held from 28 October to 3 November. Crocker noted the Board has also indicated its support for the future election of Chris Disspain as the next Vice-Chair.

Chalaby has had an extensive international career encompasses leadership roles in banking and technology and was selected by the Nominating Committee (NomCom) to serve on the Board. He’s a citizen of Egypt and also holds a British citizenship. He attended the French Jesuits School of Cairo, holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Cairo University and an MSc in Computing Sciences from the Imperial College of London. He is fluent in English, French and Arabic. As well as his extensive career, he’s also served on seven separate boards of directors.

In his post, Crocker wrote that a few things discussed were:

  • The need to establish long term financial planning during the upcoming strategic plan development process. The Board requested the ICANN organization develop an approach for long term financial planning, including how to engage and inform the community.
  • The details of the work the ICANN organization is undertaking with the Community, and in its own internal assessments, related to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • An update to the Board on the background of .HOME, .CORP and .MAIL applications, where the organization shared the current status of the applications, followed by a discussion of the possible options available to the Board given the requests of the applicants to move the applications forward.
  • A presentation by the Executive team on opportunities and priorities they see for the year ahead, including discussion on some challenges the organization is facing. This included topics ranging from resource demands vs. funding through to the implementation of the Thick Whois policy vs the implications of the GDPR and data privacy law changes globally.
  • A discussion on FY18 Board Priorities, what they are and how to measure and track them.
    Final review of the Board resolution addressing the GAC Advice from the ICANN59 GAC Johannesburg Communiqué. The Board agreed on a draft proposal put forward by the Board-GAC Review Implementations (BGRI) working group Co-Chairs on clarifying the definition of GAC Advice, and the Board reviewed all GAC Communiques from ICANN46 to ICANN59, including responses or actions to address GAC Advice.
  • A briefing and discussion about the Root Zone and related issues and developments.

An update about the Root Zone Key Signing Key (KSK) roll, resulting in direction from the Board to the ICANN organization to roll the DNS root KSK as soon as is practical, so long as there are no significant observed effects on the security, stability, or resiliency of the DNS as a whole.

The full post by Steve Crocker is on the ICANN blog at:

Shock Announcement That auDA CEO To Depart After 16 Years

In a shock announcement Thursday, the Board of auDA announced it was ending the contract of CEO, Chris Disspain. According to a news release, Mr Disspain’s contract was due for renewal later this year, but the Board agreed new leadership was required to take the organisation forward.The Board acknowledged and thanked Mr. Disspain, as founding CEO of auDA, for the hard work and visionary leadership he has demonstrated throughout his tenure, helping to cement the organisation’s standing as a one of the world’s best practice ccTLD managers.auDA’s current Chief Operations and Policy Officer, Jo Lim has been appointed Acting CEO and the Board will undertake an executive search to fill the position over the next six months.

Second Round Of New gTLD Applications On ICANN Board Agenda: auIGF Discussion

The prospect of a second round of applications for new gTLDs is on the agenda for ICANN, with discussions likely to take place at an upcoming board meeting, possibly as early as September.

“The board will soon start discussing the possibility of opening a second round of applications for new gTLDs, said ICANN board member and auDA CEO Chris Disspain at the Australian Internet Governance Forum Wednesday in a discussion on new gTLDs focussing on the upcoming .melbourne.

The earliest possibility for discussions is an ICANN board retreat, scheduled for early to mid-September.

The conference was preceded by the announcement of the winners of the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA), a collaboration between auDA and InternetNZ, that recognise organisations, businesses and individuals who excel in delivering accessible, innovative, informative and secure resources to a diverse and wide community on the Internet.

“The concept of the ANZIAs came from discussions between Keith Davidson (the then CEO of InternetNZ) and me over several glasses of red wine,” said Disspain. “We wanted to be able to reward those organisations, individuals and businesses we had seen develop incredible online resources, for the benefit of all Australians and New Zealanders. The Internet is a place where everyone is able to exchange ideas and communicate, on a level playing field. The ANZIAs are a way to acknowledge the world-class initiatives that are created, in both of our countries.”

There were winners in six different categories:

  • Diversity: Cultural Infusion
  • Innovation: ARTS:LIVE – The Song Room
  • Information: Policy Online (APO)
  • Access & Digital Skills: Get Up To Speed Program – The Training Collective
  • Security & Online Safety: RealMe – New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs
  • The Leonie Dunbar Memorial Award for Community Websites: Apollo Bay Community Website Inc

A full list of winners and those highly commended is available at www.internetawards.org.au

The upcoming launch of the .melbourne gTLD was also the focus though of one session. Questions were raised about the cost, due to the $50 wholesale premium being charged to registrars. But ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis, who will provide registry services, justified the cost for three reasons – respect for the Australian country code .au, preventing cybersquatting and that it’s expensive to run a TLD, so with less names, costs have to be higher to pay the bills.

Kinderis also believes that the use of a city gTLD such as .melbourne will also help internet users find their desired destination.

If you’re searching for Melbourne, the results for .melbourne will be ranked higher, Kinderis believes. The same with brands. Searching for a brand will rank websites using the brand gTLD higher than other sites.

But for registrants using domains in more generic TLDs, Kinderis believes they will in the main not be ranked highly in search results.

Navigating the multi-stakeholder morass: The past, present and future of Internet governance by Chris Disspain and Paul Szyndler

Abstract: 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Although neither a forum focussed exclusively on “Internet governance” nor the first discussion of the topic, WSIS marked the start of a global, decade-long debate on how the Internet is, and should be, managed.

A decade later, the Internet has grown exponentially, bringing about massive cultural, social and economic change. And yet, many of the political and policy issues around its governance largely remain the same and are regularly debated in a wide range of fora. This article draws upon historical experiences in the Internet governance debate to explain and assess current discussions and to cast a wary eye into the future.

This article by Chris Disspain, CEO, .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) and ICANN Board Director and Paul Szyndler, General Manager, International and Government Affairs, auDA is available for download in full in the June 2013 edition of the Telecommunications Journal of Australia at telsoc.org/journal/2013-06/navigating_multi-stakeholder_morass_past_present_future_internet_governance

Last Contractual Hurdle Cleared in New gTLDs Introduction With Board Approving Registry Agreement

The ICANN New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors has approved the 2013 Registry Agreement (RA) meaning the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains have moved a step closer.”New gTLDs are now on the home stretch,” said Chris Disspain, a member of ICANN’s New gTLD Program Committee, in a statement. “This new Registry Agreement means we’ve cleared one of the last hurdles for those gTLD applicants who are approved and eagerly nearing that point where their names will go online.”Among the key points in the new Registry Agreement:

  • Includes a Trademark Clearinghouse that will serve as a one-stop shop where trademark holders can protect their rights.
  • Provides for a process for a rapid, efficient way to take down infringing domain names.
  • Provides a procedure where trademark rights holders can assert claims directly against a registry operator for domain name abuse if that operator has played an active role in the abuse.
  • Requires registry operators to have a single point of contact responsible for handling abuse complaints.

“We’re getting to the point now where new gTLD applicants can see the finish line,” said Akram Atallah, President of the ICANN’s Generic Domains Division. “Much like the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement approved by the Board last week, this new Registry Agreement is the culmination of input from a wide range of stakeholders and marks a dramatic improvement over the previous baseline agreement.”The New gTLD Registry Agreement is intended to enhance the security and stability of the Domain Name System while bolstering competition in domain name industry. The security provisions include:

  • A requirement that registry operators implement Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), reducing so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks and spoofed DNS records.
  • A requirement of enhanced WHOIS service at the registry level with a common interface, and more rapid search capabilities, facilitating efficient resolution of malicious activities.

“This isn’t just a gradual step forward,” said Atallah. “This is a major move that translates to far greater security protections.”

DotConnectAfrica Conflict Of Interest Allegations Against ICANN Board Members Unfounded

Allegations of a conflict against ICANN board members Mike Silber and Chris Disspain by DotConnectAfrica, one of two applicants for the .africa generic Top Level Domain, has been dismissed by the ICANN Ombudsman.The allegations have led to a considerable amount of discussion on blogs, Twitter and other sites and in comments on the ICANN website in relation to the new .africa gTLDs applications. Regrettably, the Ombudsman notes much of the discussion has been intemperate.The conflict of interest relates to a policy adopted by the ICANN board in December 2011 that requires board members and other key ICANN employees to not take advantage of their position within the organisation.During the investigation the Ombudsman investigated whether there were any decisions made during the New gTLD Program Committee and ICANN board meetings that affected the complainant and the .africa applications.The Ombudsman says:
it is clearly apparent when the records are examined, that the 2 board members have not participated in any decision-making about .africa, and indeed there has been little discussion other than at a higher level about the program in general. It is in my view premature to consider whether there can even be apparent bias, because it is too remote to link the suggested connections with the very generic discussions which have taken place, and in addition, where the actual decisions about the applications are still some distance from being made.Dismissing the complaint the Ombudsman says he considers:
that no disqualifying conflict of interest, or indeed any conflict of interest at all, is present in the actions of both Chris Disspain and Mike Silber. It is likely this complaint has led to increased awareness of the possibilities of conflict of interest, which the Board will carefully consider in terms of the existing policy about conflict, when the issue arises.

Australian New gTLD Conference Coming In November

With the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains becoming a reality, a conference has been scheduled in Sydney, Australia, this coming November.The New TLD Summit: Asia Pac 2012 will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from 19 to 21 November and is being organised by Brand Huddle, whose Director-Sales and Marketing is Andrew Pink, someone who has been intimately involved with the new TLD program for many years now.The conference aims to give those from a brand and legal background direct access to domain industry experts and digital thought leaders, ensuring that they have the knowledge and capability to navigate these new online environments for successful business outcomes.Pink says those attending the conference will gain knowledge and an insight into the new rights protection mechanisms and dispute resolution processes and how to navigate brands through the new digital landscape. Other issues that will be covered are the impact they will have on search, how to identify the right TLD environments to invest in and what to do with existing domain name portfolios.”In-house legal counsel, IP & trade mark firms, brand and digital strategists, marketing and digital agencies and those responsible for new gTLDs are all encouraged to attend,” Pink said.Speakers lined up to date include:

  • Chris Disspain, auDA CEO and ICANN Board Member
  • Bruce Tonkin, CSO Melbourne IT and ICANN Vice Chair
  • Richard Foxworthy, Head of strategy and lead for the Dot Yellow Pages TLD application
  • Tim Johnson, CEO Dot Kiwi
  • Stuart Sheridan, Director Bullseye
  • Zoe Warne, Co-Founder August
  • Neil Brown, QC and Dispute panellist
  • Jurgen Bebber, Principal Griffith Hack.

There is an early bird registration that ends on 7th September. For more information, and early bird registration info, go to www.newtldsummit.com.

Australia’s .AU Contributes $475m Per Year And 4300 Jobs To Economy

Australia’s .AU country code Top Level Domain is responsible for more than 4300 full time jobs and contributed $475 million to the Australian economy a report by Deloitte Access Economics has found.

The report, Economic and Statistical Analysis of the .au Domain Range [available as a PDF here and here], was commissioned by the .AU registry, AusRegistry, and the .AU regulator, auDA, and is the first to examine the economic value and impact of the .AU ccTLD on Australian Internet users, businesses and registrants.

The report revealed exponential growth in the number of registered .AU domain names over the last decade, which reached a total of 2.3 million in 2011. This represents a 600 per cent increase since 2002, with 60,000 new .AU domains being registered every month.

Activity directly associated with registration and hosting of .AU domains accounted for 57 per cent, or $269 million, of the total contribution to Australia’s economy. Services such as web design and infrastructure provision accounted for the balance.

Additionally, the report found that 58 per cent of the total economic contribution of $475 million for .AU domain name registration and operation accrued to employees, indicating an overall relatively labour-intensive industry.

The report echoes a similar report for the Austrian registry, nic.at, in 2011 that found the .AT domain names contributed €13.5 million (around A$16.6m today) to the Austrian economy in 2009, with the contribution growing each year. The study found that for every €1 spent on .AT domain names €3.10 was added to the Austrian economy. When additional services were factored in this figure grew to €14.89.

Benefits of .AU were also spread around the country even if registrants of .AU domain names are focused around the major population centres at a greater than proportional rate with 80 per cent of .AU registrations registered in major cities, compared to only 68 per cent of the total population residing in these major cities.

But the benefits are not confined to major centres. When the number of .AU registrations are compared against the number of businesses by region, the density of domain names is highest for businesses in very remote Australia, with 0.67 registrations per business. The report suggests this may be indicative of the fact that these businesses are more reliant on communications technology in their operations.

The report notes this is a somewhat surprising result with typical rates of connection to the internet are lower in very remote Australia, which reflects the overall lower access to quality internet services in these regions.

The report also identifies a number of changes that may influence future growth in registrations. These include the introduction of new TLDs as well as internationalised domain names, the increasing importance of search engines for internet users seeking information and the role of social media and group buying websites in influencing consumer purchase decisions.

When looking at businesses with a web presence, which includes all domain names – not just businesses with .AU registrations, the report found the arts and recreation services was the sector with the highest proportion of businesses with a web presence, and hence domain name, with around two-thirds of businesses. Other sectors with more than half of businesses online were professional, scientific and technical services, financial and insurance services, rental, hiring and real estate services, wholesale trade and manufacturing. Overall, 40 per cent of Australian businesses reported having a web presence in 2009-10.

At the other end of the scale web presence remains very low among agriculture, forestry and fishing businesses at just 11 per cent, and in the transport, postal and warehousing sector, at 22 per cent.

Ric Simes, Deloitte Access Economics Director, said the report confirmed the value to the Australian economy of the .au domain and the importance of a web presence for businesses.

“The Internet has clearly become the starting point for consumer research and purchasing decisions,” he said. “The contribution to the Australian economy of the industry administering .au is significant, particularly in terms of employment, and this will continue to grow with the ongoing shift to e-commerce.”

Chris Disspain, CEO of auDA, attributed the health of .AU to its policy environment and the trust this engenders in Australian users.

“.AU is a vibrant marketplace, with over 30 registrars competing on price and services. But beyond this, the safeguards we have in place to protect both Australian businesses and end users, make .AU a signpost of trust and security online,” Mr Disspain said.

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry, said Australian business owners continue to place significant value in .AU names.

“We are continually developing the .au namespace to increase its profile, promote its benefits and drive greater registration volumes. These actions have created a strong appetite within the Australian business community, resulting in .AU evolving into the domain name of choice for Australian business. The findings of this report highlight the importance of .AU to the Australian economy and celebrate the combined efforts of auDA and AusRegistry,” Mr Kinderis said.

To register your .AU domain name, check out Asia Registry here.