Last week, more than 1,700 individuals from around the globe attended the first ICANN meeting of the year, hosted in Kobe, Japan. Members of our Domain, Sales, Marketing and GRM teams actively participated in the ICANN policy development and informational working sessions and held important meetings with valued Japanese clients and business partners.
As has been the case for the last year, the most important discussions at ICANN last week involved the work of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) and the working group tasked with developing a new policy for the collection, storage, transfer, and display of registrant data, commonly referred to as “WHOIS data.” After the European Union General Data Privacy Regulation (GPDR) went into effect in May 2018, public WHOIS records were redacted or hidden, making it very difficult for law enforcement agencies, brand protection companies, and cybersecurity experts to discover those responsible for creating infringing websites or distributing malware or other abusive content.
Pressing on for improved data collection
Earlier this month The EPDP issued its Phase 1 recommendations, which identified the legal purposes for collecting each registrant data element. The second phase will involve the development of a standard policy for gaining access to the non-public data most often sought by law enforcement and IP rights holders. ICANN held several sessions in Kobe on the EPDP’s recommendations, not all of which were supported by members of the ICANN constituencies. MarkMonitor GRM members, including myself and Brian King, were actively involved in the work of the EPDP, advocating for a balance between the privacy rights of the registrant and the legitimate interests of brands to access data that protects intellectual property rights.
Work related to policy development for the next application round also continued in earnest last week as members of the Subsequent Procedures Working Group pushed to finish final reports, which will include recommendations for improvements to the gTLD application process. These final recommendations are a critical step in preparing the community for a new round of applications.
At present, many in the community believe the policy and implementation work can be completed so that a new application phase can launch in late 2021 or early 2022. MarkMonitor team members are also working in this group to try and expedite the pace, so that interested applicants, such as companies seeking to own a .brand TLD, will have this opportunity.
Examining critical security policies
In addition, ICANN is conducting a review of the various rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) that protect brand owners from trademark infringement and cybersquatting activities. The RPM working group has completed a review of the trademark claims processes, the Uniform Rapid Suspension Service (URS), as well as the Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Process (PDDRP) and will issue its report with recommendations sometime in early 2020.
After that, this group will evaluate the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP) to determine if any changes should be made to that longstanding policy and process that enables brands to seize infringing domain names. MarkMonitor believes RPMs are critical to the safety and security of the internet and to brand holders who utilize these mechanisms to protect their online reputation.
Finally, the MarkMonitor team met with several of its Japan and Asia Pacific based clients and partners to hear about the increasing challenges of protecting their brands online as well as their interests in the next round of gTLDs. These meetings were critical to understanding the issues and concerns that affect our overseas clients and partners so that we can effectively advocate for their interests at ICANN and in other forums throughout the world.