At his first meeting as CEO of ICANN, Fadi Chehade showed up ready to work AND to listen. ICANN’s new CEO described his objectives for the organization which included 1) affirmation of purpose, 2) operational excellence, 3) internationalization, and 4) evolution of the multi-stakeholder model on which ICANN is built. He also described significant organizational changes to ICANN leadership and staff to support public engagement, technical functions, registry and registrar services, contractual compliance, communications, and stakeholder and governance support. Generally speaking, attendees at the ICANN meeting were encouraged by what they heard from the new CEO.
In addition to the excitement surrounding the new CEO, a number of other issues also took center stage at the Toronto meeting including the Prioritization Draw, the Trademark Clearinghouse, the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension), the RAA (Registrar Accreditation Agreement) Negotiations and Whois.
Just prior to meeting, ICANN published a plan for the prioritizing of applications through the steps leading to delegation. This new plan describes the assignment of priorities through the use of a Draw or Drawing – the priority assigned to each application will be used to schedule the release of initial evaluation results, pre-delegation testing, and contract execution. To participate in the Draw, applicants will be required to purchase a ticket for $100. The Draw is tentatively scheduled for early December 2012. With this new proposal, internationalized top-level domains will be given preference and the first set of initial evaluation results is scheduled for release towards end of March 2013, with the first new gTLDs being delegated in Q2 of next year.
Attendees at the ICANN Meeting were given a sneak peek into the Trademark Clearinghouse. While the bulk of the development work has been completed, it appears that some refinements are still required before submissions can be accepted. There are also some questions regarding how data within the Trademark Clearinghouse will be accessed, and there are two different models being proposed – a decentralized model where each registry would receive a copy of the Trademark Clearinghouse database, and a centralized model where registries would access data directly from the Trademark Clearinghouse. At this point, the Trademark Clearinghouse is expected to begin accepting submissions in Q1 of 2013. MarkMonitor will be providing Trademark Clearinghouse submission services.
URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension)
The (URS) was meant to provide low cost alternative to UDRP for the suspension of clearly infringing domains. According to ICANN, URS fees were originally targeted at $300 – $500, however there were no providers willing offer the service at this price point. As a result, ICANN issued an RFI in September of this year to identify additional providers. Some in the community have asked ICANN to underwrite the URS for a period of time.
RAA (Registrar Accreditation Agreement) Negotiations
ICANN and Accredited Registrars (with input from Government and Law Enforcement) continue to work towards amendments to the RAA. Significant progress has been made on areas related to Whois verification and data retention, though certain key issues remain open. According to ICANN, a draft of the RAA will be posted for public comment by the end of December and a new version will be finalized by March of next year.
Earlier this year, the Whois Policy Review Team published their final report containing 16 recommendations including making Whois a strategic priority, defining a single policy, implementation of Proxy / Privacy Accreditation program, adopting new standards to support IDNs, etc. Some had expected the recommendations to simply be implemented by ICANN staff, but the ICANN Board asked the policy-making group within ICANN to assist in determining whether to proceed with implementation of the recommendations or whether a full Policy Development Process should be initiated instead.