ICANN’s CEO Roundtable: ccTLDs and the DNS Sector

I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with other ccTLD CEOs and Fadi Chehadé, the President and CEO of ICANN.

Chehadé called the roundtable to take the temperature of the ccTLD community with regard to the DNS ecosystem and developments in the DNS like gTLDs. In my opinion, it was a productive meeting and a step in the right direction toward building a stronger relationship between ccTLDs and ICANN.

However, in the past week Chehadé has come under fire for this meeting, and I feel a couple of criticisms leveled against Chehadé should be explored a little further.

Chehadé has been criticized for hosting a roundtable with a select group of ccTLD CEOs, and that the attendees represented ccTLDs from the developed world or larger ccTLDs. This simply isn’t true; Frederico Neves from NIC.br (Brazil) was there, as was Richard Wein from NIC.at (Austria, but not one of the largest ccTLDs), and representatives from Singapore and Costa Rica. It is also important to note that African ccTLDs CEOs were invited and indeed accepted Chehadé’s invitation, only to cancel a couple of days before the roundtable.

Let me be clear – I believe that, as the group that comprises the Internet governance world, we need to either ensure our criticisms are valid and based in reality, or put in place a formalized process to ensure we are acting in ways in which we can all agree.

That said, in the multi-stakeholder model, is it wrong to for the head of ICANN to have a conversation with a few selected people? Do we all have to attend? Does the list of attendees have to be in some way representative of the global ccTLD community (whether geographic, size, and so on)? Or is it fine in some situations? For example, if it is not a decision-making meeting? And what if all of the invitees (who meet pre-determined criteria for participation – see previous question) don’t attend? These are important questions.

The fact remains that the president of ICANN needs input from all stakeholders. Sometimes this input , and in gathering this input sometimes it is done formally and at other times in a less formal manner . . . both are acceptable and have their place in the multi-stakeholder model.

The Internet governance ecosystem is no longer the Wild West. Collectively, we govern an entity that has become the greatest driver of social and economic change in centuries. And, as we saw during the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December, the eyes of the world are on us.

Let’s have the discussion about process now, and free up our time for more important discussions. What do you think? I would like to hear your opinions on this issue.

My update at the Canadian Internet Forum

Last Thursday, we hosted the 2013 Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) event in Ottawa.

The CIF is now in its third year, and I’m pleased with how quickly it is becoming one of the key Internet-related events in Canada. This year, nearly 400 people participated in the one-day event, either in-person or via webcast.

We created the CIF in 2009 in an effort to include Internet users in the discussion about how the Internet should develop. After all, the Internet has become such an important part of Canadians’ lives. To this end, we launched an online forum for Canadians to discuss Internet issues that are important to them. Our new forum is integrated with social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook – you can seamlessly comment on the forum using your social media identity, and share your activity on those networks as well.

This forum will be open year-round, and we will regularly report on the discussions, and present the findings to the United Nations-coordinated Internet Governance Forum this fall. You can get involved in the discussions at cif.cira.ca.

While we are working on posting video of the entire day’s proceedings, my update on Internet governance is available on our YouTube channel. In this presentation, I outlined the reasons why I believe it is so important for all Canadians to get involved in Internet governance. I believe we are at the beginnings of a fundamental shift in the way the Internet is governed, and I hope you will join us in preserving the Internet as the free and open entity we can all benefit from.

Please watch the video, and get involved by visiting our new online forum.