By EDRi

An ICANN meeting will be held in Prague between 24-29 June 2012,
where issues and topics impacting users, consumers and registrants, like
whois access and the extension of domain space with ongoing new gTLD
program, will be discussed. As a reminder, ICANN is an Internet
governing body managing mainly IP addressing and domain names and which
is implementing a multi-stakeholder model, bottom-up and consensus-based
policy-making process .

ICANN as an organization still needs important improvements on
accountability, transparency and public interest aspects and also in the
involvement of the civil society, activists and academics. It is also
developing more complex structure and processes advantaging insiders.
The debates are dominated by business and trademark perspective and
privacy, human rights, freedom of expression are still marginalized and
not systematically included or assessed in the policy making process.

One of the rare open spaces in ICANN for the participation of the civil
society remains the Non-commercial Stakeholder Group (which includes for
example NCUC – the historical non-commercial users constituency). It is
one of the stakeholders forming the GNSO (the structure responsible for
policy making for gTLD).

Prague meeting is an opportunity for NGOs in Europe to follow ICANN
activities more closely and to participate in the process since there
are several public sessions and in particular the traditional public
forum on Thursdays where they can express their concerns.

From a European perspective, the discussion about Thick Whois may
definitely interest privacy advocacy organization and also people
interested in data protection. ICANN is getting pressure from LEAs with
support of some governments (US,UK etc), members of GAC (Governmental
Advisory Committee) to implement Thick Whois without real privacy
safeguards or a privacy impact assessment and pushing to include those
provisions in the registrar’s agreements or RAA (Registrar Accreditation
Agreement) which is currently under negotiations as well as in the
expected new gTLDs to be launched in next years.

The ongoing new gTLD program also represents new challenges, benefits
and risks for consumers and users. The list of applications for new gTLD
was revealed on the 13 June 2012. The process will continue and will
include a period for community comments and also possible objections
against some TLDs, which may raise a Freedom of Expression issue, in
particular, with giving governments, via GAC, the possibility to send
“early warnings”.

Finally, European NGOs are strongly advised to attend the ICANN meeting
to be more familiar with those topics and to see how they can be
involved in the process to influence it although domain names issues
seem narrow as compared to Internet policy topics in general. The
development of policies in ICANN and its own model are setting a
precedent in the Internet governance context that we need to care about.

Website with practical information about ICANN Prague meeting (24-29
June 2012)
http://prague44.icann.org

Explanation of the process to object an applied gTLD
http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/objection-dispute-resolution

Whois recommendations from the review team (5.12.2011)
http://www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/whois-rt-draft-final-report-05dec11-en.htm

Homepage of Non-commercial Stakeholder Group
http://gnso.icann.org/en/about/non-commercial.htm

(Contribution by Rafik Dammak – Non-Commercial Users
Constituency/Non-commercial Stakeholder Group)