The 50th ICANN Meeting was held from 22nd-26th June, 2014. The website of DiPLO Foundation has carried an informative piece outlining what happened at this High Level Government Meeting. The following is a quick summary:
One of the most controversial aspects of ICANN is that it functions under the United States Department of Commerce. The legitimacy of US Government controlling a global resource such as the internet has consistently been questioned. At the meeting, representatives of China and the EU both stressed on the need for ICANN’s internationalisation. Although there were talks about transitioning the ICANN to the “global multi-stakeholder community”, the details regarding how the transition would take place or what this community must consist of did not concretise at the meeting.
Another issue that was discussed was the implications of opening up Generic Top Level Domain Names (we had recently carried a guest post by Kartik Chawla elaborating on this). France made clear its displeasure of the gTLD ‘.wine’. France is concerned about ‘cybersquatting’, wherein companies could purchase the gTLD for .wine and sell it back to the wine companies in order to “game the system”. As a country to which the wine industry is extremely important, France seeks to protect the Industry from the added costs involved in registering/purchasing gTLDs in order to protect their brand (France in fact is so against US Hegemony in Internet Governance that the French Senate has recently released a report outlining a strategy to restructure the internet and form a World Internet Council to whom the World ICANN would be accountable. The report is unfortunately in French). Concerns were also raised about Regional gTLDs, with Belgium voicing its concern about ‘.spa’(as Spa is a town in Belgium) while the African Union was concerned about how .Africa would be delegated.
Although nothing concrete resulted from the meeting, it is always heartening to see dialogue taking place regarding the future of the internet. The next meeting is slated to be held in Los Angeles in October. We hope to see some progress then.