ICANN Jumps Into Internet Governance Talk; Fight Over Domains For GIs

Written originaly By for Intellectual Property Watch

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), celebrating its 15th birthday during its 48th meeting in Buenos Aires this week is not only busy pushing forward the introduction of new top-level domains. ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé also inserted the organisation into the middle of preparations for a conference on the future of internet governance to be held in Sao Paolo on 23-24 April. ICANN is the overseer of the internet domain name system.

There are now more new gTLDs delegated to the root (24 to date) than the total number of gTLDs that existed before (22 including old entrants .com, and early newcomers like .travel)

The Sao Paolo meeting is a result of talks between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Chehadé on 9 October, a press release by the Brazilian government of said on 18 November.

The goal of that conference is “a broad discussion of all stakeholders and sectors directly linked to Internet governance from governments, business, academia and civil society,” it said. Chehadé said in Buenos Aires that the conference would not be about surveillance, but rather, it is a “no topic” meeting.

At the same time, he acknowledged that when putting himself in the first line of organisers for the event – together with the so-called I*star organisations (Internet Society [ISOC], Internet Engineering Task Force [IETF] and the regional internet registries) – it was because he had to react to pressure on the organisation and the multi-stakeholder model in general.

In addition to discussing the governance issues and presenting a flurry of new strategic panels, the Buenos Aires meeting included the announcement of a high-level panel jointly organised with the World Economic Forum and the University of Southern California-Annenberg Foundation. This panel gathers politicians like the president of Estonia Toomas Ilves, former IGF Chair Nitin Desai, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of the Press Frank la Rue, along with technical people including “Internet Father” Vint Cerf and Mozilla Foundation Chairperson Mitchell Baker. And it is expected to talk about future internet governance.

A platform that will be devoted to the preparation of the Brazil meeting is here.

For information on newly delegated and contracted TLDs, see here.

Governments Clash over GI Protection

While the talk about multi-stakeholder internet governance is a top issue this week, governments gathered in Buenos Aires also clashed over the protection of geographical indications, which is requested by greater Europe and also some Latin American countries for the .vin and .wine TLD applications in the new gTLD round.

The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada during a sharp exchange pointed to the lack of international agreements (or treaties).

The European Commission warned that protection for local vine producers is a highly sensitive issue, and that the talks in Buenos Aires would have an “impact on our assessment of how ICANN is capable of taking into consideration essential public policy concerns from all GAC (Government Advisory Committee) members.”

Several European countries underlined that the GAC had given advice on issues that were not harmonised internationally, like safeguards for the .army TLD.

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