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Yearly Archives: 2013

ICANN and Working Groups

One of the ways to affect ICANN policy on domain names is to participate in working groups.  There are working groups covering many issues, for example, the rules under which someone can transfer their domain registration, to ways of protecting (or jeopardizing) privacy with Whois (Service providing records containing registration information about registered domain names) or even the rules for the next round of new gTLD applications. While dotgay LLC supports work in all of the critical working groups, the gay community would benefit greatly from more participation by members of our community.

While all GNSO working groups are open to the whole community, sometimes the workings of a working group are very hard to understand.  ICANN has been initiating various educational programs to make involvement in the ICANN policy process more accessible.

One excellent introduction to the working group process (still a pilot) was presented on Monday 17 Dec, 2013 

GNSO Working Groups — Newcomer Open House

ISPCP member Mikey O’Connor moderated a pilot session of a webinar intended to provide orientation, information and resources to members of the GNSO community who are joining a GNSO PDP Working Group for the first time.

Here’s a link to the slide deck that was presented — this PDF contains a wealth of links to written resources for working-group participants.

Newcomers Open House.pdf

Here are links to recordings of the session.

Introduction, Tips and Tricks, Session Goals and Overview, Resources

In which you will; experience how we start up every working-group call, get an introduction to some tips and tricks of the Adobe room that we use, be introduced to the ICANN policy staff, get an overview of goals and topics of the session and get your first set of helpful links.

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p29xh8ldqb4/  (20 minutes)

Consensus Policy and the “Picket Fence”

This is a discussion of the relationship between the GNSO consensus policy-making process and the contracts that bind Registries, Registrars and ICANN together.

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p6f5tyvjmma/ (7 minutes)

The GNSO Policy Development Process

An overview of the whole Policy Development Process (PDP).  This section quickly introduces you to all of the steps of the PDP; requesting an Issue Report, launching a Working Group, moving that work through the approval process, implementation into policy.

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p64j05q58kx/ (11 minutes) – Presentation

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p9fzftl3rar/ (12 minutes) – Questions and Answers

PDP Working Group Guidelines

A brief introduction to the documentation that describes the PDP work processes, rules and responsibilities.  Special attention is paid to a discussion of the Standard Methodology for Making Decisions (also known as the level of consensus).

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p8qtevealwa/  (7 minutes)

Question and Answer Session

A brief Q&A session that focused on the social media aspects of working groups.

https://icann.adobeconnect.com/p2lml89ip4g/  (3 minutes)

dotgay LLC supports civil society efforts in global Internet governance

As part of its continuing effort to represent the interests of the gay community within the Internet governance eco-system, dotgay LLC supports the work of civil society in the efforts to find solutions to some of the greatest problems of Internet governance.  In early November a meeting was held in Geneva to continue discussions on the role of governments and other stakeholders in Internet governance.  One of the biggest issues that stands behind the discussions of this group is government control of content on the Internet and the issues behind the pervasive monitoring done by many countries that increases the risk to the gay community in those countries rule by LGBQI-oppressing regimes.

The report from the latest meeting of the UN CSTD meeting of the Working group on Internet governance can be found here.

Attending Internet Engineering Task Force on behalf of dotgay

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is holding its 88th meeting (IETF88) in Vancouver CA.  The IETF is the organization that defines many, if not most, of the standards used by the protocols on the Internet.

Based on the NSA/PRISM revelations the IETF is focusing a large part of its meeting on ways to protect Internet users and systems from pervasive monitoring.  Given the danger many of the LGBTQI live under in many countries today, this a fortunate circumstance.  At this meeting, every protocol commonly in use on the Internet is being discussed and its privacy liabilities noted.

One example of the type of solution being explored:

While many protocols have a method by which they can be used securely, very few use them consistently.  When a person living under repressive regime makes use of these security measures, this often marks that user as doing something “interesting,” inviting a knock on the door from the authorities to find what sort on “interesting” behavior they are concerned with.  the approach being discussed at IETF88 is to require all protocols to be setup to always use security.  This would mean that members of the community living under repressive regimes could use privacy enhancing applications without putting a target on their backs.

dotgay LLC is committed to producing a technical solution for our registrants and users that protects their privacy and will continue to track and contribute to the efforts being made at the IETF.  After dotgay LLC succeeds at obtaining the .gay TLD, it is committed to creating privacy enhanced services for the gay community.  As more becomes known about the IETF privacy enhancements, this site will describe the work being done and dotgay LLC’s response to the work.  It should also be mentioned that Neustar, the Registry Service provider for dotgay LLC that will provide the technical services for the dotgay Registry is among the leaders in the work being done by the IETF.

dotgay LLC is committed to the security and privacy of the gay community use of the Internet.

Thick WHOIS – What’s the issue?

WHOIS is a required  information service where the identifying data of all registrants of domain names (such as yourname.gay) are made publicly available on the Internet.  This information is made public in order to help Law enforcement Agencies (LEA) and others such as content providers and consumers, locate those responsible for Internet/Web content.

There are two types of WHOIS service:

  1. Thin: The registrar, i.e. the group that leases you your domain name, keeps all of the identifying data.  The registry, e.g. dotgay LLC, only keeps a pointer to the registrar where the data is kept.  In Thin WHOIS, to find the party responsible for a web site, one first needs to search with the Registry and then subsequently with the correct Registrar.
  2. Thick: Both the registry and the registrar are responsible for keeping the authoritative identifying information and for making this data public.

All new gTLDs have been required to provide Thick WHOIS service.  Some of the existing gTLDs, such as .com and .net, are currently allowed to maintain a Thin WHOIS.

There is currently a Policy Development Process on Thick WHOIS ongoing in ICANN to determine:

  • Should all Registries, including the incumbents, be required to support Thick WHOIS?
  • Are there any special concerns, including privacy concerns, about moving from a Thin WHOIS to a Thick WHOIS issue. that need to be considered?

One of the critical issues that came up in the discussions was whether an Applicant’s Personal Data, might be entitled to greater privacy protections in some countries than in others.  If so and in the event that the Registrar and Registry are in different countries, with different privacy rules, is moving the data from a safe haven in the registrar’s country an infringement of a registrant’s privacy rights.

The Working Group filed its initial report in June 2013.  It is currently working on its final report and is in the process of determining  the degree of consensus on the various recommendations.  Generally, there is a consensus, that while the privacy concern is real, there are no special circumstances in the move from Thin to Thick WHOIS that differ from the general case.  The recommendation is that the issue of privacy, in the light of differing levels of Human Rights protection, is an important issue for further policy development, but not in scope for this development process.

Another issue that is being reviewed under the Thick WHOIS privacy issue is the use of Privacy and Proxy Services that allow registrants to protect their privacy for a fee.  These services are currently unlicensed and unregulated.  There is an interest on the part of some stakeholders to build rules for proxy services.   These privacy and proxy service would be subject to the same cross-border privacy issues.

As .gay will be available for registration in many countries where the gay population is under threat and where privacy may be a matter of life and death, these issue are among the critical ICANN domain name discussions that dotgay LLC is following and contributing to.

Movement towards the Community Priority Evaluation

One of the most important tests yet remaining for dotgay LLC efforts to gain the gTLD .gay for the gay community, is the Community Priority Evaluation.   The GNSO recommendation for new gTLDs gave priority to community applications over standard applications.  Since dotgay LLC’s community applications for .gay has 3 Standard application competitors, dotgay LLC will need to do the CPE in order to establish its community status within the application procedures.

The various community applicants for community TLDs have created an interest group, CTAG,  within the ICANN structures, to represent the interests of community applicants and of their communities.    The CTAG sent a letter to ICANN discussing some of the open issues with the CPE.  the primary issue from which most of the specifics stemmed, was the treatment communities have gotten from ICANN.  Instead of being trusted, though required to verify their bona fides vis a vis the community, ICANN has chosen a path of suspicion regarding communities and has treated them as suspect.  dotgay LCC is a co-signer to the letter of concern sent by the CTAG.  And despite the strong community support already shown by the international gay community, dotgay LLC, continues to recruit for further endorsement – to make sure there is no confusion during the CPE about the support for dotgay LLC in the gay community.  While dotgay LLC and many of the other applicants are confident that they have community support for their applications and will pass the CPE test, since the CPE is a test that has never been given before, there is a lot of concern that this be a fair test.

ICANN will not be making the evaluation on its own, but following its normal procedures has arranged for an outside evaluator.  In this case ICANN has appointed the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as the sole new gTLD Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) panel firm and that the firm has developed a set of guidelines for CPE, which is open for stakeholder feedback from 16 August – 9 September 2013.

Dotgay LLC and the CTAG are currently studying the guidelines put out by the EIU and may submit a comment.  The At-Large Advisory group (ALAC) is also drafting a statement in response to these guidelines.

Enhanced Cooperation and Internet Governance

Hiding under the title of Enhanced Cooperation is one of the thorniest topics in Internet governance.  Who control the Internet: one government – the United States, an Inter Governmental Organization (IGO), or the current multiplicity of multistakeholder organizations currently managing the actual Internet.

This issue has been discussed for over a decade now.  The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) came out with a set of proposals called the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society that have shaped much of the discussion in Internet Governance for years.  One of the things that the Tunis Agenda called for was greater cooperation on the governance of the Internet.  This discussion was split between those who thought that the Internet should be governed by sovereign States based on their authority for Public Policy and those who felt that all Internet stakeholders should cooperate in equivalent roles based on their capacities and needs.  Among those who think enhanced cooperation is about Governments, the drive is to create a Inter Governmental Organization, perhaps as part of the United Nations, to oversee policy for the Internet’s operations.  Among those who think that a multistakeholder model is required, there are calls for strengthening the Internet Governance Forum’s (IGF) role in making recommendations to the various organizations responsible for the operational management of the Internet.

UN CSTD Working Group on enhance Cooperation has been formed to study the issue and make recommendation to the United Nations General Assembly.  dotgay LLC ‘s VP of Policy and Internet Governance is a participant of the WGEC.

A questionnaire asking specific questions is available.  Everyone is invited to submit answers to the questions.   While the original deadline for the questionnaire was 15 august, 2013, the extension of the deadline for submitting the responses to the WGEC questionnaire has been extend until 31 August 2013.

Internet Governance Forum Draft Schedule

After a month of suspense and a bit of controversy over whether this year’s IGF meeting would be held in Bali Indonesia on 22-25 October, the draft schedule for the meeting has been made available.

The theme of this year’s meeting is: “Building Bridges”- Enhancing Multistakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development“.  Sessions at the IGF are divided over 4 days, with main sessions as well as a number of workshops and fora.   Some of the topics to be included in this year’s IGF include:

  • Internet Fundamentals: how the Internet really works?
  • Big Brother became reality – what is the right balance between security and freedom in the digital world?
  • Social Media for Social Movement: How Civil Society Can Optimize The Internet to Conduct Online Public Advocacy of Human Rights
  • Focus Session (Security): Legal and other Frameworks: Spam, Hacking and Cyber-crime
  • Focus Session (Openess) Human Rights, freedom of expression, free flow of information on the Internet
  • Making Multistakeholderism More Equitable & Transparent
  • Civil Society in ICANN’s Multistakeholderism: The GNSO case
  • Protecting journalists, bloggers and media actors in digital age
  • Gender and Internet Governance: Integrating women’s rights at the IGF space

The IGF produces a programme paper that evolves as the preparation for the meeting progress.