June, 2017

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Thick WHOIS Transition Update

The transition from Thin to Thick WHOIS is well underway and I want to provide you with an update on the progress and recent developments.

First, I want to acknowledge the efforts of the Thick WHOIS Implementation Review Team (IRT), registries, and registrars who are working together to complete what needs to be done for the policy to become effective in accordance with the previously announced implementation timeline.

The registry operator for .COM and .NET, Verisign, met the 1 May deadline to deploy the Operational Testing & Evaluation (OT&E) environment for registrars to test the migration of Thick WHOIS data to Verisign. There are currently approximately 37 active registrars that have submitted test transactions.

In preparation to complete the deployment to accept Thick WHOIS data, Verisign proposed amendments to the Registry-Registrar Agreements (RRAs) for .COM and .NET in order to have the legal framework necessary for Verisign to begin accepting registrar transmission of Thick data to the registry.

The proposed amendments would largely bring the .COM and .NET RRAs into alignment with all other Thick generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in terms of language for registrant consent for transmission of registration information. The proposed amendments also would incorporate language similar to most other registry agreements with respect to putting registrants on notice of the legal reasons why domain names could be subject to cancellation or transfer.

The ICANN organization followed its published Registry-Registrar Agreement amendment procedure and forwarded the proposed amendments to the Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) for review.

The RrSG expressed concerns about agreeing to the proposed amendments based on issues relating to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on 25 May 2018. As such, the next step outlined in the procedure is for the ICANN organization to consult with the registry operator and the RrSG to resolve these concerns.

In accordance with the procedure, we began individual discussions with both parties in mid-May. On 22 May, Verisign and the RrSG participated in a first joint call on this topic. These discussions are continuing and all parties are collaborating in good faith toward a resolution.

On 20 June 2017, Verisign wrote to ICANN requesting an extension of the 1 August 2017 deadline to Verisign to begin accepting Thick WHOIS data from registrars [PDF, 3.7 MB], because the necessary RRA amendments have not been approved and will not be in place by the 1 August 2017 deadline for the first phase of implementation. It should be noted that the 1 August 2017 date is an optional milestone for registrars to begin voluntarily submitting Thick data to the registry.

Verisign's letter stated that their test environment will remain available and they will continue to engage with ICANN and the Registrar Stakeholder Group regarding the proposed RRA. Verisign noted that they have not identified at this time, a need for an extension of either the 1 May 2018 Thick WHOIS deadline for all new .COM and .NET registrations or the 1 February 2019 deadline for the completion of the Thick WHOIS transition.

This means that while Verisign is able to meet the schedule for the technical requirements called out in the policy, the legal framework of the RRA that is necessary for Verisign to begin accepting Thick WHOIS data on 1 August 2017 has not yet been approved.

Although the ICANN organization could theoretically approve the proposed RRA amendments despite the objections of the RrSG, ICANN strives for consensus whenever possible. Therefore, we believe it is beneficial to provide Verisign, ICANN, and the RrSG with more time to continue discussions in hopes of achieving a resolution, while still taking reasonable steps to comply with the policy.

To that end, the ICANN organization approved Verisign's request for a 120-day extension of the 1 August 2017 date in the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy by which Verisign is required to deploy an Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) mechanism and an alternative bulk transfer mechanism for .COM and .NET for registrars to migrate registration data for existing domain names. With this extension, the new date for Verisign's compliance with the requirement is 29 November 2017.

The ICANN organization will update the community on this subject regularly. If the consultations on the proposed RRA amendments do not show meaningful progress, the ICANN organization could seek further guidance from the ICANN Board and community on a path forward.

ICANN seeds of engagement sprout in Barbados

The inaugural Barbados IGF came to a successful conclusion on 23rd June 2017 with substantial coordinating, technical and facilitating input from ICANN fellows Ashell Forde, Jason Hynds, and Bartlett Morgan. The hosting of the IGF in Bridgetown Barbados marked a significant milestone on a journey formalized between ICANN and the Caribbean Telecommunication when ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and CTU Secretary General Bernadette Lewis signed an MoU in Jamaica on December 4th 2013 agreeing that ICANN and the CTU would explore opportunities to foster the growth, development and utilization of the Internet and also to further the secure, stable, multi-stakeholder management of core internet resources with particular regard to the Caribbean.

In August 2014 this seed of engagement and agreement to collaborate received nurturing at the Caribbean IGF when Bernadette Lewis made a passionate call for the establishment National IGF's to feed input from stakeholders in Caribbean countries into the Caribbean IGF and thereby to the Global IGF. This nurturing continued with the consistent encouragement of the ICANN Organization to Caribbean countries to have national multi-stakeholder dialogue and discussions on issues of National interest related to the Internet so that substantive national positions could be formed with broad input. To facilitate this the ICANN Organization participated in several capacity building and related events in Barbados to lay the foundation for national multi-stakeholder dialogue there including an ICANN55 Remote Hub, an ICANN56 Readout, the CTU ICT week and a "Girls in ICT" event.

The Barbados IGF itself was a two-day event live streamed globally with active remote participation from around the region and characterized by broad multi-stakeholder participation, high quality presentations on important and relevant topics and national issues, and rich engagement and participation of the audience. Presenters included regional experts such as Bevil Wooding one of the keyholders of the key used to sign the root of the Internet and an advocate for IXP's and regional Root server instances, as well as Bernadette Lewis from the CTU and high level representatives of international and local technology companies, Cyber security experts, ISP's legal luminaries, the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions and representatives of regional and global internet organizations such as ARIN, LACNIC, ICANN and ISOC. Further specifics on the event can be found at igf.bb including the schedule of topics that were covered.

A number of the presenters and panelists advocated planning and executing specific actions related to the outcomes of the discussions of the Barbados IGF in the example of the Caribbean IGF which has produced 3 iterations of the "Caribbean Internet Governance Policy Framework" covering topics including Internet Technical Operations and Awareness Building among others.

Now that ICANN engagement in the region has contributed significantly to the sprouting of three national IGF's ( Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Belize) it is expected that the trend of establishing structures to facilitate national multi-stakeholder discussions of important Internet related issues will continue and Caribbean stakeholders will gradually become more involved in contributing to the governance of the important resource that is the Internet

ICANN59 Johannesburg GAC Communiqué

29 June 2017 - JOHANNESBURG - The Governmental Advisory Committee meeting at ICANN59 in Johannesburg, South Africa has issued its Johannesburg Communiqué. It is available for review at GAC Johannesburg Communiqué [PDF, 468 KB].

ICANN59 by the Numbers

Take a look at some of the numbers resulting from the #ICANN59 meeting in Johannesburg.


ICANN60 Preview

We’re concluding a successful meeting in Johannesburg. I want to thank everyone who came to engage in four days of intensive policy discussions at ICANN59. The meeting showcased the dedication of ICANN’s Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees – and the value of cross-community collaboration.

For ICANN60, we shift locations from Africa to the Middle East. The seven-day Annual General Meeting runs from 28 October to 3 November. And for the first time, the host city will be Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Middle East has immense potential to develop and expand its Internet economy. Positive factors – such as a talented young population, affordable Internet access, and embrace of technology – are helping to transform the region’s digital landscape. The UAE is in the forefront of the Internet economy in the Middle East, with enormous investments in infrastructure and e-services, a high level of Internet penetration, and wide access to technological innovations.

It is important for the community in the Middle East to increase its voice within ICANN. The Internet continues to evolve, and newcomers are poised to learn about ICANN and get involved in its work. ICANN60 will provide an excellent opportunity for those interested in getting involved to learn how they can join and have an impact.

We look forward to seeing all of you at ICANN60, and hope to see a good level of participation from the region. It will be a great opportunity for the Middle East community to meet with the global Internet community to learn more and share ideas and experiences.

See you in Abu Dhabi!

Co-Chairs Statement from CCWG-Accountability Meeting in Johannesburg

On 25 June 2017, the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) held a face-to-face meeting before the start of ICANN59 in Johannesburg. 93 members and participants attended in-person and remotely using the virtual meeting room to further the CCWG-Accountability's discussions on Work Stream 2.

During the meeting the CCWG-Accountability:

  • Received confirmation that the CCWG-Accountability-WS2 request to extend its activities until the end of FY18 (July 2018) was approved
  • Confirmed the acceptance of the Approval Process for WS2 Recommendations.
  • Received an update from IRP Implementation Oversight Team (IOT). The IOT is currently working on modifying the draft Supplementary Rules based on the results of the public consultation on the original draft. It is expected that these changes will be completed by the end of the summer and that they will require an additional public consultation.
  • Received an update from the Cooperative Engagement Process (CEP) sub-group which presented the results of its interviews with CEP participants and other staff and community members which have knowledge of the process. These results were used to generate a list of key issues which will be addressed to generate a draft set of recommendations on CEP over the coming months.
  • Received an update from SO/AC Accountability sub-group which presented the results of its public consultation on its draft recommendations. There were several significant concerns which the sub-group will work on addressing over the coming months.
  • Received an update from the Transparency sub-group which presented the results of its public consultation on its draft recommendations. There were several significant concerns which the sub-group will work on addressing over the coming months.
  • Received an update from the Ombudsman sub-group which presented the results of the external review of the office of the Ombudsman. The sub-group will now reconvene to consider the recommendations of the external review as well as the requirements for the Office of the Ombudsman from other sub-groups such as Transparency, Diversity and Staff Accountability. The sub-group is looking forward to producing an initial set of draft recommendations for approval by the CCWG-Accountability by the fall of 2017 and then holding a public consultation on these.
  • Held a first reading of the Staff Accountability draft recommendations.
  • Held a session to address the Jurisdiction sub-group's recent discussions regarding the possibility of changing the location of ICANN's headquarters or creating a blanket immunity for ICANN. In this session it was confirmed that it was unlikely there would be consensus in the CCWG for any recommendation that involved changing ICANN's headquarter location or the jurisdiction of incorporation, or for creating blanket immunity for ICANN. As such, the sub-group's work shall focus on recommending accountability improvements that are issue-driven remedies which build upon ICANN's status as a non-for-profit organization headquartered in California.

The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs recognize the outstanding dedication of its volunteers, and express gratitude to ICANN staff for their diligent and skilled support. For more information on the CCWG-Accountability, or to view meeting archives and draft documents, please refer to our dedicated wiki page.

About the CCWG-Accountability

The CCWG-Accountability was established in 2014 as a part of the IANA Stewardship Transition. The group's goal is to ensure that ICANN's accountability and transparency commitments to the global Internet community are maintained and enhanced in the absence of the IANA functions contract with the U.S. Government.

The group divided its work into two Work Streams:

  • Work Stream 1 was focused on identifying mechanisms to enhance ICANN's accountability that must be in place or committed to within the timeframe of the IANA stewardship transition.
  • Work Stream 2 is focused on addressing accountability topics for which a timeline for developing solutions and full implementation may extend beyond the IANA stewardship transition.

The CCWG-Accountability proposed twelve recommendations to enhance ICANN's accountability as a part of the IANA stewardship transition. The consensus Work Stream 1 proposal was approved and transmitted by the ICANN Board to the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration on 10 March 2016. On 1 October 2016, the IANA functions contract lapsed, and CCWG-Accountability's Work Stream 1 recommendations went into effect.

The CCWG-Accountability is comprised of 279 people, organized as members appointed by and accountable to Chartering Organizations; individual participants; one ICANN Board liaison; one ICANN staff representative; and one former ATRT member who serves as a liaison. The group also has over 200 mailing list observers.

The CCWG-Accountability is an open group. Anyone interested in the work of the CCWG-Accountability can join as a participant or observer. For more information about how to join the CCWG-Accountability, please send an email to acct-staff [at] icann.org.

CCWG-Accountability co-Chairs
Thomas Rickert, León Sánchez, Jordan Carter

Supporting Linguistic Diversity of Africa for the Internet’s Top-Level Domain Names

Thirty different languages – that was the result of a quick poll asking the twenty participants attending the IDN Workshop to list the languages they speak. ICANN organized the workshop at the Africa Internet Summit in Nairobi on 28 May 2017. This response exemplifies the enormous linguistic diversity in Africa, where the use of several languages – or multilingualism – is the norm. There are at least 2,144 languages spoken across the continent, with individual countries such as Nigeria having as many as 520 languages. By way of comparison, 287 languages are spoken in Europe.

Historically, Africa is among the places where written communication was established first, with the Egyptian hieroglyphs being among the oldest writing systems discovered. But the majority of the African languages used today are only spoken – without written form. Still, estimates show that more than 500 languages have a written form. Not surprisingly, the diversity of the writing systems created by Africans mirrors the diversity encountered with spoken languages: up to 29 scripts saw their creation in Africa – spanning nearly all known script types, including abjads, abugidas, alphabets, syllabaries, and logo-syllabaries. Of these scripts, 21 may still be in use and new scripts are being created continuously, with some defying current linguistic classifications, such as the colorful Oracle Rainbow Script created as recently as 1999. The more widely used scripts include Tifinagh, for example, an ancient script used since the 3rd century Before Common Era (BCE), which was revitalized in the 20th century and is now used in a standardized form to teach Berber languages such as Amazigh to pupils in primary schools of Morocco. For an example, see the primer in Amazigh developed by the Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe.

Further examples include the Ethiopic script used for many languages in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Vai syllabary used for Vai language of Liberia, or N'ko, an alphabet used for a family of languages called Manding in West Africa. Several scripts are now historic and have fallen out of use, while others such as N’ko have viable user communities and can be represented digitally today. However, many scripts lack resources such as fonts or input methods, nor are they officially supported or recognized.

The most widely used scripts of Africa are foreign scripts introduced historically, namely the Arabic script (referred to as Ajami in some language communities) and the Latin script. These scripts have been extended to represent the additional sounds in local languages of Africa. Examples include click sounds used by languages of Southern and Eastern Africa such as lateral clicks (listen to a pronunciation), written with symbols not considered letters in other languages (such as the double pipe ǁ), or by very complex sequences of letters (such as gǁx’ ([ᶢǁʢ] in the International Phonetic Alphabet) in Juǀʼhoansi, a language of Namibia and Botswana. The same has also been done for the Arabic script, with new letters created to represent local sounds such as the prenasalized stop /mb/ or /ᵐbʷ/ (listen to a pronunciation) in Chimiini, a language of Somalia (as there is limited font support for this letter, see U+08B6 encoded by the Unicode standard to view its orthography). 

Furthermore, the use of multiple scripts by the same language community – called multiscripturalism – is very common in Africa. For example, two versions of Alphabet National du Tchad (ANT) have been created, one based on Latin script and the other based on Arabic script. Communities using Sar language may write it in either script, for example, the word for lion is written as “ɓəl” in ANT Latin and ٻّلْ in ANT Arabic as shown here.

Extract from Alphabet National du Tchad. The green column gives French translations of words from the Chadian language listed in the blue column, both in Latin-script based forms (red column), as well as in Arabic-script based forms (yellow column). (Table presented in a proposal by Priest and Hosken from Décret fixant l’Alphabet National du Tchad, 2010.)


ICANN is currently undertaking a program to support Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) as top-level domains (TLDs). It is developing Label Generation Rules for the Root Zone (RZ-LGR) to support the different scripts. This work is led by community-based panels (called Generation Panels, GPs) which document the use of the script based on the procedure finalized by the community. The Arabic script GP has already finalized its work and supports the major African languages that are written in the Arabic script. More recently, the Ethiopic script GP has also finalized its proposal for integration into the RZ-LGR.

Latin script GP has also started its work and is investigating the use of the script in Africa, in addition to other continents. It is challenging to determine how the Latin script has been extended to cater to the African languages as there is limited documentation. Therefore, ICANN has been reaching out to the communities in Africa to get them involved in this effort. ICANN has been holding annual IDN workshops in Africa for this purpose – Congo in 2015, Addis Ababa in 2016, and Nairobi in 2017.

While ICANN has received some expressions of interest, more volunteers are needed from Africa for the Latin GP to advance this important work. Please email IDNProgram@icann.org if you are interested in participating or have any queries.

The RZ-LGR project currently includes Arabic, Ethiopic, and Latin scripts in the context of Africa. ICANN will  support other scripts in Africa for IDN TLDs, if they are actively being used by the relevant communities, and if the communities can gather sufficient interest to form GPs and develop proposals for the RZ-LGR.

Please visit www.icann.org/idn for more details about the IDN Program at ICANN.

Kobe and Montréal Identified as ICANN Meeting Sites for 2019

27 June 2017 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced Kobe and Montréal as the locations for ICANN's 64th and 66th Public Meetings.

Kobe, Japan has been selected as the location in the Asia Pacific region to host ICANN's 64th Public Meeting. The meeting will be held from 9-14 March 2019 and will be hosted by the Japan Network Information Center.

Montréal, Canada has been selected as the location in the North America region to host ICANN's 66th Public Meeting. The meeting will be held from 2-8 November 2019 and will be hosted by Montréal Cyberjustice Laboratory.

ICANN holds three public meetings each calendar year in different regions of the world. ICANN public meetings are a central principle of ICANN's multistakeholder model because they provide a venue for progressing policy work, conducting outreach, exchanging best practices, conducting business deals, learning about ICANN, and interacting with other members of the ICANN Community, Board and Organization. Usually comprised of more than 400 different sessions, these meetings are the focal point for individuals and representatives of the various ICANN stakeholder groups to introduce and discuss issues related to ICANN policy development. Participants may attend in-person or remotely. Meetings are open to everyone and registration is free.

More Information

The Dark Web: The Land of Hidden Services

According to Internet Live Stats, the World Wide Web passed the one billion website benchmark in 2014 and is still hovering around that figure. The publishers of these billion websites compete for search engine relevance and the attention of nearly 3.6 billion Internet users.  There is another part of the Web, however, where publishers and visitors want to navigate websites and conduct business transactions in secret. This is the Dark Web, a land of hidden services, where leaving no tracks and preserving anonymity are valued over search engine rankings and web experience personalization.

The Dark Web

The Dark Web is a diverse set of unconventional marketplaces that offer a disturbing range of products or services. You can buy or broker illegal drugs, weapons, counterfeit goods, stolen credit cards or breached data, digital currencies, malware, national identity cards or passports. You can contract digital or criminal services, ranging from spam campaigns or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to murders for hire. Novices can purchase eBooks that explain how to attack websites, steal identities or otherwise profit from illegal activities.

Leave No Trace: Encryption and Evasion for the Dark Web

Many Internet users use encryption – for example, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – to keep Internet activities private. VPN connections typically abide by the conventional behavior of Internet routing for (1) the determination of an end-to-end path from a user’s computer to a server that hosts content that the user wants to access, and (2) the bidirectional transmission of requests and response traffic along this path. Conventional routing, however, is susceptible to traffic analysis, a surveillance technique that can reveal traffic origins, destinations and times of transmission to third parties. Traffic analysis is related to metadata collection, a topic we’ve covered in an earlier post.

Tor networks are popular solutions for maintaining anonymity and privacy and for defeating traffic analysis. Who uses Tor? Journalists, whistleblowers, dissidents, or generally any Internet users who do not want third parties to track their behavior or interests. Tor serves many good purposes, but also attracts Dark Web users wanting to keep their activities or marketplaces secret and untraceable.

Like VPNs, Tor networks use virtual tunnels, but unlike VPNs, these tunnels don’t connect clients directly to servers. Instead, Tor clients create circuits through relay points in the Tor network. Tor circuits have three important properties.

  • No relay point knows the entire path between circuit endpoints.
  • Each connection between relays is uniquely encrypted.
  • All connections are short-lived to prevent observation of behavior over time. 

Constructed using these properties, these Tor private network pathways defeat traffic analysis and support the ability to publish content without revealing identity or location.

Names for Dark Websites

Unlike the human-readable domain names that we are accustomed to using when we navigate the web, Dark Websites use names of Tor hidden services. These are always 16-character values prepended to the .onion top-level domain. Any computer that runs Tor software can host a hidden (e.g., web) service. Dark Web users often find names out of band, for example, from pastebin or Dark Web market lists. 

Tor software operating on a Tor host will create a local file directory, assign a port number for the service, and generate a public-private key pair when it configures a hidden service. Tor software creates a 16-character hostname by first computing a hash of the public key of that key pair and then converting the first 80 bits of this hash from a binary value to ASCII to make the resulting 16 characters conform to the “letter digit hyphen” requirement for the Domain Name System (DNS) protocol.

Dark Web visitors do not use the public DNS to resolve .onion names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses – instead, resolution occurs using the entirely separate Tor hidden service protocol. This protocol helps services make their existences known and helps clients find services, while preserving the anonymity and the location (IP address) of both client and service. Both the client and the hidden service host have active roles in this process.

First, a Tor host “advertises” a hidden service by creating and publishing a service descriptor to a distributed directory service. This descriptor contains the hidden service public key and a list of Tor nodes that will serve as introduction points, trusted intermediaries for the hidden service. Next, the Tor host creates connections to the introduction points it has listed. Any Tor client that wants to connect to the hidden service can now do so through these introduction points.

To connect to a hidden service, a Tor client queries the directory service for the service descriptor. It randomly chooses an introduction point from the list in the service descriptor. The Tor client then randomly chooses a rendezvous point in the Tor network, anonymously connects to the chosen introduction point through the rendezvous point, and transmits a message to the hidden service via the introduction point. This message contains the identity of the rendezvous point, encrypted using the hidden service’s public key, and material needed to begin a cryptographic “handshake.” The hidden service also creates a connection back to this chosen rendezvous point and sends a message that completes the cryptographic handshake. At this point, the client and hidden service have set up a private network pathway that is resistant to surveillance – and they can exchange data anonymously and confidentially.

Why Are All Dark Websites in the .onion Top-Level Domain ?

The .onion top-level domain is reserved for hidden service names. Contrary to popular misconception, ICANN did not delegate .onion from the public root of the DNS. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) designated .onion as a special-use top-level domain (see RFC 7686) to be used in implementing an anonymous service with strong confidentiality characteristics, deemed to be “desired new functionality” (see RFC 6761).

Can I Visit the Dark Web? Should I?

The products and properties of Dark Web marketplaces may tempt you, but please temper your curiousity and recognize that impulsiveness or naiveté can put your digital or personal safety at risk.  Using Tor alone is not a guarantee of anonymity. You’ll want to understand how to remain anonymous and how to install Tor software before you consider accessing the Dark Web.

In my next post, I’ll explain how to prepare to navigate the Dark Web. We’ll consider the risks you might face and discuss measures you must take to protect yourself.

ICANN’s Open Data Initiative Early Pilot Platforms Now Available

"Open data is publicly available data that can be universally and readily accessed, used, and redistributed free of charge. It is structured for usability and computability."
-"The Global Impact of Open Data," by Andrew Young and Stefaan Verhulst

Today, ICANN is pleased to announce the launch of the pilot program of the Open Data Initiative, which are being made available to all interested parties. This initiative consists of four different open data platforms, each of which holds several years of Registry Monthly Reports of Activity and Transactions data. We chose this dataset for several reasons: the data is already confirmed to be publicly redistributable, the current publication method of this data is awkward, encompassing many files spread over many web pages on ICANN's web site, and several community members have already asked for this data set to be made available in a more convenient format. Also, please note that the dataset in this pilot program is subject to the same three-month publication delay required by the registry agreements.

The four publication platforms each differ in their approach. One is an in-house effort built on the open source CKAN package. The other three use commercial products from Enigma, OpenDataSoft, and Socrata. The goal of providing different implementations using the same source dataset is to help explore different approaches to this open data.

The pilot program is described in detail here. Links to the individual software platforms are also available on that page.

We're actively seeking discussion of and feedback on the pilot program, to help set the future direction of this project. We've established a mailing list, odi-pilot@icann.org, for this purpose. Please visit https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/odi-pilot to subscribe. The vendors of the platforms have also been invited to subscribe to this list.

Please note that we are still in the early stages of the Open Data Initiative. The single dataset does not exercise the full power of many of the tools, but feel free to go beyond what is initially set up and explore the tools as much as possible. However, at this early stage, it's too early for a true side-by-side comparison of the different approaches. Our current goal is not to pick a platform as a result of the pilot program, but instead gather feedback to make that decision further in the future.

The pilot platforms will be available until at least 1 November 2017.

2017 Multistakeholder Ethos Award Honors Two Members of the Global Internet Community

26 June 2017 – JOHANNESBURG – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Multistakeholder Ethos Award. This year, the community evaluation panel recognized two long-time members of the ICANN community: Hiro Hotta and Patricio Poblete. The awards were presented today at ICANN59 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Multistakeholder Ethos Award honors members of the ICANN community who have made outstanding contributions to ICANN's multistakeholder model of Internet governance. Hiro Hotta and Patricio Poblete were selected from a list of 14 nominees as those who best demonstrate the spirit of collaboration, strongly promoting consensus. These recipients have proven their commitment to ICANN's multistakeholder model through decades of active participation and dedication.

The community panel felt that each recipient met the award criteria in distinctive ways and recognizes them for the examples they set in supporting and encouraging ICANN's multistakeholder model in their respective regions.

Hiro Hotta, based in Japan, was recognized for his unwavering commitment to volunteer service, serving in ICANN's community for over 18 years. Starting in 1999, he spent 2 years as a member of the Names Council of the ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). He is one of the most long-standing members of its successor body, the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) Council. Hiro embodies the spirit of the Multistakeholder Ethos Award through his keenness to engage at all times with fellow councilors and other community members to mobilize consensus on critical policy decisions that affect the names community and ICANN.

Hiro also played a pivotal role in developing and deploying Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), including IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). He spearheaded and contributed to multiple exercises to help communities across the Asia Pacific region to build meaningful Label Generation Panels. These panels ultimately led to the creation of IDN ccTLDs – making the global Internet truly multilingual, accessible, and available to all. Hiro's contributions to this effort cannot be overstated.

Chile's Patricio Poblete is recognized for his participation in the ICANN process before the incorporation of ICANN itself. Like Hiro, he was also a member of the DNSO. Patricio was instrumental in moving this diverse community forward to create what today are called the ccNSO, Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), Business Constituency, and Intellectual Property Constituency. He was then one of the original councilors of the ccNSO, on which he served until 2011.

Throughout his time in the ICANN community, Patricio has worked both with individuals and across communities to maintain a secure, stable, and trusted Internet that continues to evolve. His commitment to equity, access, and freedom of participation in the digital world has been unwavering. The ability to achieve consensus is the foundation on which the multistakeholder model is built, and Patricio epitomizes this aspect of the multistakeholder environment.

Patricio is unique in his ability to think globally while acting locally. Patricio was a driving force in building the Latin American and Caribbean TLD Association (LACTLD). He has worked tirelessly to ensure that the unique needs and views of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet community are represented globally. He served as an effective bridge between the policy and technical communities in Latin America, ICANN, and the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) – leading to the creation of the Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Center (LACNIC).

Launched in 2014 at ICANN50 in London, the Multistakeholder Ethos Award recognizes ICANN participants who have invested in consensus-based solutions, acknowledged the importance of ICANN's multistakeholder model of Internet governance, and contributed in a substantive way to the higher interests of ICANN's organization and community.

The Fellowship Spirit

Part Three of a Four-Part Blog Series (Read Part One and Part Two)

ICANN59 is upon us and with it, the completion of the ICANN Fellowship Program 10 Year Survey that we conducted in March 2017. Survey results will be posted shortly.

We canvased over 600 individuals who successfully completed the program since its inception in 2007. Our goal was to understand and document their current status:

  • Were they still involved in ICANN and if so, in what capacity?
  • If they were no longer participating, why not, and how can we re-engage them?

The good news is that 70 percent of the over 300 respondents reported their engagement level as “member/observer” or higher, meaning that they have at least joined a community group. Engagement rates were high in both regional and ICANN communities – 69 percent and 62 percent, respectively. These statistics give us a keener sense of where they are in the learning process and how to help them move to the next level.

The survey answers offer the ICANN organization several positive, direct challenges for the coming year. How do we create solutions for restarting participation? How can we minimize the chances that our Fellows will leave the community in the first place? We also need to understand and then find ways to address barriers to participation, which can include: uncertainty of how to become involved, need for funding, unawareness of events, and lack of employer support.

Key Conclusions:

  • Targeted outreach is needed in sectors outside civil society with a focus on remote and underrepresented countries.
  • Community collaboration could help move already informed volunteers into sectors and communities where gaps exist.
  • Continued efforts related to community onboarding, regional and process training, awareness of events, and “open positions” could bring inactive, but willing volunteers back to ICANN.

FY18 Action Items:

  • Expand onboarding information and best practices to retain and place volunteers; widen policy and security training opportunities and bring timely awareness of events to regions. Collaborate with ICANN Policy liaisons, Global Stakeholder Engagement (GSE) Regional Team members and Community Outreach/Inreach Committees.
  • Identify the challenges preventing further engagement; develop solutions to bring individuals back to their region, sector, or community of interest. Partner with GSE and Policy teams, as applicable, but also experienced ICANN volunteers who can serve as mentors.

Wrapping things up, we’d like to highlight several members of the African community who have actively participated in ICANN since their Fellowship experience:

Mistura Aruna, Nigeria – Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)

Roger Baah, Ghana – African Regional At-Large Organization (AFRALO) and Fellowship Coach

Pascal Bekano, Cameroon – AFRALO and Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) – Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Review Working Group

Tijani Ben Jamma, Tunisia – Vice-Chair, At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) Leadership

Andreas Dlamini, Swaziland – GAC

Beran Dondeh Gillen, Gambia – ALAC Africa

Grace Githaiga, Kenya – NCUC Executive Committee, Africa (past)

Ines Hfaiedh, Tunisia – NCUC Executive Committee, Africa (current)

Sarah Kiden, Uganda – Secretariat, AFRALO

Mamadou LO, Senegal – Fellowship Coach and Internet governance activist

Vincent Ngundi, Kenya – GAC

Abibu Ntahigiye, Tanzania - Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) Councilor

Seun Ojedeji, Nigeria – CCWG-Accountability

Souleymane Oumtanaga, Côte d'Ivoire – ccNSO Councilor

Lawrence Owalale Roberts, Nigeria – Business Constituency Mentor

If you’d like information about how to apply to the Fellowship Program or have any feedback or comments, please email us at fellowships@icann.org.

Our International Office Strategy

When I first joined ICANN, many of you had asked me about how we manage our offices around the world. We've now formalized this in our international office strategy so that we operate more consistently and effectively together, serving you, the global community.


We've moved from having three global hubs to having five regional offices: Los Angeles (headquarters), Brussels, Istanbul, Montevideo, and Singapore. We have engagement centers in Washington, D.C.; Geneva; Beijing; and Nairobi. We also have strategic partnerships in Asunçion, Cairo, and Seoul that help us reach more stakeholders around the world.

Los Angeles is the headquarters, as the community decided during the IANA stewardship transition that ICANN would be a California-based organization with a mission to serve the global community.

The intention of this structure is to ensure we provide the best possible service to you, the community. Since your needs vary greatly by location, so will our services and support in the offices. For example, the EMEA region is so large and diverse and community needs vary from country to country. We recognized this fact by leveraging our office in Brussels to further support the wide-ranging needs in this region.


I am also pleased to announce that Nick Tomasso, VP of Meeting Operations, will be the new Managing Director of the Istanbul office starting 1 September 2017. I'm grateful he's accepted this role and is relocating to Istanbul. David Olive has done a tremendous job creating and leading the Istanbul office since its inception in 2013. David is moving back to Washington, D.C. at the end of August to continue in his capacity as Senior VP, Policy Development and Support. I thank him for his service and dedication to building the Istanbul office from the ground up.

In addition, after 12 years at ICANN, Olof Nordling, VP of Policy Development and Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Relations, is retiring from ICANN on 31 July 2017. He has done a superb job running the Brussels office. I know the GAC and the Brussels team will miss him greatly – and will say their goodbyes here in Johannesburg.

Jean-Jacques Sahel, VP of Stakeholder Engagement for Europe, will become the Managing Director of the Brussels office. I want to thank Jean-Jacques for accepting this role. Jia-Rong Low continues in his capacity as Managing Director for Singapore. Rodrigo de la Parra will become the Managing Director for Montevideo, serving the Latin American and Caribbean region. Tarek Kamel is the Managing Director for Geneva, and Duncan Burns is the Managing Director of the Washington, D.C. office.

All Managing Directors (Duncan Burns, Jia-Rong Low, Jean-Jacques Sahel, Nick Tomasso, Rodrigo de la Parra, Tarek Kamel) are responsible for their office's strategic plan, operating costs, and staff assigned to their location. They will continue to report to their functional lead, and have a dotted reporting line to me. We are leveraging the successful model we've had in place in Singapore and Istanbul for some time now, and will operate more consistently across locations.

I am confident that these changes will position the organization to best support the global community and its diverse needs. Having a consistent approach will help provide clearer roles and responsibilities within the organization which also helps improve accountability.

Below is a summary of these changes.

ICANN offices

Regional Offices

  • Brussels – Jean-Jacques Sahel, Managing Director (from 1 August)
  • Istanbul – David Olive (until August 2017), then Nick Tomasso (from 1 September 2017) Managing Director
  • Los Angeles – Göran Marby, Managing Director
  • Montevideo – Rodrigo de la Parra, Managing Director
  • Singapore – Jia-Rong Low, Managing Director

Engagement Centers

  • Beijing – Jian-Chuan Zhang, Office Head
  • Geneva – Tarek Kamel, Managing Director
  • Nairobi – Pierre Dandjinou, Office Head
  • Washington D.C – Duncan Burns, Managing Director


  • Asunçion – partnership with the National Secretariat for Information and Communication Technologies of Paraguay
  • Cairo – partnership with National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority
  • Seoul – partnership with Korea Internet & Security Agency

Top 12 Things You Didn’t Know About South Africa

1. Only in South Africa will you find a street that has been home to two Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived on Vilakazi Street in the Orlando West township in Soweto. Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his nonviolent opposition to apartheid. Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with F.W. de Klerk, for their role in the peaceful end of apartheid and work establishing democracy in South Africa. Mandela’s house is now a museum.

2. Archaeologists have discovered some of the oldest hominid remains in South Africa, often called the “Cradle of Humankind.”

The UNESCO Fossil Hominids Sites comprise five separate locations. Archaeological evidence traces human evolution back at least 2.5 million years. South Africa is rich in remains and artifacts of early hominids, proving they used stone tools 2 million years ago and created fire 1.8 million years ago.

3. There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa, many over 500 years old.

South Africa has over 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) of coastline, much of it treacherous. Over the years, the sea has claimed thousands of vessels (many without a trace) – estimates go as high as 3,000. Shipwreck sites are now protected by South African law. 

4. South Africa has 11 official languages, each with equal status.

Due to its diversity of ethnicities and cultures, South Africa is called the “Rainbow Nation.” The Constitution of South Africa recognizes 11 official languages. The 2011 census showed that 22.7 percent of South Africans speak isiZulu as their native language, making it the most commonly spoken language. English is the most common language used in business.

5. The birth of wine production in South Africa dates back to 1659, when a Dutch settler in South Africa recorded the successful pressing of wine from French Muscadet grapes.

South Africa is now one of the world’s top ten wine producers. Many claim that Route 62, stretching for about 850 kilometers (over 500 miles), is the longest continuous wine route in the world. Whether or not that is true, it is certainly one of the most scenic.

6. South Africa is the only country in the world with three capital cities. 

Contrary to what many think, Pretoria is not the capital of South Africa. In reality, South Africa has three capitals: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). The only city specified in the Constitution of South Africa is Cape Town, the seat of Parliament. Most foreign embassies are in Pretoria, but many countries also have consulates in the other cities.

7. The world’s deepest mine is the Mponeng Gold Mine, which reaches more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) below the Earth’s surface.

To comprehend the depth of the Mponeng Mine, try to visualize 10 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. Mponeng is in the Witwatersrand Gold Belt, the source of almost half of the gold that has ever been mined. The discovery of gold in the region in 1886 triggered a gold rush that led to the establishment of Johannesburg.

8. Mark Shuttleworth, the entrepreneur behind the open source Ubuntu operating system, was the first South African to travel in space.

Shuttleworth named the operating system after the African concept of Ubuntu, which loosely translates to “human kindness” literally “I am what I am because of who we all are.” As open source software, Ubuntu is developed and enhanced collaboratively. But Ubuntu isn’t Shuttleworth’s only claim to fame he had already made a name for himself in April 2002, when he spent $20 million for a 10-day journey as a space tourist.

9. South Africa’s Vredefort Dome is Earth’s largest meteor scar – evidence of the greatest known single release of energy in Earth’s history. 

The Vredefort Dome is a part of a massive meteorite crater. The impact crater’s radius is about 300 kilometers (186 miles). Calculations indicate that the mountain-sized meteorite – between 5 and 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) across – was traveling at more than 36,000 kilometers per hour (22,369 miles per hour). In 2005, Vredefort Dome became a World Heritage Site.

10. On 3 December 1967, Dr. Christiaan Barnard made history when he performed the first human-to-human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

South Africans are responsible for many other breakthroughs in medicine, including the yellow fever vaccine and the Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) Scan, each earning their respective inventors a Nobel Prize. Just this year, a team of South Africans identified the CDH2 gene as the cause of most heart attacks.

11. South Africa has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, each reflecting an important aspect of its cultural and natural landscape.

The sites include cultural treasures such as hominid fossils, the earliest indigenous kingdom of South Africa, the cave paintings of the San people, the traditional use of the land by the Nama, and a prison that housed political prisoners (including Nelson Mandela). Other sites protect the natural uniqueness of South Africa – from the Cape Floral region to the iSimangaliso Wetlands to the Vredefort Dome.

12. In 2009, the U.N. General Assembly established “Mandela International Day” to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Mandela International Day is celebrated every year on 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s birthday. To commemorate the 67 years of Mandela’s contributions to freedom and peace, people are asked to spend 67 minutes working toward positive change in the world.

In 2013, 18 July happened to fall during ICANN47 Durban. African Internet pioneer Dr. Nii Quaynor paid tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Watch his speech.  That same day, some meeting participants, headed by then ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé, performed community service at a college in Durban, teaching students and helping with painting projects.

Welcome to the ICANN59 Policy Forum

David Olive, Senior VP, Policy Development Support and Managing Director of the Istanbul Office, expresses his excitement to be back in South Africa for another ICANN Public Meeting. He welcomes everyone who has come to be a part of the innovative and collaborative policy work at ICANN59. Olive stresses the value of people from diverse backgrounds coming together to face mutual challenges.

Let’s get prepared to engage in policy discussions over the next four days.

President’s Corner: Greetings from Johannesburg

Welcome to the second Policy Forum – whether you are here in Johannesburg or following along from home.

I am consistently reminded as I meet with ICANN stakeholders around the world, on behalf of the ICANN organization, that the Internet is no one country’s national resource. It belongs to everyone, and is a set of constantly evolving technologies, cooperating and collaborating with different networks and partners.

For ICANN community members interested in policy development, ICANN59 will provide you the opportunity to engage with colleagues and tackle the many complex and challenging topics. The cross-community discussions throughout this meeting will be particularly valuable in promoting exchanges of views. My role at the Policy Forum is to facilitate. We are not the Internet at ICANN, but we are an essential part of the Internet. It is important that together we evolve, make progress and continue to support the Internet going forward.

The Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees have taken the lead in organizing the program for this meeting. I know that you will be busy, but, I hope that if you are free, you can join me in the session to review the progress we’ve made on our Process Documentation Initiative.

As always, I hope to talk to many of you the next few days. Please let me know if you need anything and let’s get to work.

Welcome to Africa and to ICANN59!

Pierre Dandjinou, ICANN’s VP, Global Stakeholder Engagement in Africa, welcomes you to Johannesburg, also called Egoli, the City of Gold. In this video, he stresses the importance of your contribution to the ICANN59 Policy Forum, where ICANN’s Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees work intensively on specific topics. He also highlights how ICANN is looking forward to seeing how the Empowered Community evolves. Dandjinou invites you to take part in ICANN59’s important policymaking activities

Watch this video and get ready to dig in for four days of work with your fellow stakeholders.

Empowered Community Powers Triggered: FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, and Updates to Five-Year Operating Plan

On 24 June 2017, the ICANN Board adopted ICANN's FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, the FY18 IANA Budget, and updates to the Five-Year Operating Plan. Under ICANN's post-IANA Stewardship Transition Bylaws, the Empowered Community has the power to consider and, if they choose, to reject these documents before they go into effect.

ICANN's FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, the FY18 IANA Budget, and updates to the Five-Year Operating Plan are the result of 11 months of collaborative work by the organization, community, PTI Board, and ICANN Board Finance Committee. They include:

  • Highlights of all ICANN Operations
  • Overview of ICANN's FY18 Budget
  • Detailed FY18 Operating Plan
  • Detailed descriptions of portfolios of activities to support the goals and objectives described in the ICANN Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2016–2020, and the updated Five-Year Operating Plan
  • Detailed lists of projects for each portfolio, with project-level budgeted costs
  • Summary of changes from the Draft FY18 Operating Plan and Budget

The community's continuously increasing participation in the planning process is a cornerstone of ICANN's transparency and accountability to the global multistakeholder community. ICANN thanks all community members who contributed to the development of the budget. Budget documents for FY18 and previous years are published here.

In accordance with the ICANN Bylaws Annex D, Section 6.2, the Empowered Community now has the opportunity to trigger the following three actions:

  • Rejection of the ICANN FY18 Operating Plan and Budget
  • Rejection of the FY18 IANA Budget
  • Rejection of updates to the Five-Year Operating Plan

Each of these documents will come into effect only after giving the Empowered Community time to consider whether it will raise a petition rejecting the budgets and/or operating plans. Decisional Participants of the Empowered Community have 28 days to bring forth a petition to reject any of these documents.

If the Empowered Community does not raise a petition, both budgets will go into effect on 22 July 2017. In accordance with the ICANN Bylaws Sections 22.4(a)(ix) and 22.4(b)(ix), until the budgets are adopted, including throughout an Empowered Community Petition Process, both IANA and ICANN will operate under separate Caretaker Budgets during the period of FY18.

With the FY18 Caretaker Budget in effect, the ICANN organization will manage with limited operational impact. As noted in the FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, the ICANN FY18 Caretaker Budget prohibits ICANN from posting new positions and reduces travel and professional fees by 10%. The IANA Caretaker Budget is equal to the FY18 IANA Budget to ensure the stability of the IANA functions.

What Is the Empowered Community?

The Empowered Community is the mechanism through which ICANN's Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) can organize under California law to legally enforce community powers. The community powers and rules that govern the Empowered Community are defined in the ICANN Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

Who Can Participate in the Empowered Community?

All of ICANN's SOs, as well as the At-Large and Governmental ACs, are Decisional Participants, and can participate in the Empowered Community, including:

  • Address Supporting Organization (ASO)
  • Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO)
  • Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)
  • At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)
  • Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)

How Does the Empowered Community Use Its powers?

The Empowered Community has an escalation process to reject ICANN's FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, the FY18 IANA Budget, and updates to the Five-Year Operating Plan. This escalation process gives SOs and ACs opportunities to discuss solutions with the ICANN Board.

For more information on the Empowered Community, click here.
For more information on ongoing Empowered Community petitions, click here.
For more information on upcoming Empowered Community opportunities, click here.

ICANN Releases its Final Report on Africa DNS Market Study

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is pleased to announce the release of its Final Report on Africa Domain Name System (DNS) Market Study. This study serves as part of ICANN's outreach efforts to support and improve the regional DNS industry. The report is the first of its kind in the region, which includes 54 countries. It was commissioned to:

  • Highlight the strengths and weaknesses in the DNS sector in Africa,
  • Develop recommendations on how to advance the industry to better exploit the opportunities available and to address identified challenges,
  • Explore options for establishing an observatory to continuously monitor the growth, development and emerging needs of the DNS market in Africa.

The findings of the report, which will guide the next steps for capacity-building in Africa, lead to significant conclusions and recommendations highlighted below:

  • There are, as of May 2017, some 5.1 million domain names associated with Africa. The total annual value of the African Domain Name market is some $52 million.
  • Many countries could usefully remove or reduce barriers to growth of the Internet industry generally and the Domain Name market in particular.
  • There is considerable potential for growth in the Domain Name market in Africa for the foreseeable future.

On 27 June, from 15:15-16:45 at Pavillon S8, ICANN will hold a public presentation to discuss the report during ICANN's 59th Public Meeting (ICANN59), in Johannesburg. ICANN59 is also the 2nd Policy Forum, the 1st one being in Helsinki last year.

You can view and download the report here [PDF, 5.02 MB].

For more details on ICANN59, please visit: https://meetings.icann.org/en/johannesburg59

The full schedule of ICANN59 events and meetings, where you can join remotely, is available at https://schedule.icann.org/.


ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address into your computer or other device – a name or a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world. For more information, please visit: www.icann.org

Publishing Submissions to the Complaints Office

I am excited to announce that I have published the first report of the Complaints Office's activities on the our dedicated webpage. This initial report includes submissions received through 12 June 2017, and I will be updating it on a regular basis.

It's been two months since I opened the Complaints Office, and I have already received nearly 200 submissions. However, what I've found interesting about the submissions is that only a small number have fallen within the scope of the Complaints Office. The out-of-scope submissions that I've received fall into three categories:

  1. They belong to another complaints process
  2. They are an inquiry regarding a potential complaint
  3. They contained a blank submission

For complaints that fell within the scope of the office, you will see data in the published report with links to each complaint and our response (if applicable), as well as the latest status and corresponding responses, all while respecting private and/or confidential information. The report also includes a summary of the out-of-scope submissions broken down by category, number received per month for each category, and a brief description of how they are handled by the Complaints Office.

As a reminder, the Complaints Office handles complaints regarding the ICANN Organization and any that don't fall into an existing complaints mechanism. This may include complaints about processes, timing and accessibility of information, among other things. Existing complaints processes, such as Contractual Compliance, Global Support and ICANN's Bylaws-mandated Accountability Mechanisms, remain the same and should continue to be used for complaints that are within their scope.

The processes for the Complaints Office are continuously developing and evolving, and I'd appreciate your feedback. I will be on the ground at ICANN59, so if you have any suggestions or words of advice on how I can improve the office, or if you have an issue you would like to discuss, please don't hesitate to stop me in the hall or email complaints@icann.org to request a meeting time. I hope those of you going to Johannesburg have safe travels, and I look forward to meeting with some of you!