IGF 2018 OF #24 ICANN Open Forum

Salle VI

At this Open Forum session the Chairman of the ICANN Board and the CEO and President of the Organisation will host a debate and discussion on current issues affecting ICANN as well as looking ahead to development in 2019 and beyond. Topical issues will include how ICANN is dealing with the EU's GDPR and the proposed subsequent process for issuing gTLDs. Participants in this Open debate and discussion will also include members from the ICANN Community.




The Participants in this Open Debate will include: Cherine Chalaby (Chair, ICANN Board) Goran Marby, ICANN CEO and President Theresa Swinehart, ICANN Organisation Becky Burr, ICANN Organisation Tarek Kamel, ICANN Organisation

Online Moderator

Laurent Ferali (ICANN)

Session Time
Session Report (* deadline Monday 20 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

IGF 2018 Report 

ICANN Open Forum



- Session Type:  Open Forum


- Title:    ICANN Open Forum


- Date & Time:  Monday; 12th November; 2018


- Organizer                            ICANN


- Chair/Moderator:                            Cherine Chalaby


- Rapporteur:                       Nigel Hickson


- Speakers:                              Goran Marby; ICANN CEO;                             Technical Community

                                                      Cherine Chalaby; ICANN Board Chair      Technical Community

                                                      Theresa Swinehart, ICANN                             Technical Community

                                                      Leon Sanchez, ICANN Board                          Technical Community

                                                      Sarah Deutch, ICANN Board                           Technical Community

                                                      Elena Plexida, ICANN                                           Technical Community

                                                      Avri Doria, ICANN Board                                 Technical Community

                                                      Nigel Hickson, ICANN                                         Technical Community




- Theme:                                  Domain Name System




Key Messages


1. The importance on reaching an agreement within the ICANN Community on legitimate third-party access to the non-public information of registrants of domain names held in WHOIS Database;


2. The importance of the Internet Community being involved in the policy development process; especially commenting on the Reports, concerning a subsequent process for issuing new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs);


3. The importance of ICANN, and other entities from the Technical Community, providing factual information, where appropriate, to policy makers and legislators, on the effect of specific measures on the stability, security and openness of the DNS System and the Internet



Overall Dialogue


This was an open session about the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and our role in the broader Internet ecosystem, with the goal of engaging with the audience about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in relation to the WHOIS (the system of registration data associated to register domain names); and new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Cherine Chalaby (ICANN Board Chair) gave an overall introduction to the Open Forum, welcoming participants, introducing fellow Board members, and noting, briefly, what ICANN is about and our role within the Internet Ecosystem.  

He noted that these two topics are on the ICANN agenda, and have an impact on the wider Internet community.

Theresa Swinehart, ICANN, stated that ICANN has been bringing WHOIS into compliance with GDPR. In that vein, ICANN has engaged in several rounds of extensive community dialogue and in discussions with European data protection authorities, and has also created a temporary specification. This temporary specification is an adjustment to the contract between ICANN and their contracted parties to have publicly and non-publicly available information, to comply with the GDPR, she explained. This temporary specification has triggered an expedited policy development process in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Theresa pointed out that the ICANN63 meeting gave the board the liberty to limit or lessen the liability of contracted parties, and explore a possible avenue for unified access that is scalable and which works globally. The ICANN Board issued a conceptual model based on community input on 20 August.  

Sarah Deutch, ICANN Board, spoke about one of the issues that resulted from the implementation of the technical specification – the third-party access to non-public registration data. The technical specification requires ICANN's parties to provide reasonable access to personal data to third parties, based on legitimate interest, as defined in the GDPR. Ultimately, she emphasised, it is up to the community to recommend a model for implementation.  

Goran Marby, ICANN CEO and President, reiterated ICANN’s neutrality in political matters, but pointed out that ICANN could provide technical help in matters of national or regional legislation. Ill thought out (but possibly well-intentioned) legislation could make it impossible for people to access the Internet, or connect to other people on the Internet. He also pointed out that a balance between transparency of the WHOIS system and the protection of privacy of data should be struck.

Avri Doria, ICANN Board, briefed the audience about the progress GNSO has made concerning discussions on the new gTLD programme. Gathering and discussing issues, some of which arose from the previous round of the programme, of which there were over 90, had lasted over year. The policy development process (PDP) Working Group has been working through them methodically, in sub-groups and in plenary, and is putting out comment periods – two have already been released and the Comment period on Geographic Names is expected very soon. One of her main impressions of the Community input was that the “gap” between Rounds of new gTLDs should be removed. There are several proposals to what kind of round the next one should be and how long it should last, and also several proposals about the succession timing of such Rounds.

Mr Leon Sanchez, ICANN Board, reiterated, in answer to a question, that the timing for the new round of gTLDs depends on the input of the community. ICANN has received comments, reviews, and advice from almost every constituency within the Community, and needs to reconcile different viewpoints before the second round of the new gTLD programme. He acknowledged that not all community members agree whether the next round should happen or not. He stressed that input from the community is key for the outcomes of the different processes that feed into possible subsequent rounds of gTLDs.




Key Points from Discussion


1. The absolute necessity of having a broad multistakeholder dialogue in the solution of complex Internet policy issues, such as GDPR/WHOIS;


2. The importance of policy makers and legislators (national, regional or global) taking into consideration the input from Technical Community, such as ICANN, when formulating regulation or policy.     





There were around 80 participants


Estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.


About 30 of the participants were women


To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion?


There were no specific gender issues discussed; though it was noted how important it was to have a diversity of voices when discussing Internet issues.