Beginning on November 3, the ICANN community will convene for ICANN 57, its 57th Public Meeting in Hyderabad, India.
There are two noteworthy facts about this meeting:
1) ICANN 57 is an Annual General Meeting, which means a longer schedule with additional agenda items that goes beyond ICANN’s basic policymaking work, and
2) The Hyderabad gathering will be the first ICANN meeting to take place now that the IANA transition has successfully been completed.
From a policy perspective, much of the agenda for ICANN 57 will be dedicated to furthering efforts that are already underway. This meeting will see the continuation of work to:
- Develop policies that will govern future new gTLD application procedures,
- Review rights protection mechanisms in all new gTLDs, and
- Tackle a perennial ICANN topic, improving WHOIS information in the Domain Name System.
ICANN 57 Will Lay Groundwork for New Processes and Procedures
It is unlikely that any concrete policy developments that directly impact new gTLD owners or businesses in general will come out of this meeting.
However, each face-to-face engagement of the individual Working Groups tackling these important policy topics will lay the groundwork for future processes and procedures that will have a direct and tangible effect on those groups.
New “High Interest Topic Sessions” To Be Introduced at ICANN 57
In addition to this ongoing policy development work, ICANN 57 will also host eight separate “High Interest Topic” sessions that will cover subjects that are meant to be of interest to large swaths of the ICANN community, as well as to observers of ICANN who do not directly participate in its stakeholder groups or constituencies.
The introduction of these new types of sessions during the Annual General Meeting – which typically attracts more participants from outside the ICANN community than ICANN’s other two in-person gatherings each year – makes sense given the audience.
However, the broad-reaching scope of some of the topics, such as one session which will cover “The Domain Name System and Content Regulation” – will undoubtedly raise concerns among those who wish to keep ICANN’s remit narrow and out of the realm of content regulation.
It remains to be seen whether these sessions result in new mandates for ICANN to address a broader range of topics, or if they will instead end up being forums for interested stakeholders to engage in dialogue without a specific directive.
Strengthening Accountability Will Be A Key Area Of Focus
Finally, now that the IANA transition has been completed and ICANN’s contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce has expired, much of the work to position ICANN to function without DOC oversight has been completed.
However, there is still a good deal of work to be done on strengthening ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, something that community members have been diligently working toward since 2014.
ICANN 57 will involve more of that work, which is likely to continue well into the next calendar year.
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