ICANN’s 54th Public Meeting is taking place in Dublin, Ireland, next week, October 18-22, 2015. As ever, a number of issues related to new gTLD policy, compliance, and operations will be up for debate. However, given the significance of the timing of this meeting, the IANA transition will almost certainly dominate discussions in Dublin, potentially even displacing work on other pressing issues.

The IANA Transition and Work to Enhance ICANN’s Accountability: Update

The IANA transition has seen much turbulence over the past few months, with community members clashing with the ICANN Board over what the shape of ICANN’s corporate governance structure will be after the transfer of the IANA functions stewardship. At recent face-to-face meetings between the two groups, it emerged that the Board is opposed to the single statutory member model proposed by the community that was designed to grant it increased legal leverage to push back against the Board’s decisions, if necessary.

Given this challenge, it would seem that the community must return to the drawing board; nonetheless, the desire of all to bring about a swift and successful transition may militate against any complete rewrites of the accountability component of the IANA transition proposal. Should the community need to substantially revise its proposal, it would then need to be subject to a lengthy public comment period (as have prior versions of the proposal). This would unduly delay the process, making a transition date of September 2016 impossible. According to ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling, respectively, a new plan would best be delivered to the NTIA prior to the end of 2015 or just after it in order to meet next year’s deadline.

Although the IANA transition has been a feature at all recent ICANN meetings since it was first announced in March 2014, it will certainly be a more substantial fixture on next week’s agenda in light of the current unsustainable impasse.

Impact on Other ICANN Issues

The pressure to resolve the IANA transition plan in a timely fashion is felt beyond the ICANN Board and community members dedicated to the issue. Indeed, the centrality of the topic has meant that it has lately dominated many ICANN staff members’ work. Some constituencies have become concerned that the resolution of other important issues has been unnecessarily delayed.

However, members of ICANN staff have begun certain processes designed to streamline operations and interactions with new gTLD owners, which should be of some help. Work continues on other important operational issues and compliance topics, which will be covered during next week’s sessions. In addition to regular sessions dedicated to gTLD registry compliance topics, there will also be sessions dedicated to finding ways to deal with ‘bad actors’ online through voluntary actions on the part of domain name registries, a topic that has received significant interest from the international law enforcement community, a growing presence at ICANN meetings.

Pressure to Make Headway on IANA Transition at ICANN 54

The IANA transition is a critical issue for world governments—indeed, it has received renewed attention as a U.S. government-led effort to appease other governments on matters of cyber-governance. There is therefore further pressure to make significant headway on the IANA transition proposal in Dublin so as to allow participants of ICANN’s March 2016 High Level Government Meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, to focus on other public policy issues and make constructive progress there.

With several staff members in attendance at ICANN 54, FairWinds will be watching these issues next week. For daily updates, follow us on Twitter .

Josh Bourne
Preview of ICANN 54

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