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With Zika fears, is ICANN dissing Latin America?

Kevin Murphy, May 10, 2016, 09:53:51 (UTC), Domain Policy

Internet organizations in Latin America are pissed off with ICANN for cancelling its Panama public meeting and potentially cancelling its Puerto Rico meeting.

They said that the cancellations will have “a direct negative impact on the participation of our communities in the region, since they view these meetings as favorable opportunities to get together for the development of their respective work agendas, leveraging geographic and cultural proximity.”

“This has a direct effect on the development of the Internet in our regions,” they added.

The comments came in a May 5 letter (pdf) from the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) the Latin America and Caribbean TLD Association (LACTLD) and the Latin America and Caribbean Association of Internet Exchange Points (LAC-IX).

Together, they represent IP addressing, ccTLDs and internet exchanges in the region.

ICANN recently switched its ICANN 56 venue from Panama to Finland due to the Zika virus outbreak in the region.

It is also expected to relocate ICANN 57 from Puerto Rico to Las Vegas, for the same reason, though no decision has yet been made.

The letter claims that the LAC region is being under-served in terms of ICANN meeting time.

While ICANN’s goal is to rotate its meetings through its five regions, the letter says that the LAC region only gets one out of six meetings.

But is the region getting fewer meetings than elsewhere? I don’t think the numbers support that assertion.

This is how all the meetings to date break down by ICANN region.

RegionMeetings
Africa10
Asia-Pacific15
Europe12
North America10
Latin-America & Caribbean10

It’s clear that LAC isn’t getting singled out in particular for a dissing, no more than Africa or North America.

In fact, LAC may be doing better than North America, due to the weird way ICANN assigns countries to regions.

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico (where ICANN met in 2007) counts as North America as far as ICANN is concerned, due to its status as a US territory.

ICANN counts Mexico (where it met in 2009), which is geographically North American, as a LAC nation for some reason.

But the three organizations signing this letter all count both Mexico and Puerto Rico as LAC nations. By that definition, they’ve had 11 meetings to North America’s nine, placing LAC in the middle of the table with exactly one out of every five meetings taking place there.

ICANN chair Steve Crocker did not dissect the numbers in his reply (pdf) yesterday, instead focusing on sympathizing with the LAC groups’ concerns and pointing out that finding suitable locations for ICANN meetings is extremely tricky.

“On rare occasions, due to events outside ICANN’s control, we face challenges sufficiently severe that we feel we cannot proceed with meetings in the venue we have planned,” Crocker wrote.

He continued: “[I]t is our understanding that the Zika virus poses a serious threat to human health. We have consulted extensively on risks and considered whether under the circumstances we can hold an efficient and safe meeting. In this instance we have decided this is a serious risk and decided to go to an alternate venue for the safety of our community.”

Comments (2)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    When ICANN meetings are smaller, they were held more frequently in the LAC region. If you look at recent ICANN meetings, it’s not that much of them that are being held in LAC… making that distinction will provide a better picture of the current regional distribution of meetings.

    • Jim Prendergast says:

      And one of the proposed benefits of this new meeting structure is the B meeting (summer in Northern Hemisphere) will be smaller again due to lack of some of the pomp and circumstance. That will then allow travel to smaller venues that these meetings have out grown. We will have to see if that plays out in reality

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