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Most registrars did NOT “fail” abuse audit, ICANN says

Kevin Murphy, October 15, 2021, Domain Registrars

Most registrars did not “fail” a recent abuse audit, despite what I wrote in my original coverage, according to ICANN.

“Referring to a certain blog, none of the registrars failed the audit,” ICANN senior audit manager Yan Agranonik said during a session of ICANN 72’s Prep Week last night.

He’s talking about ME! He’s talking about ME!

“Failure would mean that there’s an irreparable finding of deficiency that can not be corrected timely or it just goes against the registrar’s business model,” Agranonik said.

An accompanying presentation reads:

None of the registrars “failed” the audit. “Failure” means that the auditee did not acknowledge/remediate identified violations of the RAA or their business practices are not compatible with RAA.

At the risk of prolonging a tedious semantic debate, what I reported in August, when the results of the audit were announced, was: “The large majority of accredited registrars failed an abuse-related audit at the first pass, according to ICANN.”

A bunch of registrar employees, and now apparently ICANN’s own head auditor, disagreed with my characterization.

ICANN had issued a press release stating that of 126 audited registrars, it had identified 111 “that were not fully compliant with the RAA’s requirements related to the receiving and handling of DNS abuse reports.”

To me, if ICANN checks whether you’re doing a thing you should be doing and you’re not doing the thing, that’s a fail.

But to ICANN, if ICANN checks whether you’re doing a thing you should be doing and you’re not doing the thing, and it tells you you’re not doing the thing you should be doing, so you start doing the thing, that’s not a fail.

I think reasonable people could disagree on the definitions here.

But I did write that the registrars “failed… according to ICANN”, and that appears to be inaccurate, so I’m happy to correct the record today.

I’m not kidding, ICANN is flirting with banning jokes

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN has come a long way since 2005 or thereabouts, when, at a public meeting, I made deputy general counsel Dan Halloran laugh so hard he vomited out of his nose.

Now, the increasingly po-faced Org has crawled so far up its own arse that it’s openly talking about banning — or at the very least discouraging — humor and lightheartedness during its thrice-annual get-togethers.

Ombudsman Herb Waye today blogged up his traditional pre-meeting reminder about the Expected Standards of Behavior, ahead of this month’s ICANN 72 AGM, which is taking place virtually.

There’s nothing wrong with this — the ESOB is merely a form of institutionalized politeness — but it’s being embellished this time around with a warning not to joke around in the Zoom chat rooms.

Waye wrote:

the intention of a comment can be difficult to ascertain without the benefit of vocal tone and body language. What was intended as a joke or light-hearted observation online to a group can unintentionally make the subject of the comment feel unfairly targeted.

I consulted with the ICANN community and organization (org) leadership for thoughts on how to promote a respectful virtual environment while also supporting the spirit of open dialogue that drives ICANN. I am grateful for their input. To ensure our Zoom sessions are engaging, inclusive, and productive, please remember these tips:

  • To avoid confusion and to respect the session’s planned agenda, please keep your interventions in the public chat on the topic that is being discussed.
  • Use private messages for off-topic comments.
  • Before commenting or adding a joke, please remember the cultural diversity of the ICANN community and consider how your comment could be perceived.

Remember, ICANN meetings are designed to be soul-crushingly dull, and attended only by sensitive North American children, so let’s keep them that way.

ICANN cuts the weekend from next public meeting

Kevin Murphy, August 24, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN has changed the dates for ICANN 72, its 2021 annual general meeting, making it two days shorter.

The old plan was for the meeting to run October 23-28. Now it will be October 25-28.

Basically, this means nobody will have to work at the weekend. October 23 is a Saturday.

The presumably truncated schedule will be published October 4.

ICANN said it made the decision “to support better working hours for attendees and encourage greater participation”.

ICANN 72 came close to having an in-person component in Seattle, but the board of directors decided last month to stick to Zoom due to ongoing pandemic uncertainties.

ICANN 73 will be “virtual first”

Kevin Murphy, August 6, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN’s public meeting next March will prioritize online participation, according to chair Maarten Botterman.

Botterman told members of the APAC Space community group this week that ICANN 73 will have “a meaningful ‘virtual first’ hybrid format to support the community’s ongoing priorities, policy advice, and development work”.

APAC Space, you will recall, had written to ICANN to protest the possibility of this October’s ICANN 72 meeting moving to a hybrid model with an in-person component that most Asia-Pacific community members would not be able to take advantage of due to ongoing pandemic-related travel restrictions.

But the ICANN board, in part due to these concerns, decided to keep 72 online-only rather than showing up in Seattle in person, while stating an intention to go hybrid for 73 if “feasible”.

ICANN 73 is due to take place in Puerto Rico, part of the North America region, next March. As a US territory, the venue will be easier to attend for Americans.

Indeed, APAC Space is skeptical about its members ability to attend 73 in person also.

Botterman addressed this, saying:

We appreciate you have similar concerns about holding a hybrid meeting for ICANN73. At this time, relevant experts have a higher level of confidence that the global pandemic situation, in particular vaccination and infection rates, will be much improved by early 2022. While we will continue to closely monitor the situation, our intentions are to hold ICANN73 as a hybrid meeting with an in-person component if it is feasible to do so.

The five online-only meetings ICANN has held since the pandemic hit are generally regarded as being pretty good as far as Zoom meetings go, but there can be no replacement for the corridor conversations, cocktail events and private dinners that face-to-face meetings permit.

Even the ICANN board of directors is affected — due to the annual turnover, some members haven’t even met each other face-to-face in a board context.

Nope, no Seattle meeting for ICANN

Kevin Murphy, July 16, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN’s planned public meeting in Seattle will have no face-to-face component, the board of directors decided yesterday.

In a resolution published last night, the board cited the global vaccine inequity and the ongoing difficulties with international travel and visas during the coronavirus pandemic.

But it added that it plans to go ahead with a hybrid online/in-person meeting for ICANN 73 in San Juan, Puerto Rico next March “if it is feasible to do so”.

The board noted that its last in-person AGM, held in late 2019, saw 68% of its participants come from outside the US, suggesting Seattle would go ahead with a majority of its community members absent.

It added that “it is likely that ICANN72 could be a meeting of in-person attendees from just a couple of regions, which does not serve global participants in ICANN’s multistakeholder model”

While some of the pandemic-related issues may be resolved by October, ICANN had to make the call now to avoid wasting money on a physical meeting it may have had to later cancel.

The results of the board vote have not yet been published. A similar resolution last year saw some directors vote in favor of a return to face-to-face meetings by October 2020.

The resolution states that ICANN org should use the next eight months to ensure the hybrid model planned for San Juan is as effective as possible for those who will still be unable or unwilling to attend in person due to the pandemic.

It adds that smaller regional meetings, where travel restrictions are less irrelevant, could still go ahead this year.

A recent poll showed a majority of community members from all regions were keen to return to in-person meetings for Seattle, but the majority was greater in North America than elsewhere.

A group of participants from the Asia-Pacific region recently wrote to ICANN to state that it was likely that nobody from that region would be able to show up in Seattle.

ICANN 72 will be the sixth consecutive public meeting to be held virtually.

“Diversity” warning over ICANN Seattle

Kevin Murphy, July 8, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN has been told that it risks disenfranchising community members from outside the US if it goes ahead with a return to in-person meetings at ICANN 72 in Seattle this October.

APAC Space, a group comprising participants from the Asia-Pacific region, reckons there’s almost no chance that any of its members will be able to make it to Seattle, due to pandemic restrictions.

The group wrote (pdf):

Like the rest of the community, the APAC Space members are keen to see a return to face-to-face meetings, but we have serious concerns about continued, longterm disenfranchisement if this return is done in an inequitable way. If a hybrid meeting does go ahead in Seattle, we are reasonably confident that there will be minimal, if any, in-person attendance from the APAC region

APAC Space goes on to note that ICANN 73 next March is also scheduled to take place in the same region, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The letter continues:

We are concerned that holding a hybrid meeting in which participants from only some regions can participate in-person is not in line with ICANN’s goal to reflect regional and cultural diversity, and risks further disenfranchising regions that are already under-represented within ICANN’s processes.

A recent ICANN survey found that a majority of community members were keen to return to face-to-face meetings. While this was true everywhere, the majority was stronger among North Americans and Europeans.

ICANN’s board of directors is due to make a decision about Seattle later this month.

This article was updated July 9 to clarify authorship of the letter to ICANN.

There’s really only one question about the return to face-to-face ICANN meetings

Kevin Murphy, June 22, 2021, Domain Policy

The struggles of remote working during unsociable hours and the possibility of a return to partially in-person meetings for Seattle in October were the subject of lots of well-deserved debate at the virtual ICANN 71 public meeting last week, but in reality I think there’s only one question that matters.

The question is posed by Americans to everyone else, and it goes like this: “You guys cool if we go ahead without you?”

Sure, lots of interesting and important questions were raised last week, particularly during the hour-long final session.

If ICANN decides to require proof of vaccination to attend in person, will it accept all brands of vaccine, or will it do a Bruce Springsteen and exclude those who have received the AstraZeneca jab, which is not currently approved in the US?

Is it a problem for overseas travelers that the number of vaccinated Americans currently appears to be plateauing, as ludicrous political divisions see primarily “red state” folks refuse to take their medicine?

What about attendees working for companies that have eliminated their travel budget for the rest of the year?

What if there’s a new flavor of Covid, worse than the current delta variant, in play in October? What if travel corridors into the US are still closed when ICANN 72 comes around? What if attendees have to self-isolate for weeks in expensive hotels upon their return to their home countries? Has ICANN done any research into this?

These are some of the questions that have been raised, and while they’re all very interesting I can’t help but feel that they’re completely irrelevant in the context of an ICANN meeting.

ICANN doesn’t know what the pandemic state of play internationally is going to be four months from now. Nobody does. Not the epidemiologists, not the healthcare leaders, not the governments.

ICANN isn’t a government. It isn’t the United Nations. It’s a technical and policy coordination body that sometimes appears to have a sense of its own importance as inflated as its budget. Its powers to assure an internationally diverse community can gather in literally the same room in October are close to non-existent.

But it’s a pretty safe bet that domestic travel in the US will still be permitted in October (did it ever even really stop?) and therefore it’s a pretty safe bet that community members based in America will be able to bump elbows in Seattle.

The only question remaining therefore is: how much of the rest of the world is ICANN willing to risk excluding to make that happen?

It’s a question its board of directors will answer in July. I don’t envy them the responsibility.

ICANNers itching to get back to face-to-face shindigs

Kevin Murphy, June 16, 2021, Domain Policy

A majority of ICANN community members want a return to in-person meetings as soon as possible, and overwhelmingly don’t care how many pandemic-related restrictions are put in place to get it done.

That’s according to the results of an online survey ICANN carried out, which ultimately had 665 responses, or 514 if you exclude responses from ICANN staff.

The survey found that over half of all respondents were keen to fling open the doors for ICANN 72 in Seattle this October, even if it meant reduced attendance and global diversity due to pandemic restrictions on travel.

There was even greater acceptance of — and indeed demand for — health measures such as social distancing, face masks, proof of vaccination, and on-site testing.

None of these proposed measures attracted less than 72% support, and no more than 11% of respondents objected to any individual measure.

While the majority of the respondents were from North America or Europe — which I think it’s fair to say are broadly considered to be well-vaccinated and in the closing days of their pandemic restrictions — ICANN has helpfully broken down some of the responses by geography.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, North Americans and Europeans were far more likely to approve of vaccination-related attendance rules, at 73% and 66% respectively. But a majority of those from Latin America, Asia and Africa were also tolerant of such restrictions.

North Americans were also much less likely to fear travel restrictions — ICANN 72 will be held on home turf, after all.

While the survey results show a clear inclination for reopening in-person meetings, with an online component for those unable to make it, the decision will be made by the ICANN board of directors next month.

The full survey results can be viewed here (pdf).

How awful would ICANN 72 have to be for you to stay at home?

Kevin Murphy, June 13, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN is seriously considering holding its ICANN 72 public meeting with a face-to-face component in Seattle this October. But it wants to know what would make you stay at home.

The org is surveying community members to see how they would respond to stuff like temperature checks, rapid testing, compulsory mask wearing, , vaccine certificates, physical distancing and even physical tracking.

Do community members want this stuff to make them feel safe? Or would it make them steer clear of the meeting for the sheer annoyance and intrusion? Is the community made up of bleeding-heart liberal wokesters, or hardline dunderhead deniers?

And if it turned out that the meeting would be predominately populated with vaxxed-up North Americans and Western Europeans, with few attendees from less well-off parts of the world, would that make you stay away in solidarity?

These are among the questions asked in the 10-page survey, sent out in advance of this week’s ICANN 71 public meeting, which had been due to take place in The Hague but instead will be ICANN’s fifth consecutive online-only gathering.

There’s going to be a live discussion about the possibility of a return to hybrid in-person meetings on Thursday.

The ICANN board is due to make a call on the location of 72 at some point in July.

And it’s not just a decision about health and global representation.

While the survey does not cover this, ICANN meetings are not cheap, and to set the ball rolling now with poor visibility into the pandemic situation a few months in advance would incur costs that could not be recouped.

American Gen Z not interested in ICANN?

Kevin Murphy, May 28, 2021, Domain Policy

ICANN seems to be having trouble recruiting American youngsters into its cult community.

The org today said that it’s extended the deadline for its NextGen program, which is trying to attract and throw money at a dozen under-30s from North America to attend its October public meeting.

It’s the second North American meeting in a row before which ICANN has had to extend the deadline for applications.

Ordinarily, the NextGen program offers 18-30 years-old students and academics in the internet policy field free travel and lodgings for an ICANN meeting, along with up to $200 for a visa and $500 to cover incidentals.

ICANN typically picks 12 to 15 participants for each meeting. Successful applicants have “mentors” and are obliged to actually participate, giving a short presentation on their relevant academic work.

It’s currently fifty-fifty whether ICANN 72 goes ahead in Seattle this October or becomes the sixth meeting in a row to be held on Zoom, so pandemic-related travel restrictions probably have some bearing on interest in the NextGen program.

But pre-pandemic ICANN 66, the last to be held in the USA, also had to extend its application deadline and ultimately attracted only 11 successful applicants, one below the usual minimum threshold.

(It’s quite difficult, incidentally, to get quality statistics on the NextGen program. The list of North American participants for ICANN 66 is just a copy-paste of the African participants for ICANN 65, and the out-of-date numbers on the official stats page incorrectly have Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands categorized as North American (which they’re not, according to ICANN’s geographic regions policy).)

So what is it keeping younger North Americans away from ICANN?

If anything, one would assume a greater interest from academics in the region, given ICANN’s historical connection to the US government and its uniquely interesting position under the law.

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