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ICANN Berlin Meeting - Internet Governance

Between the 24th and 28th May in Berlin, a series of meetings between international organisations struggled to put together the 'new Internet'. These discussions have been going on around the World now for some eighteen to twenty months, but at last some order is emerging from the chaos.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names has now been properly constituted and is poised to take over governance of the Internet from the US Government.The problem to date has been that ICANN has organised itself at the top level, with an Interim Board, which is in the process of making policy decisions even though the policy generating committees and supporting organisations have yet to be formed.
In Berlin, the first steps towards creating these organisations was taken with the creation of the various constituencies which make up the Domain Names Support Organisation. This is one of the 3 support organisations which are to provide policy to the board. The ICANN Interim Board approved constituency groups as follows:

Country Code TLD (Top Level Domain) Registries (e.g., for".nz")
Commercial and Business Entities
Generic TLD Registries (e.g., for .com,.net, and .org)
Intellectual Property
ISPs and Connectivity Providers
An application by Non-Commercial Bodies was rejected as not appropriate for registration and an application on behalf of Individual Domain Name Holders, promoted by New Zealander Joop Teernstra was completely ignored by the Board in its resolutions and press release.
ISOCNZ is deeply concerned that ICANN saw fit to respond to a poorly presented application in the case of Non-Commercial Organisations but didn't have the courtesy to respond to the promoters of the Individual Domain Holders Group in spite of the fact that their application was properly constructed and strongly supported. Only at the press conference at the close of the meetings, and in response to a demand from Teernstra, did CEO Dyson comment that the Board expected to review the question of individual domain name holders once the position of membership of the corporation itself was clarified
One of the main objectives of the ISOCNZ delegation, comprising Jim Higgins and Peter Dengate Thrush, was to prevent the WIPO report on intellectual property issues from being adopted outright by the Interim Board. At the Open Board meeting on Wednesday 26th things looked bad at the beginning of the day but a determined and consistent effort from the floor by Peter Dengate Thrush and others saved the day and the WIPO report has been passed to the DNS Support Organisation for comment.
Previously, a petition seeking just that step, and signed by many large Intellectual property organisations had been dismissed by ICANN president, Mike Roberts, as "arrogant and juvenile". When called on to explain that by Jim Higgins, Mr Roberts made no apology."We are especially pleased" said Jim Higgins, "that the 'take-down' provision was not implemented outright." Peter Dengate Thrush commented that "nz would continue to fight the exclusion provisions and referring the document to the DNSO will provide us with the ability to involve ourselves much closer to the decision making process."
The reference of the WIPO document to the DNSO is a major victory and ensures that major policy decision making now rests where it should be said Jim Higgins.
The ICANN board has asked the DNSO to consider far broader issues than were covered by WIPO, including "all commercial disputes linked to Domain Name registrations" with the growth of e-commerce on the net this foreshadows a possible "cybercourt".
"We welcome the possibilities this offers to traders in geographically Remote New Zealand", said Dengate Thrush, but we are concerned that the Policy not be drafted by the as yet incomplete DNSO, nor submitted to a non-elected interim board. The first order of business for the interim Board must be to set up the organisation, including a process for the election of a truly representative board, before any major policies are attempted"
New Zealand was represented for the first time at the second meeting of the Government Advisory Committee, by Ministry Of Commerce official, Richard Tait. At the initiative of the nz delegate, the GAC recommendation excluded reference to the WIPO exclusion policy. However, there are concerns about some aspects of the conduct of the meeting and decisions made about representation at the GAC which will be taken up with Australian Chair, Dr Paul Twomey.
ISOCNZ is most anxious about the way the GAC is being run, especially about the lack of representation of smaller countries.At the moment,the Chairman is allowing attendance only by those countries who are 'National' governments or distinct economies .Unfortunately this definition excludes a number of territories, which have a country code delegation, elect their own Governments and make their own laws. ISOCNZ would like the definition of a 'country' revised and clarified to ensure that no countries are disenfranchised.
Further information concerning the representation made by the New Zealand delegate, the resolutions of ICANN, and the Press Release of the ICANN Board may be found at the ISOCNZ website, at
© 1999 The Internet Society of New Zealand

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