Join our upcoming webinar recapping the recent ICANN 80 meeting. This session will share highlights of important industry policy developments that will affect your online domain name, brand protection, and cybersecurity strategies. Expert Gretchen Olive, CSC vice president, policy and strategic account management will bring webinar participants up to speed on:

  • New gTLD Program: Next Round – Implementation Status Update

  • Registration Data Request Service (RDRS) Update

  • DNS Abuse


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Disclaimer: Please be advised that this recorded webinar has been edited from its original format, which may have included a product demo. To set up a live demo or to request more information, please complete the form to the right. Or if you are currently not on CSC Global, there is a link to the website in the description of this video. Thank you.

Christy: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "ICANN 880: Insights From The Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. My name is Christy DeMaio Ziegler, and I will be your moderator.

Joining us today is Gretchen Olive. Gretchen is the Vice President of Policy and Strategic Account Management for CSC. For over two decades, Gretchen has helped Global 2000 companies devise global domain name, trademark, and online brand protection strategies and is a leading authority for ICANN. And with that, let's welcome Gretchen.

Gretchen: Thank you, Christy, and thank you, everybody, for joining us today. I know these are busy times for everybody. So really appreciate you taking a part of your day and spending it with us.

As usual, an ICANN meeting is always filled with lots of updates and information. So today is no exception. But just to quickly go over our agenda for today, we'll spend just a few minutes making sure that everybody kind of knows who ICANN is, when and sort of how their meeting structure works, just to give everybody the same foundation. I do see some new names on our registration list today. So thanks for joining us.

We'll also spend quite a bit of time talking about Round 2 of the new gTLD program and all the activities related to that. We'll spend some time talking about the registration data request service or RDRS. And then we'll wrap up with talking about the GAC communiqué. So let's get started.

So first, just to kind of orient everybody, ICANN hold three public meetings a year. So ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and certainly they love acronyms. You'll notice that as we go along. And I think if you've been in part of this webinar series, you know ICANN love acronyms.

So three public meetings a year. The meeting that we're going to be talking about today was the Policy Forum. It's a four-day format meeting. It's really focused on policy work and kind of community interaction, really that roll your sleeves up, working kind of meeting. Even though it's only four days, it seems like we still have just the same amount of content as if it were seven days.

So ICANN itself, this is just a little kind of org chart if you will. Like every other corporation, it has a Board of Directors. You'll see kind of like these different little boxes here. We really focus on the activities of the big blue box in the center of the screen. That's the GNSO or the Generic Names Supporting Organization. That's made up of registries, registrars, IP interests, business interests, ISPS, and others. So this is where a lot of the discussion around kind of policymaking goes on that affects folks who are on this call and companies that are participating here today.

The other box or other two boxes I should say that I'll I just call out here are all the way to the right. The bottom, the dark gray box, the Governmental Advisory Committee, that is a group made up of representatives from different governments for countries and territories, typically coming from like the telecom ministry part of the government. And they come and participate and provide the ICANN Board with advice. And that's a very formal word in the ICANN world, and we'll talk a little bit more about that, but basically advice from a public policy standpoint of policies that are kind of bubbling up from the grassroots of ICANN, the ICANN community, which is kind of represented by this org chart.

And for those of you who don't know, ICANN is a multi-stakeholder, consensus policy driven organization. So kind of things start at the grassroots level and then bubble up through these supporting organizations and eventually get to the Board of Directors. So the Governmental Advisory Committee does provide advice to the Board on these policies that are then bubbled up to the Board, and oftentimes their feedback is provided even before it gets to the Board. So more on that.

Another one of these little gray boxes that I'll point out is the second one, the second gray one down, which is the Security and Stability Advisory Committee. So they're another group that provides advice to the ICANN Board, and obviously by the title of the group, it's around security and stability of the internet. so we'll talk a little bit about them in just a few slides.

So as we as we move forward and you hear me say the ICANN community, that's what we mean by that. The ICANN community, I mean the people who are kind of represented in a lot of these boxes, often called volunteers, but they're usually part of an organization that's paying them to attend. So they're paid in some ways but just not by ICANN. And then they all have different interests, and it's always an interesting challenge to get things to move through the process at ICANN because there are so many divergent interests. So it often feels like things do move at somewhat of a glacial pace. I think it's not just feels that way, it is. But nonetheless, it's what happens when you're kind of trying to kind of coalesce and find consensus.

All right. So let's hop into our first topic of the day, which is Round 2 of ICANN's new gTLD program. There's a lot going on related to that. If I had to say, this is the topic right now. This is what dominates most of the discussion at ICANN meetings, both the public meetings and other meetings that are happening.

Just by the way of background, just for some of the newer folks to this webinar series, in 2012, ICANN had what was called the first round of the new gTLD program. And that is where entities were able to come forward and put forward an application to operate, own and operate basically their own TLD online. They received at that time, it was a time-limited window. It was from like January. It was only supposed to be for like three months. It wound up getting extended due to some technical issues. So it was really about five months in length. But nonetheless, they received 1,930 applications, which far surpassed what they were anticipating.

You can see there a little kind of breakdown of how those applications broke out. Most of those TLDs began kind of coming online or launching in the late 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 time period. But even since then, there's been activity every year with some of these new TLDs launching. In fact, some of them still haven't launched, and some of them are still in litigation.

So here we are about 12 years later, and we haven't had Round 2. We've spent probably the last 10 to 12 years looking at and kind of going through studies, assessments, and policy development around what kind of happened during Round 1. That's because when ICANN did open up Round 1, they had made a promise to the Governmental Advisory Committee or the GAC that there would be these studies, assessments, and policy development to kind of look at what went right, what went wrong, and take some action to kind of fix that before the next round would happen. And so that's really what's been going on over the last 10 to 12 years.

So with that background, so why are we doing round two? There's definitely some who would say, "Take your time ICANN. No rush. Twelve years, you want to make it 20 years, that's just fine. We have enough top level domains. We don't need any more." That's definitely the feeling of some. And there's also other parts of the community who are very interested in having more TLDs in terms of there are some brands who want their own TLD, and there's obviously different investment groups who have ideas for open TLDs. So divergent interests certainly.

But ICANN has kind of stated that the two key objectives for Round 2 is to focus on diversity and inclusivity. So the first round was really dominated, most of the applications by the English-speaking world. Most of the applications came from North America, then followed by EMEA, and then a very distant third APAC, and then even further back from that was sort of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa type region. So many would have characterized it as an opportunity for those in the know, for those who kind of operate within the domain name ecosystem, industry insiders. Those are the people who participated in Round 1 or those who worked with people like that, who kind of educated them about the process and had money to spend to be educated and supported.

The feeling though is that this round should definitely have more of a focus on bringing more people to this process and enabling more people to participate. And there's a sense that there are more people on the globe that don't speak English than do. So there needs to be more space for them. As well as emerging economies and emerging areas of the world that the internet isn't fully fledged yet. And so there's a real desire to kind of like include those folks and make sure that they're supported and educated and well aware of this process and helped along. So we'll talk more about what that exactly means.

There's also a sense that ICANN needs to work to reduce barriers for the potential gTLD applicants, and that kind of goes hand in hand with that first piece. Again, cost was thought to be part of a barrier or an obstacle for many to participate in the first round. Still in many ways feel that way. As well as just sort of like know-how and understanding this whole ICANN kind of world.

So these are the two key objectives for Round 2. One of the first questions that typically I get asked when we talk about like Round 2, they're like, "Okay, like when is this happening?" That's been a bit of a magic question for a number of years. But ICANN has put a little bit of a flag in the sand. There was this kind of discussion over the course of the last year, year and a half about like what will it take to finally get this to opening the next application window. And at the time, there was this discussion around like there's some activities that are going to take two years, and then there's these other activities that are going to take a year. We can probably do these concurrently. So the flag in the sand was put in for April 2026. So that is currently what is projected as the timeline for the opening of the next round of new gTLDs.

In terms of what does that look like, what do we mean? Like that seems really far away that timeline. I think certainly like in internet years it does. Almost two years feels like an eternity. But in the ICANN world, where things move very slowly because of the need to have consensus and to bring all these different divergent interests together and to work and kind of row in the same direction, as well as the just sheer volume of work it takes to do these things, two years is not a lot of time.

During the meeting, they share different slides and charts and things like that, that show what needs to get done, what the projected timelines are for that, what the different work streams are. So here is a nice consolidated view of sort of what needs to happen to get to that April 2026 and actually through the application window.

So you can see a lot of things happening concurrently. The big kind of like target date again is when will that application window happen. There's a lot of focus, you'll see an acronym on here, AGB, and that's the "Applicant Guidebook." That is the runbook, the Bible, whatever you want to call it for the new gTLD program. That will talk about everything from like who is eligible to how to apply to the requirements for operating a TLD, contracting information, cost information, processes around like everything from objection handling to different commitments registries have to make. It is the end-all, be-all kind of runbook for this process. And so there's a lot of focus on that "Applicant Guidebook" and getting it into final form.

There obviously was an "Applicant Guidebook" for Round 1, and as a result of the policy work and of assessments, etc. that have occurred over the last 10 to 12 years, there's adjustments that need to be made to that guidebook. So we'll talk a little bit about the policy work has resulted in recommendations, but now it's like the language has to be drafted, the actual words have to be put into the guidebook, so bringing those recommendations to life. And so there's an opportunity to kind of see those things as that language starts getting developed. We'll talk about several different comment periods where you'll be able to see different batches of work on that.

So one of the other kind of visuals that we often get at an ICANN meeting on the new gTLD program is kind of think of it as a scorecard or a status report. And what it does is it represents the kind of different work streams that need to get done. And we first saw this scorecard, if you will, the end of last year, beginning of this year we started seeing these scorecards. And up until then, you would see all little green round dots. Everything was they had kind of set the plan, and they were in the very early days of the plan and everything was hitting its mark.

This scorecard now starts to show a few little yellow triangles. So starting to see a little bit of risk, a little bit of risk to timeline. Interestingly, in May, ICANN announced that they had done some layoffs. And so they actually laid off about 7% of their staff. They were at about like 485 people globally, so under 500 people. They laid off about 33 people. And when that happened, one of the first questions that popped to a lot of people's minds is, "Hmm, is this going to impact the work that needs to get done, the very detailed work that needs to get done to have the next round open as projected in April of 2026?"

So this scorecard, actually if you look on the RST line there, the comments related to that work stream, is the first time you start to see like there were layoffs. We're down full-time employees. That is having an impact. So we'll watch this carefully. But just kind of understand like ICANN historically has not been great at hitting their timelines. I think there was a time where they were wildly always like off by years. I do think that they've gotten better. There's a lot of program management or project management discipline around this program right now, and so I do feel like as these risks come in, we may see things slide by months. I don't think it's going to be years. But we'll continue to keep kind of everybody apprised of that.

So I mentioned earlier, one of the kind of very key timelines to watch is the "Applicant Guidebook" because without that being in final form, the application window cannot open. So ICANN, kind of their projected time to have everything Board approved and final final form, published, etc. is by the end of 2025 the "Applicant Guidebook" must be at that stage. They are expecting in the early part of 2025, in the first half of 2025 I should say, that the "Applicant Guidebook" will have gotten through kind of different stages of public comment. Final public comment to happen in May of 2025. And then to go through Board approval and then final publication. So that timeline, like I said , is the one to watch. That will really tell the tale of is this going to happen in April of 2026. So we'll continue to report out on that.

So there are a lot of dependencies though beyond just hitting the dates on the "Applicant Guidebook." And we'll talk about some of the public comment pieces. But before we do that, I wanted to talk about some of these other dependencies, things that are kind of outside the drafting of the language of the "Applicant Guidebook" and getting through kind of full interpretation of recommendations that have been already approved.

One of the things is the IDN EPDP Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports. So let's first decode that with the acronyms. So IDN is internationalized domain names. EPDP is an expedited policy development process. This has been a process that's been going on. It's on track. This is definitely tracking right. Again, going back to sort of like wanting more diversity in this round, it's really important that some of this work done around IDNs gets done in time so that there can be really hopefully more than a handful of applications that are IDNs, where people who don't speak English, the TLD will be in their native script. So that's a dependency, just kind of getting to those final reports. Like I said, everything is on track there. So I don't think that dependency is going to really cause a lot of risk.

The second one there, it says NCAP Study. So NCAP is the Name Collision Analysis Project. For those of you who were along for the ride on Round 1, you may remember that phrase "name collision" was one that really after the applications were put forward, that pretty quickly reared its ugly head. What name collision is that within different network environments, network administrators, they're setting up servers and environments and things like that, and they'll often make up like TLDs to kind of put these servers on because it's just for internal purposes. It's not anything that's going to operate out on internet. And so they would use things like .home or .corp or .email. These weren't TLDs that existed. They just kind of made sense. They were common sense kind of names that they would set these servers, etc. up on.

And unfortunately, when the list of names that were applied for in Round 1 was finally kind of published, there was this kind of recognition that, oh, gosh, some of those names match some of these made-up names inside networks. And what would happen? Like would the internet get confused by that? Would there be some confusion, some collision between what existed in internal kind of network configurations and what was available on the root system?

And so there was a lot of analysis and study and kind of mitigation plans that were developed. But the fear was that there could be security concerns around that, that there could be data leakage and misrouting of traffic, etc. So they're trying to get ahead of that and build upon what they've learned in the first round, this NCAP Study.

And this is where the Security and Stability Advisory Committee, that SSAC, one of those gray boxes I pointed out on the ICANN org chart, they've also been following this super closely because should there be a list of names of TLDs that should not be applied for. Like should there be sort of like this group of words that no one can apply for? And those should be the ones that network administrators should use for internal purposes. There's been some discussion about like why don't network ad administrators use .internal for internal things.

So we're watching that carefully. There's a lot of discussion around that. ICANN has been seeking some input as well. But that's definitely an issue that's lurking around all this.

There are also some of the recommendations that came from one of the working groups, the Subsequent Procedures Working Group, often referred to as SubPro. They had issued like 96 recommendations, the bulk of which have been adopted, maybe adopted with a couple of tweaks by the ICANN Board. There are a handful still that are working their way through, and some back and forth with like the GNSO, the Generic Names Supporting Organization counsel. So there are still some things being worked out there. So those are dependencies.

There's also advice. I mentioned earlier when one of these advisory committees gives ICANN advice and it's specifically termed as "advice," that has a very specific meeting under the ICANN bylaws. And so for advice that is given to ICANN by one of these advisory committees, there's a formal process to accept the advice, reject the advice, or ask for clarification of the advice. And if they reject the advice, there is a whole process that if the group that's given that advice, the committee that's given that advice still feels strongly their advice should be heeded, then there's a whole kind of like almost arbitration process in some ways that goes through, where they have to more consultation around that. So there's some advice that the GAC has given around auctions. We'll talk about that a little bit. And then also the name collision advice from the SSAC.

So those are dependencies, and then there's also some additional work being done by the Bard to agree on a framework for what's called personal interest commitments and registry voluntary commitments and contention resolution. The PICs and the RVCs are things that the registries themselves, so the entities that apply for a TLD, they will sign a registry agreement, and within that registry agreement they will have to make certain public interest commitments and RVCs, registry voluntary commitments. And so there's work being done to put a structure around like what exactly do we mean by that. Like ICANN does not police content. So, for instance, PICs and RVCs shouldn't relate to content. So anyway, more to come there, as well as some of the contention resolution mechanisms.

So I guess the short answer here is there's other dependencies beyond just the work to get the "Applicant Guidebook" in final form that really can affect that April 2026 date.

So with all that being said, there is very clear focus on the AGB. And what ICANN has chosen to do is kind of batch, if you will, the changes that they're going to need to make to the guidebook. They've kind of batched it into three public comments kind of tranches. And then at the end, after they get through that, they'll publish the whole guidebook, and then there'll be a public comment for that whole guidebook. And that was in that little diagram I showed you a few slides ago.

The first public comment, so they've kind of like targeted the topics that are going to be addressed and the language that will then be added to the "Applicant Guidebook" for public comment. They've kind of outlined what each of these comment periods will include.

So public comment kind of batch one has already happened. That occurred February 1st through March 27th. And you can see the list of topics there that were addressed. And quite honestly, these are ones where there's not a lot of controversy. Maybe they were like geographic names and things like that. There were a lot of debates over that over the last 10 to 12 years, but it's now a pretty settled issue. So this was not this was not the hard stuff. Let's just put it that way. This is the stuff that was pretty straightforward.

ICANN receive 10 comments. There's a summary report that they do after a public comment period, that sort of summarizes the comments, which they've done, and then they've shared that with the Implementation Review Team or what you see there is IRT is the acronym. So that is underway, and they're making sure that the IRT understands what's come back in public comment.

In the Resource Center that Christy pointed out at the beginning of this webinar, one of the things we've put in that Resource Center for you is the summary report on public comments number one. So if you want to read what those comments were, kind of a summary of that, that's there for you. So please feel free to download that.

So public comment number two, that's expected in September of this year, so only a few months away. You can see all the topics there that are expected to be included. These are where it gets a little more let's not use controversial, but these are the tougher topics. These are the ones where, again, these are going to be based on recommendations that have already been like discussed, debated, negotiated. So these recommendations do represent consensus. But now the words have to also kind of mirror that, right, and so there's a lot of really meaty and topics of high interest in this group of topics. So this is what I say is where the rubber will hit the road on the "Applicant Guidebook." So stay tuned for more here.

Christy: Gretchen?

Gretchen: Yes.

Christy: It looks like we do have a question from Jamie.

Gretchen: Okay.

Christy: Jamie has asked, "Has ICANN announced how much an application for a new gTLD will cost in Round 2?"

Gretchen: Great question and probably the question on everybody's mind who's interested in potentially applying it. I guess the answer there is sort of and let me explain. So last round, it cost $185,000 to apply. So that was just the application fee. There were many other fees associated with the program. But to put your application forward was $185,000. And ICANN has long said that they really hoped that after Round 1, they'd have all these learnings. They would build all these efficiencies, and they really hoped that Round 2 would be cheaper.

Well, that's not going to be the case. Their estimate right now is between $208,000 and $293,000. They have been clear that they're building this on a cost recovery model, that this is not like how can we profit from applications. But they were trying to kind of demonstrate that these are all the costs that are associated with putting forward an application, evaluating an application. They also have said that the application fees must fully fund that part of the process, meaning there can't be revenue that comes from other parts that are subsidized by other ICANN fees that are collected.

And so they estimate just to kind of do the basics of the application process, that's about $50 million. And then if you add kind of a contingency fund and then what they expect costs that can be attributed to sort of shared services of another $10 million, they're looking at really another $20 million onto the $50 million. So $10 million for contingency, $10 million for these shared services, and so you get to about $70 million that they have to collect.

The challenge is they don't know how many applications they're going to get, and so they've tried to come up with this sort of what they're calling a demand adjusted fees schedule. They received almost 2,000 applications the last time. If they receive less than that and they do a really low fee, they're going to be in trouble. If they receive more than that and they do the lower end of the fee, they might be okay. If they wind up putting a higher price tag on this, somewhere closer to the top end of the range that they've provided and they get high demand, then they're also talking about, well, they would refund a portion of the application fee if that were the case.

So in this public comment number two, the language is expected, kind of like the decision on the costing of the application is expected around September of 2024. So we're all staying tuned, but that's where things look to be right now. So great question. Thank you.

Okay. So public comment number three, smaller group of topics, but nonetheless ones that the GAC has a lot of interest in. So this will be another kind of meaty public comment, and this is expected by the end of this year, December of 2024. So we'll be watching for all that and reporting out on that.

So now beyond the "Applicant Guidebook," the dependencies, there's a couple other things that have a lot of focus right now. Like I said, there's a lot of things going on simultaneously, but there's going to be a couple other things that you're going to hear a lot about if you read like industry blogs, things like that that follow ICANN announcements, etc.

One of them is called the Applicant Support Program or the ASP. And this is really a program that it aligns with those two key objectives of Round 2. It's basically trying to figure out what support is needed, both financial and sort of know-how, to foster diversity, encourage competition, and really make the DNS a place for people of all languages, cultures, locations around the globe irregardless of their sort of like economic power. It really wants to make that inclusivity and diversity objective really come to fruition. So this is, as I've mentioned earlier, a very key focus of the ASP, and the GAC is repeatedly beating the drum and reminding and needling and constantly talking about the ASP and really trying to get ICANN to put a ton of focus and energy on this on this program.

In terms of where they are with that, there's been an initial kind of handbook put together, public comment, and there's some updates now underway. For this handbook, they also need some of the language that's being worked on for the AGB. So that's all part that will need to get baked into that.

They're also working on a funding plan. And so right now, the total cost projected is between $10 million and $16 million. So a lot of money, not cheap. But they're looking at like how many applications could they support, how much kind of subsidy could they provide. There's a lot of math being done around that. And the GAC has got their opinions also about how that's all decided.

And then there's also I would say one of the biggest kind of demands from the GAC right now around the ASP is now ICANN's engagement and outreach and communication plan. They feel very, very strongly that a very large reason why there wasn't diverse participation in Round 1 is that a lot of people didn't know that the program was launching. And so they want a lot being done in terms of outreach.

The other program that's kind of going on is what's called the Registry Service Provider or RSP Evaluation Program. And in the first round, one of the big learnings, and this is I think universally agreed was a huge learning, so every TLD needs to have a registry technology backend. It's what operates the TLD online. It publishes the WHOIS. It runs the DNS. It's the infrastructure that runs the TLD. So there are various providers out there that provide that backend technology.

And in the first round, ICANN had each of these registry providers they had that for every TLD, the registry backend provider had to be evaluated. And the mistake was it was based on the TLD, not on who the actual provider is. There are not thousands of these providers. So there was a small group of these technology providers, and every TLD, they had to have their kind of system and capabilities reevaluated it, and there was cost, time, and money that was all associated with that. Irregardless if they had already been evaluated and approved like 50 times already, every TLD they still had to go through that process.

So this time, they're saying let's be smarter about this. Let's be more efficient about this, and let's kind of pre-approve registry backend technologies, approve them, put them on a list that then can be used, and as long as that applicant is using one of the pre-approved providers, that registry evaluation is complete. And ICANN will require actually that anyone who applies for a TLD use someone who is on that list. So that will hopefully streamline and reduce a lot of work, time, and effort around kind of evaluating registry service providers. So that's something that is really in progress right now.

The handbook has been published. There's some system development work that's coming down to the end. There's some testing that's going on, and there's a microsite. So that's all moving along as expected and is expected to be in place and kind of ready to go to start doing those evaluations. But you'll hear a fair amount about that.

So that is the new gTLD program, what's going on with it right now Round 2. In the Resource Center, I've also included . . . we publish to our customers, we manage about 200 dot brands, and so every month, month and a half we send a little newsletter report with some insights and updates around the new gTLD dot brand aspect of the program. And so I've downloaded I guess our last one from late April, just to kind of see the types of information that we provide our customers around the program. So hopefully that gives you some insights of the things that the current dot brand owners are thinking about.

So let's now move to the Registration Data Request Service. So over the last couple of years, a lot more than a couple of years I should say, since GDPR went and became enforceable in May of 2018, there has been increased conversation around WHOIS. WHOIS has been a topic forever, but really it put a finer focus on WHOIS related in two areas. One is what should the WHOIS really look like? What is really necessary to be there? The WHOIS is something that kind of evolved and was created for technical purposes at the beginning of kind of the internet and domain names. But the world has evolved since then. So needing to relook at that in light of data privacy. What really needs to be in there?

And then secondly, who should have access to that information? Like yes, maybe there's a small set of information that's available on all, but that kind of deeper set of information, who should have access to that and how should that happen? So ICANN has published a Registration Data Policy, which was published earlier this year, in February. It will be fully enforceable in August of 2025. Registries and registrars are working through their implementations for that now.

But one of the things that's sort of like what should be in the WHOIS, but in terms of like getting access to that data, which is a very important thing to brand owners, that has been a bit more of a struggle. And what I mean by that is there was a ton of policy work that was done and a working group, etc. and recommendations that came out in terms of like how should access be provided and what should be the rules around that. And what came out of that was a system that the acronym for it was SSAD. And it was very expensive, millions and millions of dollars, would take somewhere between four to seven years to implement. And when that all kind of came to the realization of those facts, the feeling was like, "Are we really sure this is going to be the answer to the problem?"

So the community kind of stepped back, and ultimately what was decided is to create this proof of concept system that would help ICANN understand the demand, what the requests generally look like, who's making the requests, and sort of how they're being handled by registrars. So ICANN kind of took a system that they had, added some things to it, tweaked it a bit, and came up with this Registration Data Request Service or RDRS and launched it in late November of last year. And really what it is, is a ticketing system.

The RDRS is free. You can go to the ICANN website. You can register for an account. You can make requests. There's no cost to do that. It will connect you with the registrar for that name. Now the thing you need to understand though is that it's not mandatory for registrars to participate in this. So not all registrars are participating in that. So that causes a challenge if you're entering a name that there's not registrar participation for. But the hope was that at least it could streamline and standardize the process for submitting and receiving requests so that we could get some insights again around what the demand is and what these requests are and sort of how registrars are handling that.

The RDRS itself does not guarantee just because you put a request in that you're going to get the data. That's really, really important. But you make the request in the system, and then kind of interaction between the registrar and the requestor happens outside of the system, typically in email. And sort of tracking happens within this RDRS system. So the ticket gets opened in the RDRS system, gets forwarded to the registrar in the RDRS system. It then gets worked outside system. And then the final disposition is entered into the system. So again, a ticketing system, not really a fully kind of big solution for access to WHOIS information for people who have legitimate purposes, like IP, for brand and trademark enforcement, security researchers, fraud investigators, things like that, law enforcement. The system doesn't fully address those needs.

So they shared some statistics during the meeting and so I'm going to share a few slides of some interesting data points. So far, there's been a little over 4,000 unique requestor accounts created on the ICANN website. There's been about 1,200 requests submitted. There's about 88 registrars participating. There's over 3,000 ICANN accredited registrars globally, so 88 is not huge. One thing to understand though is some of those registrars, there's kind of like what's called registrar families, that are often referred to as registrar families where some registrars operate multiple brands. So I think 3,000 is not entirely reflective. But of the 1,200 requests submitted, about almost 1,100 of them have been closed. And you can see that about 381 of them they've had forms downloaded for non-participating registrars. So some interesting statistics there.

Here it shows you sort of who's making the requests. And you can see this kind of broken out by month and obviously in total by requestor type. November is a little light. They didn't open the system until after the U.S. Thanksgiving, so it was very late November. So the system has been out there for a little over six months. There is the general kind of feeling like not a lot of people are using this system, not as many requests as expected. I think there's a feeling that ICANN hasn't done a great job in sort of promoting this and building awareness around that. So there's a lot of effort around that right now and also just wanting more registrar participation. It isn't mandatory. It's not contractually required. So I think those are some things that are kind of holding back the number of requests as well as sort of just awareness of the system.

There's also kind of some data here around outcomes. You can see the kind of the red part of the donut there is the ones that have been denied. So a good chunk of them have been denied. And then there's different reason types for that.

So I did in the Resource Center also put the last report. ICANN issues monthly reports. We have the one there I think that was published for April in mid-May. So if this is interesting to you and something that you'd like to learn more about, I really would encourage you to download that from the Resource Center because it's an interesting read. There's some interesting data in there and some interesting observations. So I would really recommend that you give that a read. It's a pretty quick read, a lot of charts and graphs.

They also have some enhancements they're working on. Again, they're trying to work on increasing use of this system. Some people have kind of said it's kind of clunky. So there's been a few things that have been completed. There's a few things in progress. But let's just call it what it is. It's a work in progress, and they plan to use this system. This is intended to be at least a two-year proof of concept. So this November would be year one. So there's still a ways to go. And the GAC also is really pushing for them to listen to the community, improve it, increase participation through awareness. So I think there's a lot more to come here.

Christy: Gretchen, it looks like we have another question that came through from the audience. Paul asked, "Has ICANN talked about an enhancement that would allow users to enter bulk RDRS requests?'

Gretchen: Oh, yes, yes. So it's not currently in progress. Look, that has definitely been discussed. We've put that forward. We're one of the participating registrars, but also we use the RDRS as part of we do a lot of enforcement work for our clients, and it's one of the tools that we use to try to get behind who's behind different names. And so we would love not to be making requests one by one by one by one. It'd be great if we can make some bulk requests to a registrar. So yeah, that's definitely been some commentary from the community and something we have put forward. But yeah, that's not currently in progress, but hopefully will be in the near term. Great question.

Also they've recently done a survey. So you can see here some survey results. Overall, they've gotten a 2.1 rating so out of a score of possible of 5. So they've got some work to do there. But they only had a 2% participation rate in that survey too. So more to come here. Definite work in progress, but something that we're keeping a very close eye on.

All right. So I mentioned earlier we'll talk a little bit more about the GAC, and so here we are to that part of the program. As I mentioned earlier, the GAC is made up of representatives from various governments, country and territory governments. There's 182 country and territory members, 39 observer organizations, about 500 participants and delegates that kind of make up the GAC right now. And that's always growing. We saw a big kind of growth spurt over the time of the pandemic, which I think everybody kind of had to come to the realization that the online world is critical to everyone, to government, to civil society, to business, to individuals. And so certainly governments realized that they needed to increase their participation and sort of policymaking around that. So that's what's happened.

At every ICANN meeting, the GAC throughout the meeting, they're having different meetings and discussions, etc., and at the end of the meeting it used to be the last day, now it kind of trickles out a few days, but past the meeting, but they issue what's called the GAC communiqué at the end of each meeting. And the communiqué will detail sort of like the meetings they had and the things that they did while at the meeting. But then it also has two other kind of like sections to it. One is issues of importance to the GAC, and then the other one is related to GAC advice.

So let's first tackle issues of importance. There was a time where the GAC did not have much of a voice in the ICANN community. They were certainly there. We would get these communiqués, and they would share their opinions. But I wouldn't say they were strong influencers.

Once we got around to launching the new gTLD program, the first round, the GAC voice increased and influence increased exponentially. And it's just continued to increase. And so one of the things I've said, if you've attended this webinar series before, I often will say if you want to know what's going on at ICANN, watch the GAC because they will tell you where things are going well and where things are not going well. And they will dig their heels in when things are not going well or need further attention, and they will slow the bus. And so they've really figured out their voice and their influence and their power. And so that's why I watch really carefully. I read with great interest each time. Even though I attend the sessions, it's always interesting to see how it comes out in the communiqué, the issues of importance and advice.

So in terms of this time around, in terms of issue of importance, these are things that have the GAC's kind of mind right now. One is around transparency. So as different people participate in work groups, etc., in these formal working groups and especially related to the PDPs, the policy development process, you have to file a statement of interest, which kind of talks about who you are, who you're representing, those types of things. And there's been some concerns where it's not entirely clear who some of these individuals who are participating really represent. And so it often is like an attorney. Yeah, an attorney comes from a law firm. But like who are they really representing? What interest are they really representing? So there's been a lot of discussion around like how to build some greater rules around statements of interest and code of ethics. so that's been going on.

Registry Voluntary Commitments, those RVCs and those public interest commitments, that was something that sprung out of the first round post-application. And it's something the GAC is very interested in getting right this time and making sure that it's really clear to applicants going in what types of things they should be putting in their application in terms of those voluntary commitments and public interest commitments when it comes to highly-regulated TLDs that might be related to highly-regulated industries, like the financial industry, health care, things like that.

Also the subsequent procedures, they're very concerned, I wouldn't say concerned, but they're very much following that, making sure that the issues are being, the recommendations are being reviewed, and wanting to make sure that those things get to the IRT, those implementation review teams.

DNS abuse, that has been a long-standing topic, the fear of adding more TLDs in the midst of all the abuse that happens online. Is that adding gasoline to the fire? So really trying to get ICANN to focus on some compliance things. There's been some new language added to registry and registrar contracts around DNS abuse, mitigation, and sort of response. And the GAC is very interested in seeing what ICANN is doing around kind of enforcing that new language.

DNSSEC is a technical protocol that can help better secure domain names and TLDs online. Within organizations, when organizations look at deploying DNSSEC, it's a big project, and a lot of them because it's not mandatory, it's not number one on the list of projects to do. And so the GAC is really trying to encourage everybody, everyone from kind of the domain name ecosystem players to individual registrants to really find the will and the funding and the support to get DNSSEC implemented because it can help.

We talked about the Registration Data Request Service. Again, GAC is pleased that this is up and running, but they want ICANN to do much more around awareness.

Registration data accuracy has always been a long-standing issue and concern of the GAC, wanting to make sure that registrants are validated. Who are they? Do we know what they put down is really true because the domain industry is largely self-service?

And then support for privacy and proxy services accreditation implementation review. Before all this GDPR stuff happened, there was a policy that was developed that was just about to be released and kind of put into effect around privacy and proxy services and putting some requirements on them. But that got halted. And so there's support from the GAC to like let's figure out what we can still do from that policy. Even though the world has changed a lot, let's figure out how we could resuscitate some of that.

So that's what's on their mind in terms of issues of importance. But when we talk about advice, again I talked about that it's a very technical term in the ICANN world. And so the GAC had two pieces of new advice for ICANN. One is around the Applicant Support Program and really getting that communication and outreach plan out and going and let's get at it and they want to see it. So very formal now, ICANN you must accept, reject, or ask for clarification for what we mean there. So basically ICANN is on the clock now for Applicant Support.

And then lastly around auctions, the GAC has said that they would like to see that there is no ability to do private auctions in this next round. They felt like many people put forward applications just to kind of be able to participate in some of these private auctions and yield millions of dollars. And they think that's gaming the system, and they don't want to see that anymore.

And then they followed up on some prior advice that they've provided. So always a busy time at ICANN. Always watch the GAC. That's how you'll know things where they're going. But certainly a lot going on and busy times.

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