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GDPR and geographic names as new TLDs take centre stage at ICANN 59 in Johannesburg

10 July 2017

Two challenging topics took centre stage at the recent ICANN meeting in Johannesburg: firstly, the treatment of geographic names at the top level, and, secondly, WHOIS and its intersection with data protection and privacy laws. The formats of the cross-community sessions on both topics allowed the opportunity for real engagement from attendees.  This is in contrast to the more usual purely-panel format, which has been criticized for allowing too much time for prepared presentations and not enough for discussion or sharing of wider views.  

The use of independent facilitators for the geographic names sessions was also viewed as extremely beneficial in helping to move along the debate on this polarizing issue, and, as an outcome, a new work track 5 will be convened within the Subsequent Procedures PDP in order to continue the discussion.  A video of Jeff Neuman, Com Laude, co-Chair of the Subsequent Procedures (Round 2) Policy Development Process, and Senior VP Valideus USA clarifies how the community is working through this issue.

Meanwhile, an ad hoc working group is collating “user stories” on the use of WHOIS data elements, in order to seek advice on the impact of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  

Also, the discussion in the Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) Policy Development Process continued to focus on the TMCH, which although not in itself a protection mechanism, rather a database used by other processes , like sunrise and claims. 

On all topics, progress is being made but there is still much work to be done.  

As always, if you would like further information on a particular topic please let us know. You can also access recordings and transcripts from all sessions, should you wish to, via the Johannesburg meeting schedule.