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ICANN 57 - Hyderabad post meeting round-up

17 November 2016

Compared to some past meetings, Hyderabad was subject to relatively little controversy between the various parts of the community. The treatment of Inter-governmental organization (IGO) names and acronyms within new gTLDs (referred to below) remains one such controversy. Both the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) debated internally on matters of structure and their role within the new Empowered Community, which replaces the US Government’s oversight following the completion of the IANA Transition.For registry operators, a very welcome development occurred towards the end of the meeting when the ICANN Board voted to approve the release of the outstanding 2-letter second level domains which match country codes, subject to adoption of measures for the avoidance of confusion.

ICANN CEO Göran Marby has emerged as a very different leader to his predecessor. He appears to be less comfortable in large public fora than he does in smaller meetings. Consequently, he gave little indication during the Opening Ceremony of his priorities for the organisation, using this as an opportunity instead to thank the Community for its work on the IANA Transition. In smaller meetings with constituencies and stakeholder groups, however, it was possible to gain some glimpses of his leadership style. He appears to be thoughtful, tactical and pragmatic. He does not seem to be the kind of person that makes quick impulsive decisions, but rather carefully evaluates each situation and the context in which decisions need to be made. He understands that he must take greater care with his language and his explanations to avoid, as far as possible, future misunderstanding of his motives. As an example, he explained his decision to recruit a Complaints Officer to consolidate avenues of complaint under the legal function as being necessary both to allow him to determine whether issues being complained about are the result of genuine mistake or indicative of a structural problem which he needs to address; and to ensure that the team complained about was not also the team adjudicating on that complaint. Marby also commented on how harshly members of the community sometimes treat each other and ICANN staff, and called for greater respect.

On the other hand, he seemed to be distracted during a number of the meetings, and was obliged more than once to leave scheduled meetings to attend other sessions (which were not on the schedule). For example, he left the Registries Stakeholder Group Meeting with the ICANN Board on two occasions, missing some of the key discussions that took place. It was later learned that he left to deal with issues from the GAC. We hope that this is not indicative of his favouring governments above other ICANN constituents.