Feature • ICANN57: In less than three weeks, ICANN will be holding its AGM or Annual General Meeting (3rd meeting in the 3 meeting annual cycle), ICANN57, in Hyderabad, India, 3-9 Nov 2016 (Thursday-Wednesday). It is only the second time in the 18-year history of ICANN, that one of its three annual meetings has been held in India (New Delhi was the site for ICANN31 in 2008). According to a 2015 UN report (pdf):
"China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 per cent of the world’s population, respectively .... within seven years, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China. Currently, the population of China is approximately 1.38 billion compared with 1.31 billion in India. By 2022, both countries are expected to have approximately 1.4 billion people. Thereafter, India’s population is projected to continue growing for several decades to 1.5 billion in 2030 and 1.7 billion in 2050, while the population of China is expected to remain fairly constant until the 2030s, after which it is expected to slightly decrease."ICANN57 will have 7 days of sessions, with the aim of showcasing the ICANN community’s work to a broader global audience, while also having days dedicated for Supporting Organization (SO) and Advisory Committee (AC) work. The complete schedule was posted this week here. Domain Mondo has temporarily renamed its CALENDAR and LINKS page to "ICANN57" with information and links about the meeting.
In accordance with the New ICANN Meeting Strategy, there will be two Public Forums during ICANN57. Public Forum 1 is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, and will provide an opportunity for each SO/AC to update the community on their efforts, followed by time for the community to share their topics of interest. Public Forum 2 will focus on solely community comment and Board response, and is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, following the Annual General ICANN Board of Directors Meeting.
More important than the content of the meeting, will be the opportunity for non-Indian ICANN stakeholders to experience India itself. For a good overview, I recommend looking at the CIA Factbook, from which you will learn India is predominantly Hindu (79.8%), and has a variety of languages:
English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2001 census).India has the largest English-speaking (native + non-native) population of any country in the world. It also has very vibrant technology and startup sectors, here's a recent episode of Bloomberg TV India's e-Inc. about one entrepreneur in India rebuilding Housing.com:
Video above: Housing.com has finally moved away from all the controversies post Rahul Yadav’s exit. Under the new CEO, Jason Kothari, Housing has heavily restructured operations, worked on building blocks and is already on track for $10MM revenue in less than a year. Speaking to Abha Bakaya of Bloomberg TV India, he tells about how he’s preparing Housing.com to take full advantage of the pickup in India’s real estate market. Video above published July 27, 2016.
But India is different to most Westerners, see, e.g., Why the Vast Majority of Women in India Will Never Own a Smartphone | WSJ.com: "Technology, promoted as a social equalizer, is having the opposite effect in one of the world’s largest markets, where millions go without the information and tools transforming the lives of men." See also https://meetings.icann.org/en/hyderabad57/safety.
Also note that ICANN is certainly no stranger to a growing group of stakeholders inside India who have voiced concerns about the California corporation. Below is a sampling from one such group, The Centre for Internet and Society:
• Why didn't ICANN ever come clean about its complete spending on NETmundial Initiative?--most likely it would have been too embarrassing for former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade's inept administration, enabled by an equally inept ICANN Board of Directors--but some people in India want to know, see DIDP Request #9 - Exactly how involved is ICANN in the NETmundial Initiative? | The Centre for Internet and Society | cis-india.org: "The importance and relevance of knowing ICANN’s involvement in the NETmundial Initiative cannot be overstated." For more, see:
IANA Transition: a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes? | The Centre for Internet and Society | cis-india.org: "ICANN prides itself on being transparent and accountable, but in reality it is not. The most often used exception to avoid answering DIDP requests has been “Confidential business information and/or internal policies and procedures,” which in itself is a testament to ICANN’s opacity. Another condition for non-disclosure allows ICANN to reject answering “Information requests: (i) which are not reasonable; (ii) which are excessive or overly burdensome; (iii) complying with which is not feasible; or (iv) are made with an abusive or vexatious purpose or by a vexatious or querulous individual.”. These exemptions are not only vague, they are also extremely subjective: again, demonstrative of the need for enhanced accountability and transparency within ICANN. Key issues have not been addressed even at the time that the transition is formally underway. The grounds for denying DIDP requests are still vague and wide, effectively giving ICANN the discretion to decline answering difficult questions, which is unacceptable from an entity that is at the center of the multi-billion dollar domain name industry."See also: Internet democratisation: IANA transition leaves much to be desired | The Centre for Internet and Society | cis-india.org: "... Another critical issue that the [IANA] transition does not address is that of ICANN accountability. Post-transition, ICANN’s board will continue to be the ultimate decision-making authority, thus controlling the organisation’s functioning, and ICANN staff will be accountable to the board alone. To put things in perspective, look at the board’s track record in the recent past. In August, an Independent Review Panel (IRP) found that ICANN’s board had violated ICANN’s own bylaws and had failed to discharge its transparency obligations when it failed to look into staff misbehaviour .... At best, the transition is symbolic of Washington’s oversight over ICANN coming to an end. It is also symbolic of the empowerment of the global multistakeholder community. In reality, it fails to do either meaningfully" (emphasis added).
Other internet domain news:
• Council of Arab Ministers of Communication & Information conclude Abu Dhabi meeting with key strategic decisions | Zawya.com: "The meeting proceeded with reports on the current developments concerning the UAE registration of the .ARAB domain name in collaboration with the Arab League. The Council has instructed the UAE and the General Secretariat to pursue the plan and submit the application requirements before the end of the first quarter of 2017, including the notification to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), international private non-profit entity responsible for the registration of internet domain names. The Council meeting also approved for the UAE to head the Arab committee responsible for the preparations for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017 which will take place in Argentina. The event is one of the biggest conferences in ICT development organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)."
• US average broadband speeds increase 42% YoY to 54.97 Mbps, exceeding 50 Mbps for first time ever, uploads up 51% YoY to 18.88 Mbps; Mobile internet speed gains, improve by more than 30% since 2015 with an average download speed of 19.27 Mbps in the first six months of 2016. The 4 major mobile carriers--Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint--"are in a tight race for fastest download speeds. All four are also aggressively competing on price to attract new subscribers."--Speedtest Market Report | Speedtest.net
• China's scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works--ChicagoTribune.com: "The Internet is as much a tool for control, surveillance and commercial considerations as it is for empowerment."
• New gTLDs in China report: The total number of domain name registrations for the top 10 new gTLDs (new generic top-level domains) continues to drop, indicating a weak new gTLD domain market in China reports coreile.com.
• Here's how small the North Korea Internet is | thenextweb.com: "It turns out that there are just twenty eight domain names using the .KP top level domain (TLD). Twenty. Eight."
• Iranians Are Cut Off from the Internet Economy, even with sanctions lifted: "Ensuring that Iranians have fair and open access to the internet is critical work for all parties. As the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue argued, “preventing the private sector from assisting or being complicit in human rights violations of States is essential to guarantee the right to freedom of expression.” Iran will be an important test and a precedent that will show the world how committed the tech sector and the international community are in expanding and defending human rights online."--Motherboard.vice.com
• Are you paying attention ICANN? Yahoo’s surveillance program shows why internet companies shouldn’t be deputies of law enforcement. | NewRepublic.com: "It is the first known instance of a major U.S. internet company complying with a government search request of such scope." Also: Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft agree to EU hate speech rules | The Verge: "... Europe's crackdown on hate speech has put tech companies in a difficult situation, as governments push them to assume more responsibility in policing illegal content, and there are concerns over free speech, and how the code of conduct was structured. European Digital Rights (EDRi), a Brussels-based advocacy group, criticized the code of conduct in a post ... saying that it delegates tasks to private companies that should be carried out by law enforcement.
• Why VPN Access Is So Important & How It’s Helped Give A Voice To Millions | Collective Evolution | collective-evolution.com: "... the benefits of a VPN go far beyond content access, extending into such philosophical issues as human rights and freedom of speech and expression. VPN technology has given a voice to millions. Here’s how ..."
• CWG-Internet: Online Open Consultation (February- September 2016) | itu.int--an open consultation (online and physical) on the following topic: Building an enabling environment for access to the Internet. See Access Now response ITU Consultation: Building an enabling environment for access to the Internet (Word 2010 docx): "There have been more than 40 documented shutdowns in 2016, and dozens more over recent years on every continent. The problem has grown so dire that international institutions are pronouncing internet shutdowns a direct threat to human rights."
• How to combat the risks of impersonation emails, imitative domains | Thompson Coburn LLP | JDSupra.com: "Amid the headlines and legitimate concern about massive data breaches, we too often overlook the danger of targeted fraudulent emails, and imitative domain names and websites."
• From Local to Global: Neighborhood Bookstore’s Unlikely Ally? The Internet--NYTimes.com
- New gTLD Registry Service Providers, XYZ, CentralNic $CNIC & ICANN
- Winners: Snapchat; Amazon; Google | Losers: Costco; Sam's Club; Fashion
- News Review [9Oct]: Analyst BUY Rating on GoDaddy $GDDY, Price Target $41
- MacroView: World's Central Bankers Doubling Down, Going For Broke?
- TechReview | Digital Disruption: Next 10 Years, 40% of Businesses Vanish
- Incompetent ICANN Struggles With Its Domain Names Marketplace Index