USCIB Presses for Clarity on GDPR Impact at ICANN Meeting

Barbara Wanner speaks at ICANN 60 meetings

ICANN 60, the Annual General Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), wrapped up on November 3 in Abu Dhabi, UAE with no further clarity for the ICANN community about the implications of the May 25, 2018 implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on ICANN’s WHOIS database, a system that provides information on entities that register domain names.

USCIB members, who participate in both contracted and non-contracted constituencies, took advantage of virtually every opportunity for engagement with the Board and senior management to press ICANN for guidance on the implications of the GDPR on their data collection responsibilities.

“Although ICANN 60 concluded with no definitive answers about the fate of WHOIS, the Board set forth an approach that may serve as an interim solution to contractual compliance,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner who also serves as the ICANN’s Business Constituency’s representative to the broader Commercial Stakeholders Group. “ICANN further urged the community to submit additional questions about possible models for GDPR/ICANN contractual compliance for additional legal analysis. USCIB members will join fellow business constituents not only in pressing insightful legal analysis but also shaping the over-arching policy discussion about the future of WHOIS via the work of the Registry Directory Services (RDS) Working Group.”

In addition, the nearly 2500 participants from business, government, civil society, and the technical community who participated in the week-long meeting tackled the long-running dispute concerning Amazon’s application for the .Amazon generic top-level domain (gTLD). Nearly five years ago, Brazil and Peru, with support from Argentina, objected to the USCIB member’s application on grounds that a company should not profit from an address that refers to an important geographical. The ICANN Board deferred to this advice and did not approve the .Amazon application. Amazon pursued legal recourse and won an appeal.

Speaking before a packed room, Amazon representatives underscored that the company took great care to ensure that its gTLD applications met all the applicant guide book requirements, receiving perfect scores on all questions. They further noted that ICANN’s geographic names panel determined three times that .amazon is not a geographic name that requires government approval. Importantly, they indicated the company’s willingness to discuss a practical compromise that allows use of .amazon for its commercial purposes, while fully respecting the cultural people and ecology of the region. The ICANN Board asked the Governmental Advisory Committee to re-consider the .amazon application and notify the Board whether the application may proceed by the conclusion of ICANN 61, 10-15 March 2018.

“Concerning the GDPR/WHOIS issue as well as the Board’s handling of the .amazon application, members of the ICANN community are flexing their new accountability powers as part  of the post-IANA transition Empowered Community,” added Wanner. “The community wants to ensure that the Board and ICANN management is transparent in its consideration of critical issues affecting the community and appropriately hold them accountable to processes that were carefully negotiated as part of the IANA stewardship transition. The engagement at ICANN 60 is indicative a greater activism by USCIB members and other ICANN community members on a host of domain name issues going forward.”

Staff Contact:   Barbara Wanner

VP, ICT Policy & Managing Director, Washington Office
Tel: 202.617.3155

Barbara Wanner directs USCIB’s work on information, communications and technology issues. She works with members and government officials on a wide range of international business issue that include advocating for the continuation of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and for policies aimed at promoting the stability, openness and innovative flexibility of the Internet. She represents USCIB members’ interests in several international forums, including the UN, APEC and the OECD.
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