Dr Paul Twomey
President and Chief Executive Officer
International Chamber of Commerce
Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms
ICC Headquarters, Paris
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, our hosts, and honoured guests.
It’s always a pleasure to visit Paris, and it’s my great pleasure to speak to you today. I want to tell you about several matters I think members of the
International Chamber of Commerce will find of interest and, possibly, of
When the root server system was attacked in February of this year, the
sky did not fall. A huge burst of traffic, the equivalent of 1.5 million emails
every two minutes, was sustained over several hours. And this was just one
of several attacks on the Internet’s systems that have been on the rise over
the past five years or so.
Because of this increase in the number and volume of attacks in recent
years, the root server operators were ready. Cooperation and preparation
enabled them to work together quickly to effectively redistribute and thus
absorb the attack load across the root server system. For several root server
operators, the attack meant an interrupted night’s sleep. For most users, the
attack went unnoticed. And that’s by design.
Just as the infrastructure of the Internet is designed as a network of
networks, so is the Internet community. The organisations concerned with
how the Internet is run work collaboratively with those concerned with what
runs on the Internet. All these stakeholders have a voice and a role in the
security, stability, and interoperability of the global Internet.
Since the inception of the domain name system in the early 1980s,
cooperation and consensus building through a multi-stakeholder model has
proved successful in guiding the growth and vitality of the Internet. The
resiliency of that model is becoming more and more critical as the range of
services we demand continues to grow. We are no longer content with mere
email and Web browsing. We do most of our research on the Internet and
thus take search engines for granted. We have come to rely on the Internet to
deliver music, video, and image files; social networks and blogs; and
conferencing and telephony services. And we want wireless connectivity,
satellite delivery, and access via mobile devices whether we’re at home, in
the office, or on the run.
But, the more we rely on the Internet to communicate, transact
business, transfer and store data, and gather together in virtual communities
— the fatter the pipe, so to speak — the fatter the pickings for cyber criminals. And the more attractive malicious attacks on the Internet’s
systems become to their perpetrators. Attacks on the Internet’s systems and cyber crime are on the increase — and in the case of domain and address theft the increase is exponential.
It requires the continuing efforts of all stakeholders, from
governments, the business and private sectors, academia, and civil society to
preserve and strengthen this model, and by doing so to ensure the resiliency
and longevity of the Internet.
What ICANN does and is doing
May I remind you of ICANN’s mission and its four closely linked
ICANN — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers — is the international multi-stakeholder organisation responsible
for the technical management and oversight of the coordination of the
Internet’s domain name system and its unique identifiers.
It is an internationally organised public benefit, non-profit entity
responsible for coordinating the Internet’s —
? Internet Protocol address space allocation;
? protocol identifier assignment;
? generic and country code top-level domain name system
? Root server system management functions.
In fulfilling its mission, ICANN is guided by four founding principles
? To preserve the operational stability and security of the Internet,
particularly the domain name system;
? To promote competition and choice for registrants, especially in
the generic top level domain arena;
? To achieve broad representation of global Internet communities;
? And, to develop policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-
up, consensus-based processes.
So the perspectives I share with you today will be within that framework.
I think we all agree that the Internet is unique from all other media. It is unique in the way it operates; that is, it is the only globally interoperable
technology — and it has led to innovations in commerce and communication,
and in our social lives.
It is also unique in the way it has operated since its inception. From the pioneering days of the ARPANET in 1969, the technologists, funders
and business people who built the Internet have operated according to a set
of common values. Some of these values include a commitment to:
? Ensuring a single, end-to-end interoperable Internet;
? Bottom-up technical policy making and decision making;
? Cooperation, coordination, and consultation among participants
and groups pushing forward initiatives;
? Global efficiency in the allocation of resources such as IP
? Encouraging innovation, particularly at the edge of the network;
? And building on the many layers of protocols to ensure the
stability of the whole construct.
These values continue to be essential to the successful and rapid
development of the Internet. In the late 1990s, a new network was choosing
to link to the Internet every seven hours. Today’s Internet is a vast collaboration of many components built on many layers by many
combinations of business and technical skills.
Today, over 200,000 private networks make up the global Internet.
The coordination, collaboration, and cooperation of many entities are vital to
the Internet’s successful operation, and have been integral to its design since the earliest research network.
ICANN itself is a unique model of governance. It is governed by an
international Board of Directors, and its policy development process
originates in three supporting organisations. Advisory committees composed
of representatives from individual user organisations and technical
communities work with the supporting organisations to create policy. In
addition, over 120 governments and government institutions closely advise
the Board via a Governmental Advisory Committee.
This approach, which involves cooperation among multiple technical,
business, civil society and government stakeholders, has supported explosive
growth in the use of the naming and addressing system.
Today, there are more than 1 billion users of the Internet.
The root system that ICANN helps coordinate supports more than
30 billion resolutions per day, nearly 10 times the number of phone calls in
all of North America each day. VeriSign, one of the largest registrars, is
investing in added capacity in order to handle the 4 trillion resolutions it
expects each day by the year 2010. And that’s just for the dot-com and dot-
net top level domain names.
This rapid growth in use also supports a continued increase in
e-commerce, Internet businesses, and new markets. Today the users of the
Internet conduct some 2.4 trillion US dollars worth of e-commerce every
When ICANN introduced competition in the generic top-level domain
marketplace, the expectation was to benefit consumers by offering more
choices among registrars and by driving down the price of registration.
I’m happy to report a certain amount of success on this front. There are about 865 registrars worldwide and more than 120 million registered
domain names. And the price of a domain name has dropped from an
average of 50 US dollars in 1998 to about 10 dollars today.
Registrars now have a market and a business. Advertising on the
Internet has become linked to domain name sales and per-per-click revenue
generation. This robust domain name marketplace is even driving how we
search — contextually as well as topically — and the scale of sites that can
be searched. In fact, for online ads alone, revenues for 2007 are projected to
be $19.5 billion US dollars.
ICANN’s policy development role
How has all this come about? Through a well-defined multi-
stakeholder policy development process. This policy-making and decision-
making model —
? Safeguards an open, fair, and equitable policy development process;
? Is receptive to all stakeholders, both public and private;
? Is responsive to stakeholders who provide input and communicate
the next steps toward a desired conclusion;
? Communicates timely and useful information about the issue and
the policy process to interested stakeholders.
Let me talk about some of those policy issues in greater depth, along
with my observations about what’s happening and what’s likely to happen.
I’d also like to discuss some issues that are outside ICANN’s narrow remit.
However, they are of concern to the Internet community and thus are of
concern to us. Increasingly, ICANN finds itself one of the few forums in
which these issues can be raised so that solutions can be found elsewhere
within the Internet community.
New generic top-level domain timetable
ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organisation, or GNSO, is
currently guiding policy development as it affects the deployment of new
generic top-level domains. The payoff to the business world will be a well-
defined process that streamlines the turnaround time between submittal of an
application, accreditation by ICANN, and deployment of a new top-level
domain in the domain name system.
Where does this process stand now? The process has picked up
considerable momentum. The next GNSO working group report will be
presented at ICANN’s international meeting in Lisbon next week. The
policy development process may be concluded and a final report issued at
ICANN’s meeting in Puerto Rico this coming July. It just remains for the
new policy to be implemented, which could take place almost immediately
thereafter. And the next round of new generic top-level domain applications
could conceivably start early in 2008.
What does this mean to the business world? Consider the benefits of
unique, so-called sponsored top-level domains — for example, a financial FnlDraft_21Mar07 7
services TLD. Within certain limits, the domain’s sponsors would be able to
define the domain community, services, system operators, access and
security protocols, among many other features.
ICANN’s GNSO is also guiding a related issue through the policy development process — this one concerns Whois data, or the information domain name owners must provide to the registrar from whom they purchase
a domain. This information is essential to conduct business, but is often
viewed as private or at least highly sensitive.
And so recurring questions arise — Who should have access? How
much data should they able to access? How should they use that sensitive
information? What about inaccurate Whois data? And how can we reconcile
the data that is contractually required with regional or national privacy laws.
On the one hand, the banking and financial services industry, among
others, has made it clear that it requires access to as much information as
possible. They see such access as one of several effective investigative tools
to combat phishing and other fraudulent behaviour. They feel having access
to Whois data is in the best interests of their customers.
On the other hand, many privacy advocates, including the privacy
commissioners of the European Union, wish to protect the Whois data and
allow only limited access, or access under special circumstances.
And there is still the question of ensuring that Whois data is accurate
This ongoing discussion has not yet achieved consensus. But the
important point, I believe, is that all the parties to the discussion are able to
voice their opinions through ICANN’s bottom-up consensus-building policy-development model. And all these stakeholders’ opinions have equal
value and are given equal consideration.
After much research and several periods of open public comment,
those opinions are now codified in a draft final report about to be published
by the GNSO. This report contains several recommendations for resolving
this multilayered issue. Those recommendations will undergo careful
scrutiny by ICANN’s Board of Directors later this year. Multilingualism and internationalised domain names
If the Internet is to be truly global, it only makes sense that people in
all regions and from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds be able to access
the Internet in their local language scripts.
However, the term ―multilingualism‖ in the context of the Internet relates primarily to two areas: multilingual online content, and access to
such content by the use of domain names that include non-ASCII characters
— called internationalised domain names, or IDNs.
Currently, only about 35 percent of all Internet users are native
English speakers, although English websites continue to dominate, with
approximately 68 percent of all sites readable only in English. About two-
thirds of English-language sites are devoted to e-commerce, and fully half of
those still originate in North America. Once much higher, these numbers
have gone through a natural realignment as Internet use continues to expand
geographically. Thus, multilingual content is critical to the Internet’s continued evolution and use by people from all linguistic backgrounds.
Naturally, people are more comfortable reading the languages and
writing the scripts they find most familiar. It follows that the promise of
content on the Internet in a preferred language generates increased local
interest and use. A multilingual Internet will enhance the local Internet
experience in large regions of the world by enabling people to share and
access information or use services offered in their own languages.
A modern Internet will also be the impetus behind the growth of translation services and instant translators such as the ones provided by
Google. These facilities are essential to preventing a multilingual Internet
from becoming the infrastructure of a modern Tower of Babel.
Before people around the world can enjoy this experience, however, many political, policy, cost, and technology issues remain to be resolved
through collaboration among Internet stakeholders in all these realms.
There is an array of political and policy challenges surrounding the concept of multilingual Internet content. National laws and cultural norms
differ on what is considered acceptable, and this directly impacts the kinds
of content that can be generated for the Internet. While some regions offer
little governmental intervention, others have much more restrictive policies
governing both content and access to such content.
A nation may wish to raise awareness of the importance of generating information in local languages in order to encourage greater multilingual
Internet content and use. For example, the government of India recently
launched a countrywide campaign to encourage its more than one billion
citizens to generate Internet content in many of its 22 official languages. It is
providing CDs free of charge that contain instructions for generating content.
UNESCO has also launched similar initiatives in many countries, as is
seeing considerable success.