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Dr Paul Twomey

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Dr Paul Twomey

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    Dr Paul Twomey

    President and Chief Executive Officer

    ICANN

    Speech to

    International Chamber of Commerce

    Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms

    ICC Headquarters, Paris

    Wednesday, 21 March 2007

    12:0012:45

    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

    concern.

    Introduction

    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

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    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

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    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

    goals?

    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

    management; and

    ? 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;

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    ? 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

    addresses;

    ? 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.

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    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.

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    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

    year.

    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;

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    ? 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

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    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.

    Whois data

    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

    and up-to-date.

    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

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    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

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    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.

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