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ICANN scraps conference agenda, goes big on security

Major issues sidelined until March 2002

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ICANN has ditched plans to discuss several controversial issues surrounding the Internet at its next conference, and is devoting the agenda to security matters.

The conference is to be held from 12 to 15 November in the organisation's hometown of Los Angeles.

ICANN's changed agenda, a result of the 11 September disaster, makes clear that the intention to exclusively cover security issues has taken precedence over issues such as: reform of the widely criticised uniform dispute resolution policy for deciding ownership of domain names; enhanced representation for different countries' Internet bodies in ICANN; problems with the new top-level domains (.info, .biz etc); other companies offering new TLDs; and the constant issue of how ICANN makes decisions and why it holds meetings in secret.

ICANN has also decided that the controversial At-Large study - which decides how many ICANN directors are chosen by the wider Internet community, rather than those already within ICANN - is to be delayed. A spokeswoman said it would be "difficult" for the organisation to approach the issue due to the "time constraints and retooled focus" of the meeting to security issues.

The chairman of the At-Large Study Committee, Carl Bildt was not impressed: "It's a mistake to push these issues entirely down to Ghana [ICANN's next scheduled meeting in March 2002]."

Also, in an official ICANN release, it has informed organisations from different countries that they will be expected to discuss exclusively security matters. It reads: "As you will note, we will be asking the ccTLD constituency to meet on the afternoon of 14 November, to prepare for a public report on the morning of 15 November. The agenda for that meeting and the report are, of course, up to the ccTLD community. We anticipate that the ccTLDs will work together to justify the confidence of the global Internet community, and to evaluate what security-related efforts should be undertaken by ccTLD managers, individually and collectively."

The ccTLD managers have been increasingly vocal in the last six months about their lack of representation in the organisation, threatening earlier in the year to pull out from ICANN's control altogether.

On the first day of the conference (Monday 12 November), meetings of the constituency bodies will go ahead but it has been made clear to the bodies that they are expected to discuss security for the meetings later in the week.

Even if constituencies do get around to discussing matters other than security, their conclusions will not be discussed in a wider forum since the following three days have been filled with security issues and speakers on security.

Tuesday 13 November: "ICANN Committee Meeting on Security and Stability of the Internet Naming and Address Allocation System." There are four talks all day: Root Name Server Security; DNS Security: Present and Future; TLD Registry and Nameserver Security; and Registries and Registrars: Recovery and Restoration.

Wednesday 14 November: Resilient Security: An Ongoing Process. And constituency meetings.

Thursday 15 November: Reporting session (on security). "Open mike on DNS security/stability" then "Board meetings on DNS security/stability".

In the entire three-day conference the time open for non-ICANN board members to discuss topics other than security is from 2 o'clock to 3 o'clock on the Thursday. ®

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