ICANN68 took place last week. Like other recent conferences, it was held online due to coronavirus-related restrictions. COVID-19 was among the main topics at the conference; participants discussed the illegal use of the DNS system given the numerous registrations of coronavirus-related domains to spread fraudulent news, sell non-existent vaccines and for other crimes. Some speakers noted that, among other things, a clearer definition of “illegal use of the DNS system” was necessary, but that it should not include registries and registrars’ responsibility for website content. At the same time, the participants in the conference agreed that the situation requires more coherent and perhaps tougher measures on the part of registrars, registries, and ICANN itself.
Several days earlier ICANN held a webinar on the registration of coronavirus-related domains during the pandemic. In total, since the beginning of the pandemic and through the end of March, 662,111 theoretically coronavirus-related domains were identified. However, only a small percent were registered for malicious purposes.
Another important discussion centered on ccTLD governance models. This session was moderated by Katrina Sataki, member of the ICANN Country Code Names Supporting Organization Council. She presented the four main governance models tentatively named academic, governmental, commercial and noncommercial. After which, representatives elaborated on each model.
The governmental model was presented by Angela Matlapeng, manager of the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) that governs ccTLD .BW. Atsushi Endo spoke about the activities of Japan Registry Services Co., Ltd, a commercial company that governs the Japanese ccTLD .JP. The Mexican .MX is governed by the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Its delegated Jorge Azzario presented this academic model. And finally, Philip Du Bois described the principles on which DNS Belgium, the noncommercial organization that governs Belgium’s .BE, is managed.
According to Sataki, these alternatives should not be regarded as a competition or an attempt to choose the best and right governance model. It is evident that, first, national peculiarities help determine the best model. At the same time, the session participants listed some general advantages and disadvantages of each model. For example, the governmental model implies the stability of financing and favor at the state level, but can also mean serious dependence on the political course. The academic and noncommercial models suggest complete ideological independence but cannot guarantee financial stability. The commercial model can imply the same risks as for any commercial activity.
In conclusion, a small survey was held among the session participants. When asked what type of governance model the ccTLD adheres to, 59 percent of respondents answered “noncommercial.” Moreover, 59 percent of respondents said that the noncommercial model was the best for their country, and that they would not change it if they could. Finally, 79 percent answered negatively as to whether they learned any information during the session that would change their view on the best ccTLD governance model.