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National registries ensured stable operation during pandemic

On November 18, the 5th Eastern European DNS Forum (EE DNS FORUM 2020) started via videoconference, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been making adjustments to everybody’s plans. Previously, the Georgian capital Tbilisi was scheduled to host the event, which is to bring together over 130 registered participants from around the world.

The forum was opened by Mikhail Anisimov, ICANN Head of Global Stakeholder Engagement for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “This year, the Eastern European DNS Forum has been focusing on the most pressing problems facing the industry. We are especially pleased that the registries could openly talk about sensitive issues such as working under severe stress, and dealing with natural, man-made or social challenges. I really hope that the experience the participants will share will be useful for our entire region,” Mikhail Anisimov said.

Day one was mainly devoted to policy development issues. The first session, Business Continuity for Registries: A Regional Approach, was led by Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ Andrey Vorobyev. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone reconsider their plans, review business processes and redistribute information flows to maintain stable operation. “The year 2020 was an extremely difficult one for all registries of top-level domains, and although each region has its own specifics, we all had to handle some new challenges,” Andrey Vorobyev said.

Representatives of ccTLD registries from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan discussed regional specifics and approaches to maintaining the smooth operation of the domain name system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Director of the Coordination Center Irina Danelia shared how the registry ensured continuity and security of the .RU/.РФ infrastructure in this context. She elaborated on the measures being taken by the Coordination Center and spoke about the Emergency Recovery Plan for Critical Functions and the Crisis Communications Plan – the two documents promptly adopted by the Coordination Center at the onset of the pandemic.

Pavel Gusev (KAZNIC), Svetlana Tkachenko (Hostmaster UA) and Yury Korytin (Hoster.by) shared how the work of national registries was organized during the pandemic. Pavel Gusev gave some details on the organizational and technical steps that have been taken and are being carried out to ensure the continuous operation of the Kazakh ccTLD .KZ. Svetlana Tkachenko shared her experience of working under force majeure circumstances, as the Ukrainian registry has gone through a lot. “When planning any anti-crisis measures, it is highly important to take into consideration the human factor, and we never forgot about this,” Svetlana Tkachenko said. Yury Korytin spoke about the impact of the pandemic and political events on the number of registrations. While the Belarusian and Kazakh colleagues have seen a decline in registrations, the Ukrainian and Russian registries reported an increase in the overall number of domain names in their national domain zones.

“We can also see some positive aspects of the pandemic: firstly, this was a leap in digitalization in all industries, primarily in the public sector. And secondly, we can see an expansion in most national domains – a direct consequence of many businesses going digital – so by the end of 2020, .RU will also show an increase,” Andrey Vorobyev concluded.

Maria Kolesnikova, Chief Analyst at the Coordination Center, spoke at the UA regional digest session. She spoke about the local initiative for universal acceptance in the CIS and Eastern Europe that involves representatives of IDN TLD registries and IT companies from seven countries – Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia and Serbia. “Initially, our initiative was launched as a voluntary association of registries of internationalized top-level domains that are interested in promoting IDN. But this advancement is impossible without technical support for UA implementation,” Maria Kolesnikova noted.

The speaker cited some possible steps to help to accelerate the widespread UA implementation being now discussed at international and regional platforms, underscoring government support, which plays a significant role in this process. “Local initiatives in various countries are establishing a dialogue with government bodies to bring the problem of supporting national languages to their attention; for example, people use various e-government platforms, and it is important to bring these socially significant resources and services in line with the UA principles,” Maria Kolesnikova said.

In conclusion, she spoke about the steps the Coordination Center is taking in Russia for UA implementation, and mentioned the project Поддерживаю.РФ aimed at building an ecosystem for supporting Cyrillic domain names and email addresses.

The second day of EE DNS FORUM 2020 is November 19 and the participants are focusing on technical solutions in the DNS and information security landscape.

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