International Domain Names Meeting
Opening Remarks by Jon Englund

Good morning. My name is Jon Englund, and I am Senior Vice president at the Information Technology Association of America, which is part of the World Information Technology and Services Alliances, or WITSA, which is one of the hosts of this meeting.

On behalf of the nine convening organizations, I want to thank all of you for being here today. We have people here who have travelled from far and wide...although I'm not sure yet who wins the prize for flying the furthest number of miles.

Your presence here today demonstrates a strong commitment to the goal of a bright future for the Internet, and a willingness to role up your sleeves and wrestle with all the challenges associated with this grand experiment in Internet governance!

On one level, we are here to do something that sounds relatively mundane - discuss how to create a structure to deal with the policy and practical questions associated with the allocation of domain names.

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, once told me that there is nothing centralized anything about the Internet with the exception of the allocation of domain names and the address system. So along with common protocols, this is part of the glue that holds this medium together. It sounds mundane in some ways, but as we all know, it is not.

So on another level what we are engaged in is far more profound - a grand international experiment in governing a revolutionary medium that is changing the world at a breakneck pace.

A little background about myself. I've been working on a raft of Internet, technology and electronic commerce questions for the last 10 years at high tech trade associations. I have lobbied actively for robust funding of the High Performance Computing Program (which has contributed to the development of the Internet) and worked on policy issues such as encryption and authentication, Internet tax, privacy and many others. I got my first Internet e-mail address back in 1991, courtesy an educational organization. There were at least a dozen people at that point that I knew who also had Internet-based e-mail. I've worked as a legislative aide in Congress and as a speechwriter and researcher for a cabinet official. I have a master's degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and never thought that this training would be put to such practical use!

So - I'm an unabashed Internet enthusiast and committed to the future of this medium and what it offers for commerce and society, committed to its stability, and committed to playing whatever small role I can in encouraging its growth. So that's why I am here today.

I am representing the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA). The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is a consortium of 35 information technology (IT) industry associations from economies around the world, including ITAA.

Founded in 1978 and originally known as the World Computing Services Industry Association, WITSA has increasingly assumed an active advocacy role in international public policy issues affecting the creation of a robust global information infrastructure, including:

  • increasing competition through open markets and regulatory reform;
  • protecting intellectual property;
  • reducing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to IT goods and services; and
  • safeguarding the viability and continued growth of the Internet and electronic commerce.

How did we get here today? This has been a truly shared effort among the nine convening organizations:

Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX)
Council of European National Top level domain Registries (CENTR)
European ISP Association (EUROISPA)
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
International Trademark Association (INTA)
Internet Council of Registrars (CORE)
Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI)
Policy Oversight Committee (POC)
World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA)

All the organizations actively participated in the decisions that led to today's meeting. I want to personally thank all of the nine convening organizations for the hard work that made this meetings happen. It's taken a lot of global conference calls, a lot of conversations, and a ton of e-mail to get us here. I also want to thank Pete Smith, Linda Schnell and Shannon Bickford of our staff that has been toiling pulling together all of the logistical details associated with today's session.

On behalf of the nine convening organizations, I also want to say a few words about the primary purpose of today's meeting. The primary purpose is simple and straightforward: to hear as many views as possible about how the domain names supporting organization should be structured. The purpose of today's effort involves reviewing recent developments and proposals, and encouraging candid and constructive discussion.

I also want to say that the convening organizations as well as other organizations held a meeting yesterday afternoon for the purpose of better structuring today's meeting, and using our limited time here in a more organized and productive fashion. We explored the major points of contention, and where there appear to be similarities among the proposals that will be presented today. Our facilitator, Marc Chinoy, will report later on this. Let me assure everyone that no policy decisions were made. We finalized today's agenda and everyone is looking forward to hearing from all of you today. Another question that has come up is how did the organizations become involved with each other as conveners of today's meeting? The answer is that various groups had begun talking with each other - something that I view as a positive development - and these groups came together thinking that it was a good idea to hold today's open meeting and hear as many viewpoints as possible (and I might add, do all the hard work in actually making it happen!).

So - this is not my meeting, or WITSA's meeting, or ITAA's meeting. While ITAA is pleased to act as host, this is an effort that was put together by the convening organizations collectively.

Marc Chinoy, our facilitator will talk more about the process and agenda today in a moment.

What is the task before us? Let me quote from what I term ICANN's Request for Proposal on the domain names supporting organization which refers to the ICANN bylaws:

"The Domain Name Supporting Organization shall be composed of representatives from name registries and registrars of top-level domains ("TLDs"), businesses and any other entities that are users of the Internet and others with legitimate interests in these issues, as determined by the Domain Name Supporting Organization consistent with Section 2 of this Article and approved by the Board. The Domain Name Supporting Organization shall create a Names Council to make recommendations regarding TLDs, including operation, assignment and management of the domain name system and other related subjects."

Substantively, some of the questions that I suspect will emerge today include:

  1. How do we ensure that the DNSO is an open, transparent and democratic process, reflecting the unique culture and ideals of the Internet?
  2. How can we ensure that the organization has the flexibility, and the checks and balances necessary, to be able to function effectively as the Internet continues to emerge, grow and change?
  3. Should the DNSO be incorporated or not? What are the pros and cons of these approaches? How much decision-making authority should the DNSO have? Should it have a process for making recommendations to the ICANN Board?
  4. What should be the composition of the Names Council?
  5. How should the membership base be structured? How should Names Council representatives be elected, and how should elections be structured for the 3 seats on the ICANN Board?
  6. How should the DNSO be funded, and in turn, what role should the DNSO play in funding ICANN?
  7. What role should governments plays as legitimate Internet users?
  8. What are the powers of ICANN vis a vis the registeries?
  9. And, most important, how do we ensure that all Internet stakeholders have a voice in the governance of the DNSO?

What we are trying to accomplish is not an easy task. But we have got to figure it out. And I am optimistic that we will. For if we don't this grand experiment will end up in one of two ways:

  1. Either the medium will become fractured; or
  2. Governments will swoop in to provide what some have called "the adult supervision" necessary to ensure the medium's stability.

Some have despaired that the great challenges associated with creating this new structure are so substantial that we are doomed to dealing with so many different points of view and so much disagreement with no clear way forward that we will not be able to get the job done. Some have compared this to Dickens' Bleak House, in which the Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce lawsuit goes on for so long that in the end the inheritance money is gone, and the only people who have profited has been the lawyers.

But this analogy doesn't work here. If we are not successful, governments will step in to ensure the stability of the Internet going forward. The medium is too important to commerce and society for governments not to move in this way if we are not successful.

I'm happy to report that due to the hard work of many of you, there is some good news. We have made significant progress in the last few months, and what we are engaged in is not a new process, it is one more step in the efforts that have already been underway. Productive, open meetings were held in Barcelona and then Monterrey by what I call the DNSO.ORG group. Specific proposals have been developed by this group, INTA, the ORSC, and others. These groups are communicating directly with each other and appear to be finding some common ground. New drafts of proposals have emerged based on these efforts. So our meeting today is part of an interactive process that has already been underway. And, the interim ICANN Board has been moving forward in its own foundation, process and legal authority.

We have an important challenge in front of us. Our effort will require patience, a willingness to compromise, civility, and the ability to see beyond one's self-interest to the future of the Internet as a whole.

So let's move forward. The growing legions of Internet users around the world demand no less.

I would now like to introduce Esther Dyson, the initial Chair of the Interim Board.

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