WIPG’s Eye on ICANN 61 in San Juan – Summary of GAC Communiqué

The 61st international meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is took placed this past week, from March 10-15, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Several Winterfeldt IP Group team members are attended ICANN 61.

ICANN 61, the first of three global meetings that will take place in 2018, is framed as a community forum meeting, the traditional meeting format ICANN used for many years before switching to a rotating schedule of three different meeting styles. The San Juan meeting features a robust schedule of sessions for the GNSO Council (the body that develops global domain name policy) and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), the body of over 175 country and territory representatives that advises the ICANN Board. The meeting will also offer sessions covering a number of specific policy development initiatives, updates on and working sessions for cross- community work streams, stakeholder and constituency organizational and outreach activities, and opportunities for a wide variety of community-wide discussions on key topics of broad interest.

The GAC has met extensively during ICANN 61, including attending meetings with the ICANN Board, GNSO, and other stakeholder groups; conducting various working group sessions; and participating in assorted cross-community discussions, often focusing on GDPR and ultimately issuing its ICANN 61 San Juan Communiqué on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The GAC issues a Communiqué at the end of each ICANN meeting, drafted by consensus of its members, that summarizes their participation in the larger ICANN multi-stakeholder community, provides administrative updates about the GAC, and—most importantly—includes the GAC’s “advice” to the ICANN Board. While other portions of the Communiqué can offer important insight on governments’ role in the domain name system and their collective attitudes towards ongoing ICANN activities, the ICANN bylaws compel the ICANN Board to respond to the GAC’s advice (with certain caveats).

The ICANN 61 Communiqué maintains the more compact format unveiled with the preceding ICANN 60 Abu Dhabi Communiqué, while adding relatively robust rationale’s for the new advice that it puts forward. In particular, the GAC has been relatively engaged during this most recent ICANN session and its members participating more actively in policy development underway within ICANN. Some have clearly identified issues that are priorities worth their time and attention. This most recent communiqué reflects the GAC’s new-found willingness to engage with the systems of ICANN governance and to work with the ICANN community to make an impact.

Please reach out to us at internet@winterfeldt.law if you are interested in receiving a summary and analysis of key takeaways from the ICANN 61 GAC Communiqué.

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