The mood at the end of the first International Forum on the DNS White Paper on Thursday evening was of muted satisfaction about a job seemingly well done. Delegates to the conference, which was attempting to to lay the groundwork for the non-profit corporation to run the internet’s domain name system (DNS), spent the closing […]
The mood at the end of the first International Forum on the DNS White Paper on Thursday evening was of muted satisfaction about a job seemingly well done. Delegates to the conference, which was attempting to to lay the groundwork for the non-profit corporation to run the internet’s domain name system (DNS), spent the closing session praising each other for their openness, willingness to listen to each other and the putting-aside of what were in some cases decades-old differences. However, as the delegates return home they will probably start to realize that the feeling of collective bonhomie is probably about all they can take from the forum, as the issues agreed upon were almost entirely non-controversial and at a very high-level. To use a skeletal analogy favored at the conference, they have managed to put a few ribs in place, but have only just nearly completed the skeleton. A few more meetings like this one will be needed to add muscle and flesh to the bones. The IFWP was held on July 1 and 2 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Reston, Virginia, a few miles outside the beltway that circles Washington DC. The meeting was called as a response to the US government’s white paper published last month that called for a non-profit corporation to be in place in at least an interim form by September 30 this year. The next meeting under the IFWP banner will be in Geneva July 24 and 25, followed by one in Singapore August 12. We will detail what was agreed at the meeting later this week but the basics, which will form the starting point of the meeting in Geneva, were as follows. There will be an interim board of directors for the entity, which will dissolve when a full-time one has been selected. Its power will be limited and the interim board will only define or select the process for selecting the final board – it will not select the board itself. The interim board will not be able to add new top-level domain names to the DNS. It was also agreed that there should be three separate councils that the board will oversee; one for each of IP policy, numbering policy and naming policy. A clutch of other decisions was also agreed dealing with such issues as consumer privacy protection, technical security, and government and law enforcement access. Now, much of this would seem to be stating the obvious and it should be noted that virtually all of this is contained in the government’s white paper, so there is nothing new here in terms of content. What is different however is that this group of people, numbering about 200 over the two days, sat down and came up with this at all, given the level of vitriol seen on mailing lists over the past couple of years, which have until now served as the main forum for debate. The verdict of the meeting’s chair, professor Tamar Frankel summed up the feeling. She said the goal of the meeting was to produce a rough consensus on guidelines for th interim board, before adding: I believe we have met our mission. Now that members of the internet community – or that part represented here – have seen that consensus is possible, perhaps they can start laying down fundamental principles to satisfy the government that they are serious about self-governance.