[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below
transcribed directly from audio]
We often say the
Internet community is an ecosystem, and that is an effective way to
convey its complexity and interdependence. So it's fitting that
this week, the Internet community is gathered here, in beautiful
Costa Rica, where examples of stunning natural and complex
ecosystems exist in abundance and harmony.
Few places on earth can
rival Costa Rica in its vast variety of plants, animals, and insects.
Despite its relatively small size, it is home to almost five percent
of the worldís species, including more than a thousand species of
butterflies alone. The rainforest is
tremendously varied, with
red-eyed frogs, soaring trees
wrapped in vines, and emerald and turquoise
perched on verdant branches. In fact, there are so many
plants and animals in Costa Rica that scientists have yet to name
them all. What is less obvious is their interdependence. Remove one
inhabitant from the ecosystem and you can trigger ripples of change
through the ecosystem.
Itís easy to apply that
thinking to the Internet. The complex interplay of technology,
organizations, and individuals is what makes the global Internet
A little more than a year ago, a small event -- photos posted on a
Facebook page in Tunisia -- sparked massive protests across the
Middle East and redirected the future of an entire region. And in
that moment, the power of this ecosystem was demonstrated beyond any
shadow of a doubt.
The new world moves
fast. Change comes rapidly and often unexpectedly. But our
multistakeholder decision-making model can be slow -- sometimes
painfully slow. Traditional top-down structures may at times get things done
quickly. But in doing so, many voices do not get heard. And we need
to hear them.
model we live by is built by consensus from the bottom-up, and that
gives voice to the millions whose future is tied to the Internet.
This model was created to protect the security and stability of the
domain name system. It is adaptive, decentralized, and highly
And it will need to
remain resilient in the months and years ahead. ICANN has entered a
period of profound change, with important questions on the horizon.
Look at what we face: a strong, growing, but
young new generic top-level domain program;
a decision on
the renewal of the
IANA contract; growing concerns about cyber-security;
an increasingly complex global geopolitical landscape; and, of course, a new
And there is no doubt
that more change will come. Pressures on this organization are
growing: political, ethical, financial, geopolitical, and
operational. All of this presents an
enormous challenge to a small organization in transition -- with
fewer than 150 staff members covering activities around the world in
an era of a rapidly expanding Internet. Are we ready to take on
these challenges? Yes. Just as we have
taken on many before.
gTLD program has
occupied much of our time, energy, and resources in recent months.
Development of this complicated multi-layered program has demanded
detailed operational and financial planning, all while
scrupulously maintaining independence and objectivity in our
approach to applicants -- hence, the "No coke rule."
The Internet has always
been fertile ground for innovation and ICANN has long been
committed to nurturing that potential by creating more competition
and consumer choice in the domain name market. You canít predict
innovation, but you can create an environment that fosters it. That
is the primary goal of the new gTLD program.
In getting the program
underway, we have met each challenge through careful planning and
engagement with this community. And just as our thorough preparation
ensured that the application window opened smoothly, and on schedule,
we are equally ready for the next phase. As of last night, we
have 254 registered users in the online application system. Each
user can submit multiple gTLD applications. So when the registration
period closes later this month on the 29th of March -- in just 17 days -- we will know the total
number of users, but we will still have only a rough idea of how
many applications we can expect by the 12th of April. We have an operational
plan in place to ensure a smooth and neutral evaluation process --
whether itís 30 applications or 3,000. Although a new phase of work
is about to begin, the staffing and budgetary considerations have
been met, and we are ready to implement the next phases.
A significant part of
the program has been incorporation of substantial new
protections for rights holders. ICANN has worked
collaboratively with world-renowned trademark and intellectual
property experts throughout the six-year policy development and
implementation process to create the strong trademark protection
mechanisms that are now embedded in the program. The new gTLD space
will offer significantly improved protections that have been
developed through this exhaustive process.
We're creating a system
to facilitate rapid takedowns of domain names for clear-cut cases of
infringement. We're implementing a
Clearinghouse to support rights protection requirements
like sunrise periods and trademark claims services offered by new gTLDs. Since November, a group of community volunteers has devoted
considerable time and attention to assisting ICANN in working out
the implementation details of the Clearinghouse. We thank them.
The next big milestone
is the publication of the applied-for new gTLD strings in early May.
This transparency will help build awareness so that trademark
holders and others can determine what steps, if any, to take in
response. The ability to object is
a fundamental protection, not just for trademark holders but for
members of communities who believe an applied-for gTLD could
misrepresent their community. So even if your
organization has not applied, itís important to pay close attention
to see if your rights or other legitimate interests are at risk from
someone elseís application.
We also thank the
Applicant Support Working Group
and the board of directors for their
work in launching the new gTLD Applicant Support Program on the 12th
January. Itís intended to provide financial and non-financial
assistance to qualifying applicants who might otherwise be unable to
take advantage of the new gTLD program opportunities. It's been rewarding to
see the community embrace this program so enthusiastically. Fifteen
organizations and individuals have already stepped up to offer pro
bono assistance in application writing,
consulting and internationalized domain name implementation, and we
encourage others to join them.
An independent volunteer
evaluation panel being formed right now will decide which applicants
receive this financial support. The panel will play an important
role in the Applicant Support Program. Applications to the
panel will be accepted through the end of March.
IDN initiatives are
going strong. The
IDN ccTLD Fast-Track process continues to support
eligible countries and territories. To date, there are 31
IDN ccTLDs in the root, representing 21 countries and territories,
and the new gTLD program will bring even more opportunities for
organizations to expand with IDN new gTLDs. Broadening the domain
name system will allow the use of scripts like Arabic or Chinese at
the top-level and lets the Internet more closely mirror all of the people
who depend upon it.
We have just completed
the first two phases of the technically complex IDN variant issues
project. More than 60 experts around the world participated in six variant case
studies in phase one, and many also took part in phase two. The study has
illustrated clearly there is not just one "variant problem."
There's a vast range of cases that our experts have begun to
classify. Now we can better see the complexity of the problems and
begin to address it. This is important work that has not been done
before, and we should reflect on that initial accomplishment as we
enter into the next phase.
ICANN approaches IDN
variants the same way it considers any other complex issue that
comes from the community. With the help of community experts, we
will continue to study and resolve them, taking into account many
points of view. And above all, we will stand firm in our commitment
to keep the Internet secure, stable, and unified. As I said earlier, the
new gTLD program naturally has been the focus of ICANN staff and
the community in recent months, but another key effort has also been
we met in Dakar in October, teams of dedicated staff
and registrar representatives have been meeting to strengthen the
terms of the
Registrar Accreditation Agreement.
The war against
cyber-crime and DNS fraud is being waged 24 hours a day, seven days
a week, and the registrars -- along with the entire ICANN community
recognize that law enforcement needs appropriate tools, among them
better information about who owns and operates websites,
subject to appropriate privacy considerations and protections.
I have been impressed by
the time and effort that the registrar community has invested in
this effort, at a time when many of them may also be assembling
applications for new gTLDs. They have demonstrated that they
understand their role in fighting e-crime and have shown remarkable
willingness to resolve issues quickly.
As you can see from
documents published prior to this meeting, we've made progress on
several fronts. The negotiations are expected to incorporate
amendments that address each of the 12 law enforcement
Whois verification requirements,
requiring registrars to maintain points of contact for reporting
abuse, enforced reseller obligations, heightened obligations
relating to privacy and proxy services, and increased compliance
mechanisms. The negotiation includes discussion of substantial and
unprecedented steps to improve the accuracy of Whois data.
I hope you will join us
later today for a session to explore different methods of verifying
Whois data. The long history of ICANNís work on Whois clearly
illustrates how difficult this issue has been to resolve. I hope the
community can find a solution that balances the needs of law
enforcement to stop criminal activity with the concerns about privacy
and free speech. Whether you represent a government or a registrar,
or are a privacy or a free speech advocate, or simply an individual
Internet user, we encourage you to join the discussion.
Global adoption of
DNSSEC is also a high priority for ICANN. It is a classic example of
the bottom-up, multi-stakeholder approach in action, and its
development in the
IETF, along with international participation in
DNSSEC root operations, has helped address immediate DNS security
concerns. It is also a catalyst for the development of innovative
security applications to help stem the global tide of cyber attacks.
Greater support by
registrars, ISPs, registrants, and enterprises will build on current
infrastructure deployment efforts to bring a better product to
customers. Recent reports on DNS redirection attacks, support
for DNSSEC by large ISPs like Comcast, and comments from governmental
officials have highlighted DNSSECís value. We ask all ISPs to turn
on DNSSEC validation -- including those in Costa Rica. This is an
important global effort and we need everyone's help to make it
Here in...San Josť,
members of ICANNís Latin American and Caribbean Islands Regional
At-Large Organization, or
LACRALO -- which is now five years old
have kicked off a week of activities, including a series of
capacity-building and General Assembly sessions for their members. They will also hold a
Showcase that highlights the achievements of their At-Large
Structures. Minister of Science and Technology
LACNIC CEO and Chair of
ISOC, will be keynote
AFRALO did so well at
great ICANN meeting in Dakar, LACRALO will offer training and
networking opportunities to help its members become more effective
volunteers in the ICANN community. The results of the
AFRALO events have been spectacular. Participation in the
monthly AFRALO teleconferences has risen 30 percent since Dakar. As a member
Nigeria Internet Users Coalition stated, these sessions were
"a window that made me see and understand ICANN and At-Large
issues." I hope that the LACRALO
events will be equally successful. I thank LACRALO for organizing
them, and Chair
Josť Francisco Arce
Teelucksingh for their leadership.
(For -- Let's give them a
For many years, ICANN
has been providing its services over IPv6, and we are one of more
than 900 website operators who have joined the Internet Society in
its campaign to further the adoption of IPv6 through
Launch day on the 6th of June.1 Three of the most popular websites in the
world -- Facebook, Google, Yahoo -- have signed up, as have dozens
of network operators and all five
Regional Internet Registries. If you've not done so already, I urge you to join this effort, and to
spread the word that
this is the year of IPv6.
This year will see
important decisions in the
ITU community with respect to
international telecommunications regulations that will be updated in
December, and recommendations on the reform of the
Internet Governance Forum
being considered by the United Nations.
Amidst all this
activity, we must not lose sight of our role as stewards of a
secure, stable, and interoperable Internet. We have a responsibility
to the next generation of users to preserve and evolve the
ecosystem. We must do this slowly and carefully, fully recognizing
that we are interdependent with one another and with those who will
come after us. This is an exciting
time, a time of execution and a time of action, a time of promise and
uncertainty, of opportunities and threats.
A significant threat
lies within ICANNís existing structure. Letís consider the
Nominating Committee as an example. Preserving ICANNís
ability to act independently in the public interest is paramount to
the future of the Internet and this institution. In view of the need
for broad representation within ICANNís governance -- governance, inclusion of
industry representatives on the board and in our work supports the
multistakeholder model -- our means of ensuring independence.
In the years since ICANN
was formed, the number of Internet users has grown from 146 million
to some 2.3 billion today, around the world. The effects have been dramatic, bringing wholesale
governance change and greater transparency to the entire world. I believe that ICANN,
its board and our community, must keep pace with the growing
diversity and expanding scope of the Internet. We must seize the
opportunity to embrace the transparency and good governance that
this precious resource deserves. ICANN must be able to
act for the public good while placing commercial and financial
interests in their appropriate context. How can it do this if
all top leadership is from the very domain name industry it is
supposed to coordinate independently?
A more subtle but
related risk is the tangle of conflicting agendas within the board
that would make it more difficult for any CEO to meet the
requirements of this deeply rewarding and sometimes frustrating job. Progress has been solid
since I addressed ethics and conflict issues in
remarks. Along with greater engagement with the community, a
subcommittee on conflicts and ethics of the Board Governance
Committee was formed to help directors evaluate their potential
conflicts -- and as a result, this has increased instances where
potentially conflicted members have left board discussions.
I applaud this change
and believe it is time to further tighten up the rules that have
allowed perceived conflicts to exist within the board. This is
necessary not just to be responsive to the growing chorus of
criticism about ICANNís ethics environment, but to ensure that
absolute dedication to the public good always supersedes other
ICANN has long been
blessed with leaders of exceptional technical expertise. Now we
are poised to consolidate and strengthen our position among leading
world organizations to better serve the global public interest. To do that we must
broaden the pool from which our leaders are drawn. I believe this is
as true for the board -- board members as well as for the next CEO. There is value in having
community members with domain name industry experience, but it is
equally valuable to avoid even the perception of a conflict of
It is also important
that new and occasionally dissenting voices from outside this world
and this industry be given a shot at a seat at the table in our boardroom.
And as the
Internetís global users become more diverse in their backgrounds, so
too must our board. The Nominating Committee
was created to ensure independence and diversity by balancing
industry representation with genuinely independent directors
representing a wide range of views. Have we lived up to this
I believe candidates
proposed by the NomCom should be fully independent and unconflicted. To ensure the truly
independent selection of directors, it would seem desirable for
NomCom members themselves to also come from outside the stakeholder
groups already represented on our board through the stakeholder seats. It is my strong view
that all members of the NomCom should be free of conflicts, and all
directors selected by them should be financially independent of the
domain name industry. This is a clear and simple bright line that should be
drawn and enforced.
To ensure the highest
degree of professionalism and relevant skills, nominees for the
board should also have board-level experience in organizations --
whether governance, business, or the non-profit world -- that are
of comparable size, staffing, global reach, and complexity. As ICANN grows and
changes, the board must also. Reform of the board selection process
is not just desirable. I believe it is imperative. Ideally, a fully
independent and non-conflicted NomCom should be -- should be in place before the
next nomination cycle begins.
We continue to take
steps to strengthen ICANNís conflict of interest procedures to
address these issues. With the boardís strong support we've
engaged a group of highly respected international experts to advise
-- to advise on reviewing ICANNís code of conduct. This team consists of Jermyn
Brooks, Aron Cramer and Mervyn King, each renowned for his
significant contributions in the field of ethics.
A key challenge for my
successor will be to find his or her place in this environment and
to continue the drive to clarify and cast sunlight on the sometimes
murky relationships that exist among the board, staff, community, and
industry. I've already shared my
views with the selection committee about the qualities that I feel a
new CEO should bring to ICANN, and the challenges that person is
face. I've committed the board and I commit to you that I will do my
utmost to ensure a smooth and successful transition, including
helping my successor to navigate the complexities of these existing
relationships, if that assistance is requested. I believe the next CEO
must accept that ICANNís place in the world has fundamentally
changed. It is on a higher public stage, engaged at a much more
influential level than at any time in its history.
In Brazil, China, India,
Qatar, Russia, Turkey, this organization is now known and respected
and welcomed at the highest levels. We need look no further than the
gracious participation of
President Chinchilla in this
meeting this morning
evidence of this.
Among global organizations like the International Red Cross,
Organization of American
Universal Postal Union, and the
World Economic Forum, ICANN is a
partner and a collaborator, a colleague engaged in a common public
mission. That global posture
echoes the work we have collectively done to make the Internet a
reflection of the worldís diversity. Through the
of Commitments, the United States government is no longer the
overseer of ICANN and the domain name system; the world is.
Through internationalized domain names, billions of users can now access
the Internet in their primary language scripts.
ICANN is now a respected
participant in global cyber security efforts, strengthened by the
introduction of DNSSEC around the world. Our engagement is
demonstrated by our close collaboration with security organizations
and operational security communities to address a current threat to
the DNS, and to prepare for future threats that may arise. We are
encouraged to see such collaboration among community members.
ICANN is now trusted on
a global scale for its professionalism, skills, and technical
knowledge. And that
internationalization is reflected internally. Our small ICANN staff
has taken on the face of the world community it serves: 30
nationalities are represented; 35 languages are spoken. On our
strong executive team we now have regional vice presidents who
reflect the regions they live and work in, with access and
relationships at the highest levels of government and civil society.
This world-class talent
Nigel Hickson, whom many of you know from his extensive
involvement with this community through the GAC, and who joins us
today as our Vice President for Europe. Please join me in welcoming
Mr. Nigel Hickson.
Xiaodong Lee, our new
Vice President for Asia, came to us from
CNNIC and serves a bridge
from Asia to ICANN. And of course we are very proud to have
de la Parra as our Vice President here, as we are in his
back yard, in Latin America and the
Caribbean. Xiaodong, I don't see you but maybe you're here as well.
You're not sitting in the front -- but we welcome you as well. But
they're are a visible demonstration of our commitment to
internationalization, and ICANN is enriched by their presence.
And a more significant change: In our philosophy, we are global. In
our outlook, in our thought processes, in our daily life, in our
reach, in public meetings like this, and in our operations, and in
our community: We are
When I arrived, people
often asked, "What is this organization?" "What does it do and why
does it matter?" I rarely hear that anymore. Its importance is clear. Its
role is clear. Its place on the world stage is clear.
As I have shared with
the CEO selection committee, here are certain qualities that are
worth considering in selecting my successor: Courage. Vision.
Globalism. Strategic insight. Leadership. Endurance. Integrity.
And straight talk. And an absolute commitment to a secure, stable, and
Whoever succeeds me will
need all those skills and more to preserve and build on the many
successes that ICANN and this community have collectively achieved.
Together we have reached new levels of performance and delivery on
behalf of the world. Maintaining that standard will not be easy.
This job is not
impossible; it's just extremely difficult. But I love a good challenge
all of the ones up 'til now, and the ones in the months ahead. I look forward to the
hard work, the discussion, the debate, the collaboration, just as
you do, here in Costa Rica at
Thank you very much.