Internet summit conclusions to be circulated before Berlin

Conclusions of Friday's national summit on Internet governance will be collated into a paper to be circulated for comment in the local Internet community before being taken to the next ICANN meeting in Berlin. About 70 delegates largely fell into line with the Internet Society of New Zealand's (Isocnz) position on the proposed reforms, but also threw up a couple of other issues - including unexpectedly strong support for a change of name for Isocnz.

The conclusions of Friday's national summit on Internet governance will be collated into a paper to be circulated for comment in the local Internet community before being taken to the next ICANN meeting in Berlin.

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) meets between May 25 and 27 to debate recent proposals for governance of ccTLDs (country code top level domains) such as .nz and trademark protection in domain name registration that the Internet Society of New Zealand (Isocnz) regards as dangerous.

Most of the 70 or so who attended Friday's summit broadly agreed with Isocnz's position on the proposals by ICANN and WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Among them were Reg Hammond, the manager of the Information Technology policy group at the Ministry of Commerce, representing the government's interests.

The role of the summit has been questioned, and Isocnz council member Peter Mott resigned last week over "the expenditure of a very large percentage of the society's funds on an event for which no measurable outcome had been identified."

But at least one critic of Isocnz's processes has been encouraged by the meeting. Joop Teernstra says it is "important to jointly face the threats that emanate from overhasty regulating [by the] unelected ICANN Board, and WIPO's lack of understanding of the Net, and to mutually support each other in Berlin, in order to get as many representatives on the Names Council as possible."

Teernstra says he is particularly delighted that the Isocnz leadership agreed on Friday to support the "grey ribbon" campaign for open ICANN board meetings being promoted by the constituency for Individual Domain Name Owners, of which he is a member.

Domainz chief executive Patrick O'Brien said on Friday that the grey ribbon campaign was broadly in line with the proposals of an earlier effort to reform Internet governance, the Boston Working Group, which Isocnz and Domainz had supported.

Teernstra also sparked a proposal to change Isocnz's name to avoid confusion with the US-based Internet Society – an idea which seemed to have almost universal approval at the summit.

"I think this society has a terrible branding strategy and this is a very good opportunity to raise it," intellectual property lawyer Peter Dengate-Thrush told the group. "My suggestion is that we may not have to change the name of the organisation, but should change the name of the brand to Internet New Zealand."

Isocnz chairman Jim Higgins seemed somewhat surprised by the support for such a change, but said it "certainly be discussed - you have my commitment to that."

Higgins said he wanted the society's paper for Berlin to be in the hands of ICANN board members five days before the meeting, so a draft would have to be issued quickly.

"We'll be working pretty hard over the next few days to get all this information together, put the paper together and put it out. We'll take those comments back in and the final paper will be sent out to ICANN."

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