ICANN Update: Wrapping Up 2013

Looking back at 2013, the new gTLD program has dominated the ICANN agenda. Ben Anderson, NetNames’ Head of New gTLDs, takes a look at the highlights of the past year and gives his predictions for 2014.

2013: The Year of The gTLD

Some may still argue that the new gTLD program is not complete, both in terms of technical implementation and policy, but the first sunrise has gone live and applicants are moving forward at quite a pace.

Government involvement with ICANN through the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) has grown stronger and 2013 has shown the influence that this constituency has over ICANN policy. Many of the gTLD applications have been modified or abandoned altogether due to the opinions of the GAC. The force that the GAC exerts is likely to grow during 2014.

Advances in Intellectual Property protection online can only be viewed as positive for all NetNames customers. The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) will grow in volume and importance over the coming months. Registries and Rights Holders appear to have become unlikely allies during this monumental change to the Internet.

2014: The Road Ahead

Looking at the year ahead, ICANN is starting to look beyond the hundreds of gTLDs that will launch. Much of the world is now focused on Internet Governance in a post-Snowden and PRISM era. Many countries see ICANN’s role as something for the UN or ITU and are wary of the links ICANN has with the US. To maintain its independent role, ICANN will need to evolve. Domain ownership will also become a lot more difficult for both individuals and corporations in 2014 as registrant verification will be mandatory either through phone, mail or SMS. These rules apply to all and should hopefully help eliminate rogue Registrar and Registrants. It will certainly be another interesting year and I look forward to reporting back on all the interesting developments that will take place.

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