A report by Kholoud Dawahi, K. Mehta Ishan Mehta and Jeremy Malcolm

NCUC has always been advocating for maintaining the limited mission of ICANN and preventing it from becoming a content regulator on the Internet. Recently ICANN has created a consumer safeguards office. The office’s mandate is undefined and hence they hold meetings with the members of ICANN community to discuss what they should be doing at the office. NCUC follows these meetings closely as much as its voluntary capacity is allowed and has communicated to the safeguards office and to ICANN that the mandate of this office should not at anytime be expanded in a way that makes ICANN a content regulator.

This report is to inform the community and others about what was discussed during a recently held webinar by the consumer safeguards office.

On the 25th of September of 2017, ICANN’s Contractual Compliance and Consumer Safeguards team held a webinar to discuss Compliance and Consumer Safeguard matters within ICANN’s remit. Other than Bryan Schilling, the Consumer Safeguards Director, Jamie Hedlund, SVP Contractual Compliance and Consumer Safeguards and Maguy Serad, VP Contractual Compliance Services were also present at the webinar.

At the very beginning of  the webinar, the Consumer Safeguards Director proceeded  by  providing the suggested agenda with the following proposed topics to facilitate the discussion:

  • Consumer Safeguards Position
  • DNS abuse
  • The efforts to address DNS abuse outside of ICANN
  • Discussion topics for a possible session during ICANN 60

Consumer Safeguards Position

The Consumer Safeguards Position was established in part in response to the community concerns about the effectiveness of the safeguards and consumer harm within the DNS.

The position itself is not part of the compliance team or GDD. It is a separate department within ICANN organization.Yet, it is working very closely with the various departments and teams within the organization. It is not a position that has any enforcement powers or a policy-making position. The reason behind the position is to enable ICANN to work with the community in order to facilitate interesting topics concerning the importance of consumer safeguards to generate a fruitful discussion.

Current safeguards and compliance tools  

ICANN’s current safeguards are derived from ICANN articles of incorporation, ICANN’s Bylaws and ICANN’s Agreements with Registrars and Registries. As for the contractual compliance, the Consumer Safeguards team is responsible for  overseeing the contracts maintained by  ICANN to ensure compliance with the agreements and the consensus policies and also to enforce the tools and make sure that all information is reported to the community.

In order to be a trusted provider as its mission states for contractual compliance,the Consumer Safeguards Position is committed to the prevention of the non compliance through collaboration with reporters and the contracted parties to try to  address and resolve non compliance issues.

The Contractual Compliance and Consumer Safeguards team also aims to collaborate with ICANN’s Community  with proactive monitoring with tools such as audits. As explained at the Webinar, there are  is the technical tools for proactive monitoring and there is proactive monitoring by the team based on blogs or the reports that are publicly available .In addition to the  collaboration on proactive monitoring, the team has the  has the ability to enforce the contracts through the different tools available to it by the agreements. For example, in the registrars case it can go up to 3 processes for both contracted parties; the department could also advise ICANN on expediting a notice of breach to suspend or terminate the contract. In the  registry operators case,  there is the possibility of issuing a notice of breach as the contract termination or non-renewal is based on the agreement per se.

Apart from the will to collaborate with the ICANN Community  and the tools for enforcement, the Consumer Safeguards Team has been committed to transparency throughout its communications. Therefore, achieving better ways of reporting its actions to the  community – which has been a need that was emphasized in the current review teams and working groups- is a possible solution for enhancing its transparency suggested at the webinar. In this regard, the Consumer Safeguards Team is in the process of developing additional changes to its reports to bring more granularity and information to the subject matter of the complaint.

The Definition of Consumer

In response to a question related to the scope of the consumer definition and whether it includes registrants the consumer safeguards director clarified that the working definition of a ‘consumer’’ shared during the Johannesburg Meeting encompasses everybody except the contracted parties –  which means all end users (current or potential ) and registrants .

DNS Abuse

The Consumer Safeguards Director proceed by setting the DNS abuse scene with the following  a set of  questions  for the community aiming  to generate a discussion

  • What is ICANN’s role in addressing DNS abuse
  • Are there gaps between DNS abuse and the tools within ICANN’s remit to address the abuses ?
  • Other than Phishing, Malwares and Botnets, what  types of abuses should  the team focus on?
  • What additional tools or data would be helpful in assessing DNS abuse?    

On the possible existing efforts to address DNS Abuse outside of ICANN, the Consumer Safeguards Director provided the following questions to generate the discussion:

  • Are there areas where voluntary measures could be helpful?
  • How should ICANN collaborate with other stakeholders addressing abuse?
  • Is there a threat of government regulation?

In response to the question regarding the working definition of abuse, the director emphasized that both the definition and the team were open for community input about the type of abuse that ICANN should  focus on and whether there is an existent on type of abuse within the DNS unique identifier system.

Bryan Schilling has also reinforced the fact that instead of an enforcement position,  the Consumer Safeguards Position’s role was more of a discussion facilitator position.


The webinar ended with an open call for community contribution to structure a session for the further discussion during ICANN 60 Abu Dhabi.



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