Chris Disspain Looks At The Highlights of 2019 And What His Final Year On The ICANN Board Might Hold

In the latest Domain Pulse Q&A series looking at the year in review and year ahead, we speak to ICANN board member Chris Disspain. Chris discusses the progress of the next round of new gTLD applications, the challenges of GDPR has thrown at ICANN relating to WHOIS, a 2019 highlight being finalisation of the new strategic plan especially in the way the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done and then what the future may hold for him after he completes his term on the ICANN board. He also would like to see a little more kindness “in the ICANN context”.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Chris Disspain: The challenge of GDPR and its relevance to WHOIS has consumed an immense amount of time in 2019. And universal acceptance is a real issue for many especially but not exclusively in the IDN world.

The finalisation of the new strategic plan has been a highlight especially the way that the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done. And the streamlining of reviews work!

There are always lowlights. Calling them out isn’t necessarily helpful.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

CD: Enjoying my last year as a board member, making a difference and riding off into the sunset….. only to return later in 2021 wearing a different hat…..Or perhaps not!

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

CD: Every issue has both a challenges and opportunities  … Some examples for us are GDPR, various contractual matters, the sub-pro work, ccNSO work on retirement of ccTLDs, the ongoing work on IGOs acronyms, the ongoing community work-load and so on.

DP: How have new gTLDs fared in 2019?

CD: Some good, some bad I expect. But given that different gTLDs have different measures of success that’s quite a hard question to address. A brand likely doesn’t care about registration levels. A geographic may have a limited market and be happy with that. I guess the only real test will be to see what sort of applications come in in a next round.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

CD: Significant but it’s a long track that needs to be carefully navigated. As a board member (actually the only current board member) who was on the board from the beginning of the last gTLD round I know many of the issues that will need to be dealt with in the updated policy. Some of these are complicated and contentious but I’m hopeful that with the extraordinary work of the Sub-pro WG and the support of the community generally we’ll get there reasonably soon.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

CD: Well, in the ICANN context, I think a little more kindness would be good. And a ‘fix’ for the structural challenges within the GNSO would make a huge difference to the ability of the ICANN multi-stakeholder model to deal effectively and efficiently with the constantly changing industry dynamic.

Chris was also the founding CEO of Australia’s ccTLD policy and regulatory body, auDA.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Q&As in the 2019 series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member Chris Disspain (here).