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EU Commission Meeting with TLD Registry representatives, 9 April 1997 Report by Niall O'Reilly IE Domain Registry University College Dublin Computing Services Summary ------- Member-state TLD administrators were invited to meet with EU Commission representatives by Christopher Wilkinson of DG 13. The meeting took place on 9 April 1997 at the Commission's Beaulieu offices on the outskirts of Brussels. I represented the IE Domain Registry. This report is a personal account of the meeting, not checked with other participants, and prepared in advance of availability of the official record. Any errors are my responsibility. I have tried to summarize what took place rather than to produce a personal set of minutes. TLD registries for BE, DE, ES, FI, FR, IE, IT, LU, UK were represented, most by more than one delegate. RIPE was represented by Daniel Karrenberg (manager of the RIPE NCC), who had been briefed by the CH and NL registries to act as their proxy. There were several representatives from DG13 of the Commission, and also a number from other Directorates General including, according to my notes, DG's 1, 3, 12, 15. The agenda for the meeting was circulated in advance by Christopher Wilkinson, who chaired the meeting. I expect that anyone reading this report will have seen the agenda already. This agenda was open to a number of interpretations regarding the Commission's purpose in calling the meeting. What emerged was that the Commission was anxious to understand better how the TLD's in the member states were organised and administered, and to take soundings in preparation for its next intervention regarding the IAHC proposals. On a number of occasions during the meeting, the chair let it be understood that both the Commission and the telecommunications ministries in the member states recognised the role of the existing TLD registries and of RIPE. The chairman also declared that it was the Commission's policy to develop its position regarding the DNS transparently, openly, and with consultation. Besides the agenda (1), the following documents were provided to participants at the beginning of the meeting: (2) Letter from DG13 (Wilkinson) to Don Heath of 17 Jan 1997; (3) Issue Paper on the Internet Domain Name System; (4) Final draft of letter from Commission to US Government; (5) Press Release of 8 April from the Internet Society announcing signing of naming plan; (6) Proposed gTLD-MoU of 28 February 1997; (7) Working paper from DG Xv/E-3 "The Internet Domain Name System and Trademarks"; (8) Proposed Guidelines concerning Administrative Domain Name Challenge Panels; (9) Brief from Anthony Rutkowski available as http://www.wia.org/pub/dns-brief.html. Although the time available was short in relation to the agenda, a number of conclusions were reached and some interesting information emerged. The Commission, the OECD, and the WIPO have been interested for some time in the DNS. The Commission's involvement apparently stems from an invitation from the WIPO to become involved in a study group concerned with DNS-related trademark questions. The Commission has since become aware of the IAHC work, and concerned by the proposals of this body. Wilkinson has written (2) to Don Heath on 17 January 1997 expressing the concerns of the Commission. Specifically, the Commission finds it unsatisfactory that the IAHC process has not engaged European participation, that insufficient time has been allowed for consultation, that (according to the Commission's analysis) even within the US a consensus has not been reached, and that licensing registrars for the proposed gTLD's by lottery does not meet the Commission's requirements for transparency. The meeting heard from Svend Kraemer (DG 13) that the OECD ICCP Committee (which deals with comminications, including the Internet) was to hold the next in a series of twice-yearly meetings over the two following days. He mantioned that this committee has a document on the DNS which he hopes will soon be de-restricted. He undertook to encourage national delegates at the meeting to make early contact with their TLD registries. The meeting reached the consensus that the participants should not sign the gTLD MoU, and were unsatisfied with the IAHC proposal. It was agreed that followup to the meeting was needed, that this should be done by E-mail, and that volunteers were needed to prepare formal documents. It was recognised that, although the meeting had been useful, further work was needed, and that it seemed appropriate to have a follow-up meeting at or in conjunction with the Dublin RIPE meeting. On the Commission side, the proceedings of the meeting are to be reported to the national experts in the Telecommunications Working Group. It is intended to continue by E-mail the discussions begun at the meeting, with the hope of identifying a small sub-group with time and resources to develop documents in preparation for the next meeting. The Commission has had some requests to hold a similar meeting with ISP's. More detailed accounts of certain parts of the discussion follow below. Current operation of TLD's, and their reaction to IAHC ------------------------------------------------------ Wilkinson explained that the Commission was now seeking the support of member states as it finds itself in new territory where it is difficult to move quickly. He agreed with Stefano Trumpy (IT, also a member of the ISOC Advisory Council) that a speedy response to the IAHC, with alternative proposals, was needed. Trumpy identified the June ISOC Board of Trustees meeting as a key time constraint. Those present were asked to say how they perceived the TLD structure and organisation in Europe, what their views were on sharing registries, how they reacted to the IAHC proposals, and how the new gTLD's were likely, in their opinion, to affect the financial stability of the national TLD registries. Daniel Karrenberg was invited to speak on these questions first. Later speakers generally endorsed the RIPE position, which he expressed in the following way. The DNS in Europe is well organised. ISO 3166 is of its nature national. Policy and provisional of service are thus national matters. This is seen as very positive, and local service is seen as an advantage. RIPE has until now stayed away from policy and service-provision aspects of the name service, and has thus been slow to enter arena in response to IAHC. It is now seen that there is a need for stronger European co-operation and co-ordination and that RIPE could have a role in this. RIPE has made a statement to the IAHC, but after the IAHC deadline, expressing that it is dissatisfied with the IAHC on grounds of rigour (a solution is proposed without a problem statement) and adequacy of consultation (the timescale is too short). In response to a question by Trumpy, Wilkinson said that, as chair, he was not ready to reach an immediate conclusion on whether RIPE was the appropriate technical arm to respond to IAHC, but that personally he felt that if there were a need for more than RIPE, this would be on public policy grounds. I described the current ad-hoc organisation of the IE domain registry, explained that charging had been introduced since 1 October last, and mentioned that we now had some 2000 domains. I said that I was personally shocked by the IAHC proposals, on the grounds already mentioned by the commission and by RIPE. I gave the opinion that, unless a new national domain were proposed, the impact on the IE domain was not likely to be significant. The French delegates endorsed what had already been said, and added their belief that a not-for-profit service was essential. The Belgian delegates added their agreement. The delegation from Finland, where the registry is in process of being agreeably transferred from EUnet to a state agency, included representatives of both of these organisations. One of the EUnet people suggested that the IAHC initiative ahd at least the positive aspect that it would serve as a catalyst for the development of a legal or regulatory framework to underpin the DR function. The LU domain is administered by a foundation which depends on the Ministry of Education, apparently analogous to HEAnet in Ireland. There are about 500 second-level domains at present. For Spain, Miguel Sanz explained that the ES domain is currently administered by a research agency, using ad-hoc rules, and working in a "self-protecting" mode where domain-holders are restricted to a limit of a single domain name (as in Ireland). Their next objective is to reach a consensual basis in the community for the operation of the registry. They see not only ISP's as stakeholders, but also the trademark and other national registries, and the users. Sanz suggested that the question of 'financial stability' was perhaps wide of the mark in the not-for-profit context, and referred to the RIPE document on charging by Internet registries (RIPE-152: Norris & Karrenberg). Willie Black (UK) put the current rate of growth of the UK domain at more than 4000 per month, and suggested liberalization of the regime (no limit on number of domains per domain-holder) as the reason for this level. Nominet, the organisation which manages the UK domain, with support from the relevant government department (DTI), has over 300 members, including Web designers, law firms, naming agencies as well as ISP's. There has been competition from .UK.COM, but this "hasn't been a problem". He sees the congestion of the .COM domain as a US problem, and sees a natural monopoly, both globally and in each country, as necessary for TLD administration. The DE domain has been re-organised after a difficult period and a new foundation has been set up and has now 38 members. There is a perceived need for the NIC to build a forum in which an arbitration framework can be built. The legal muscle of large companies is seen as a potential problem. Following the explanations from the TLD representatives, the chair had a number of rather diverse questions for clarification. The answers to these made it clear that each TLD in Europe has its own database, that registries are not shared, that none of those present had the intention to share in the proposed gTLD's, that backup and other prudent management of each database was a matter for each particular registry, and that the operational DNS data was actually replicated, typically in a number of countries, for each TLD. Regarding the Green Paper on numbering for telecommunications, a comment was made that while IP addresses might well be relevant to this, DNS naming was not. Wilkinson emphasised that the Commission was anxious to receive copy of all communications to IAHC from European TLD registries. Trademark-related aspects ------------------------- Trademark-related aspects were discussed, with particular contributions from representatives of DG 15 and BT. The representative from DG 15 was of the opinion that .TM.INT is not seen as useful by trademark owners, and that WIPO is likely to defer its implementation. WIPO is working to improve online arbitration and mediation services. DG 15 would like to see similar disciplines developed at the level of the national registries, and sees the German approach as useful. The BT representative said that, from the point of view of a trademark attorney and from that of a TELCO, the needs were for stability, confidence, and adequate protection for trademark owners. He did not see proliferation of TLD's as useful, and in particular did not find the proposed gTLD's helpful. He identified the threat of suits which will challenge the authority of the TLD registries. It was suggested that co-ordination between TLD registries and national trademark office would be useful, and participants' attention was drawn to the forthcoming WIPO conference. Willie Black voiced doubt about the potential usefulness of .TM.UK, and mentioned that a mechanism for resolution of disputes through mediation would shortly be launched in UK. Response to IAHC Proposal ------------------------- It is expected that there will be European bidders for the licences which it is proposed to issue in the IAHC scheme. There is a need for clear eligibility qualifications for domains to be registered in the proposed gTLD's, but that these have not been prepared. Willie Black has made this point to IAHC. There was a comment from the German delegation that name collisions were already becoming a problem there. Development of French policy depends on starting from an agreed charter. A participant from DG 3 emphasised the usefulness of LDAP rather than the DNS as a means to locate resources. The meeting recognised the need for developing a contingency position to anticipate the implementation of the IAHC proposal if this were, despite objections, to go ahead. Although the technical problems of a shared registry were seen to be tractable, contractual difficulties with triangular relationships and practical difficulties with parallel registration request from the same applicant were seen as likely to cause serious difficulties.