ICANN conference bears much fruit

ICANN officials ended a week-long marathon of meetings in Brazil on Dec. 8 that produced a number of results, including ICANN's first ever Regional At Large Organisation, the approval of the three registry agreements and the birth of the dot-asia top level domain.

In a teleconference with members of the media, ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf and ICANN CEO Paul Twomey touted the week's developments.

Chief among them was the birth of the Latin American and Caribbean RALO, which consists of 22 Internet user groups from across the region that have forged a consensus on how to provide individual user input to ICANN.

Starting such regional groups is part of ICANN's strategy to receive input from users. The ALAC (At-Large Advisory Committee) is structured to gather information from RALOs.

Currently, RALOs are being formed in Africa, Asia, Europe and elsewhere around the world.

In addition ICANN's board of directors also approved the registry agreements for the dot-biz, dot-org and dot-info top level domains, which include a 10 percent caps on price increases by registry operators.

It's a relief to have that out of the way," Cerf said of the months-long process.

Those at the conference also witnessed the birth of dot-asia as a top level domain when ICANN signed a contract with DotAsia Organization, Ltd.

On its website, DotAsia states the Internet is playing an increasingly important role in the Asian economy, and a "regional domain is a logical next growth step."

ICANN board members also agreed to a three-year strategic plan that calls for an increase in international participation. Critics have complained in the past that ICANN is too closely tied to the U.S. government and is not transparent enough in its operations.

Twomey said the non-profit company considers transparency a top priority, and added ICANN adopted a schedule of periodic independent reviews of its structure and operations.

Other priorities included in the strategic plan are the improvement and automation of the ICANN-controlled Internet Assigned Names Authority, which manages master domain lists, and deployment of the IDNs as top-level domains.

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