Kieren McCarthy

Kieren McCarthy

Freelance journalist; Executive Director at IFFOR
Joined on July 9, 2006
Total Post Views: 259,365


I am a freelance journalist based in the United States who has covered the internet and DNS fields for roughly 20 years, writing mostly in The Register.

I am also the Executive Director of IFFOR, an independent policy body for top-level domains. Before that I was CEO of .Nxt - a company that covered the Internet policy and governance fields. And before that I was ICANN’s general manager for public participation. I wrote a book about the fascinating battle over the domain, and I called it I have other books in the works. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a very nice part of the world.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Kieren McCarthy on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

What’s Behind the Secure DNS Controversy and What Should You Do About It?

Anyone that has attended a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will know that the somewhat dry topic of internet protocols is often the source of passionate disagreement. But rarely does that debate extend beyond the confines of internet engineers. That has not been the case with a new protocol which aims to make the Internet's underlying domain name system more secure by default. more

Why Colombia Is About to Make a Colossal Mistake With .CO

Ten years ago, the most effective branding exercise the internet registry market has ever seen began. And to celebrate the anniversary, its owner is going to strangle it. At the ICANN meeting in Montreal this month, the Government of Colombia booked a meeting room, prepared a Powerpoint presentation and invited representatives of the world's largest registry operators to attend. Once there, they were offered a rare and valuable opportunity: to take over running of the .co registry. more

Making Sense of the Domain Name Market - and Its Future

With ever more TLDs, where does it make sense to focus resources? After four years and a quadrupling of internet extensions, what metrics continue to make sense in the domain name industry? Which should we discard? And how do you gain understanding of this expanded market? For registries, future success is dependent on grasping the changes that have already come. For registrars, it is increasingly important to identify winners and allocate resources accordingly. The question is: how? more

What the US Government Said About IANA in Singapore

Two weeks ago, the US government announced it would transition its role in the IANA functions to the global Internet community. It tasked ICANN with the job of arriving at a transition plan and noted that the current contract runs out in 18 months' time, 30 September 2015. This week, ICANN started that process at its meeting in Singapore. And on the ground were the two key US government officials behind the decision. more

What New gTLD Applicants Need Is a Quick, Lightweight Answer to the World’s Governments. Here It Is.

It's safe to say that with just a week to go before ICANN intended to sign the first contract for a new gTLD, the last thing anyone wanted was a 12-page document from the world's governments with 16 new "safeguards", six of which it wants to see applied to every new extension. But what the industry shouldn't overlook, especially in the face of the expected critical responses this week and next, is that the Governmental Advisory Committee's (GAC's) formal advice from the ICANN Beijing meeting represents an opportunity for the domain name industry to lock-in self-regulation at a critical point in its evolution. more

The Biggest gTLD Problem Has Just Appeared on the Horizon

A letter sent earlier this month by the ICANN Board to the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) should cause every new gTLD applicant's ears to prick up. Having been through every one of the applications for 1,396 different Internet extensions, the world's governments not only issued formal warnings for 199 of them, but also asked what mechanisms were in place to make sure that people did what they said they would in their applications. more

.Nxt - You Are All Cordially Invited

There are only a few occasions in any of our lifetimes where what we know and have grown used to is turned on its head. We have now lost the generation that heard radio for the first time; there are only a few who can recall the first television pictures; but many, many more saw color appear on their screens for the first time. more

Come to the First Ever Dedicated New gTLD Conference: .nxt

Sometimes the heavens align. With the release of a number of resolutions from the ICANN Board on Sunday, we learnt two things: One, that there is a determined drive to get the rules for new Internet extensions, gTLDs, finalized in December at a meeting in Cartagena. And two, that the meeting immediately after that - in March 2011 - will be held in San Francisco. more

Why ICANN Doesn’t Need to Go Back to the GAC Over Dot-XXX

This Friday, it looks as though the ICANN Board will follow the clear conclusions drawn by its independent review and approve dot-xxx. Given the importance of the first use of the review process, the importance of the Board being seen to be accountable and the fact that the community was pretty unanimous in recent public comment, it is pretty much the only reasonable course of action. The question then is: how do things move forward? more

The ICANN Board by the ICANN Board

A self-appraisal of the ICANN Board has just been posted on the organization's website. In it, Board members rate 89 different measures of their own performance according to a seven-measure rating from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree". Unfortunately, despite plenty of figures in the documents, there is zero analysis of what this all means, so I have gone through them and prepared one. more

Nominet Passes Governance Test With Flying Colours

The dot-uk registry Nominet has passed a crucial governance test with flying colours, voting yes on eight Board resolutions with more than 93 percent member support... The vote was a crucial test for both Nominet's Board and members: trust and confidence in the Board had been damaged by an acrimonious internal battle, which had subsequently led to the UK government threatening to end self-regulation of the UK's registry operations. more

Why ICANN Nairobi Security Concerns May Be a Blessing in Disguise

There is a questionmark over ICANN's upcoming meeting in Nairobi, Kenya again. This time it has more bite than the usual xenophobia: the COO has published a US Department of State report that lists the conference centre itself as a specific threat from a Somalian insurgency group, Al-Shabaab. In response, a number of Internet companies have already announced they are pulling their people. more

Your Comments Front and Center in ICANN New gTLD Process

ICANN published the second version of its Application Guidebook for new generic top-level domains earlier today (late evening Los Angeles time). Alongside version two of the Guidebook – published by module and in a red-line version – are explanatory memoranda, the opening of a second public comment period (closing 13 April) and an extensive summary and analysis of the public comments made to the process so far. more

What Would You Like to Ask at the ICANN Public Fora in Mexico City?

ICANN has its 34th international public meeting in Mexico City on 1-6 March i.e. in just over a fortnight. One of the consistent concerns I hear in my role as general manager of public participation for the organization is that there is not a way for people to ask questions to the staff and the Board. I don't think that's really true but I do accept that the formats used are not liked by a large number of people... more

Help Define ICANN’s Future

Mention ICANN in Internet circles and you will always find a multitude of views of what the organization should do, needs to do, and should have done; how it has to change, and why; and what it needs to focus on. Well, the time has come to make those views known and to try to persuade the rest of the community that they represent the best step forward. more

Who is ICANN and Where Does it Fit With Internet Governance?

You'd be surprised how many people are asking that question at the moment, but you won't be surprised to know that the only thing they agree on is that they either don't know, or that they disagree with the people that believe they do. I am not going to attempt to provide my own answer, but I will point to a paper just released by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). POST, among other things, produces regular, concise briefings for the UK Parliament on whatever are the important topics of the time. And they have now done one on Internet Governance. more

ICANN Board to Vote on Domain Tasting Measure

The ICANN Board will vote today on a new registry service put forward by PIR for .org which is its attempt to solve the domain tasting issue. It takes the form of an amendment [pdf] to the .org contract and enables PIR to charge five cents per domain "when the number of such deleted registrations is in excess of 90 per cent of the total number of initial registrations"... more

Why I’m Standing for the ICANN Board and Why I’ve made My Statement Public

The number of applications this year for the seven positions within ICANN has been so low that the NomCom has gone to the trouble of printing up pamphlets, holding a public meeting at Marrakech and extending the deadline by a fortnight. At the two public Board sessions in Marrakech the grand hall that was provided was virtually empty, sparking some debate as to why. Susan Crawford ventured that it was because ICANN was failing to connect with people; Vint Cerf suggested that ICANN was so successful at doing its job that people didn't feel the need to attend. Mouhamet Diop pointed out that we were in a French-speaking Arabic country and no one was going to sit through four hours of discussion if they didn't understand a word of it... more