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Once Upon an EPDP

The new year has only just begun, but the work of ICANN’s Expedited Policy Development Process for gTLD Registration Data (EPDP for short) is already in full swing. The team just wrapped up several days of meetings in Toronto and I thought it would be a good time for an update on where we are in the process.

Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t again take the opportunity to thank the ICANN team supporting our efforts—especially in the final weeks of last year as they reviewed and organized all of the public comments received on the initial report.

Towards the end of November, the EPDP team published an initial report for public comment. It included a number of policy recommendations and highlighted open issues where the group had not been able to come to a consensus. In all, the draft report received over 50 comments from various parties providing important feedback to the group.

Our time in Toronto last week included reviewing those public comments and determining whether they would alter our recommendations or whether they provided enough clarity to push us towards consensus on outstanding items.

It’s hard to summarize three days of meetings into short bullet points, but here are the highlights:

  • To begin, we are marching towards the publication of a final report for phase 1. This being an “expedited” policy process, the timelines are condensed (for ICANN work at least). We are under significant pressure to complete the final recommendations prior to the ICANN meeting in Kobe, and everyone is working very hard (and in good faith) to accomplish this goal. I’m hopeful that we’ll get there.
  • The team made important progress in identifying actual purposes for the collection of registration data. There are still a few outstanding items on this topic, but I was encouraged to see us working collaboratively on this.
  • It’s clear that many important topics will be discussed in the next phase of this team’s work. The whole discussion around access to non-public registration data (which really should be referred to as disclosure as opposed to access) will take place after this final report is published. Obviously, this is a major topic for all parties involved, but that work will not start until after the phase 1 report is completed. Developing such a framework for disclosure is going to be a significant undertaking, so the timing for completion is unclear. In the interim, the disclosure of non-public data is going to continue to be a challenge.
  • One outstanding item that needs to be resolved is regarding the implementation of the policy recommendations this group puts forth. As the existing temporary specification expires in May of this year, implementing these new policy recommendations will take additional time. As a result, there will need to be stop-gap measures in place during this interim period. It’s unclear how this might work, but my suspicion is that the requirements in the temporary specification will continue to exist for some period of time until these new policies can become requirements.

For those of us participating in the group, we have invested countless hours and significant energy. We all have a vested interested in seeing that this policy work is successfully completed. Though all of us are representing the interests of our own stakeholder groups, we all must be willing to compromise—last week was encouraging in that everyone appeared willing to do just that.

While there is still much work ahead of us, the team seems to have found its rhythm, so I remain optimistic that we will be successful in our efforts.

By Matt Serlin, Domain Name Industry Veteran and Advisor

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