The public forum is a platform where the community can pose the ICANN Board members questions, either in person or remotely. Two such fora were organised during ICANN58.
Topics which dominated the public fora include: ICANN's jurisdiction, the next round of applications for generic top-level domains (gTLDs), delays in the process of reviewing the 2012 round of new gTLDs, diversity, ICANN's engagement, transparency, data security and privacy, and the ICANN Board's priorities.
In regards to ICANN's jurisdiction, Mr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board, confirmed that ICANN would remain based in the USA and that the sub-group working on ICANN's jurisdiction (in the framework of Work Stream 2 of the Cross Community Working Group on ICANN Accountability – CCWG-Accountability) would be discussing ways to handle issues, should they arise in the future.
Language diversity was highlighted by several community members, and it was suggested that there should be interpretation services at the meetings in the local host language. ICANN community members were encouraged to join the CCWG Accountability sub-group on diversity, to enhance the discussions.
Issues such as the ICANN's engagement, particularly in underserved regions, such as small islands, and the broadening of participation, especially of the next generation, were raised by several participants. The importance of measuring the engagement of participants in ICANN, especially in the subsequent meetings, was highlighted by one community member. Responding to a question on ICANN's initiatives to increase the engagement of the next generation, Mr Ram Mohan, ICANN Board member, shared examples of a hackathon event (Hack2Build) that took place during ICANN57, while Ms Rinalia Abdul Rahim, ICANN Board member, explained how the DotAsia pilot lead to the formation of the NextGen programme. On the question of how to increase engagement in underserved areas and strengthen ICANN's long term engagement plans, Mr Göran Marby, ICANN President and CEO, said that ICANN would base their plans for improving regional support on what they learn. Creating greater awareness and the continued engagement of ICANN was emphasised by participants.
On the issue of privacy and security of data, the need for stricter rules concerning the handling of private data in the context of Whois services was one of the issues raised byparticipants. Ms Becky Burr, ICANN Board member, said that while there is an ongoing discussion on the way in which Whois data is made available and its legitimate use, personal data, including Whois data, can only be processed for legitimate purposes.
ICANN’s continued engagement with Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), and the setting up a data protection or privacy officer, especially to comply with the European data protection regulations, were some of the recommendations made by participants during the public fora. Burr said that the engagements with DPAs would continue and that while ICANN is going through the compliance check-list, the ICANN community is also actively looking at the developments.
A lack of clarity with regard to the next round of gTLDs was addressed by several community members. However, no timeline for the next round of gTLDs was shared by the Board members. On issues related to specific marketing and awareness raising activities in relation to a subsequent round of gTLDs, Mr Akram Atallah, Director of the Global Domains Division at ICANN, said that such activities would be undertaken if the community so decides.
In response to the dissatisfaction that was expressed by some with regard to a Board resolution allowing the registration of two character codes as second level domain names in the new gTLDs, Crocker stated that the matter continues to be under discussion, due to its sensitive and contentious nature. Furthermore, Mr Thomas Schneider, Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) noted that the issue has been of great concern for a large number of GAC members, and that these governments hope they can work together with new gTLD registries and try to find a solution acceptable to all parties.
Addressing the concerns raised about possible unfair competition arising between registrars in Europe and other regions owing to ICANN's plan to designate one domain name data escrow provider at subsidy, Atallah said that after this initiative is implemented in Europe, other regions would be considered as well.
On the questions regarding status and delay of the independent review related to the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) and the independent review process, the Board commented that the review process was ongoing and that they will be able to respond based on the outcome of the review.
Two participants raised questions regarding the complaint mechanism process at ICANN. Marby stated that going forward, complaints would be managed by a complaints officer. Mr John Jeffrey, General Counsel, elaborated on the role of the complaints officer and the ombudsman, and said that the process of filing a complaint has yet to be decided on.
On the question related to the priorities of the Board for this year, Mr Cherine Chalaby, ICANN Board member, explained that the Board would be working on three 'clusters'. These include various priorities, among which: improving the Board relationship with the community, with points such as transparency of the Board, increased engagement, increased diversity, and efficient use of volunteers; improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Board; improving financial stability; enhance the effectiveness of review processes; supporting the ICANN CEO through the creation of an environment where the CEO succeeds; progressing on community public policy issues; progressing on technical issues; and supporting the Nominating Committee (NomCom).
Questions were raised related to transparency in ICANN's selection process of the location for ICANN meetings, the existence of closed sessions, and the expenditure report on travel support to community members to attend various meetings. There was also a request for staff to ensure appropriate planning for the ICANN59 joint session between the GAC, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), on geographic names (i.e. avoiding conflicts with other important sessions). It was observed that there were no sessions on the Public Technical Identifiers during ICANN58.
The involvement of Board members in Policy Development Processes (PDP) was also raised, and it was clarified that, while there is no rule prohibiting Board members to participate in such processes, this has not traditionally been done. The Board was also asked whether it is aware of the various upcoming Internet governance events and activities, and Mr Markus Kummer, ICANN Board Member, confirmed the Board's awareness by talking about their working group on Internet governance. Apart from ICANN taking part in various events, he reaffirmed ICANN's continued support of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), including regional and national IGFs.
Finally, ICANN was applauded for its statement about US Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, its fellowship programme, and the criteria being developed for choosing arbitrators for the Independent Review Panel.