ccNSO: founding, development and present functions of the ICANN Country Code Names Supporting Organization. By Patricio Poblete.

11-12-2018

Patricio Poblete, Director of NIC Chile and founding member of LACTLD, explains how the ccNSO was created and what was the participation of the Latin American and Caribbean ccTLDs in the early days of ICANN. Also, he tells us how the ccNSO works and what are the benefits of participating in its processes.

ccNSO logo

When ICANN was created in 1998, its mission was defined around three issues: domain names, IP numbers and protocol parameters. In order to address these three missions, three support organizations were defined. The one that would be responsible for domain names was called “Domain Names Supporting Organization”, whose acronym was DNSO.

The DNSO internal structure was defined in a meeting held in Monterrey. This structure was based on establishing a "Names Council" with a balanced composition between the ccTLDs, on the one hand, and all the constituencies related to the gTLDs, on the other.

After a while, it became evident that this structure did not work very well in practice because the interests of both communities were too divergent. While the ccTLDs were struggling to limit the power of nascent ICANN, emphasizing that the policy of each ccTLD was a local issue, the concern of the remaining communities focused on defining if, when and how new gTLDs should be created.

This led to the ccTLDs agreeing to withdraw from the DNSO at the ICANN meeting held in Stockholm in May 2001 and to form their own supporting organization. The decision was finally achieved through the ICANN reform process initiated in February 2002, which led to the birth of the ccNSO in 2003.

The setting up of the ccNSO was not easy because many ccTLDs had a great distrust of ICANN. Although in some regions, such as Latin America, the quorum necessary for the creation of the ccNSO was achieved without problems, in Europe it could only be obtained thanks to the peculiar definitions of the ICANN regions (which, for example, locate the Cayman Islands in Europe). It was only after changes in the bylaws were implemented —through which the ccNSO's ability to develop global policies was further limited— that massive European ccTLDs membership was achieved. Thus, a process of sustained growth of the ccNSO began. Today, the Supporting Organization has 171 members.

Nowadays, the ccNSO is a well-established organization, with an important role in the ICANN processes and with a high level of participation of its members. Its functioning is mainly developed through its Council meetings, in which three representatives from each of the five ICANN regions and three councilors appointed by the ICANN Nominating Committee (the NomCom) participate. The current chair of the ccNSO Council is Katrina Sataki from .LV. The other space for participation at the ccNSO are the member meetings, which are held at each ICANN meeting.

ICANN and the ccNSO encourage the participation of all ccTLDs, whether or not they are members of the Supporting Organization. However, being a member confers certain advantages, such as participating in the selection of two directors of the ICANN Board (currently, Chris Disspain and Nigel Roberts), in the election of regional representatives, and in the voting and recommendation of policies developed within the scope of competence of the ccNSO to the ICANN Board for final approval.

As we have already seen, the ability of the ccNSO to develop global policies has always been a point of contention, but at present it has reached a balance that leaves everyone, or almost everyone, satisfied. The ccNSO can develop binding policies for its members, but these can be exempted from them if they declare that the resolutions approved are contrary to their customs, religion or public policies. In addition, any ccTLD can withdraw from the ccNSO at any time they decide it.

In this regard, the ccNSO has developed a “Framework of Interpretation” to guide the application of existing policies on delegation and revocation of the management of a ccTLD. Additionally, the organization is currently carrying out a policy development process for the removal of a ccTLD from the root zone when the respective two-letter code has been removed from the ISO 3166 list.

Apart from these policy development activities, which are very infrequent, most of the ccNSO tasks focus on working groups or committees that address issues such as the ccNSO participation in the ICANN Strategic Plan and Budget, the member meetings organization, the members coordination on security issues (TLD-OPS), etc. Also, Tech Day is a very important activity organized by the ccNSO Technical Working Group, which brings together participants from inside and outside the ccTLD community.

Finally, after the IANA Stewardship Transition process and the creation of Public Technical Identifiers (PTI), the ccNSO, as part of the Empowered Community, acquired new powers of supervision, control and possible veto of the resolutions approved by the ICANN Board of Directors. As it happened before, when the control was exercised by the United States Department of Commerce, these attributions may never be exercised, but it is important that they exist to ensure the proper functioning of ICANN, in its role as IANA steward.

The ccTLDs from Latin America and the Caribbean have always had an active participation in the ccNSO, both during its creation process as well as in its subsequent development. Participation in this instance of global representation and coordination is not opposed, but complemented by the work done in the respective regional organizations, such as LACTLD in our case. Both organizations allow us to get to know each other, share experiences and make progress in our tasks in order to provide a better service to the community.