Internet Committee Opens Doors with Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network

Published: June 9, 2021

INTA’s Internet Committee has an ongoing mission to engage with Internet governance policy influencers on a global level beyond the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In an important step toward that mission, Committee members met for the first time recently with Bertrand De La Chappelle and Elizabeth Behsudi, executive director and director respectively, of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network (I&JPN).

Much of the discussion focused on DNS (domain name system) Abuse, which is at the center of a debate on how the domain industry should respond to intellectual property (IP) infringement.

The I&JPN is a stakeholder body representing more than 400 entities from 70 countries and six broad stakeholder groups, including states, technical operators, academia, Internet companies, civil society, and international organizations. Since its creation in 2012, the group has grown rapidly and now has the support of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation; the Council of Europe; the European Commission; and ICANN.

The meeting, which took place on May 5, during INTA’s 2021 Leadership Meeting, opened the door to further engagement around crucial cross-jurisdictional issues in the Internet policymaking space not normally discussed at ICANN.

Mr. De La Chappelle and Ms. Behsudi gave a thorough presentation on the contents of two toolkits the I&JPN released this year: DNS Abuse and Cross-Border Access to E-Evidence. They answered questions, particularly on DNS Abuse, a subject the Committee has been exploring this term.

“It was a pleasure to present the work of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and particularly its recently released I&JPN Toolkits on Cross-Border Access to Electronic Evidence and DNS Level Action to Address Abuses,” said Mr. De La Chappelle. “The meeting enabled a rich discussion on two concrete cross-border legal challenges: how they impact the business community and how they can be addressed collaboratively.”

The issue of DNS Abuse has become controversial as there is no single, agreed-upon definition. It can include phishing, spoofing, piracy, spam, malware, trademark infringement, counterfeiting, botnet attacks, and/or abusing the trust users place in websites, as well as brands and companies online. Documents and initiatives inside and outside of ICANN have sought to define it, including ICANN Specification 11 of the Registry Agreement, the voluntary DNS Abuse Framework, ICANN’s Business Constituency, and the recently launched DNS Abuse Institute. Additionally, the EU Commission has requested a study on how to define DNS Abuse, with a final report due in July.

I&JPN supports the definition of DNS Abuse as “botnets, malware, phishing, pharming, and spam” (the latter when used to deliver the other four) which has been widely adopted by domain registrars and registries. Brand owners support a broader definition that includes IP infringement. When asked about this controversy, Mr. De LaChapelle responded that there is a need for a clear line so that the work can move forward.

Brand owners are stymied by the refusal of registrars and registries to disclose domain name registration data for requests based on legitimate purposes. Registrars and registries are frustrated by what they perceive as overreaching by brand owners that request disclosure of personal data and domain name suspensions without a court order. Registrars and registries consider domain name suspension an option of last resort, not first response. In the meantime, malicious actors will likely continue to proliferate and exploit the gaps in security and trust.

Internet Committee Public Policy Subcommittee Chair Statton Hammock noted that I&JPN’s toolkit on best practices for domain name registries, registrars, and other Internet infrastructure providers aligns closely with the best practices and policy positions advocated by INTA’s Internet Committee in recent months.

“Real progress toward mitigating trademark infringement and reducing the online distribution of counterfeit goods and pirated content can only happen as a result of aligned and determined efforts from multiple policy organizations and industry groups,” said Mr. Hammock. “Making INTA Internet Committee members aware of IJ&PN’s efforts and the efforts of other like-minded organizations is important for our overall advocacy efforts to address online trust and safety.”

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. 

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