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ICANN 47: Why Our COO is in South Africa

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Many of you know that ServInt is deeply involved in the fight for intelligent Internet legislation, through my part-time leadership role at the Internet Infrastructure Coalition.  I took on that role for two main reasons:  one, I care about the Internet.   I believe the internet is fueling a global explosion of empowerment that will ultimately prove more lasting and more significant than the industrial revolution, and I want to do my part to make sure it all unfolds freely and fairly for everybody.  Following from that, the second reason is that I care about making sure that as the internet grows, the rights of individuals and small businesses — i.e., the core of ServInt’s customer base — are never left behind.  So when I represent the hosting industry in discussions about Internet governance, I’m also making sure that your voice is heard, loud and clear.

Making sure your voice is heard is why I’m here in Durban, South Africa, at ICANN 47 — the conference that sets policies and standards and manages open debate for assigned Internet names and numbers.

Those of you who are familiar with ICANN may be thinking:  “hold on, those guys aren’t really concerned with hosting and data centers!”  But the truth is that ICANN’s impact on the hosting industry — and the integrity of your businesses — could be huge.  Here’s how:

Right now, ICANN is working on a number of things related to domain names that greatly affect hosting providers, like rebooting WHOIS and working on DNSsec. They’re also launching a new generic top level domain (gTLD) system, which could create the biggest new pool of ‘digital real estate’ in the history of the commercial Internet — and they’re working hard to make sure that while doing all this, the Internet and your online business stay stable and secure throughout the process.

Lastly, and perhaps most urgently, ICANN is dealing with how the internet industry will interface with international law enforcement when information requests are filed. Clearly, these are all very important discussions for companies like ServInt, because businesses like yours could be directly affected by these changes.

So what am I doing to help?

To be honest, though I was asked here to speak on behalf of the i2Coalition, I’m spending a lot of my time meeting people and pressing our industry’s case for greater inclusion in the ICANN decision-making process.  Your rights — as well as the reliability and affordability of the infrastructure that hosts your online business — need to be protected.  The big copyright holders are here already, and they’ve got a seat at the table.  Policy makers from developing nations who want to transition control of the internet to a multinational organization like the ITU are here, and they’ve got a seat at the table.  We don’t, and I’m here to change that.

The good news is, folks are generally receptive.  Most ICANN attendees I talk to aren’t asking “what are you doing here,” they’re asking “what took you so long?”  We might have started down this road sooner if we’d known how urgent the mission for ICANN inclusion would eventually be.  But we’re here now, and though it may take a while (“multi-stakeholder” organizations like the ICANN move verrrrrry slowwwwly), I am hopeful.

Stay tuned.

About Christian Dawson

Christian Dawson has been with ServInt since 1998 and has helped it grow into one of the most innovative Cloud providers in the world. As ServInt's COO, he has spearheaded its green initiative, and drives ServInt's efforts in fighting for customer privacy and consumer protections. He does so in part as co-founder and Chairman of the industry trade association, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition). You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.


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