ICANN78 Celebrates Free Internet in Hamburg

  • ICANN celebrates 25 years of multistakeholder governance at ICANN78 in Hamburg
  • eco Association, DENIC eG and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg have welcomed about 2,500 international visitors to ICANN78
  • Until 26 October, important decisions for the development of the Internet will be made in Hamburg.

eco Chair of the Board Oliver Süme: “ICANN78 is an important forum for the exchange of ideas among industry, politics and civil society on current issues and challenges in the design and organisation of the global namespace on the Internet and thus also an indispensable real-life laboratory for international digital policy.”

At the invitation of eco Association, DENIC eG and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the international Internet community is currently meeting in Hamburg until 26 October: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened its 78th public meeting in Hamburg. At this week-long meeting, which is taking place until 26 October, ICANN is also celebrating its 25-year commitment to a unified and secure Internet.

Approximately 2,500 international participants from technology, business, politics, research and civil society from all over the world are currently taking part in the 78th meeting of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Their common goal is to ensure that the Internet continues to be securely usable for everyone according to clear rules.

Grassroots democratic decisions according to a defined self-governing mechanism

Within the framework of the ICANN78 meeting, ICANN is also celebrating its birthday, within the framework of a 25th Anniversary Session. ICANN was founded in 1998 by the US Department of Commerce and, as an independent non-profit organisation, still has the task of ensuring the allocation of domain names and IP addresses worldwide – and thus the secure and stable operation of the Domain Name System (DNS) for the Internet.

The participants from research, the tech community, politics, business and civil society discuss, for example, application procedures for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the further development of the open, free and secure Internet or the privacy-compliant handling of registration data. Representatives of civil society, associations, governments and business work together in many different committees. They make decisions in a grassroots democratic manner according to a defined self-governing mechanism.

eco Association unites the domain industry

The eco Association is involved in many projects, such as the consultations of the ispCP (Internet Service Provider Control Panel) and GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization) Council. “All topics related to the Domain Name System have always been of enormous relevance to us as an eco Association – many of our members come from the domain industry,” says Thomas Rickert, Director of Names & Numbers at the eco Association. “Our Names & Numbers Forum alone brings together more than 140 companies in the eco Association, where experts from the fields of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), traditional and new generic top-level domains (legacy and new gTLDs) as well as registrars, technical service providers and consultants meet regularly to exchange views on current topics in the domain industry.”

ICANN Chief Executive Officer Tripti Sinha said: “I am honoured to be part of this milestone celebration. ICANN’s 25th anniversary is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders to advance the dialogue that is critical to the continued growth and stability of the global Internet.”

“On this anniversary, we are not only a reflection of our remarkable achievements over the past 25 years,” said Sally Costerton, ICANN’s Interim President and CEO. “This is also an opportunity to look to the future and renew our commitment to a secure, stable and unified global Internet. Our collective work here this week will bring us closer to fulfilling our mission.”

Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, said: “We need an international digital policy that promotes democracy, prosperity and resilience in our digital societies. Germany is committed to a global, open, free and secure Internet. That is why we are currently developing a strategy to create a rules-based digital order. In doing so, we are building on the extensive exchange of information and experience with national and international stakeholders such as ICANN.”

Jana Schiedek, State Secretary for Culture and Media of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg stated: “The rapid development of the Internet requires infrastructures, and ICANN makes a significant contribution to making these work. Hamburg is Germany’s number one Smart City and has been awarded this title four times in the last five years. Without ICANN’s work, the digital transformation would not be possible. ICANN’s efforts to standardise and create uniform processes that make the Internet accessible to everyone worldwide are the foundation for all the smart technologies we benefit from today as a city, but also as a society as a whole. We are pleased and proud to host the ICANN78 meeting.”

ICANN was established in 1998 and has played an important role in ensuring the stability and security of the Internet through the coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS). ICANN’s clear mission and inclusive multistakeholder governance ensure the effective functioning of the DNS and provide a stable foundation for global Internet platforms and services.

ICANN has always focused on addressing complex issues by using the multistakeholder model to involve relevant stakeholders. Through this model, Internet users collectively contribute to the ongoing development of policies that ensure the continuous and uninterrupted operation of the Internet.

At ICANN78, experts will analyse the complexity of the Internet ecosystem in various sessions. There will also be a plenary session on geopolitical, legislative and regulatory developments. These sessions reflect the intention of ICANN’s public forums to facilitate direct communication between the ICANN community, the Board and the organisation.

“The domain industry is a major player in the digital infrastructure ecosystem. Even if they are not always visible to users, Internet and IP addresses are indispensable cornerstones for a functioning Internet and the digital transformation of economy and society. ICANN78 makes the underlying industry and its importance for digitalisation visible and promotes exchange between stakeholders from politics, business and civil society. This is an essential contribution to making the free and open Internet future-proof,” says Oliver J. Süme, eco Chair of the Board, the German Internet industry association.

Andreas Musielak, a member of DENIC’s Executive Board, explained: “We are aware that the domain world is changing. In the past, the focus was mainly on technical issues. But the major challenges of the future are legal issues. We at DENIC eG therefore see the tasks of domain operators as broader than ever before: in addition to ensuring a secure and stable Internet, we as domain operators have a responsibility to ensure that free access to the Internet continues to be guaranteed for all, without the legal framework hindering this.”

As with previous conferences, registered participants can attend both in person and virtually, allowing for worldwide participation. Learn more about the conference and visit the dedicated website.

The decisions that ICANN will make in Hamburg will affect all Internet users worldwide. For the Internet to function, domain names and IP addresses must be unique worldwide. The core task of ICANN, founded in 1998, is to ensure this in cooperation with the worldwide Internet community. The meetings of ICANN take place three times a year, each time in a different city around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were only virtual meetings. Hamburg was already planned as the venue for the ICANN Annual General Meeting in 2020. However, the conference was hosted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current episode of the eco podcast Das Ohr am Netz (An ear to the Internet) poses the question on the occasion of ICANN78 in Hamburg: Who manages the Internet? The eco Chair of the Board Oliver Süme, Thomas Rickert, Director of the eco Names & Numbers Forum and Michael Riedl, CEO of Team Internet have their say.



ICANN78 Celebrates Free Internet in Hamburg