ICANN Is Back In Germany: A Rare Event

ICANN Is Back In Germany: A Rare Event

The commitment of DENIC eG and eco - Association of the Internet Industry has paid off: In October, the international Internet community will meet in Germany. On the agenda: the further development of the open, free, and secure Internet.

Did you know? You can access each of the currently more than 354 million domains worldwide only because ... well, why exactly? Who ensures that you can use the Internet at all? And what are the basic agreements, specifications and technical infrastructures that are necessary for it? The vast majority of those who are active on the Internet still have only a vague idea of this.

Here is the answer to the riddle: You can access each of the currently more than 354 million domains worldwide only because … there is ICANN – or as the full name reads, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. For 25 years now, the organisation has coordinated an indispensable basis for a properly functioning Internet: the Domain Name System (DNS). The primary goal is to ensure the secure and stable operation of the DNS, so that each of the more than five billion Internet users can access all Internet services at any time and from any place without restriction. First and foremost, ICANN thus has a technical mandate, but since the organisation was founded, political aspects have clearly come to the fore.

In Germany alone, in 2022 more than 95 percent of the population aged 14+ – that is about 67 million people – used the Internet, 57 percent of these every day. Statistically speaking, one in three Germans has registered a domain, one in five a domain with the German country code ending .de, i.e. they are taking proactive action with their own web presence or managing their own e-mail box. It is in the interest of all these users that fundamental issues about the technical design and management of the Internet are attended to by an organisation that is independent of any government, such as ICANN.

ICANN Meets for One Week in Hamburg – The .de Registry DENIC Plays A Leading Role as Co-Host
The players behind the scenes of the global Internet, who collaborate under the umbrella of ICANN, coming together for their Annual General Meeting in Germany this October thus is a very special event. It is only the second time in the 25 years of ICANN’s history that the ICANN community gathers in Germany, after 1999 in Berlin when the Internet was still in its infancy worldwide. The DNS of one of the world's largest country-code domain extensions, .de, a classified part of Germany’s critical infrastructure, is operated by DENIC eG. A key player in the German domain industry, DENIC together with eco - Association of the Internet Industry promoted and lobbied an ICANN meeting in Germany – and, supported by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg as local host, won the bid.

More than 2,500 international participants are expected at the 78th ICANN meeting, which will take place from 21 to 26 October 2023 at the Congress Center Hamburg. Representatives from technical infrastructure organisations, the public and private sector, research and civil society – the multistakeholder community– join at these working meetings, which are held three times a year at different locations around the world. They discuss current individual issues related to the technical coordination of the Internet and jointly develop rules and practices concerning domain name management on an equal footing. This may include handling registration data in compliance with data protection regulations or establishing guidelines for the use of additional non-Latin characters, such as Arabic or Asian, for top-level domains. All in all, this consensus-building is crucial to ensure that the Internet remains accessible to everyone, governed by clear rules.

The traditionally very active ICANN community in Germany will seize the opportunity of the event to enhance its networks. The meetings also serve to advance and, ideally, conclude the topics discussed in the individual working groups through face-to-face interaction. Between the meetings, the parties involved regularly engage in virtual exchange.

Germany’s Federal Government, too, attributes a high level of significance to the ICANN meetings. This is not only reflected in the regular participation of government representatives in the relevant committees. At the Hamburg event, Federal Minister for Digital and Transport, Volker Wissing, will deliver the opening speech to emphasise digital policy aspects from a German perspective. The commitment to ICANN is explicitly mentioned in the Federal Government’s Digital Strategy.

The framework data at a glance:

When: 21 – 26 October 2023
Where: Congress Center Hamburg
Registration: https://meetings.icann.org/en/icann78

For Curious Minds Who Want To Take A Look Behind The Scenes
You want to know more about the organisations where all the threads of the Internet come together, about ICANN, its structures and tasks? Then wait and see what you may learn from the next issues of our information series, which will be published here up to October, in the run-up to the ICANN meeting. Stay tuned!

Stefanie Welters

Manager Policy Communications & Public Affairs - DENIC eG