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15th February Nairobi Update

15 February 2010

Doug Brent

ICANN’s internal team – including staff from the US (California, Texas, New Jersey), France and Niger – continued to meet daily over the weekend to discuss and share information regarding the ICANN Nairobi meeting.

Today and last night, we had direct contact with the local Kenyan members of the security planning committee, and there has been an enhanced, on the ground commitment for additional security and this group will work closely with the on-site security experts that ICANN has under contract. ICANN’s security team thinks these are strong, positive steps.

The Kenya National Intelligence Service (NISIS) has increased its efforts to mitigate potential terrorist threats.   The Kenya Anti-terrorist Police Unit (ATPU) is currently actively involved in the security planning process and has already started to put detection, as well as other preventative measures in place. The Kenya Diplomatic Protection unit has also been activated to assist with the security of the conference. Additionally, covert and overt security forces are being deployed at the KICC, hotels and venues where official functions will be held. Additionally, the airport, and road from the airport to hotels will be actively monitored and patrolled by security forces.

It is important for delegates to understand that ensuring a safe conference is a very important to the Government of Kenya. The country relies heavily on tourism and strives to be a preferred destination for international conferences.

We are all seeing community members starting to react to the situation in Kenya, as they perceive it. There have been posted letters from Neustar and GoDaddy, among others, indicating that they will not attend or send representatives. Also, the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) has decided to hold an alternative meeting in New York.

Others in the community are re-confirming their attendance in Nairobi. In a note from ccNSO Chair, Chris Disspain, to be posted today, he has confirmed that the ccNSO is expecting to participate in the Nairobi meeting, as planned, with all or most all counselors in attendance. Less formally, I’ve heard that many in At Large have expressed the same view.

So, where does this leave all of us?

The first order of business, is that ICANN will continue to monitor the status in Nairobi, and will share all relevant information with the community, in accordance with our goal to be fully transparent . I will ensure we do that on an ongoing basis.

We are left with a situation where some people would choose to attend the meeting, and some choose not to attend, based on exactly the same information. One answer will clearly not work for all.

One alternative being discussed is how to better support a meeting where remote participation is going to be a more significant part of the meeting. What does enhanced remote participation look like in the context of an ICANN meeting? Remote participation is a challenge when a minority of participants are using that mode; if many were, how effective could that be? How would this work with scheduling, time zones, and the expected meeting formats we’ve used? Any comments you have on this would be greatly appreciated – you’ll see a blog posting on remote participation from Nick Ashton-Hart adjacent to this post.

Doug Brent