Eastern European DNS Forum: Two Years Old and Growing

4 December 2017

Alexandra Kulikova

On 12 and 13 October 2017, we held the second Eastern European DNS Forum (EE DNS Forum) in Minsk, Belarus, hosted by Belarusian country code top-level domain (ccTLD) technical administrator hoster.by. With over 160 participants from more than 10 countries from the region and beyond, this event was a great sequel to the regional initiative set up last year.

The DNS Forum is a well-known format in the ICANN community. We introduced it in the Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) region for the first time in December 2016 in Kiev, Ukraine. This event came out of the realization from our work in the region that a platform was needed to bring together local stakeholders with global and regional experts for professional discussions and sharing of experiences from the DNS industry. A regional DNS would also enable the local community to get better acquainted with the broader ICANN ecosystem and to become engaged in its work.

Given the long-standing interest in the EECA region on the technical and security side of the DNS industry, the first day of the two-day forum focused on technical issues in the DNS in the form of tutorials and presentations. The second day was devoted to policy-driven discussions and encouraged regional perspectives.

Based on the success of the first forum in Kiev, we felt encouraged to continue the format, and to expand its influence in the Eastern European DNS community. The mix of technical capacity development and participant engagement in the most topical DNS policy discussions looked like a promising vehicle for increasing awareness of ICANN community work. And the extended reach would enrich the platform with new voices and perspectives from the region.

The choice of Minsk, Belarus, as the second host city for the EE DNS Forum 2017 was a natural one due to the burgeoning IT industry in the country, often labeled the Eastern European "Silicon Valley." The EE DNS Forum was part of Minsk Internet Week, together with the ENOG 14, the regional meeting of the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC). The forum attracted the interest of local media. Its participants represented a diverse regional audience from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Serbia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, U.K., and U.S. – not to mention Belarus itself.

Together with subject matter experts from ICANN, the local community discussed a vast number of topics. And the two-day format allowed enough time for the technical and security agenda, which traditionally attracts the most attention in this community. This year, the discussion was dominated by the subject of DNS abuse. Participants discussed topics such as the latest attacks on and threats to the global DNS, ICANN's DNS Abuse Activity Reporting project, regional DNS abuse concerns from the National Computer Emergency Response Team of the Republic of Belarus, and current DNS operational matters such as existing name collision issues.

Policy discussions on the second day revisited traditional legal aspects in the DNS industry and current priorities for registries and registrars, and also tried to look into the future beyond the DNS as we know it. DNS industry leaders tried to define DNS policy priorities beyond security. Another hot topic was the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation challenging lawyers within and beyond the EU – and its implications for ICANN ecosystem, including in other jurisdictions. We even engaged in a debate about emerging technologies such as blockchain, and their potential to challenge today's DNS and the Internet as a whole. These critical global issues might have rocked the local internet community's world! But I hope we also managed to stir up an interest in joining the work that serves the global system of unique Internet identifiers and the DNS industry in a bottom-up and multistakeholder manner.

There is an appetite in the region for educational efforts and for increased visibility of local experts in the larger ICANN community. Last year's EE DNS Forum in Kiev, labeled a "mini-ICANN meeting," is now coming of age as its own platform, brand, and format in the region. It is giving the regional community an accessible way to engage in topical discussions, hear from the global experts, and share local competencies.

I would like to thank our great host and reliable partner hoster.by, its Director Sergey Povalishev, and his team for helping make this this event happen. And our thanks also go to the amazing ICANN organization team, who helped create yet another ICANN meeting experience, and who engaged with the regional stakeholders to reveal local facets to global DNS issues. The forum was indeed a global forum!

We will continue to take the EE DNS Forum across the Eastern European region, visiting different local communities and enriching this platform with new perspectives, priorities, ideas, questions, and solutions. Make the EE DNS Forum yours!

Alexandra Kulikova