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Putting the “Stakeholder” Back in Multistakeholder: The ICANN Community at RightsCon 2018

9 May 2018
By Joe CatapanoJoe Catapano and Adam PeakeAdam Peake

In only a few short years, RightsCon has become an incredibly important and well-attended conference, bringing together civil society, global business, start-ups, technologists, and governments to discuss digital rights. This year, RightsCon returns to North America, and will be held in Toronto, Canada, from 16-18 May. And for the fifth year in a row, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be both supporting and attending the conference.

RightsCon represents a prime opportunity to reach key civil society stakeholders from around the world on their "home turf." In case that expression does not translate, what we mean is that while business and government representatives are among the approximately 2000 participants, advocacy groups, digital activists, and civic organizations not only provide the majority of the attendees, but also set the agenda.

AccessNow, the organization behind RightsCon, is a member of ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) and it is a strong supporter of multistakeholder policy making processes. Its mission is to defend and extend the digital rights of Internet users around the world.

This year's RightsCon Summit will feature over 400 separate workshops and sessions, including plenty of discussions surrounding the European Union's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, for those looking for a break from the ongoing GDPR debate, there will be panels on Internet policymaking and sessions on cybersecurity.

ICANN community members from civil society groups will organize workshops and speak at various sessions. These groups include businesses, contracted and non-contracted parties, At-Large participants, and ICANN staff. Their sessions include the following:

  • Before RightsCon begins, on May 15 (aka "day zero"), ICANN will host a roundtable discussion on the challenges facing civil society in global Internet policy, plus a session at the RightsCon Young Leaders Summit.
  • Members of the Global Indigenous Ambassador Program and At-Large will hold a workshop on new voices in Internet policy.
  • NCUC will partner with UNESCO in a session aimed at developing recommendations to improve strengths and address weaknesses of the various multistakeholder models.
  • The Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG), along with speakers from ICANN registrars, the ICANN Board, and ICANN org's own Eleeza Agopian, will discuss the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The two of us will be in Toronto leading the ICANN delegation. Please get in touch if you plan to be at RightsCon - it would be great to see you there! Our contact information is below:

Joseph Catapano

Adam Peake

For more information, check out the RightsCon program or visit their website.


Joe Catapano

Joe Catapano

Stakeholder Engagement Sr Manager

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Adam Peake

Civil Society Engagement Sr. Manager

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