Ross Rader is Director of Research and Innovation at “Tucows”:http://www.tucows.com/. A long-time contributor to the ongoing governance of the domain name system, he has made substantial contributions to CIRA, ICANN and many of the predecessor organizations that define the way the internet operates. In a former life, Ross was the Director of Marketing for one of Canada’s first successful ISPs, Internet Direct. Ross is a mostly-devoted blogger writing on a variety of topics at byte.org .
Note that I work with Ross at Tucows so I’m not completely unbiased here.
*One Degree: Does domain name governance impact marketers? My guess is many of our readers will do a “whatever” at the mention of the topic but I sense this might be short-sighted.*
“CIRA”:http://www.cira.ca/ sets all policy related to how internet users interact with and register dotCA domain names. For example, CIRA is in the process of implementing new privacy policies that have a direct impact on how much domain name information is available to and can be used by marketers.
In the past, similar policies have been implemented outlining who qualifies to register dotCA domain names (which is of a high level of interest to companies who operate as subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies but want to be accessible on the web using a dotCA domain). CIRA has also been responsible for raising the awareness of the availability of dotCA names to Canadian internet users. All of this comes from CIRA’s governance mandate. Fortunately, CIRA involves its membership when it makes these decisions, so being involved really has its advantages if you are doing business on the internet in Canada.
*One Degree: What is the role of the CIRA Board?*
The CIRA website says it best “CIRA is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of 14 members who set policy and establish strategies in support of Canada’s Internet community and users. CIRA’s President and a representative of the Government of Canada sit on the CIRA Board as ex-officio non-voting Directors. Board elections are held annually through CIRA’s website where CIRA members can vote online. CIRA elects rather than selects its Board of Directors to provide Canadians and CIRA Members an opportunity to shape CIRA policies and participate in the management of the dot-ca Internet domain. ”
*One Degree: Why do you want to be on the Board and why should One Degree readers care about you being on it?*
I’m actually looking to _return_ to the Board. There were some election irregularities during the last election that forced me off the Board. Massive election and bylaws reform are now making it possible for me to return and pick up the work initiated during my original mandate. I seek to increase the level of involvement that CIRA’s membership has in creating CIRA’s policies, ensure that domain pricing is kept reasonable and sustainable (CIRA’s budget surpluses indicate to me that the price is still too high) and refocus the Board more closely on approving the recommendations of the CEO, staff and membership (as opposed to being highly involved in creating them as it is currently).
*One Degree: What are the key issues facing CIRA this coming year?*
I’m predicting two big issues for CIRA in the coming year. First, CIRA will have to deal with ensuring its members have a strong role in creating the policies that get implemented. Right now, this is very much an arms-length arrangement where the membership are provided with an opportunity to comment on policies that have been proposed by the Board and staff, but they have no direct role in creating those policies. This needs to change, and CIRA’s members need to have a direct hand in creating policy recommendations for the Board. Second, CIRA is going to have to come to grips with its role in the Canadian internet ecosystem. Some are arguing that CIRA has a mandate to commit to and support a larger social agenda, and others are arguing that it is appropriate for CIRA to stick to the narrower, more technical mandate of running the dotCA registry. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but most importantly, that the question deserves a solid and explicit answer that we’ve all agreed to.
*One Degree: The United States internet community is embroiled in a debate about Net Neutrality. What does this mean from the perspective of the Canadian internet community?*
The debate is equally important here at home, and I do believe that CIRA has a strong role to play in helping shape our domestic policy to help ensure continued Net Neutrality for the Canadian Internet. Network Providers, essentially the usual telco’s and cableco’s, are arguing that because they own the pipes that they have the right to control which bits flow across their networks (and which bits should get priority). If implemented, this would create a bifurcated internet in which the “paid” bits would get precedent over the “free” bits. The problem is that customers have paid for network services with the expectation that they will get the interconnects promised, and that bit transport is part of this package – and most importantly, that the end-points (i.e. the sender and the receiver) determines what gets priority, not the middle points (the network providers). It is a pretty complicated issue, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure that Net Neutrality is preserved otherwise we will lose the innovation and freedom that made the internet possible in the first place. CIRA needs to take a visible position on this issue, and I really hope to help make this happen if elected. As a side note, I’ll be participating in a telecommunications forum on Net Neutrality in Ottawa on October 21st at which I hope to make a more impassioned case for more involvement from all corners of Canada’s internet community.
If you are a CIRA member One Degree urges you to do your part and get involved “by voting”:https://elections.cira.ca/2006/vote/login/en before the September 21st deadline.