The inaugural meeting of the IFFOR Policy Council took place over two days in Washington DC on 3-4 November 2011. The highlights are provided below.
Among other things, the Council:
The Council was welcomed by IFFOR Executive Director Joan Irvine who said a few words about the goals of the organization and the philosophy behind IFFOR.
She then introduced Chairman of ICM Registry, Stuart Lawley, who outlined the history behind the dot-xxx top-level domain, his vision for the extension and what he hoped would be IFFOR’s role.
Lawley announced he was stepping down as Chairman of IFFOR, and would be replaced by Clyde Beattie, with his seat on the IFFOR Board being taken by ICM General Counsel Sheri Falco.
The Council carried out an extensive item-by-item review of the core IFFOR Baseline Policies. Noting that the policies had been drawn up a decade earlier and required updating to reflect reality, the Council made a series of suggested adjustments to provide greater clarity and consistency1.
Examples of these interpretive changes included: universal use of the term “child abuse images” instead of “child pornography” to conform IFFOR's policies and efforts with current global law enforcement standards and initiatives; wording changes to accurately reflect the technology used by ICM Registry and IFFOR e.g. automated labeling of sites and automated scanning of dot-xxx domain for malware, phishing etc; and making the policies consistent with one another.
Frequently asked questions
In addition to the Baseline Policy suggested amendments, the Council highlighted a number of different areas within the policies, IFFOR’s relationship to ICM, and real-world practice that would benefit from greater clarity.
Since additions or amendments to the Baseline Policies would require a formal review process, the Council suggested a series of “frequently asked questions” to be posted online that would provide easy-to-understand answers.
Examples of FAQs included: an explanation of how the automated labeling system works; IFFOR’s approach to child abuse image reports; an explanation for how the automated domain scanning system works; a clear reference and explanation of banned meta tags; what IFFOR’s approach will be to those dot-xxx domains that possess inaccurate or out-of-date registrant data; and an explanation for the compliance process run by ICM Registry, including the issue of possible disqualification or domain takedown if registrants do not follow IFFOR guidelines.
IFFOR comprises four stakeholder groups. Each stakeholder group walked the Council through the issues of most concern to it, followed by an open Council discussion.
The most tangible end result of this process was the creation of two working groups to review the issues of most concern to the sponsored community stakeholder group (SCSG) i.e. the online adult industry.
The first group will review the issue of piracy (several members of the SCSG noted that “100 percent” of their content had been copied and made available elsewhere on the Internet by others). The working group will review the current situation and develop ways to effectively combat the problem, from technological solutions to legal recourse. It will be chaired by VP of Business Development and General Counsel at AbbyWinters, Trieu Hoang.
The second working group will focus on the issue of filtering. The Policy Council took a firm position on the issue of access: it believes that any decision to restrict access to legal content should be taken by the individual.
The filtering working group will review the state of global filtering laws, regulations and plans with a view to educating legislators and others about the advantages and effectiveness of user-defined filtering as opposed to mandated filtering or blocking at the ISP or router-level. It will be chaired by the Managing Director of Strictly Broadband and chairman of the UK's Adult Industry Trade Association, Jerry Barnett.
Both working groups will report back to the Council on progress at its next meeting.
Child abuse images
The Council reviewed the approach being taken by IFFOR and ICM Registry with respect to the reporting of child abuse images, including automated labeling and an online reporting tool.
It was agreed that IFFOR would work with existing third parties to ensure simple reporting of child abuse images, promote tools used to combat the problem, and educate policy makers and other groups to ensure a consistent and effective approach to the issue2.
Policy Development Process
An extensive walk-through IFFOR’s policy development process (PDP) – the formal process through which new policies and non-interpretive changes to existing policies need to go to be approved – was provided by IFFOR’s Manager of Public Participation, Kieren McCarthy.
It was agreed that the Council would adopt a liberal attitude toward the creation of “issues reports” that will highlight and summarize issues surrounding dot-xxx domains, but a conservative approach to starting a formal PDP. The Council agreed that IFFOR should avoid creating new policies or amending existing policies until there is a pressing need.
The Council discussed how best to ensure compliance with IFFOR’s Baseline Policies by dot-xxx domain holders and decided that the best initial approach would be to request and review specific information and regular reports from ICM Registry on the use of its existing policies. Examples include: registration data; adoption of protection mechanisms; use of the labeling services.
It tasked IFFOR’s staff with setting up those reports with ICM Registry’s compliance team. The approach and reports themselves will be reviewed at the next Policy Council meeting.
Next Policy Council meeting
A number of issues were identified for discussion and review at a future Policy Council meeting, including:
A number of broad agreements were reached by the Council on the way that it would work in future. Key among these were:
Other issues that were raised and discussed included:
1 These adjustments were all subsequently adopted by the IFFOR Board on 1 December 2011 and are now posted on the IFFOR website
2 A number of suggested improvements to ICM Registry’s reporting tool were made and some have subsequently been introduced. ICM Registry has also met subsequently with NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to discuss their process.