1. Explain from your perspective what CIRA does and why it matters.
CIRA’s foundational mandate is to ensure that the .ca top-level domain is a resource for Canadians, that is both operated and managed by Canadians. To this end, CIRA has been extremely successful, with over 3.3 million .ca domain registrations. This represents an astonishing amount of Canadian culture and commerce online. What the Registry service really provides is an unambiguous online representation of Canadian identity on the global Internet. Providing a place on the Internet for Canadians, that reflects Canadian values and declares Canadian-ness is crucial as our lives move increasingly online.
CIRA’s additional services like its registry platform are a logical extension of its work. CIRA offering its registry platform as a service to other top-level domains leverages existing assets to generate more revenue for limited additional effort. Further, CIRA will be able to benefit from customizations and enhancements funded by customers. Finding and exploiting these opportunities will enable CIRA to grow and invest in its work in supporting a robust and resilient Internet for Canadians.
I think CIRA’s Community Investment Program, specifically the CIRA Grants program is one of CIRA’s most important activities. Canada is an awfully big place, and the Internet is amazing in helping to bring us together. But there are many people and communities that require more support to leverage the opportunities the Internet can provide. CIRA Grants can be transformative for people and communities. We need to scale the program and increase awareness across the country.
2. Why do you want to be on CIRA’s Board of Directors? In responding, please indicate how you would contribute as a CIRA Board Member and what specific skills and experience you bring that makes you a qualified candidate.
I want to be on the CIRA Board of Directors because I believe my knowledge and experience from over twelve years within the domain name system industry are rare, particularly within Canada, and I know they will be useful in supporting CIRA as it continues its important work. I am values-driven, and I believe those values, especially where they are focused on making the internet a better place, align with the values and mission of CIRA. The opportunity to apply my experience while helping the Canadian Internet be safe, dynamic, and resilient is an amazing opportunity.
I spent four years as the elected Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group within ICANN, effectively in charge of the domain registration industry (with a membership base representing approximately 90% of the Internet). My leadership tenure covered the implementation of GDPR (one of the most complicated issues the wider internet has had to navigate in recent times) and I successfully led the stakeholder group through its largest internet regulatory crisis to date. I also served six years on the board of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, a trade association for Internet infrastructure providers, including a year as Board Chair.
Consequently, I have extensive knowledge of how domain registries and registrars work, what their priorities are, and what the trends and complexities are in the global domain marketplace. I am also deeply connected with the global stakeholders of the DNS, be they registries, registrars, governments, civil society, or policymakers. I have developed a reputation for building consensus and leading groups to achieve positive outcomes, and I believe these skills and experiences could be of great benefit to the Board. I am an engaged participant in the boards and committees on which I sit, and I look forward to bringing my enthusiasm and curiosity to CIRA.
I am a global expert within the DNS and Internet Governance, and I am regularly consulted by governments, law enforcement, regulators, and industry on issues related to abuse and the DNS. My contributions within the ICANN space are many, including representing registrars in the IANA transition. My recent work on proposing paths forward on issues of DNS Abuse has been supported by the ICANN CEO, and helped move ICANN contracted registries and registrars towards increased obligations on abuse. These changes will make the entire Internet safer.
In short, CIRA is looking for a rare set of experiences that I possess, and I am interested and excited to help make CIRA better.
3. What do you think are the top 3 challenges and opportunities facing CIRA in the next 3 to 5 years? What approach would you take to address these issues?
First, the global expectations for domain Registries are changing. The clean lines between the components of Internet infrastructure and their roles are becoming blurred. I have seen an increasing push for Registries to both verify their registrants and to have more responsibility for how their domains are used. This push is primarily done under the guise of safety, but there are many different interests involved. CIRA will need to very clearly articulate its values and approaches to online harms, and be prepared to explain complicated, difficult issues, almost certainly in a moment of increased public attention.
Second, the ICANN community is (slowly) plodding its way toward introducing another round of generic top-level domains (TLDs). This will present a substantial opportunity for CIRA’s registry services platform. Ensuring that the platform meets the needs of new entrants to the industry, and existing TLDs that wish to remain competitive in a bigger ecosystem, is going to be crucial for success. Balancing the ability to meet innovative registry operator requirements while being able to efficiently deploy and maintain service is going to be challenging. This is especially true in the above context of increasing responsibility and attention towards registries. CIRA will need to spend considerable effort to ensure its platform is a robust and flexible product, capable of responding to increasingly sophisticated registry needs.
Lastly, Canadians are increasingly aware of the dangers of online harms, and looking for ways to keep themselves, their families, and their businesses safe. CIRA’s cybersecurity services are an important resource, but increasing awareness and adoption will have substantial challenges. Further, the harms Canadians are concerned about – and may wish to block via services like Canadian Shield – may venture into difficult territory, like hate speech and misinformation pushing CIRA into the role of Internet gatekeeper or a quasi-censor.
The issues can be complicated without being quite so controversial too. There are no bright and clear lines between phishing, fraud, and just “not great” online merchants. How will CIRA decide where on that spectrum it chooses to act? Resolving these questions is going to require not just technical work, but considerable engagement with Canadian experts and civil society, to ensure that Canadians have the tools they need while preserving access to expression and a vibrant Internet.