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How do you see the mandate of CIRA evolving in the next decade?

I am a member slate candidate for the Board.  With regard to how its mandate should evolve, one area where I would like to see CIRA become active is with the cost of acquiring basic internet and the difficulty that average Canadians face every day in dealing with internet providers.  Along with community investment, this might be an area where CIRA can give back.  CIRA has a well thought out loyalty campaign, and it would go a long way to enticing members to adopt .ca if CIRA could lobby on behalf of its members to secure competitive rates and support.

I see CIRA’s mandate as addressing these challenges and opportunities:

A. Challenge: Slowing growth in .CA registrations and the increase in generic top level domains (TLDs)

->A1 Opportunity/Solution: Continue to communicate the individual and collective value of the .CA domain. Offer services to support new TLDs that are most appropriate for Canadians, such as registries for Indigenous groups, or Canadian educational systems. Offer support to make the general population aware of these new domains and ensure that companies update validation algorithms to permit all valid domains.

->A2 Opportunity: Encourage strategic domain .CA purchasing for buyers (with a Canadian presence) who already own other domains to protect and promote their brands.

B. Challenge: Increase in global quantity and complexity of cybersecurity threats like hijacks/domain thefts.

->B1 Opportunity: Continue to leverage CIRA’s efforts and investments to counteract these threats into services that can be offered to other organizations.

C. Challenge: The increase in the use of social media and apps may make domain names less relevant.

->C1 Opportunity Encourage the understanding of communicators and others who manage these channels about the benefits of each platform and the benefits of integrating them.

D. Challenge: Improve Canada’s internet infrastructure, safe and secure access, and digital literacy.

->D1 Opportunity: Fund and non-monetarily support NGOs and other organizations, increasing the number of IXPs across Canada, connecting programs and promoting best practices across Canada, and other activities proposed in the Gap Between Us report (CIRA, 2018).

-Liza Aboud

With ccTLD growth continuing to decline globally CIRA has been fortunate to buck the trend, however, at some point the decline is likely to catch up with CIRA.  The vast majority of revenue which funds CIRA, it's public policy work and various joint investment programs comes from .CA domains (~$30M).  Now it's facing a more competitive, complex and more uncertain environment across the sectors in which it competes.  Recently launched initiatives around cyber security (DNS Firewall, Canadian Shield, cyber security training) are key ares where CIRA needs to focus and are highlighted in their strategic plan.  The fine line for CIRA, which is a none profit organization, is balancing the continued work around public policy (ie rural broadband internet speeds) and investing in new cyber security initiatives to balance growth & not compete with Canadian companies who are also investing heavily into cyber security.  I would like to see a much more detailed strategic review with set plans on how to address this balance & the potential decline in revenue for the .CA domain overtime. 

Cheers Dan Byron, Nominee for Nomination Committee Slate

 

 

 

Good evening everyone!   I don't really believe that the CIRA mandate needs to be modified as such.  Instead of modification, the current mandate can be focused in two main areas.  First, given the current acceleration (and necessity) of digital adoption by both businesses and consumers, some incremental rural support is required.  Any incremental Federal and Provincial support for increased bandwidth would benefit Canadians.  In addition, as more businesses are migrating to an online environment for both sales and operations, the ability to provide cyber awareness for not only IT professionals, but for individuals working at home would be beneficial.   Cybersecurity is the highest growing employment opportunity and CIRA can be at the forefront of policy and education in this regard.

Jennifer Sondergaard

 

I think this is a very good question. As a follow up, I'd like to know if candidates see growth as something that must happen or that may happen.

Frank as I mentioned there needs to be a balanced approach but growth is likely necessary as the ccTLD market will continue to decline.  The obvious direction should be investment into existing and new cyber security products.  Cheers Dan Byron, Candidate for Nomination Slate

 

 

Thank you, Dan, for responding.

Where do you see that the ccTLD market, in general, is declining? The growth rate may be declining, but ccTLD registrations seem to still be growing. The costs to operate ccTLDs should not be increasing significantly if it all.

Considering the principal mandate is to "manage the . CA domain space on behalf of all Canadians",  I'm still wondering how the DNS resolver firewall fits this mandate, as there is not direct relationship to the .CA ccTLD. To some extent, DNS firewalls even go contrary to the "open internet for all" stance that CIRA is taking, as they potentially enable censorship.

References:

Verisign Domain Industry Brief: https://www.verisign.com/assets/domain-name-report-Q22020.pdf

CIRA sees record number of .CA domain registrations: https://www.cira.ca/newsroom/ca-domains/canadian-businesses-pivot-online-cira-sees-record-number-ca-domain

CIRA "Internet must remain open" https://www.cira.ca/blog/state-internet/internet-must-remain-open-even-those-we-disagree

CIRA DNS Firewall: https://www.cira.ca/cybersecurity-services/dns-firewall/d-zone-dns-firewall-features

En réponse à par Frank Michlick

Thanks for this input, Frank.  While it is true that the principal mandate relates to the .CA domain, the broader mandate relates generally to Canadian Internet governance and the betterment of the Canadian internet for all users. 

I have to admit this is the first I'm thinking of DNS Firewall as being anything but a benefit to Canadian internet users.  I do believe that, on balance, cybersecurity tools like the DNS Firewall do more good than harm, though Frank I would be interested to know (as a Nom Com candidate who is currently Chair, Governance, at CIRA) whether you think there are any proactive policies or "tripwires" that CIRA should put into place that would prevent the DNS Firewall from being used to enable censorship.

Hi Franks and thanks for your response. It’s no secret that growth in the global domain market has flattened from double-digit growth only a few years ago to single digits (or less) across the industry.  CIRA's .CA domain growth rate is 1.18% and the global industry rate is 0.42%.  Globally the growth rate is predicted to continue to decline.  Great news that CIRA is 3 times the global rate.  You can read it here    https://www.cira.ca/resources/corporate/report/fiscal-year-2020-annual-report-members.  Cheers Dan Byron, Candidate for Nomination Slate

 

 

I refer to my answer on the top 3 challenges and opportunities facing CIRA in the next 3 to 5 years are the following: 1) respond to the challenges and opportunities related to the deployment and use of 5G technology and the intrusion of Internet deeper in the private spheres of data; 2) Insure equal access and opportunies related to electronic commerce and Internet use; and, 3) deal with the increasing impact of economic concentration and economic rivalry and competition on a world scale. 

I really think CIRA’s mandate should be evolving in theses directions.  More generally, I think that CIRA has a lot to accomplish in terms of digital litteracy and the promotion of .ca.  Nevertheless, even though it would be declining, which is not really the case now relatively speaking, there are other ways to promote a stronger voice and Canadian digital sovereignty in a global internet from the infrastructure point of view to the point of view of the user, and all that take place in between.  CIRA can and should be at the forefront of these issues and play a more articulated role with regulatory and governmental sites of governance and policy. CIRA’s knowledge and role can make a tremedous difference in very important “policy-technological” emerging in Canada and abroad.  More collaboration internationally would be paramount.  

Michèle Rioux

Michèle, I would like to ask you for clarification.

How do you see issues of Internet Access (which is a big issue in Canada, no question) as a part of CIRA's manadate as a registry operator? I can see this in the form of providing input and maybe funding related not-for-profit projects. I also think CIRA's involvement in setting up the IP-exchanges was significant and important in this context, but I can't really see it going beyond this much.

Seeing the mandate of CIRA evolving in the next decade is very broad.  Just by looking back on the last decade, so much has evolved. Many milestones were achieved but with the tempo of progression, change came at lightening speed.  One key is Cyber Security, if, this area does not continue developing at a pace greater than being exposed to compromise, CIRA will lose credibility.  CIRA would need to expand its resources and work with educational institutions, financial institutions, community programs, SME groups and Corporations.  With that type of exposure, this would ensure growth of the .ca domains and protecting CIRA's role with the internet, social media and cyberspace.

To address this question, I would point you to my Board Candidacy document (https://www.cira.ca/about-cira/board-and-governance/board-directors-election/candidates/joseph-hickey), which talks about the Top 3 challenges I see for CIRA over the next five years.  However, I will take the opportunity to provide some extra information in responding to this question.  First, the Internet 10 years from now will likely be a lot different than it is today as today it is a lot different than it was 10 years ago.  CIRA will need to evolve to address this.  For example, CIRA is the owner of the Internet Performance Test or IPT.  Today the CRTC utilizes a hexagon model to consider if an area is served (and now adding pseudo household data) and the impact of this is that any federal funding is tied to this model and from the consumer perspective, if one customer is considered served, then the hexagon is considered served.  The IPT test gives the opportunity to change this and look at ACTUAL internet performance.  This “crowdsourced” data should trump any other data sources from the carriers.  In fact, the US FCC is looking at crowdsourced data as the source for assessing funding options in the future.  I believe that CIRA can take a leading role in documenting internet performance in Canada so that no one is left behind. 

Some other ideas I have are; can CIRA market its .ca registration, tracking and management methodology to an international market?  This could include products such as the IPT, the Canadian Shield firewall product and others.  This could be part of a Canadian government grant program or also established as a for profit entity within CIRA.

These two examples show my viewpoint on the mandate of CIRA to take a more active policy role in shaping the Internet in Canada and globally.  I believe that CIRA has all the tools available, and as a board member I will share my business development and international experience to assist wherever I can.

Historically, CIRA’s mandate is divided into two parts 1) Revenue Generation and 2) Community Investment and Influence. The main revenue generator has always been the .CA Stewardship, but DNS and Registry services now account for $1.9 million in annual revenue. 

Much attention in the past, and present, seems to gravitate around concerns about perceived threats to revenue. 

Actual financial results over the last five years show CIRA consistently experiencing slow but steady revenue growth, from $20,207,211 (2016) to $28,371,654 (2020), an increase of $8,164,443.

At the same time, Community Investment expenses increased from $1,326,341 (2016) to 1,784,230 (2020), an increase of $457,889

We should be grateful to CIRA’s management for their consistently stable operational performance.  

I see no reason to change CIRA’s current mandate, but I think it’s wise to keep an eye on the revenue vs benefits ratio. Benefits can be defined as Community Investment projects, but it should also include the cost of owning a .CA domain name. 

In my opinion, a discussion on revenue vs benefits ratio merits more attention than any conversation simply focused on revenue growth/decline. 

I also believe it’s important for the board to watch industry events and anticipate potential changes to CIRA’s mandate. 

For instance, the Internet Society’s proposed sale of the Public Interest Registry (.ORG) to Ethos Capital last year is quite notable. Although the proposed transaction did not proceed, I think it would be prudent to consider what would happen if CIRA received an unsolicited bid from a private equity company for CIRA’s revenue generating assets. CIRA’s steady revenue growth over the last five years may attract the attention of private equity. We should be ready for it. 

There has been little to no discussion around the question of converting CIRA’s revenue generating assets to a more stable endowment which could then be used to support Community Investment projects. This was the motivation for the Internet Society’s actions given their situation. 

Let me be clear, I do not support that type of conversion. CIRA’s current mandate should not change. However, given the recent Internet Society, PIR, Ethos Capital activity, it would be unwise to ignore the possibility and be unprepared for this scenario. 
 

Commitment:

If elected to the board, I would ask the board to direct CIRA’s corporate legal department to consider a scenario where CIRA receives an unsolicited bid. Items to be considered include 1) Asset valuation process, 2) Decision making rights given to the board vs CIRA members vs domain name owners, and 3) Process timing (how much time would be allowed to discuss any offer with the CIRA membership community and other Canadian stakeholders). 

 

References:
Ethos Capital to Acquire Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society
https://www.internetsociety.org/news/press-releases/2019/ethos-capital-to-acquire-public-interest-registry-from-the-internet-society/

 

Thanks David.  Most of my threads have been consistent with your response.  As both of us eluded,  as revenue & growth declines in the .CA domain, there must be a coherent strategy to grow in other areas like Cybersecurity while maintaining the overall CIRA mandate.  2.9 million domains at ~ 10 cents per domain is the majority of the revenue.  What happens when the growth stalls & the price of a .CA domain drops to five cents because of market factors.  I would also argue that not only PE would be interested in acquiring CIRA assets but also large companies who have a vested interested in the domain space to provide a variety of services.  These are all strategic areas too closely consider for the medium - long term.