DNS in times of COVID-19: the ccTLD experience – [ICANN68] Session Report


Jaewon Son - KIGA Committee Member, Youth4IG Outreach Coordinator

According to the ICANN’s analysis, between 1 January and 1 June, there has been 662, 111 domains registered under the COVID-19 theme including disease names, and countermeasures such as masks. Among 662,111 domains, 600,000 were used for malicious purposes.

Therefore, there has been a notable impact on ccTLD (country code top-level domain) registration policies to improve data accuracy policies and response times. In addition, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public policy discussion especially has a high impact in the European region. Lists of new registrations are shared with health or consumer protection authorities. In other words, the pandemic created the perfect “stress test” for collaboration between ccTLDs and authorities which shows that close local cooperation with law enforcement, and authorities is the most efficient way to help local internet communities tackle the issues.

Disaster recovery playbook containing a disaster recovery and business continuity tabletop exercise to discuss their role during an emergency was also presented. This playbook was first tested during the Montreal meeting, and will be updated with lessons learnt from the pandemic shortly. Besides, there has been a great example illustrated by the manager for .cl regarding Chile’s management of ccTLD throughout the political crisis in October 2019. Before the COVID-19, public transportation was destroyed, and office buildings were burnt down in Chile, due to the demonstration. Nevertheless, this experience helped them adapt to the pandemic, as they could easily distribute the registry and registrar services across several data centers, get back to remote work setting, and issue daily announcements by registry. This case shows the importance of communication throughout the crisis, and reminds us to think of the lessons that can be taken into account from this pandemic for the future.

Another takeaway is that 85% of the ccTLD managers are involved in local or regional capacity building including cybersecurity, website building, and online abuse training according to the recent survey presented by the as Chair of the Internet Governance Liaison Committee (IGLC). Though ccTLDs are generally seen as a neutral and professional source of expertise in times of COVID-19, ccTLDs often struggled to educate their communities and to explain how ccTLDs could help during the pandemic. In my capacity as Outreach Coordinator of Youth4IG, youth and end-users who are more familiar with explaining and sharing the concept to the community might be a great help for ccTLD. As mentioned during the readout session, it is strongly encouraged to reach out to their local managers for support.

Author BIO

Jaewon Son

Jaewon Son

Jaewon Son is K-eco’s Honorary Environment Correspondent, working for Resilience Team of UNDP Seoul Policy Centre which shares Korea’s development experience with developing countries. Besides attending APIGA 2018, APrIGF 2018, APNIC 48, and ICANN 67 as a fellow, she attended ICANN 63 as a civilian expert appointed by KISA, ICANN 64 as NextGen, APIGA 2019 as a mentor, IGF 2019 as a speaker, and ICANN 66 as NextGen Ambassador.

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