MINUTES of the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (“CIRA”) held at the Infinity Convention Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, on September 27, 2018 at 12:30 p.m.
1. Call to Order and Approval of the Agenda: Helen McDonald, the Chair of CIRA, called the meeting to order and acted as Chair of the meeting. Paul Havey, Vice-President of Corporate Services and Corporate Secretary, acted as Secretary of the meeting.
The Chair declared that in accordance with CIRA’s By-law No. 1, notice of the meeting had been duly given to all CIRA members in good standing: there was a quorum present and the meeting was duly constituted for the transaction of business.
2. Verification of the 2017 Annual General Meeting Minutes: There being no corrections nor additions to the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held September 19, 2017, the Chair noted that the minutes stood as approved.
3. Report of the Board of Directors:
The Chair of the Board reported on the fiscal year just completed. The CIRA board provides strategic oversight, the strategic direction and pace of progress against the strategic plan. The board also oversees the finances, spending to ensure that CIRA is sustainable, and using scarce resources for the right purposes.
CIRA is half-way through its current four-year strategic plan, for FY17 to FY20. The plan has the ambitious and motivating goal to build a better online Canada.
CIRA’s main role is the stewardship of an important public resource, through the registration of .CA domain names and the domain name system or DNS. CIRA also plays a leadership role in shaping Canada’s Internet for the benefit of Canadians and .CA domain holders.
Through the last five or six years, CIRA has provided grants and other forms of support to further strengthen the Canadian internet, its governance and its use by Canadians. CIRA has also started to offer different products and services that could diversify our revenue base in anticipation of changes in the level of competition in the domain name industry.
Given this mid-way milestone against our strategic plan, the board recently looked at all aspects of the business:
- .CA mandate and the changes in the marketplace
- diversification strategy and how the new products and services are faring
- investment in infrastructure in Canada and abroad to extend or better secure the way the internet works in Canada, and
- the ways in which we give back to our community, both Canadians at large and the internet ecosystem.
The board also looked at our environment, to see what is changing and the nature and level of risks, to determine whether immediate changes were needed, but also what might be needed to prepare for the future and CIRA’s next strategic plan. At the end of this review, the board concluded that the strategic plan was holding up well, and that CIRA was making progress against the expectations built into the strategic plan.
CIRA activities fall in three strategic pillars: Innovate, operate and donate. The first pillar is operate and the focus is on excellence in fulfilling CIRA’s core mandate – ensuring a safe, secure and stable .CA registry and domain name system at a reasonable and sustainable cost. This last fiscal year, 2017-18 was a record year for CIRA in terms of .CA domain growth. There are now more than 2.7 million domains under management. .CA grew by 5.4%. Compare this to 2016 when the growth rate was just over 4% and was on par with industry trends. Since then, the global industry growth rate has dropped to 1.7%, while CIRA’s growth rate is more than three times higher. .CA growth has experienced great improvement, moving against the global trend, largely due to increased and focused investment in building awareness of .CA and why a small investment in a Canadian branded domain name is a good deal. Choose .CA / Choose Canada was an effectively targeted marketing campaign, but the growth in registrations was also due to an overhauling of the way in which we worked with registrars.
The second pillar is innovate and the focus is on creating new products and services that are effective in diversifying CIRA’s revenue sources and provide benefit to Canadians. Diversification was seen as a necessary evolution for CIRA when the TLD market was opened to new generic domains such as .paris, .biz and .tech. Diversification was intended to provide new revenue streams for CIRA that can keep .CA stable and secure for the years ahead. CIRA’s diversification efforts are very focused: on offering products and services based on the technological expertise of CIRA staff and the products and infrastructure used in-house to keep our systems safe and secure. The products and services must be aimed at filling gaps, not competing with our partners or registrars.
The offering of new products and services is entrepreneurial in nature, as the marketplace is much less predictable and higher risk than our core mandate. The direction of success is sometimes surprising and you need to be nimble to take advantage of swings in the market. The level of international interest in CIRA
D-Zone Anycast services, to protect organizations from DDOS attacks, was stronger than expected but helped strengthen the Canadian DNS infrastructure. Domestically, CIRA had a hit on its hands with D-Zone DNS Firewall, which protects organizations from malware and ransomware. The education, hospital and public service sectors were not being well served and thus Firewall took off.
Both these services align well with our goal to build a better online Canada.
The board and management also realized that to be successful in these new markets, or to be ready for the future surprises and unexpected market shifts, more time was needed to identify the risks from new models of partnerships and to be clear about what types of risks were reasonable and manageable, and which risks should be avoided. We want to ensure that the core mandate of .CA stewardship is never compromised. This last year, risk identification, tolerance, mitigation, and oversight have been a constant thread in board and management discussions.
The efforts to diversify products and services also provoked board interest in how efficiently scarce funding is used, and what measures we should use to determine if the new revenues are covering costs or whether there are other, non-revenue benefits that need to be taken into consideration. This review of costs and revenues is a work in progress, but intended to ensure that the board has the tools to do its job on your behalf of ensuring good value for money.
The third pillar is donate, which includes investments into the internet to make it more robust in Canada, and stronger, safer and more accessible for all Canadians. Giving back to the internet community in this way is an important part of CIRA’s identity. As a not-for-profit organization, we invest what we earn back into our operations but also back into the larger internet ecosystem. This is done through all pillars, but explicitly through this one. The Donate pillar has two streams. The first is the Community Investment granting program, which is led by a committee of board and independent members. Now in its fifth year, this program provides roughly $1 million annually to not-for-profits, charities and academic institutions in Canada to promote access, digital literacy and adoption. The second stream includes investment decisions made by CIRA’s management team into the internet ecosystem. One of the most visible examples of this is CIRA’s support of internet exchange points across the county, which is a direct investment into Canada’s internet infrastructure and data sovereignty.
CIRA’s board is currently conducting a strategic review of our community investment efforts. Our granting program is now in its fifth year. As this program has matured, now is an opportune time to determine whether any changes would improve its effectiveness or accelerate progress towards our overall goal of a better online Canada. This work is underway now and we are grateful for the insights that our independent committee members and past recipients have given us as to how well the current program is working and where some improvements might be warranted.
With two years remaining on CIRA’s corporate strategic plan, and based on the results from FY18, we are well positioned at this halfway mark. On behalf of the board, I would like to congratulate and thank Byron Holland and the entire team at CIRA.
4. Report from the President and CEO:
Byron Holland, CIRA’s President and CEO, reported on the past year’s achievements and other highlights. As noted by our Chair, this was CIRA’s best year yet in terms of new .CA registrations. This is a huge accomplishment, particularly given that the domain market is maturing and growth rates are slowing down. It is important to frame these results in relation to our corporate strategic goal – to build a better online Canada. This is a goal that is ambitious – as ambitious for us as going to the moon might have been decades ago. Yet, this is the goal we set and the goal that drives us. Every strategy, and tactic that we develop and implement, is motivated by this goal. As we go through our FY18 fiscal year results, I want to highlight that they all move us toward a better internet for all Canadians.
This past fiscal year we achieved over 537,000 new .CA registrations, exceeding our goal and making it a record year for CIRA. CIRA’s growth rate is substantially higher than the global rate. While the global growth rate for ccTLDs sat at under 2%, CIRA’s was over 5%. Our results clearly indicate that we are doing something right. Moreover, in an industry that has experienced great change and evolution over the last 5-7 years – this is a phenomenal achievement. This accomplishment is not by happenstance. We have successfully implemented a strategic marketing and communications plan campaign, encouraging people to brand themselves Canadian online – and it’s working. It’s a campaign that resonates, because it’s true. The Canadian brand is strong and .CA is like a Canadian flag on your digital backpack.
Building a better online Canada includes securing the internet and it’s a large part of our operations. CIRA manages the infrastructure that lies beneath .CA called the domain name system or DNS. Part of that work – to strengthen internet performance, build redundancies and mitigate risk – includes investments in infrastructure. CIRA has invested in infrastructure and our presence – and it’s all over the world. This is important because online Canada is much greater than the geography or Canada alone. We connect Canadians to each other, we connect Canadians to the global internet, and we connect global citizens to Canada.
Some of the infrastructure we invest in is managed by us for us, some of it provides a layer of security for our country code top-level domain peers and some of it includes investing in the betterment of the whole Canadian internet, such as our ongoing support of internet exchange points across Canada.
An internet exchange point, or IXP, is like a hub, where local content and service providers connect directly to one another. Your ISP can connect to government services, to your favourite content providers such as Netflix or Facebook and to other important local businesses and services. This has many benefits including resiliency, should your community be cut off from the larger internet, and data sovereignty, by keeping data meant to stay within our borders in Canada.
In FY18, we worked with partners to establish IXPs in Moncton, Saskatoon and in Ottawa/Gatineau. In addition, the number of IXPs in Canada continues to grow.
There are other IXPs currently in development, including one in Iqaluit, which will be a game changer in that community. In Iqaluit, speed and performance of the internet is incomprehensible for most Canadians. Imagine being unable to download a document during peak hours or waiting for every element of the website you are visiting too slowly and painfully load in an environment where every minute costs you money. That cost often forces you to choose not to update your system’s security. An IXP will not fix everything, but this tangible contribution to Canada’s internet infrastructure will have a significant impact on people living in this northern community. This project launched in August and we are proud to be a part of it.
Another high point is Fury. Fury is a new software that will soon manage the .CA registry, which is a database of all .CA domain names and corresponding registration information. Managing the registry securely and efficiently is, needless to say, hugely important to us. The CIRA team plans to complete the transfer of .CA onto Fury in FY19. Our previous registry software was no longer serving us the way we needed it to and Fury provides the features and functionalities needed for a modern top-level domain business like ours.
Fury is not just for .CA. Fury currently houses .KIWI and .SX, once again showcasing our decision to offer products and services intended for our use, externally.
The D-Zone products, which include Anycast DNS and DNS Firewall, are a large part of our new products portfolio, serving customers across Canada. In particular, many of our customers are municipalities, universities, hospitals and schools. These organizations have large networks that need protecting, and more than that, their users are vulnerable. We are proud to provide a layer of security to protect these organizations. In particular, we want to highlight D-Zone DNS Firewall. We launched this cybersecurity product in June 2017 and it protects organizations from malware and ransomware. Thanks to our strong reputation in Canada – partially due to the high quality of our D-Zone Anycast DNS product – in FY18 we secured 77 new Firewall customers, primarily among municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. There are over 800,000 active users and I anticipate continued momentum in FY19.
Our customers include many schools across Canada; Firewall is currently protecting over 500,000 children from kindergarten to grade 12. That number will grow as our customers do. This exemplifies our efforts to build a better online Canada. As well, our Anycast product has grown substantially since its launch in FY15 – growing from just nine customers up to 235. Again, these are large, enterprise level organizations. Included in that are over 30,000 protected websites, up from just 58 when we launched.
CIRA’s Community Investment Program is an annual granting program that provides roughly $1 million annually to not-for-profits, charities and academic institutions doing good things for and through the Canadian internet. FY18 marked the fourth year of this program. The projects we fund enhance digital literacy, build infrastructure, research ways to improve Canada’s internet and use digital technology to make the lives of Canadians better. We have funded over 100 projects as of the end of FY18 and each project makes a notable impact.
An example from this past year was Digital Access Day. Held here in Ottawa, this event brought together business leaders, the tech community, government and internet advocates to discuss Canada’s digital divide and seek solutions.
Funded through CIRA’s granting program, we were pleased to not only financially support it, but also to actively participate in it. Understanding and engaging on weak spots in Canada’s internet, and partnering and collaborating with others who seek the same end result as we do – namely a better Canadian internet – is a key way we give back. And every new .CA purchased contributes to this.
Last year CIRA also helped organize an international event, held in Ottawa, called the global internet and jurisdiction conference. The event included senior-level representatives from a wide range of stakeholder groups and countries working to address one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: how to manage the coexistence of national laws on the internet.
CIRA staff also regularly attend international meetings, including those held by ICANN, the organization responsible for IP address space allocation, DNS management, as well as protocols and server management functions. This is a complicated description, but ICANN helps coordinate much of what we are responsible for at CIRA, so being an active participant ensures that the needs of .CA holders are considered. The Canadian Internet Forum, a multi-stakeholder event focused on Canada’s internet that will take place in early 2019.
As you have heard today, we had an excellent year at CIRA and this success is thanks to the hard work of talented CIRA employees. I would like to thank them for their efforts this year. As well, thank you to my peers on the executive team at CIRA and our board for your strong leadership.
5. Summary of the Financial Statements for fiscal year ending March 31, 2018:
Andrew Escobar, CIRA’s Chair of the Audit Committee, presented the financial statements for the fiscal year March 31, 2018, a copy of the Auditor’s Report and the financial statements can be viewed on CIRA’s web site at https://stg.cira.ca/resources/corporate/report/fy18-financial-statements-and-disclosures.
6. Appointment of Auditors: It was moved by Rob Villeneuve, seconded by Matthew Gamble, that KPMG be appointed as Auditors of CIRA, to hold office until the next Annual General Meeting, or until their successors are duly appointed, and that the Board of Directors be authorized to establish the remuneration of the Auditors. (Motion carried)
7. Questions from Members:
Questions from Members can be found at Canadians Connected 2018: CIRA AGM
On motion by Ryan Black and seconded by Marita Moll, the meeting was concluded at 2:00 p.m.