ICANN News

your unofficial source for daily ICANN news and commentary

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 

Melbourne IT sells stake in NeuLevel
 

From The Age:

Melbourne IT sold its stake to NeuLevel's majority shareholder, NeuStar. Internet services provider Melbourne IT Ltd said that the sale of its 10 per cent stake in domain name registry NeuLevel for $5.8 million ($US4.3 million) would enable the company to consider lifting its dividend payout ratio. The transaction would be reflected in its profits for 2006 in the amount of $4.47 million (Melbourne IT's original investment in NeuLevel in 2001 was $US3.4 million).

"The proceeds from the sale of the NeuLevel stake will increase Melbourne IT's cash balance to more than $32 million which will further strengthen our already healthy cash position and with it, our ability to pursue acquisitions both in Australia and overseas," Melbourne IT chief executive Theo Hnarakis said.

Melbourne IT was six cents higher at $1.58 at 1419 AEDT on Tuesday.

Friday, March 03, 2006

 

NRO IGF Input
 

Number Resource Organization: INPUT ON THE INTERNET GOVERNANCE FORUM

The NRO sees the creation of the IGF with interest and expectation, as we believe it will be a useful tool for dealing with those issues which constitute real problems for the community and for which there are no adequate governance mechanisms. In view of the consultation meeting to be held on February 16-17, 2006, we believe it is an appropriate time for us to express our opinion regarding the characteristics which this forum should have.


Although many aspects relating to the forum have already been considered under the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, it is likewise important for us to highlight some of them. The IGF must be a multi-stakeholder forum without decision making attributions. The different stakeholders must participate on a level playing field, all of them having exactly the same privileges. The archives of IGF meeting minutes and documents must be accessible to anyone without the need for accreditation. These basic and fundamental aspects must constitute the foundation on which the IGF is built.

Structure

The NRO shares the idea that the IGF should not be a bureau but a Programmatic Committee. These Programmatic Committee members should be designated by the UN Secretary General after consultation with different stakeholders. All the stakeholders should be represented in the Committee to include governments, civil society, private sector, and Internet organizations. Its composition should be balanced from regional, gender and stakeholder representation point of view. There could be a need for permanent support provided by a secretariat; this secretariat should then be very small and independent.

Frequency of Meetings and Forms of Participation

The current agenda of meetings having to deal with different aspects of Internet Governance is quite intense. The sheer number of events could be a barrier for stakeholders from countries with limited economic possibilities, as they could not meet the costs incurred to participate in all these events. Therefore, while it seems important for the IGF to meet periodically, it is also important that the number of meetings being limited. We suggest one meeting per year with the possibility, through consensus, to call for more meetings if necessary. For us, the availability of participation tools and mechanisms is more important than the number of meetings. The IGF must be use broad participation mechanisms such as on-line discussions, electronic forums, public consultations via electronic means, and webcasting for remote participation in face-to-face meetings.

Consensus Mechanisms

A mechanism based on discussion and consensus commonly used in various Internet forums should be considered as model for the IGF discussion mechanism.

Location of the IGF

The NRO recommends that the IGF not be based in any particular city, and that its meetings always be held back-to-back with other important meetings on related subjects. For instance, indistinctly and on a rotational basis, IGF meetings could be held together with the meetings of organizations such as the ICANN, the ITU, the IETF, the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), the Internet Society, etc. IGF meetings should last no more than two days (so that they can be scheduled jointly with other meetings) and must ensure regional diversity criterion, by taking place alternatively in different regions of the world. The format of the WGIG consultation meetings could be used as a model for the IGF's working methodology. If the IGF establishes a permanent secretariat, its location must be chosen by the UN Secretary General only after consultation with stakeholders, which could be undertaken during consultations on the composition of the Programmatic Committee.

Issues to be dealt with by the IGF

In our opinion, the IGF can be a very useful tool for the community if it deals with issues which are identified as real problems, instead of launching duplicate ideological discussions which have already taken place within the framework of the WSIS. The community has great expectations that the IGF could successfully deal with issues such as Cybercrime, Privacy Rights, SPAM, Interconnection Costs and Capacity Building. We believe these are the important topics which should be tackled by the IGF. Within the framework of the , changes were recommended to organizations dealing with Internet Governance so that each stakeholder can fulfill their roles and responsibilities.
IGF could also play an important role as a forum where reports on the evolution of the above mentioned changes could be presented and monitored.

Summary

The NRO recommends that the IGF have a Programmatic Committee which is responsible for preparing the agenda of meetings, and a very light secretariat to provide logistic support. The IGF should meet once a year, unless there is consensus on the need for extraordinary meetings. Working mechanisms should be implemented so that consensus can be achieved. The mechanisms should be based on those currently used in various Internet forums. IGF meetings should rotate among the different regions. In addition, its meetings should always be held back-to-back with meetings of other organizations dealing with related issues. There should be broad participation mechanisms in place, including broad participation tools, on-line discussions and remote participation to face-to-face meetings. The IGF agenda should consider issues which are real problems for the community; the IGF should not be used to reopen discussions of ideological nature which already took place within the framework of the WSIS.

Raul Echeberria
Chair
Number Resource Organization


 

Final GNSO PDP Terms of Reference
 

Terms of Reference for PDP-Feb06

Context

The GNSO initiated a policy development process in December 2005 [PDP-Dec05] to develop policy around whether to introduce new gTLDs, and if so, determine the selection criteria, allocation methods, and contractual conditions.

During 2005, ICANN commenced a process of revising the .net and .com agreements. There has been substantial discussion amongst members of the GNSO community around both the recently signed .net agreement (dated 29
June 2005), and the proposed .com agreements (dated 24 October 2005 and 29 January 2006). As a result, the GNSO Council recognized that issues such as renewal could be considered as part of the broader issue of
contractual conditions for existing gTLDs, and that it may be more appropriate to have policies that apply to gTLDs generally on some of the matters raised by GNSO members, rather than be treated as matters to negotiate on a contract by contract basis.

Subsequently on the 17 January 2006, GNSO Council requested that the ICANN staff produce an issues report "related to the dot COM proposed agreement in relation to the various views that have been expressed by the constituencies." This issues report is available at:

http://www.gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/council/msg01951.html
.
Section D of this issues report provides a discussion of many of the issues that had been raised by the GNSO community in response to the proposed revisions to the .com agreement. In the issues report the ICANN General Counsel advised that it would not be appropriate to consider a policy development process that specifically targets the .com registry agreement.

At its meeting on 6 February 2006, members of the GNSO Council clarified that the intention of the request for the issues report was to seek an issues report on the topic of the broader policy issues that relate to the contractual conditions of gTLD agreements, which have been identified from the various views expressed by the GNSO constituencies on the proposed .com agreement.

At its meeting on 6 February 2006 the GNSO Council recognised that while the PDP initiated in December 2005 [PDP-Dec05] included within its terms of reference the topic of contractual conditions, a possible outcome of
that PDP would be that there should be no additional gTLDs, and thus the Council could not depend on this PDP to address the issues raised by the GNSO community.

Thus at its meeting on 6 February 2006, the GNSO Council, by a super-majority decision, decided to initiate a separate PDP [PDP-Feb06] to look at specific areas of contractual conditions of existing gTLDs.

The work of PDP-Feb06 will naturally be conducted within the context of the work on PDP-Dec05, and if it is decided that new gTLDS should be introduced, the policy work of PDP-Feb06 will be incorporated into a single gTLD policy.

Goal

The overall goal of this PDP therefore is to determine what policies are appropriate, for the long term future of gTLDs within the context of ICANN's mission and core values, that relate to the issues identified in the specific terms of reference below.


Terms of Reference

1. Registry agreement renewal

1a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding renewal, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

1b. Recognizing that not all existing registry agreements share the same Rights of Renewal, use the findings from above to determine whether or not these conditions should be standardized across all future agreements.


2. Relationship between registry agreements and consensus policies

2a. Examine whether consensus policy limitations in registry agreements are appropriate and how these limitations should be determined.

2b. Examine whether the delegation of certain policy making responsibility to sponsored TLD operators is appropriate, and if so, what if any changes are needed.


3. Policy for price controls for registry services

3a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy regarding price controls, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be. (note examples of price controls include price caps, and the same pricing for all registrars)

3b. Examine objective measures (cost calculation method, cost elements, reasonable profit margin) for approving an application for a price increase when a price cap exists.


4. ICANN fees

4a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding registry fees to ICANN, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

4b. Determine how ICANN's public budgeting process should relate to the negotiation of ICANN fees.


5. Uses of registry data

Registry data is available to the registry as a consequence of registry operation. Examples of registry data could include information on domain name registrants, information in domain name records, and traffic data associated with providing the DNS resolution services associated with the registry.

5a Examine whether or not there should be a policy regarding the use of registry data for purposes other than for which it was collected, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

5b. Determine whether any policy is necessary to ensure non-discriminatory access to registry data that is made available to third parties.


6. Investments in development and infrastructure

6a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding investments in development and infrastructure, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.


 

Individual Statements From Board Members
 

Separate Individual Statements Submitted for Publication by ICANN Directors

The following are individual statements made by Board Members relating to the 28 February 2006 Special Board Meeting, although some of the comments are the same or are clarifications of statements made during the Board Meeting:


Separate Statement by Board Member Paul Twomey (President and CEO) as delivered during the Board Meeting

I just want to make three points.

First of all, I want to express, both as the CEO and as a board member, my appreciation to all the members of the community who have been involved in dialogue on this proposed settlement and agreement. I have very much appreciated the thought and the input and the interest and the concerns they have expressed.

The input from the community was very valuable and has certainly contributed, I think, to a better outcome.

Secondly, I'd like to recognize that this particular issue has been something that in some respects has dominated the last two years of my being the president, indeed since the beginning of the Site Finder episode. I would like to express for myself and for the staff who have been involved, and I know for all board members, past and present, who have been involved in this whole process, that it has been a very difficult process, constrained by a lot of what is the possible as opposed to what one would like to really achieve, constrained by the realities of past decisions and the related multi-party nature of the related agreements, made more complex by the laws governing public announcements concerning listed companies, as well as the "simple" pressures of the discussions.

But I would also like to recognize, that in their striving to achieve the best that one possibly can within limitations, the board and staff's dedication to trying to achieve the best possible outcome for the ICANN community. And that I know this process has been controversial and has caused lots of discussion, but I remain very impressed and pleased by that commitment that I have seen amongst my colleagues to try to constantly ask the questions: what's the best thing for the ICANN community and the best thing for the Internet, as we have gone through this process.

The final part of my statement is that as a community we now have a lot of other issues that are very pressing, and I hope that we find opportunities now to really talk to those. In particular, I think the whole issue of new gTLDs and how they introduced and the issues of internationalized domain names in the TLDs, to give just two examples, are defining issues for the ICANN community over the next year or two. And I really hope we can direct our attentions now to, as Mouhamet said, really addressing a lot of issues that we have before us that are important for the wider body of Internet users.

Thank you.

_________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Raimundo Beca to clarify comments/statement made during Board Meeting that could not be transcribed due to Technical Difficulties

Given:

1) That VRSN litigation against ICANN doesn´t cover the existing 0 % price cap on top of the current $US 6 rate;

2) That VRSN offered a $US 3 rate on its recent bid on .net;

3) That nevertheless, the settlement agreement under consideration provides the right to VRSN to increase its rates in a 7 % a year in four out of the 6 following years, without the need to justify on costs this rise;

4) That the agreement provides also the right to VRSN to increase its rates in the remaining 2 years if justified by costs;

5) That the role played by the DOC and the DOJ in the achievement of this agreement has not been really clarified to the Board;

6) That settlements of price ceilings are price regulations, which normally are based on cost studies, which doesn´t seem to be the case in this agreement; and

7) That I have a personal background and experience in price settlements, which implies that it's absolutely unacceptable for me to aprove a 7 % annual rise on rates not justified by costs;

I have asked unsuccesfully that a new round of negotiations be held with VRSN on this clause.

To this extent, I'm forced to vote no on this agreement. For the rest of the issues of this agreement, I fully suscribe the statement made by Susan Crawford at this regard.

_____________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Susan Crawford

The proposed new Registry Agreement with VeriSign poses unacceptable risks to the values that underly ICANN's mission. For this reason, entry into this proposed agreement is not in ICANN's best interest. ICANN is facing extensive criticism around the world, and its top priority should be to act in accordance with its values of increasing competition, acting transparently, and being accountable to the Internet community. This approach has the advantage of being both pragmatic and principled.

First, entry into this agreement will undermine ICANN's integrity. The lawsuit initiated by VeriSign primarily concerned the absence of a predictable process for the rollout of new Registry Services. That process has now been the subject of an extensive policy development effort, and the policies resulting from that process can be made part of the .com agreement when it is renewed in November 2007. Most of the energy behind the lawsuit has dissipated. The claims made by VeriSign have have either been dismissed (as has happened to the antitrust claims) or resolved (as has happened to most of the "registry service" unhappiness). Yet ICANN is taking the occasion of this almost-irrelevant lawsuit to ensure a major source of funding for itself that appears to be based on the assumption of an (as-yet-unapproved) $50 million/year budget. In exchange, the proposed agreement provides that the existing price cap on .com registrations be raised.

All of this raises the spectre of substantial institutional self-dealing, carried out with a particular litigious registry. If ICANN is going to succeed on the world stage, it should set its budgets with reference to the costs of accomplishing its core mission, not on what it can extract from such negotiations. If ICANN has reached the view that it should not regulate prices and should get out of the business of governing registry business models, then that would be a welcome development. But this ought to be an explicit deregulatory policy adopted across the board that affects all relevant actors.

Because ICANN is not a government, it cannot tax. Because it is not a for-profit corporation, it cannot sell shares. All it can do is use its reputation and excellence in service provision to attract funding. This agreement does not enhance ICANN's reputation.

Second, the proposed VeriSign registry agreement undermines ICANN's mission as a forum for policy development. Although financial terms are not a matter for consensus policies that can be automatically mandated for registries under contract with ICANN, some items removed from the consensus policy realm by this agreement (such as the use of data and the process for registry services) are appropriate for consensus policy development. Additionally, the ICANN forums that now have responsibility for policy development would like to advise the Board and the community as to their views on the financial terms to which registries should be subject. Avoiding all of this undermines these policy processes. ICANN has often appropriately claimed that its legitimacy is founded on its bottom-up private policy generation. To sidetrack this experiment in private rule-making by allowing a single litigious registry to get a better deal than others undermines ICANN's core mission. ICANN should strive to be a model of private self-governance.

Third, the proposed VeriSign registry agreement will undermine ICANN's effectiveness. We seem to be trading off the support offered ICANN by those active in ICANN processes in favor of our budgetary needs. No constituency within ICANN has supported this arrangement, and most (not all with monetary aims) have opposed it. Although I am sympathetic to ICANN's need for funding, this particular tradeoff does not seem wise. I am not saying that we should be ruled by a mob. But this is not a mob: these are the people and the groups that are likely to be active in supporting or undermining ICANN's legitimacy in international fora in the years to come. Their views are relevant. We have not adequately taken them into account.

It is not necessarily true that rejecting the proposed registry agreement will automatically cost ICANN $5 million in legal fees, because another resolution of the litigation may be reached. If projections of the litigation burdens here stem from threats by VeriSign to impose litigation costs on ICANN that are not reasonably related to the issues actually being litigated, then that is yet another reason not to enter into this proposed agreement. Our actions now must be informed by the values that underly ICANN's operations, and those values are to promote competition, act transparently, and remain accountable to the Internet community. We should avoid the appearance of carrying out special deals that shore up our treasury at the expense of our accountability to that community. We should reject the proposed new registry agreement.

Rejecting this agreement will require ICANN to litigate with VeriSign. We have excellent legal representation in which I am personally highly confident. This litigation might be settled by entry into the settlement agreement to which ICANN and VeriSign have already agreed, without tying settlement to the proposed registry agreement. The existing registry agreement can be conformed in 2007 to the then-current registry agreements. (I realize that it takes two parties to settle, but that also means that ICANN's agreement to this set of arrangements should not be taken for granted.) We will also need to work on explicitly adopting, with the advice of the community, a deregulatory set of policies towards registries, and we will need to increase competition to .com by continuing to open new gTLDs on a measured basis. We will need to speak openly about how ICANN's budget can be best tied to ICANN's mission, and how that budget should be funded. Most importantly, we will need to evaluate how ICANN should be structured and should operate for the future, so that crises of confidence like that created by this proposed agreement can be avoided. We should take this opportunity to engage together to make ICANN into a "city on the hill" — a model of private self-governance. This is the most pragmatic approach available, and it is in the best interests of ICANN.

_________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Demi Getschko

This is a very difficult decision. I'm really not comfortable with many aspects of this settlement: the ceiling clause, the "possible perpetual" renewal and so on...

I really would like to have more time and room for negotiations on this. Giving that, as the available information to us points, we are really restricted on time to take this decision, and giving that there are a lot of more international and even more important issues to discuss, at this particular opportunity I'm voting to proceed.

My vote is yes.

______________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Joichi Ito

I would like to express my appreciation to the ICANN community and to the staff and others involved in the settlement negotiations for all of the work and input during this very difficult period. I had great trouble formulating my final view on this decision which involved a number of layers and interests. Having considered all of the feedback from the community as well as the conflicting opinions of people I respect very highly, I have decided to vote "no" on the approval of the settlement because my belief is that although the settlement has a great number of short term merits, not approving the settlement might have a greater benefit for ICANN and the community in the long run. However, if the board decides to approve the settlement, I will support this decision and commit to supporting the ICANN community and staff in every way to most effectively move forward on this basis.

_______________________________________

Separate Statement By Board Member Veni Markovski as clarified from statement delivered during the Board Meeting

Now, there will be many questions, many pros and contras, but for me the main question is that finally this discussion is over.

Here's what I think about my vote and the agreement itself.

I think the agreement is a positive step forwards, as it puts an end to a long-lasting tension, which was driving ICANN away from its main job. I also think it's important to note that now the agreement needs to be approved by the DoC before it's really enacted. That's additional step, which makes sure that agreement by ICANN are taken in accordance with the laws.

I don't believe ICANN integrity will be undermined by this agreement. It is true that for some of the US-companies this agreement means less profits, and for some - more profits. But there's no possibility to have both parties right and happy. But, what is more important - I don't think the registrants will feel difference in pricing. In some ways, it will actually encourage competition - with other top-level domains (TLDs), and hopefully - with the .us, which is not a very popular TLD in the USA.

I think that the policy development in this case did not happen the way it should have (now, some question whether this was a policy development question). But I don't think it's ICANN's fault. I think it's a failure of the ICANN community, and the continuous processing in which it has been involved for quite a while. I told a number of times the ICANN community, during our meetings with them - don't just tell us the problems, we know them. Suggest the solutions, participate in their formation. That didn't happen. Further, we never heard from the ICANN community their conflicts of interests, and we could never be sure when someone speaks whose interests they represent.

I don't think ICANN is betraying the people who genuinely supported ICANN throughout the years by settling this case. I think that we took a very difficult decision, but it's the usual way - people expect the Board to give them solutions, so that they can criticize both them, and ICANN Board. I am already used to this...

I also think that the people we heard in the previous months are the usual ICANN community - it's not the global internet community that ICANN is supposed to protect and make sure the Internet runs for them, too. We basically heard only the US-business, and the businesses that deal with .com domains. There are several explanations about it - a) the others are not so noisy, b) the others don't care, c) the others agree with the a).

I am not concerned about the budget that ICANN would / might have. Actually the Board is the one to approve the budget. I would urge the community to pay close attention to the structure of the budget, and participate actively in its formation. That's the way to deal with it, and make sure that if there is any excess money, it should be used for projects in developing countries.

And I don't think that the big achievement of this agreement is the saving of USD Millions for litigation, although it's still a feature, not a bug.

The agreement is not a victory for VeriSign or for ICANN, it's a common sense in action. To blame ICANN with the words, "VeriSign wins" or "it's a victory for VeriSign", or "ICANN lost" means not to have in mind all aspects of the agreement but only one. That's not fair to ICANN, to ICANN Board, and to ICANN staff.

I agree with Susan that we need to start to talk about ICANN and its role in a changing environment - although again I think this is probably one of the wrong ways to do it - top-bottom, instead of bottom-up process.

I fully agree with the following by her, "Most importantly, we will need to evaluate how ICANN should be structured and should operate for the future, so that crises of confidence like that created by this proposed agreement can be avoided. We should take this opportunity to engage together to make ICANN into a âOe city on the hillâ- â*oe a model of private self-governance. This is the most pragmatic approach available, and it is in the best interests of ICANN."

I hope it's a good day for the Internet, and I hope that now it's over, we'll be able to focus again on the important issues, which have been put on the second stage by the urgent ones.

P.S. After reading my notes again, and seeing some of the comments on the vote, I need to make some edits; instead of changing my notes above, I'd rather add some here.

My decision was not easy; it would have been much easier to abstain or vote against it - I wouldn't need to explain anything, certain people would love me for my position... And for sure, if I have been thinking of running again for the Board this year, a negative vote would have made my chances higher ;-) I think though, that the fact all of the people whose term expires this year, have voted in favour of the agreement should signal the critics that either none of us wants to run again, or that we are taking our duty as directors more seriously than people believed we were able to. Because exactly that fact signals that we were more free to take the decision, not having to carry the burden of thinking, "Oh, how are we going to live with this until the end of my term." And, by the way, I don't think this decision solves only the litigation (regardless of my belief that even the bad out-of-court agreement is better than the good court verdict). It solves many problems, and the solution is in the interest of the development of the Internet.

But at the same time, knowing it would have been a very popular vote, I have to admit I am not fighting for glory, and certainly not for glory in the ICANN environment. What I want from ICANN is the Internet to run smoothly, the DNS to work, and to be able to get an IP address for my servers. And for every user that is on line.

However, every person around ICANN has their own opinion on every issue discussed by the Board. And everyone believes their opinion is the right one.

Some people blame the Board as if it is working in conspiracy - regardless of the fact that there are 15 Board directors, some of them famous bloggers, with active blogs, and no one has stopped a director from publishing anything, afaik.

Some people claim that the Board follows staff recommendations without challenging them.

And some people believe that ICANN is not needed at all, and it should not exist.

I am not so sure all of the above is right.

Well, it has always been easier to criticize than to send positive contribution to ICANN. Why not, I can criticize ICANN on my own quite well!

Note that I always use "some" - because I don't believe all people around ICANN are thinking the same way.

In any case, we'll see soon whether this was a "good day for the Internet", or a "death sentence" for ICANN.

_________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Hualin Qian

Based on the following consideration, I voted in favor of the proposed settlement and agreement between ICANN and VeriSign.

1, the ICANN Board and Staffs have been working very hard and did their best on the related issues. The feedbacks from the community have been also seriously considered. There is no perfect solution to satisfy everyone's requirement of the Internet community and stakeholders.

2, the most important thing for the Internet community is to keep the Internet as stable and reliable as possible. Therefore, paying a few more dollars for each registration to help the infrastructure become more sustainable and survivable from different kind of serious attacks is worthy.

3, to encourage long term investment to strengthen the DNS system are also important for the stability of the system. From the competition point of view, registrants have alternatives of choosing different registrars or even different gTLDs. This will eventually set pressure on the registry operators, and the price and service quality will be improved by this kind of competition.

4, therefore, I believe my decision is a better choice to protect the interests of the majority of Internet community. And I beg pardon from those whose interests might be impacted by my decision.

_________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Njeri Rionge

Herewith my statement.

I have considered deeply all concerns from the community and appreciate the extensiveness of the inputs and shared thoughts with me and the rest of the board. I have objections about some points of the agreement, further perceptions from within the community on the reasoning behind the proposed negotiations. It's also my belief that the best efforts were taken from the Board, the staff, the legal representatives and other persons or constituencies from ICANN in order to achieve the best possible agreement.

I also have considered the amount of work, time and funds already spent on this subject, remembering that such money comes from the community, while we have many other pending issues for the Board, which are on hold due to the discussions on .com agreement; we need to improve the efficiency of our work in the interest of the community and doing so to avoid bringing to ICANN, risks that should have been agreed before hand with the communities involved.

I'm obviously worried about the difficulties and obstacles that shall arise from ICANN's decision on the .com agreement, but at the end, we need to balance the pros & cons. I have conclude that rejecting the agreement may not contribute to improve the agreement itself, and may postpone many other issues the community requires ICANN to address. But, the community with whom we are representing are clearly not in favour of this agreement and for this reason I vote No.

_________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Vanda Scartezini

I have considered deeply all concerns from the community and appreciate all that shared their thoughts with me. I still have important objections about some points of the agreement, as the data use and the perpetuity clause. It's also my belief that the best efforts were taken from the Board, the staff, the counselors and every other person or entity from ICANN in order to achieve the best possible agreement. I also have considered the amount of efforts, work, time and funds already spent with this subject, remembering that such money comes from the community, while we have many other issues in the Board's pipeline, and that are on hold due to the discussions about .com agreement;

We need to improve the contribution of our work to the community and doing so to avoid bring to ICANN's many issues that should be agreed before hand with the parts involved. I'm obviously worried about the difficulties and obstacles that shall arise from ICANN decision on the .com agreement, but at the end, balancing the pros & cons, I have conclude that rejecting the agreement won't contribute to improve the agreement itself, and may postpone many other issues the community is also claiming to be addressed;.

As a consequence of this considerations my vote is yes.

________________________________________

Separate Statement by Board Member Peter Dengate Thrush as delivered during the Board Meeting

I vote no, and I'd just like to say that I appreciate it's a tough issue and that lots of good work has been done by all concerned in the community and the board and by the staff. But my eventual conclusion by a narrow margin is that the agreement, linked with the .COM renewal is not in the best interest of ICANN.

I am concerned about the concept of perpetual renewal and would have preferred that (which was not approved by the community when it was first started) was something we should have been looking to renegotiate back. And I think linking that with price issues, again without reference to the community, is not appropriate.

I am also concerned about other matters which have been raised extensively by the community, and just mention at this stage the exclusion of data mining.

I think we have had a problem in that with our policy development process, some of the timing is out of step. That's now caught up and agrees with much of what's in the agreement. I think VeriSign's main concenrns) has now really been dealt with by that process and that we don't need to link .COM renewal to the litigation.

I am also concerned about the almost unanimous outcry from the community, but I would, as a director, have no hesitation in voting for this if I thought it was in ICANN's best interests.. But as I don't, I have become very much concerned about the consequences of the lack of support at this time in the community.

I'm also concerned about the linking of the ICANN budget with all of this process and the fact that as far as the community was concerned, it was all negotiated behind closed doors.

So I'm voting no.

 

ICANN's Dying Statement
 

Joint Statement from Affirmative Voting Board Members

02 March 2006

28 February 2006: Today, the ICANN Board voted to approve the settlement with VeriSign, which includes the new .COM registry agreement. We, the undersigned members of the ICANN Board, have asked that this additional statement accompany ICANN's announcement of the Board's decision.

We wish to thank the numerous members of the ICANN community for submitting their thoughts regarding the two different posted versions of the proposed settlement and registry agreement. Those comments sharpened the focus of our debate considerably and in some instances resulted in ICANN obtaining additional favorable changes in terms, as set out in the Summary of Revisions to the Proposed Agreement, posted at http://www.icann.org/topics/vrsn-settlement/revision-matrix-09feb06.pdf .

We recognize that many members of the community have communicated their opposition to the new registry agreement for various reasons. This made our decision even more challenging, but in the end, our responsibility is to the entire Internet community, and we have made our decision with that community at the forefront of our thoughts.

Our decision to approve the proposed agreement was made based on many factors, but we wanted to highlight four of those factors.

First, while some opposed the new registry agreement because of the terms of the "renewal" clause, in truth, the renewal clause in the new agreement is little changed from the 2001 .COM agreement. In 2001, ICANN agreed to give VeriSign a presumptive right of renewal for .COM in return for VeriSign's agreement to give up the right to operate .ORG and to agree to a competitive bidding process for the renewal of .NET. ICANN made that decision because it believed that it was very unlikely and not necessarily desirable that the .COM registry operator would change, absent very extreme circumstances, and thus conceding that point (in return for concessions by VeriSign that were viewed as having real value) was conceding very little as a practical matter. The new agreement, again as a practical matter, merely clarifies this point, and does not, in our judgment, make any substantive change. Thus, this is not a reason to oppose this new agreement.

Second, while we recognize that the litigation with VeriSign could, if resolved entirely in ICANN's favor, affect VeriSign's rights under the 2001 agreement, we are hesitant to spend millions of more dollars in litigation, and the associated time of ICANN's staff and Board and outside counsel, attempting to obtain what we believe ICANN already has obtained in the new .COM agreement. Indeed, insofar as the disputes that lead to the litigation with VeriSign, the new agreement resolves those disputes entirely in ICANN's favor and gives ICANN the rights it has always claimed it had with respect to VeriSign's operations and, in particular, VeriSign's right to introduce new Registry Services. In short, we are hard-pressed to decline to accept a settlement of litigation that, for all practical purposes, gives ICANN all the relief that it could hope to obtain from the existing litigation.

Third, many objections have been raised regarding the process of obtaining a settlement with VeriSign. These objections seem to be the following: the reasons for the inclusion of the .COM Registry Agreement in the settlement agreement structure, the private nature of the negotiations, and the lack of community participation in the negotiations. The .COM Registry Agreement is included in the settlement because it is the focal point of the legal conflict between ICANN and VeriSign and it would be impossible to remedy the outstanding issues without creating a new .COM Registry Agreement. Also, it is recognized by the Board that a private negotiation process was an essential element of ICANN’s ability to obtain an agreement. As to the private nature of the negotiations, VeriSign is a publicly held company and it was reasonable for them to not want to negotiate a settlement to a lawsuit in public. Also, it did not seem likely that ICANN would be able to obtain a community consensus on how to approach VeriSign to resolve these disputes and even if ICANN tried the consensus process it is unsuited for the negotiation of an agreement with a third party. The new agreement is consistent with all existing gTLD and other ICANN policies. Additionally, it is impossible and was never contemplated that the community would be able to participate in the negotiation of the terms of each registry agreement. An important element of these negotiations has been the knowledge that the settlement documents would be posted for public comment and were on two different occasions before we reached this approval. Following the first set of public comments, this board authorized ICANN staff to negotiate further modifications based upon the feedback. It is also important to note that approval of the 1999 and 2001 versions of the .COM registry agreements followed a similar approval and public comment process. Accordingly, we have reviewed these process related objections and are confident that the process followed was necessary in order to end this long-standing dispute and litigation.

Finally, we appreciate the community's concerns regarding the price of .COM names. However, we firmly believe that ICANN is not equipped to be a price regulator, and we also believe that the rationale for such provisions in registry agreements is much weaker now than it was at the time the VeriSign agreement was originally made in 1998. At that time, VeriSign was the only gTLD registry operator, and .COM was, as a practical matter, the only commercially focused gTLD. Today, there are a number of gTLD alternatives to .COM, and several ccTLDs that have become much stronger alternatives than they were in years past. In addition, the incredibly competitive registrar market means that the opportunities for new gTLDs, both in existence and undoubtedly to come in the future, are greater than they have ever been. It may well be that .COM offers to at least some domain name registrants some value that other registries cannot offer, and thus the competitive price for a .COM registration may well be higher than for some alternatives. But price is only one metric in a competitive marketplace, and relative prices will affect consumer choices at the margin, so over time, we expect the registry market to become increasingly competitive. One way to hasten that evolution is to loosen the artificial constraints that have existed on the pricing of .COM and other registries. We began this process with the .NET agreement, and we now continue it with the .COM agreement, and we expect to continue along this path as we renegotiate agreements with other registries.

In order to protect existing registrants from adverse consequences during this transition period, we have adopted various devices. In the proposed .COM Registry Agreement, we have created different transition devices, including a six-month notice period and the right to enter into ten-year registrations at the existing price. In addition, the modifications in the agreement following the initial community reaction will further limit the amount of price flexibility that VeriSign will have over the life of the contract. To the extent any registry operator charges a price that consumers view as inconsistent with the value offered by that registry, the alternatives available in the market will generate the necessary market adjustments.

Again, we thank the members of the global Internet community for their input with respect to this difficult decision. We believe the decision is in the best interests of the Internet and its stakeholders.

 

ICANN Registries Challenge the GNSO Council
 

Statement of the Registry Constituency:

Bruce Tonkin, Chair of the Council of the GNSO, on 26 February 2006, distributed a Draft Terms of Reference for PDP-Feb06 (the "ToR"). The Registry Constituency (RyC) of the GNSO is responding to this draft with comments and suggested revisions of the ToR. As a preface to these comments, the RyC submits this position statement:

For the reasons stated herein, the RyC submits that any further proceedings on this PDP are outside the legal powers of the GNSO, and can have no effect on the subject matter of contractual conditions for existing generic top level domains.

The draft ToR is the result of a supermajority vote of the GNSO to initiate a PDP despite the clear recommendation in an ICANN Staff Issues Report that concluded against recommending a dedicated PDP "on this matter as framed by the GNSO Council." As framed by the GNSO Council, the issue was "the dot COM proposed agreement in relation to the various views that have been expressed by the constituencies."

The report further said, "There are aspects identified by the GNSO Constituencies which could be used to inform policy development within the framework of the ongoing PDP regarding new gTLDs." These aspects are, however, not the subject matter of the current PDP. Notwithstanding the explicit limitations expressed in the Staff Issues Report, the GNSO has proceeded to launch a PDP on an entirely new and different subject "contractual conditions for existing generic top level domains," a subject that is clearly not "within the framework of the ongoing PDP regarding new gTLDs", as suggested by the Staff Issues Report.

This PDP is not only unauthorized and out of scope, it is without legal foundation. It purports to impose possible conclusions of a PDP on subject matter that is exclusively within the responsibility of the Board of Directors of ICANN.

The participation of RyC in commenting on the proposed text of the ToR should be viewed in the context of this preface. Any comments are without prejudice to the position of RyC that the proceedings are out of scope and without legal foundation.




Thursday, March 02, 2006

 

ICANN Director Veni Markovski: on the Settlement
 

"Now, there will be many questions, many pros and contras, but for me the main question is that finally this discussion is over.

Here’s what I think about my vote and the agreement itself.

I think the agreement is a positive step forwards, as it puts an end to a long-lasting tension, which was driving ICANN away from its main job. I also think it’s important to note that now the agreement needs to be approved by the DoC, before it’s really enacted. That’s additional step, which makes sure that agreement by ICANN are taken in accordance with the laws.

I don’t believe ICANN integrity will be undermined by this agreement. It is true that for some of the US-companies this agreement means less profits, and for some - more profits. But there’s no possibility to have both parties right and happy. But, what is more important - I don’t think the registrants will feel difference in pricing. In some ways, it will actually encourage competition - with other top-level domains (TLDs), and hopefully - with the .us, which is not a
very popular TLD in the USA.

I think that the policy development in this case did not happen the way it should have (now, some question
whether this was a policy development question). But I don’t think it’s ICANN’s fault. I think it’s a failure
of the ICANN community, and the continuous processing in which it has been involved for quite a while. I
told a number of times the ICANN community, during our meetings with them - don’t just tell us the problems,
we know them. Suggest the solutions, participate in their formation. That didn’t happen. Further, we never
heard from the ICANN community their conflicts of interests, and we could never be sure when someone
speaks whose interests they represent.

I don’t think ICANN is betraying the people who genuinely supported ICANN throughout the years by settling this case. I think that we took a very difficult decision, but it’s the usual way - people expect the Board to give them solutions, so that they can criticize both them, and ICANN Board. I am already used to this…

I also think that the people we heard in the previous months are the usual ICANN community - it’s not the global internet community that ICANN is supposed to protect and make sure the Internet runs for them, too. We basically heard only the US-business, and the businesses that deal with .com domains. There are several explanations about it - a) the others are not so noisy, b) the others don’t care, c) the others agree with the a).

I am not concerned about the budget that ICANN would / might have. Actually the Board is the one to approve the budget. I would urge the community to pay close attention to the structure of the budget, and participate actively in its formation. That’s the way to deal with it, and make sure that if there is any excess money, it should be used for projects in developing countries.

And I don’t think that the big achievement of this agreement is the saving of USD Millions for litigation, although it’s still a feature, not a bug.

The agreement is not a victory for VeriSign or for ICANN, it’s a common sense in action. To blame ICANN with the words, “VeriSign wins” or “it’s a victory for VeriSign”, or “ICANN lost” means not to have in mind all aspects of the agreement but only one. That’s not fair to ICANN, to ICANN Board, and to ICANN staff.

I agree with Susan that we need to start to talk about ICANN and its role in a changing environment - although again I think this is probably one of the wrong ways to do it - top-bottom, instead of bottom-up process.

I fully agree with the following by her, “Most importantly, we will need to evaluate how ICANN should be structured and should operate for the future, so that crises of confidence like that created by this proposed agreement can be avoided. We should take this opportunity to engage together to make ICANN into a “city on the hill” ­ a model of private self-governance. This is the most pragmatic approach available, and it is in the best interests of ICANN.”

I hope it’s a good day for the Internet, and I hope that now it’s over, we’ll be able to focus again on the important issues, which have been put on the second stage by the urgent ones.

P.S. After reading my notes again, and seeing some of the comments on the vote, I need to make some edits;
instead of changing my notes above, I’d rather add some here.

My decision was not easy; it would have been much easier to abstain or vote against it - I wouldn’t need to explain anything, certain people would love me for my position… And for sure, if I have been thinking of running again for the Board this year, a negative vote would have made my chances higher I think though, that the fact all of the people whose term expires this year, have voted in favour of the agreement should signal the critics that either none of us wants to run again, or that we are taking our duty as directors more seriously than people believed we were able to. Because exactly that fact signals that we were more free to take the decision, not having to carry the burden of thinking, “Oh, how are we going to live with this until the end of my term.” And, by the way, I don’t think this decision solves only the litigation (regardless of my belief that even the bad out-of-court agreement is better than the good court verdict). It solves many problems, and the solution is in the interest of the development of the Internet.

But at the same time, knowing it would have been a very popular vote, I have to admit I am not fighting for glory, and certainly not for glory in the ICANN environment. What I want from ICANN is the Internet to run smoothly, the DNS to work, and to be able to get an IP address for my servers. And for every user that is on line.

However, every person around ICANN has their own opinion on every issue discussed by the Board. And everyone believes their opinion is the right one. Some people blame the Board as if it is working in conspiracy - regardless of the fact that there are 15 Board directors, some of them famous bloggers, with active blogs, and no one has stopped a director from publishing anything, afaik.

Some people claim that the Board follows staff recommendations without challenging them. And some people believe that ICANN is not needed at all, and it should not exist. I am not so sure all of the above is right. Well, it has always been easier to criticize than to send positive contribution to ICANN. Why not, I can criticize ICANN on my own quite well!

Note that I always use “some” - because I don’t believe all people around ICANN are thinking the same way.

In anycase, we’ll see soon whether this was a good day for the Internet, or a death sentence for ICANN."

--- Veni's blog may be found here ---

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 

The Death of Consensus-based Decision-making
 

In spite of overwhelming community consensus in opposition to the proposed .com agreement the ICANN Board has approved the VeriSign Settlement Agreements.

From the ICANN press release:

Marina del Rey, California, 28 February 2006: Today, ICANN's Board of Directors approved, by a majority vote, a set of agreements settling a long time dispute between ICANN and VeriSign, the registry operator for the .COM registry.

These settlement documents include a new registry agreement relating to the operation of the .COM registry. The new .COM registry agreement will now proceed to the U.S. Department of Commerce for final approval, and the entire settlement is dependent upon this approval before it is finalized. USDOC approval is required due to the unique history of the .COM generic top-level domain and it is the only gTLD which requires such approval. If approved, this settlement will clear the way for a new and productive relationship between ICANN and VeriSign facilitating ICANN's stewardship and technical coordination of the Internet's domain name system.

ICANN's Board voted 9 to 5 in favor of the settlement agreements with one director abstaining. Affirmative votes were cast by the following Board Members: Vint Cerf (Chairman), Alejandro Pisanty (Vice-Chairman), Mouhamet Diop, Demi Getschko, Hagen Hultzsch, Veni Markovski, Vanda Scartezini, Paul Twomey (President and CEO), and Hualin Qian. Directors who voted against the approval of the settlement documents were: Raimundo Beca, Susan Crawford, Joichi Ito, Njeri Rionge, and Peter Dengate Thrush. Director Michael Palage abstained. Statements by Board members on their votes will be posted on the ICANN website within the next two days.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

Today's Special Meeting of the Board
 

Surprise! The agenda for today's ICANN Special Meeting of the Board has finally been posted:

  • Follow up from remaining agenda items from previous meetings
  • Discussion of VeriSign Settlement Agreements
  • Consideration of ccNSO's ccPDP Results and Recommendations on Proposed ICANN Bylaws Changes
  • Approval of Director's Expense
  • Conflicts Committee recommendation on Director's Annual Statements
  • Other Business

 

China confirms alternate root for TLDs
 

From the People's Daily Online:

"China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has made adjustment to China's Internet domain name system in accordance with Article 6 of China Internet Domain Names Regulations. After the adjustment, ".MIL" will be added under the top-level domain (TLD) name of "CN". A new Internet domain name system will take effect as of March 1 in China.

Under the new system, besides "CN", three Chinese TLD names "CN", "COM" and "NET" are temporarily set. It means Internet users don't have to surf the Web via the servers under the management of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) of the United States.

The new regulations stipulate that under "CN", two types of second-level domain names, namely categorized domain names and those for administrative regions. There'll be seven categories: "AC" for research institutions; "EDU" for Chinese educational institutions; "GOV" for Chinese government departments and "MIL" for Chinese defense departments.

There'll be 34 domain names for the organizations of China's provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under central government, and special administrative regions. They are mainly composed of the first letters of the Romanized spelling of the names of the regions, for example Beijing's domain name is "BJ" and Shanghai's is "SH". "

Initial commentary from the DNS community has been swift with Michael Geist
stating [excerpt]:

"In other words, the Chinese Internet becomes a reality tomorrow. With it, the rules of the game may change as 110 million Internet users will suddenly have access to a competing dot-com (albeit in a different character set) and will no longer rely exclusively on ICANN for the resolution of Internet domain name queries. This change was probably inevitable regardless of the status of ICANN, however, the U.S. position can't possibly have helped matters. Indeed, some might note that while Congress has been criticizing U.S. companies for harming Internet freedoms by cooperating with Chinese law enforcement, those same Congressional leaders may have done the same by refusing to even consider surrendering some control over the Internet root to the international community and thereby opening the door to an alternate root that could prove even worse from a freedom perspective."

Editor's note: The Chinese have successfully routed around ICANN's heavy-handed ICP-3 policy regarding alternate roots proving once again that the ICANN's policies were badly misguided (as many in ICANN's General Assembly had warned). Maybe ICANN will finally start listening now...

 

The GNSO Review Has Commenced
 

Later today a press release will be issued and a posting to the ICANN website will announce that the London School of Economics' Public Policy Group has been chosen by the ICANN Board to conduct the GNSO Review. The Review team, lead by Professor Patrick Dunleavy, have begun their work and will be in touch with Constituency Chairs seeking the assistance of constituency members in responding to the Review. A key element of the Review will be an online survey which will be launched later this week. In addition, face to face interviews and sessions will be conducted by the Review team at the Wellington meetings.

Monday, February 27, 2006

 

Employment opportunity: ISOC Manager of Public Policy
 

The Internet Society (ISOC), an international, not-for-profit, professional Internet membership organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy, seeks a qualified individual to assist build and implement its public policy programs. This is a full-time position reporting to the Society’s Director of Public Policy.

The successful applicant will possess all of the following qualifications:

-- Familiarity with Internet-related public policy issues, the development of Internet standards, and policy issues concerning access to the Internet for countries in the process of developing their Internet capabilities.
-- The experience, poise, and confidence necessary to represent the Internet Society effectively and professionally in national and international public policy forums.
-- Prior experience in an Internet-related public policy position at the national or international level.
-- The ability to work effectively with a broad spectrum of people and groups, including national governments, national and international standards and public policy organizations, civil society and private sector groups.
-- Experience working with international and intergovernmental organizations
-- The willingness and ability to travel.
-- The ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English
-- Minimum of five (5) years relevant public policy experience (as per above).
-- Familiarity and comfort with Internet based communication and work tools. Proven experience in working with active on-line communication mediums/forums and building consensus on-line.

The following qualifications are also highly desirable, and will be considered in the evaluation of candidates:

-- Proven ability to communicate clearly and effectively in one or more languages other than English.
-- Experience writing technical/policy documents for a range of audiences, including governments.
-- International experience, with possible regional expertise.


The successful applicant will play a central role in fulfilling the public policy goals of the society.

Information about the Internet Society and its public policy activities may be found at http://www.isoc.org.

Compensation for this position will be competitively commensurate with the successful applicant’s qualifications.

Applicants should forward a resume, references, and any other relevant materials, with a cover letter explaining why they feel they are the right person for this position, in an email to jobs-policy@isoc.org.

Applications will be evaluated beginning immediately and thereafter until the post has been filled. The list of applicants will not be posted publicly, and will be reviewed in confidence by members of the evaluation committee.




 

February 28 ICANN Board Meeting Agenda
 

ICANN Bylaws:
ARTICLE III: TRANSPARENCY Section 4. MEETING NOTICES AND AGENDAS
At least seven days in advance of each Board meeting (or if not practicable, as far in advance as is practicable), a notice of such meeting and, to the extent known, an agenda for the meeting shall be posted.


It seems that the 28 February 2006 Special Meeting of the Board will occur without the benefit of an advance agenda being posted. It's sad that the Board can't seem to manage to follow it's own bylaws.

 

Chinese Alternate Root?
 

Tim Wang's eLearning Blog has the following post:

China Fully in Control of .CN domain names

Starting from March 1st 2006, the Chinese government will completely control the distribution of all .CN domain names. This include the four critical domain sublets: COM.CN, AC.CN, GOV.CN, and MIL.CN. Before the date, most Chinese domain registrations relied on DNS (Domain Name Servers) of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in the US. (Fact: ICANN controlled 1,500,000 Chinese domain names and the Chinese DNS servers control the other 1,090,000 domain names)

Starting in March, all of the Chinese government and military organization domain distributions and domain name mapping request will be processed by Chinese DNS. This means the request statistics of the government and military organization web site can be covered and hidden from the US much easier. These web sites and email services are no longer under foreign "surveillance".


It sure sounds like .CN has created it's own set of root servers. Perhaps official confirmation will be forthcoming sometime soon.

 

Commentary: ICANN Registrars & Antitrust Law
 

From the Sherman Act:


Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $10,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $350,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.


I cite this passage in view of an effort on the part of the ICANN registrar constituency to promote the requirement that registries use only ICANN accredited registrars. ICANN accreditation is not much more than (a) paying a fee to ICANN; (b) demonstrating that you have $70,000 in the bank; (c) having the technological tools and staff to perform the job.

As the registries will necessarily check to ensure that a registrar's equipment is functional and interoperable before it is plugged into their system anyway, ICANN accreditation amounts to nothing more than a payment to ICANN while opening your bankbook for cursory inspection.

Forcing those that already have the necessary skills, tools and business acumen required to run a registrar operation to pay a fee to ICANN just so that they may function as an "accredited" registrar (or otherwise be denied a legitimate business opportunity) strikes me as an unnecessary restraint of trade that may indeed violate antitrust law (all the moreso if actually promoted by a registrar constituency).


 

New Top Level Domain Selection Criteria
 

At the Washington D.C. Meeting of ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization, each ICANN constituency put forth a list of proposed selection criteria to guide the introduction of new TLDs. And so the policy battle begins...

The Selection Criteria:

Business constituency:

  • sound business, technical and operational plan
  • will comply with ICANN policies
  • eligibility criteria for the registrant is limited to a defined category

Registry constituency:

  • consistent with ICANN's limited technical coordination mission
  • provide objectivity that will encourage members of the private sector to participate in a new selection round
  • allow market forces to work freely in contrast to pre-determine Internet user demands
  • should encourage TLD operators/sponsors to differentiate TLD from other TLDs by offering users differentiated options beyond the obvious choice of TLD e.g customer service levels, registry policies etc.
  • should allow for policy decisions to made in the best interests and with participation of relevant user communities in contrast to centrally pre-determining all applicable policies for all TLDs
  • ensure the technical security and stability of the Internet
  • TLD application criteria should require compliance with ICANN guidelines for IDNs
  • applicants that seek to launch a TLD with a primary purpose being to serve needs within a defined geographic territory (or territories) should be asked to identify the specific market of users
  • where the territory is a developing country - describe measures that will encourage use of the Internet within that country
  • no applicant should be allowed to propose a TLD that is either a transliteration of an existing TLD or a lexical or semantic equivalent of an existing TLD.

Registrar Constituency:

  • Applicants must meet minimum technical requirements
  • Registry operators accredited with minimum technical, operational, financial and insurance requirements
  • Maintain the requirement that registries use ICANN accredited registrars

Non-commercial constituency:

  • Neutral, objective and predictable selection process
  • Minimal technical and operational criteria

ISP constituency:

  • A representative from a well defined Community must be an applicant for a new TLD, and registrants are limited to members of that Community
  • The applicant must show that the new TLD has support in the Community
  • TLD application criteria should require compliance with ICANN guidelines for IDNs; the applicant must use technology and have operations that can implement IDNs at the second level
  • The string chosen by the applicant must be differentiated from other TLD strings
  • The string chosen must not infringe the intellectual property rights of others
  • No applicant should be allowed to propose a TLD that is either a transliteration of an existing TLD or a lexical or semantic equivalent of an existing TLD.

Intellectual Property constituency:

  • Predictable, straight forward transparent and objective procedures
  • State in what way the new TLD maximizes benefits for the public interest
  • The applicant must show added value, which will bring user demand, which in turn will enhance competition
  • Must be a clearly differentiated space and satisfy needs that cannot reasonably be met by existing TLDs
  • Registrants are limited to members of a well-defined Community
  • The applicant must show that the new TLD has support in the Community
  • The applicant must have mechanisms to ensure compliance with the charter of the TLD, and addressing violations
  • Accurate verification of registrant eligibility
  • Technical, financial, business, compliance policies
  • Maintenance of UDRP and robust database publicly accessible in real-time and without cost to those query it (compliance ICANN policy)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

 

Terms of Reference for New GNSO PDP
 

From the GNSO Council list:

The GNSO initiated a policy development process in December 2005 [PDP-Dec05] to develop policy around whether to introduce new gTLDs, and if so, determine the selection criteria, allocation methods, and contractual conditions.

During 2005, ICANN commenced a process of revising the .net and .com agreements. There has been substantial discussion amongst members of the GNSO community around both the recently signed .net agreement (dated 29 June 2005), and the proposed .com agreements (dated 24 October 2005 and 29 January 2006). As a result, the GNSO Council recognized that issues such as renewal could be considered as part of the broader issue of contractual conditions for existing gTLDs, and that it may be more appropriate to have policies that apply to gTLDs generally on some of the matters raised by GNSO members, rather than be treated as matters to negotiate on a contract by contract basis.

Subsequently on the 17 January 2006, GNSO Council requested that the ICANN staff produce an issues report "related to the dot COM proposed agreement in relation to the various views that have been expressed by the constituencies." This issues report is available at:
http://www.gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/council/msg01951.html

Section D of this issues report provides a discussion of many of the issues that had been raised by the GNSO community in response to the proposed revisions to the .com agreement. In the issues report the ICANN General Counsel advised that it would not be appropriate to consider a policy development process that specifically targets the .com registry agreement.

At its meeting on 6 February 2006, members of the GNSO Council clarified that the intention of the request for the issues report was to seek an issues report on the topic of the broader policy issues that relate to the contractual conditions of gTLD agreements, which have been identified from the various views expressed by the GNSO constituencies on the proposed .com agreement.

At its meeting on 6 February 2006 the GNSO Council recognised that while the PDP initiated in December 2005 [PDP-Dec05] included within its terms of reference the topic of contractual conditions, a possible outcome of that PDP would be that there should be no additional gTLDs, and thus the Council could not depend on this PDP to address the issues raised by the GNSO community.

Thus at its meeting on 6 February 2006, the GNSO Council, by a super-majority decision, decided to initiate a separate PDP [PDP-Feb06] to look at specific areas of contractual conditions of existing gTLDs.

The work of PDP-Feb06 will naturally be conducted within the context of the work on PDP-Dec05, and if it is decided that new gTLDS should be introduced, the policy work of PDP-Feb06 will be incorporated into a single gTLD policy.

Goal

The overall goal of this PDP therefore is to determine what policies are appropriate, for the long term future of gTLDs within the context of ICANN's mission, that relate to the issues identified in the specific terms of reference below.



Terms of Reference


1. Registry agreement renewal

1a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding renewal, and
if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

1b. Recognizing that not all existing registry agreements share the same
Rights of Renewal, use the findings from above to determine whether or
not these conditions should be standardized across all future
agreements.


2. Relationship between registry agreements and consensus policies

2a. Examine whether consensus policy limitations in registry agreements are appropriate and how these limitations should be determined.

2b. Examine whether the delegation of certain policy making responsibility to sponsored TLD operators is appropriate, and if so, what if any changes are needed.


3. Policy for price controls for registry services

3a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy regarding price controls, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be. (note examples of price controls include price caps, and the same pricing for all registrars)

3b. Examine objective measures (cost calculation method, cost elements, reasonable profit margin) for approving an application for a price increase when a price cap exists.


4. ICANN fees

4a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding registry fees to ICANN, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

4b. Determine how ICANN's public budgeting process should relate to the negotiation of ICANN fees.


5. Uses of registry data

Registry data is available to the registry as a consequence of registry operation. Examples of registry data could include information on domain name registrants, information in domain name records, and traffic data associated with providing the DNS resolution services associated with the registry.

5a Examine whether or not there should be a policy regarding the use of registry data for purposes other than for which it was collected, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

5b. Determine whether any policy is necessary to ensure non-discriminatory access to registry data that is made available to third parties.


6. Investments in development and infrastructure

6a. Examine whether or not there should be a policy guiding investments in development and infrastructure, and if so, what the elements of that policy should be.

 

ICANN's Washington DC GNSO Policy Session
 

After two days of intensive discussions in Washington ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization is moving toward consensus on policies to guide the introduction of new TLDs. The overall sentiment expressed by the constituencies is that new gTLDs should be introduced. Although one party to this discussion (the Business Constituency) maintained that some of their members do not want any new TLDs, they have not adopted a constituency position that formally opposes their introduction.

The Washington GNSO meeting has produced the following position:

"Taking into account the lessons learnt from the limited introduction of new TLDs since 2000, the GNSO supports the continued introduction of new gTLDs. Prior to introducing new TLDs, the GNSO recognizes that the lessons learnt, the submissions made in response to PDP-Dec05 and further input, should be taken into account to identify and develop consensus on the selection criteria, allocation methods, and implementation processes."

Disclaimer: Please note that this statement has not yet been put to a vote, but the clear expectation is that it will soon be ratified.

The agenda topics for this session included only the first two points in the GNSO Terms of Reference, namely should new TLDs be introduced, and what selection criteria should be used.

With respect to selection criteria, a consensus is emerging that such criteria, the RFPs, and the subsequent contracts should all be "thinner". From my vantage point it appeared that the organization is moving toward an extremely lightweight de minimus approach (with constituencies such as the Registrars advocating not much more than bare-bones minimal technical criteria).

In view of the minimal approach being contemplated with respect to criteria, ICANN Vice-President of Business Operations Kurt Pritz has signalled that ICANN Staff is positioned to handle a good many new TLDs per year (that is to say, they have the resources which would allow for processing of at least 50-100 new TLDs per annum, perhaps more -- they pointed to their processing of significant numbers of registrar accreditation applications as an example of their ability to gear up to meet the challenge posed by a large number of applications).

The issue of quantity and periodicity of new TLDs was not broached at this session, but at least we know that sufficient staff resources are now in place that would allow for more than a limited introduction of new TLDs if that becomes the will of the community.

Bruce Tonkin, Chair of the GNSO, has provided the following overall set of observations regarding new TLDs (not necessarily a consensus view) that resulted from the Washington brainstorming session:

-- Negligible impact on security and stability.

-- New strings and strings with more than 3 characters that were not interoperable with End-user application software caused reliability problems.

-- Whole system needs to absorb a new TLD across all software before fully interoperable.

-- No institutional mechanism to inform technical, software development community and potential users.

-- Not enough education that new TLDs have been introduced. Little knowledge amongst Internet users of the new TLDs.

-- Selection and implementation process time consuming, expensive and unpredictable

-- Registry-registrar protocol was standardised (EPP)

-- Sunrise program difficult to design

-- Limitation on the number added caused problems for other applicants that met selection criteria

-- Independent evaluators an improvement after first round

-- Some Selection criteria not objective, clearly defined, and measurable enough to allow independent evaluation to be effective

-- Contracts too constraining to allow a registry operator to evolve their business model in response to market needs

-- No guarantee of financial gains from operating a new TLD

-- Long established TLDs have a powerful legacy advantage over new TLDs.

-- The switching costs for an existing registrant of a domain name from one TLD to another is significant.

-- The legacy TLDs are still continuing to grow strongly in registrations and at higher rate than the new TLDs.

-- Selection process was not a good judge of what succeeded in the market.

-- Selection process doesn't scale.

-- Individual negotiations of registry agreements after Board approves new TLD also time consuming.

-- Discretionary processes can be hijacked politically.

-- Registry operator business models may be limited by the distribution channel of all ICANN accredited registrars.

-- Small TLD is OK if meets the needs of the community that has put forward and doesn't exclude others that are within that Community.

-- The new gtlds introduced so far do not yet cater for parts of the international community that use character sets other than the limited set from the ASCII character range. This has also led to a growth in alternative root implementations and applications work arounds (e.g browser plug-ins).

-- A policy is required for the introduction of IDNs at the top level, and need to consider the political and cultural environments as demand for these IDNs is
increasing.

-- Core of the Internet adapts faster than the edges of the Internet.

-- Participation of registries, registrars and resellers, end users required in testing, and identifying clearly the objectives of the test, policy implications, and measuring the outcomes of the test.

-- Need to consider whether to set a price and if so, how price is set in the registry agreement and how it impacts end-users.

-- Describe reasoning/objectives behind "proof-of-concept" rounds and whether objectives of new TLD introductions have been met.

-- Concern about whether open TLDs have resulted in new registrants compared to existing registrants in a legacy TLD simply registering to protect the brand.

-- For existing registrants in a legacy TLD that register in a new TLD, how many of these use the new registration to create a separate website, or a separate user of email, rather than simply use email or URL forwarding to the existing registration in the legacy TLD, or change their advertising/marketing materials to explicitly
reference the new TLD in an email or website address.

-- Registry operators have learnt more about the market for new TLDs which may assist a new operator when launching a new TLD.

Finally, I am pleased to report that ICANN staff has read every single comment put forth by the public and by participants on ICANN's General Assembly discussion list; the work has been appreciated and has contributed significantly to the overall emerging consensus.

 

The Politics of Technology
 

What Price New York City Wireless: The Politics of Technology

New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, Chair of the Technology Committee, will be joining the Internet Society of New York, on March 1, to discuss broadband and public access issues in a public forum. Discussion will include pending legislation and an update of policy development and other work being done by the committee. There will be time for Q&A.


[editor's note: The earlier proposal tendered by Tom Lowenhaupt of Queen's Community Board #3 regarding a .nyc top level domain initiative will probably be discussed in view of the expectation that ICANN will soon act to introduce new gTLDs. Tom's proposal was concurrent with the .berlin initiative championed by Dirk Krischenowski -- see Berlin May Get Its Own Domain].

The event is free, open to the public and the site is fully accessible.

March 1, 2006
6:00 - 8:00 p. m.

Jefferson Market Branch Library
425 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), at Tenth Street

For additional information on participants see:

Internet Society of New York:
http://www.isoc-ny.org/

Gale Brewer:
http://www.nyccouncil.info/constituent/member_details.cfm?Con_ID=28

Jefferson Market Branch Library (including travel directions):
http://www.nypl.org/branch/local/man/jmr.cfm

 

ICANN Manager of Public Participation to be Hired
 

The following correspondence has been received subsequent to a complaint filed with the ICANN Ombudsman concerning ICANN's failure to fill the post of Manager of Public Participation as required by the bylaws:

Thank you again for having contacted the Office of the Ombudsman with your concerns about the post of Manager, Public Participation at ICANN. You have indicated to me that as your are a member of ICANN's public, and therefore, you feel that you are a person directly affected by decisions or actions by ICANN concerning this position. Based on that personal interest, I have conducted an investigation under the authority given to me through Bylaw V.

I have made enquiries with ICANN Executive Staff, and others, to determine whether or not there has been any action, decision, or inaction which would be an unfairness to you or the overall community.

Based on my review, I can inform you that is my opinion that while the post has been vacant for a period of time that this fact alone does not constitute a violation of The Code of Administrative Justice.

Based on my investigation I can inform you that, while it is perhaps regrettable that any staff position would stand open, that there have been active steps taken by ICANN to review staffing requirements for this post, to look at resumes on hand, and to take the opportunity to define and re-craft the job description for the position, based on the operational experiences.

I can also inform you that my review has indicated that much of the work of the Manager, Public Participation has been ably and competently carried out by various members of the ICANN staff in the interim.

I can find no evidence that there has been any intentional decision which would negatively impact or delay the staffing of this post. In fact, I feel comfortable in informing you that the staffing and selection process should be underway in the near future. Please do check from time to time at the ICANN Career Vacancies page found at http://www.icann.org/general/jobs.htm.

If you do not see the job posted on this site within the next 28 days, please feel free to re-contact me and I will follow up within ICANN.

Again, thank you for contacting the Office of the Ombudsman with your concerns.

Best regards,
Frank Fowlie

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