ICANN News

your unofficial source for daily ICANN news and commentary

Saturday, February 04, 2006

 

Gaetano on the .com price hike
 

In a post to the ALAC discussion list, former DNSO General Assembly Chair and current ALAC liaison to the ICANN Board Roberto Gaetano comments on the proposed VeriSign .com price hike:

"There's one point that I find specifically problematic, and I raised also this issue to the Board. To say that 2 times out of 6 they have to motivate the raise of price simply means to me that the other 4 times out of 6 the raise is unmotivated (and therefore should not be allowed in first place). Or is the raise motivated economically by the fact that Verisign cannot pass down the line the ICANN fees, and recovers them through a raise? I think we (ALAC) should think and elaborate on this aspect, because it impacts the individual users' interests."

 

Complaint Filed with ICANN Ombudsman
 

As reported on the General Assembly Discussion List:

This complaint pertains to inaction on the part of ICANN Staff and the lack of oversight on the part of the Board to ensure compliance with the organizational bylaws.

On 15 December 2002, the ICANN Board ratified the "New Bylaws" which resulted from the 2002 Evolution and Reform Process. Article III Section 3 of those bylaws [Manager of Public Participation] stated: "There shall be a staff position designated as Manager of Public Participation, or such other title as shall be determined by the President, that shall be responsible, under the direction of the President, for coordinating the various aspects of public participation in ICANN, including the Website and various other means of communicating with and receiving input from the general community of Internet users."

Although the bylaws have been revisited and modified on seven separate subsequent occasions, this above-cited language remains intact within our current set of bylaws.

ICANN still has no Manager of Public Participation even though ICANN Staff has made a series of new hires over the course of the last three years. The most recent set of Staff appointments (none of which was required by the bylaws) are posted at this URL: http://icann.org/announcements/announcement1-23nov05.htm

At this time, the Manager of Public Participation position is no longer cited on the ICANN Career Opportunities page: http://icann.org/general/jobs.htm

 

IPv4 & the Black Market
 

A post to the RIPE NCC address policy working group mailing list from Iljitsch van Beijnum entitled "2005 IPv4 Address Use Report" states:

"According to AfriNIC, APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC and RIPE NCC statistics as published on their respective FTP servers, they gave out 165.45 million IPv4 addresses in 2005. Out of 3706.65 million usable IPv4 addresses, 1468.61 million are still available as of januari 1, 2006."

Well, let's see... doing the math... if 1468 million are still available and we are currently exhausting the supply at a rate of 165 million per annum, that would mean about nine years left for IPv4 addresses.

On the other hand, a recent roundtable on the future of IPv4 looked at data and predicted IPv4 space will be depleted sooner than predicted:

"Since 2000, the number of /8s per month has been on a steady accelerating curve. IANA allocated 22 /8s in the 18 months between January 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005. If you go to a flat rate of three-quarters of a /8 per month, seven years of IPv4 space remains. If you hold at the inbound rate to the RIRs and the outbound rates from IANA, it’s about one /8 per month and five years of IPv4 space remaining."

This has raised questions about black market distributions of IPv4. Yes, the subject has been raised at the last ARIN XVI session. One big question is... who stands to profit? The answer might well come from the following statistic: The US holds 60% of the IPv4 address space. Will a black market be developed? Will U.S. firms gouge the developing world when IPv4 is no longer available to be allocated by the RIRs? Will ICANN develop policy to deal with these considerations? My guess: yes, yes, no.

 

Call for Action on "Purpose of WHOIS"
 

Forner head of ACM's Internet Governance Committee Kathy Kleiman, has posted an appeal on ICANN's Non-Commercial Constituency list:

All: As we finish one round of comments, another is due. On Wed., February 8th, public comment will close on the "Purpose of WHOIS." This is important because after we decide on a Purpose, ICANN must then only collect that data that is "relevant and not excessive to that purpose." That means that in the future, ICANN may not feel compelled to publish the home addresses, home phone numbers and personal emails of individuals involved in small political organizations, or engaged in personal and political speech.

The WHOIS Task Force was completely unable to reach an agreement. Intellectual Property (together with Business and ISP) want to use all the Whois data to go fishing -- to find the home address, phone and personal email of anyone whose website content they disagree with (expressed in "Formulation 2").

Presenting a united front, NCUC, Registrars and Registries created FORMULATION 1 -- that WHOIS data should be used for technical purposes. If you would, please take a minute to write a short comment on behalf of your organization (or yourself) in favor of * Formulation 1.* As support, you might use any danger or abuse of the Whois personal data you have heard about or fear might occur. (Formulations 1 and 2 below.) The GNSO page with Task Force report and formulations, email for comments and archives (nothing submitted yet) can be found at http://icann.org/announcements/announcement-18jan06.htm.

Formulation 1 ----------------------------------------------"The purpose of the gTLD Whois service is to provide information sufficient to contact a responsible party for a particular gTLD domain name who can resolve, or reliably pass on data to a party who can resolve, issues related to the configuration of the records associated with the domain name within a DNS nameserver."

Formulation 2 ----------------------------------------------"The purpose of the gTLD Whois service is to provide information sufficient to contact a responsible party or parties for a particular gTLD domain name who can resolve, or reliably pass on data to a party who can resolve, technical, legal or other issues related to the registration or use of a domain name."

 

VeriSign & the DNAME Controversy
 

In a post to ICANN's GNSO Council list, Nominating Committee appointee Sophia Bekele asks:

"The DNAME may be an ok solution from a technical point of view, as each current TLD can have equivalent TLD domain names in ALL languages, IDNs in ALL languages pointing to English domain names, but would present a greater issue from a the perspective of policy, politics, control, competition etc. ... Without being a cause for WWIII, how could we resolve the issues of 'why should Verisign have .com in all languages? Don't they have half the domain names in the world already?"

Sophia's questions echo those of the Intellectual Property community; Monika Ermert from Intellectual Property Watch similarly notes:

"Another key question is whether a DNAME concept would privilege incumbents like VeriSign. For .com, for example, the Chinese version is already deployed. “The root of a conflict has already started brewing with the fact that CNNIC [the Chinese country code registry operator, responsible for .cn] has decided to offer .com and .net in Chinese, and has apparently cut VeriSign out of it,” said Ram Mohan, CTO of Afilias, registry operator for .info, .org and several ccTLDs).

Friday, February 03, 2006

 

ICANN GNSO Council Agenda -- 6 February 2006
 

  • Item 1: Approval of minutes- GNSO Council teleconference minutes 17 January 2006
  • Item 2: Issues Report on policy issues raised in the proposed .com agreement- consider the issues report - decide whether to initiate the PDP
  • Item 3: Initial Report on new gTLDs- consider constituency statements and public comments - discuss content of Initial Report (due on 15 February 2006)
  • Item 4: Next meeting - 21 February 2006- Consider holding a two day physical meeting around 21 February 2006 in Washington, DC to advance the work on policy issues in items 2 and 3 above- note the Final Report on new gTLDs is due on 15 March 2006
  • Item 5: Statements of Interest
  • Item 6: Discussion of latest IAB draft on IDNs
  • Item 7: Any other business

 

ICANN Staff Authority Questioned
 

Bret Fausett writes to the Council list:

"While I think it may be *unwise* for the Council to get involved in contractual issues between ICANN and a registry or registrar, I don't agree that it's out-of-scope. In fact, I might turn the whole report on its head. Isn't the better answer that it is not 'properly within the scope of' ICANN's Staff's responsibilities to limit the ability of its policy bodies, like the GNSO, to make policy decisions?

On what authority does Staff negotiate what is or isn't a "consensus policy" under Section III.1.(b) of the proposed Registry Contract?"

 

ALAC Meeting Agenda Posted
 

Vittorio Bertola, the chair of ICANN's Interim At-Large Advisory Committee, has posted the agenda for the ALAC's next teleconference:
  • New gTLDs (incl. staff briefing if possible)
  • Other policy issues (IDN document...)
  • Pending ALS applications
  • Update on RALO building efforts
  • Update on website
  • Update on Wellington

You'll note that the outrage of the .com registrant community that faces a pending price hike is nowhere to be found in this agenda -- good job of listening to the community Vittorio!

... but members of the ALAC will be able to treat themselves to an update on EURALO progress. To give you an idea of the actual movement on that particular front from the at-large structure perspective (the folks that are actually supposed to be involved in building their own structure) we can take a look at the comments submitted to the EURALO forum by the certified at-large structures (ALSs).

The EURALO website tells us: The process to establish the Europe RALO is underway. A draft set of principles has been prepared for the European user community's consideration. An online space for comments kindly been supplied by ISOC Belgium. Europeans involved in "At-Large groups" and interested in ICANN At-Large are asked to review the document and submit comments through this space by 15 February.

"This Space" reveals that other than comments made by Vittorio Bertola, only one other member (toka -- who is probably ISOC Finland's Tommi Karttaavi) has bothered to comment on the establishment of the European RALO. For all intents and purposes, it appears that the ALAC will attempt to push through the formation of this EURALO without the support and/or involvement of the actual member structures just so that they can state that they have finally established a RALO.

When will the ALAC realize that people will not willingly participate in a fraud? Consider, for example, the remarks of Jeanette Hoffman:

"It seems the EURALO structure is driven by the fear of capture. This is the wrong approach since it prevents meaninful participation. This whole debate reminds me very much of the early discussion about the At Large structure. Read again the papers written by Izumi and others. They gave all the arguments why a structure like the one you are proposing will never fly. I also agree with Wolfgang's last point recommending that you withdraw the draft and start again. In any case, I would not join the EURALO as currently planned."


 

ALAC's At-Large Structures: A Miserable Failure
 

Yet another email from ICANN staffer Denise Michel, Executive Director At-Large, has been sent out to the troops. This one entitled "Input needed on new domain names, review of 3 sTLDs" was sent on 13 January to every single ALAC-accredited At-Large Structure and even to those whose applications are in pending due diligence status. The basic request [paraphrased]: "Give us some input, dammit!"

As usual, the troops responded by doing nothing. Although a wiki was set up, no certified at-large structures bothered to participate; although both a special purpose ICANN Forum and the general purpose ALAC Forum were open, no one came to the party. ... and seemingly undaunted by this unfolding debacle, the clueless members of the ALAC continue to build their mythical "RALOs".

The short history of ALAC as recounted by Richard Henderson: "The Board needed to save face. So it hired Denise Michel to create a new ICANN At Large which could be controlled and kept at arm's length from any real power and decision-making. Denise got back up from Esther in the early stages and Esther found herself representing North America simply because that's what ICANN wanted. Vittorio (who I have plenty of time for) made what I regard as the mistaken decision to jump aboard. It has primarily been Denise, Vittorio and Thomas driving the sinking ship since then. Just three people, unelected and unrepresentative, to claim to speak for the millions of individual Internet users. ICANN soon found that they were trying to roll an immovable boulder up a steep hill, trying to impose something that people had never asked for or wanted. So they roped in various chapters of ISOC, the Internet Society, which has close links with Vint and ICANN, to create the appearance of things happening. Only trouble was that... nothing much did happen. Because it was still just Denise, Vittorio and Thomas (with some input from two or three others). "

Here's a thought... if after three years of such steady e-mails from Denise we still have participation to the null degree, then perhaps the ICANN CEO should re-evaluate whether she's in fact the right person for the job.

 

The Purpose of WHOIS
 

In mid-January the "Preliminary Task Force Report on the Purpose of Whois and of the Whois Contacts" was posted for public comment. As has become typical, no comments thus far have been submitted. The public usually ignores the work of GNSO task forces because they have come to realize that Task Force work-product is always shoddy, unrepresentative, and reflects only the views of a very few special interest groups; the broader internet community is never invited to participate in these bodies (as was formerly possible when Working Groups were a reality).

So, why should the public provide commentary that will merely be "noted" and then be promptly disregarded by Task Force members? Most of us have decided not to comment directly (as it serves no purpose), but rather to comment by way of our own blogs. Karl Auerbach has a nice commentary on this report over at his Cavebear blog. His conclusion: "As a whole, the document is worthless. Only the Non-Commercial constituency approaches the questions based on a principled analysis; the other groups are simply making self-aggrandizing assertions." I encourage you to read Karl's comments in their entirety, and to start thinking about a review of ICANN's GNSO processes that have completely eliminated public non-constituent participation.

 

The latest Business Constituency Position Paper
 

Phillip Sheppard has authored yet another Business Constituency Position Paper -- this one takes as its subject matter the 2005 round of new sponsored top-level domain names. Phillip is known for his consistency and as such continues to rehash the same old set of arguments that have been discounted and dismissed by others for years... but it is what we have come to expect from a constituency that is so warped by the Telco agenda that it can no longer argue coherently.

Consider the following ridiculous statement: "sponsored TLDs establish competition with .com because they provide TLDs that have an identity: companies are provided an incentive to migrate to the sponsored TLD to take advantage of a form of brand identity within their sector."

Total registrations for sponsored TLDs (.travel, .jobs, .post, .mobi, .aero, .coop etc.) are low. How low, you ask? So low that half of one day's worth of registrations for .com is more than all the registrations for all these sponsored TLDs combined. To argue that "sponsored TLDs establish competition with .com" is a joke. While we agree with Phillip that "the criteria for “sponsored” and “sponsored community” would benefit from further clarification", we see no redeeming value in pushing a category of TLDs that has such limited value to the broader Internet community.

 

The GAC Public Forum
 

From the UDRPlaw blog: "At the ICANN Annual Meeting in Vancouver, the Government Advisory Committee launched a Public Forum section on the GAC website. To date, there have been only been four comments posted to the Public Forum, all by ALAC members, none by GAC representatives themselves... The Wellington meeting is fast approaching. It would be beneficial for all interested parties if GAC representatives and members of the Internet community were making greater use of the GAC Public Forum."

The blog makes a good point, even though it contains one factual error -- the very first post to the GAC Public Forum was not from an ALAC member, and neither was the last -- even so, it remains admittedly difficult for members of the at-large public that participate in ICANN matters to interact with this thoroughly non-transparent body. The GAC's working groups maintain no publicly archived mailing lists and there are no meeting transcripts.

Writing to such a forum is somewhat akin to taping a note onto a brick and throwing it over a wall -- it's of limited value (unless you happen to enjoy sending messages that always go unanswered). If the GAC doesn't soon adopt some of the modalities that we expect to see emerge in the UN's upcoming Internet Governance Forum, then you can expect even fewer public comments in the future.

 

Corruption in ICANN's GNSO
 

From the Conflict of Interest Declaration by the Business Constituency's Marilyn Cade:

"I speak frequently as an expert at business and professional conferences that are held both in the US and in other countries and am usually remunerated for such events. Such remuneration does not in any way make such entities clients, nor imply client obligations... From time to time, I may have clients who have a direct policy interest in a particular policy area. At present, two clients that I advise have an interest in reserved names in gTLDs. As my business’ clients and their interests change, I will continue to update my statement of interest."

My hackles are raised when I hear that GNSO Councilors are being paid by clients to advance specific policy objectives. There is clearly a role for paid lobbyists within our institutions, but we should not tolerate having our elected representatives at the receiving end of bribes. Ms. Cade was elected by her constituency and given a trust. That trust has been violated by accepting renumeration from clients with business before ICANN. Ms. Cade should tender her resignation before the stink of her action further pollutes an already sullied body.

 

Laughing at the ISPCP Constituency Statement
 

There are some constituency statements that go so far in the pursuit of a hidden agenda that their stated "conclusions" are laughable -- such is the case with ICANN's Internet Service Providers Constituency, a group that closely aligns itself with the ICANN Business Constituency. Consider for example the following two "conclusions" that this constituency has reached:
  • By any reasonable measure -- market share, number of names registered, percentage growth -- the introduction of open, unsponsored names failed to add any competition at the registry level.
  • Any new gTLD proposal should be sponsored.

In the first quarter of 2005 according to zooknic research, .biz had 1,087,952 registrations while .info had 3,333,660. Meanwhile the .travel registry (a sponsored domain) announced that the current number of registered domains after only 16 weeks, averaging 1,000 domain names per week, almost tops that of all other Sponsored Top Level Domains combined, including those that have been in existence more than five years.

The ISPCP would have you believe that somehow the 32,000 total registrations for all sponsored gTLDs is somehow more "competitive" than the over 4 million registrations accumulated by the recent unsponsored gTLDs.

The ISPCP and the Business Constituency have an agenda to push. Seven of the top ten Telcos worldwide are members within these two ICANN constituencies. They have no desire whatsoever for new top level domains to thrive and to potentially pose a risk to their telco operations --- who do you think is behind the lobbying that has made sure that a .tel gTLD (that promotes free VOIP) hasn't yet come into being? These players will push to hamstring gTLD development by putting forward one ridiculous statement after the next. Their intent is clear; their agenda is clear.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

The ICANN Snails
 

In preparation for the upcoming GNSO Review, ICANN Staffer Liz Williams on the first of December distributed a simple half page form to the GNSO constituencies and requested feedback by Friday December 16. We're now into February and some constituencies haven't even gotten started filling it out. By way of example, note the commentary a few days ago from the NCUC Chair:

"Dear NCUC people,
On Dec.19, 2005, I posted this request from GNSO to ICANN constituencies, and, except for a comment from Kathy, I have received no help regarding filling out the questionnaire so far. Suggestions?"

By the way, the form is not that tough to fill out -- here it is -- decide yourselves:

Representativeness

1.1. Provide a copy of the Constituency Charter
1.2. Provide a copy of the Statement of Operating Procedures
1.3. Provide a full list of current (2005) and past (2002-2004)constituency members
1.4. Provide a statement which identifies membership fees and any membership conditions
1.5. Provide a statement of how often the constituency meets;
.... by which method (face to face or teleconference);
.... how minutes are produced;
.... and whether those minutes are publicly available
1.6. Provide a statement which sets out how constituency positions are reached and the voting methods within the constituency (include whether there are weighted voting patterns)
1.7. Fill out the following tables to show demographic statistics on the basis of the full list of constituency members

# of Members % of Members
Africa,
Asia/Australia/Pacific,
Europe,
Latin America/Caribbean Islands,
North America
Total:

Gender Distribution of Members; Gender Distribution of Council Reps

Effectiveness

2.1. Provide a statement showing how the constituency gathers opinions about policy development processes; include in particular, how the constituency develops position statements on policy issues
2.2. Provide a statement showing how many issues papers or position papers the constituency has issued since 2003
2.3. How long does it take before GNSO Councillors are presented with a constituency position to give to the GNSO Council

Transparency

3.1. Describe the constituency election procedures. For example, how nominations are called for and seconded; how elections are run (on-line or physical meetings)
3.2. Document the candidates for each election and their geographic regions include Nominating Committee representatives)
3.3. Show whether the election results are publicly available

 

Bias issues at ICANN-accredited WIPO
 

Wendy Seltzer writes in her blog:

"[Excerpt] Most of us would be put off if a court issued a press release cheering the number of prisoners its judges had put behind bars or the number of tenants it had helped landlords to evict. That seems antithetical to the neutral adjudication of disputes, and ethical rules
regularly decry such "appearance of bias." Yet WIPO seems to think it perfectly natural to crow about its arbitrators' favoritism for complainants against "cybersquatters" in UDRP proceedings. It issued a release that reads like a solicitation for trademark claimants' business, not a promotion of neutral arbitration services:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) saw a 20% increase in the number of cybersquatting (abusive registration of trademarks as domain names) cases filed in 2005 as compared to 2004. In 2005, a total of 1,456 cybersquatting cases were filed with WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Center. This increase represents the highest number of cybersquatting cases handled by the WIPO Center since 2001.... In the 6,349 decisions they have rendered, WIPO panels have found for the complainant in 5,327 (83.9%) cases.
Now it is not surprising that the World Intellectual Property Organization often aligns itself with intellectual property claimants against those representing the public domain, competition, or non-IP claims. It is disturbing, however, that it expresses this bias while serving as a provider of admistrative panels for the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. WIPO is ICANN-accredited to provide panelists for what is supposed to be an "impartial and independent" determination of rights to a domain name. "

 

Residential Customer Privacy Policy Proposed
 

The first policy proposal of 2006 within the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) calls for Residential Customer Privacy.

Policy statement
Proposal type: modify (NRPM sections 4.2.3.7.6 and 6.5.5.1)


Policy Term: permanent
An organization with downstream residential customers may substitute that organization's name for the customer's name, e.g. 'Private customer - XYZ Network', and the customer's entire address may be replaced with 'Private Residence'. Each private downstream residential reassignment must have accurate upstream Abuse and Technical POCs visible on the WHOIS record for that block.

NRPM Section 3.2 on Distributed Information Server Use Requirements (from policy proposal 2003-5) is also updated by striking the words "that includes displaying only the city, state, zip code, and country".

Policy Rationale
This policy allows for a residential customer's entire physical address to be suppressed, not just the street name and number. It also removes the US-centric phrases "state" and "zip code" from the NRPM, reflecting ARIN's broader service area.


In many cases, a postal code or even a city name can identify few enough individuals, particularly considering the set of those likely to have their own IP assignments, that the intent of policy proposal 2003-3 is constructively defeated.

Timetable for implementation: Immediately upon approval.

 

Another Domain Name Hijack?
 

The following message popped up on the NANOG list last week, once more illustrating a problem that ICANN has still failed to address -- namely, what is the process by which domain name hijackings should be investigated and resolved:
Hey all, probably not the best place to ask this but thought that I would give it a shot. At my company I manage 30 or so domain names through various registrars, they existed before I came on board. Today I received an email from a person claiming ownership of one of our valuable ones, valuable to us anyway since we have an ASP product sitting behind it. Whois database says that is clearly belongs to him and the ICANN registrar is not one that is being used here, last updated 6 months ago. If this would have been changed 6 months ago I would have been the one to change it, and I didn't change anything. The domain is still pointing to our DNS servers, we haven't had any outages to this point, looks like the admin and tech contacts were the only thing changed, and now 6 months later they want the domain. I've got calls into the current registrar to see what is going on, they were contacted at the same time I was and need some time to see what's going on. Anyone have any advice? Should I call ICANN?

Clearly, a policy needs to be developed to handle such matters. The ICANN report on the earlier Panix.com hijacking noted a failure to establish an "Emergency Recovery Process". It indicated that urgent action for operational emergencies is still a.) – Not documented; b).– Key people who know each other talk on private channels; c).– No clear authority to fix things; all ad hoc. d). – No documented escalation path. If such a process now exists thanks to ICANN's Security and Stability Committee, the folks at NANOG seem to know nothing about it.


 

GoDaddy SuperBowl Commercial Approved!
 

GoDaddy is thrilled to announce it will be advertising in the Super Bowl. After 14 revisions and weeks of intense negotiations, the ABC Television network today gave its approval for the Internet powerhouse to broadcast a "GoDaddy-Esque" commercial in the big game.

"This showdown went down to the wire. We were about out of time and had produced our 14th and final attempt. I'm ecstatic about being in the Super Bowl again," said Bob Parsons, founder and president of GoDaddy.com.


...and we're ecstatic about seeing Candice Michelle (the GoDaddy girl) again.

 

New Internet Governance Project Paper
 

As explained by Milton Mueller,

The "Building an Internet Governance Forum" paper proposes three design criteria for the Forum:

1) It must be as open as possible and give all stakeholders equal participation rights;
2) its deliberations must be wide-ranging and resist politically motivated barriers to discussion;
3) its products must feed into other, more authoritative Internet governance forums.

We propose a structure and process for the realization of these objectives. We also set out three policy problems that exemplify the kind of issues the Forum should take up: spam, Internet free expression, and public policy principles for the coordination of Internet resources."

 

Albus Dumbledore to attend ICANN-Wellington
 

As noted on the ICANN Meeting registration server, Albus Dumbledore, Supreme Mugwamp of the International Confederation of Wizards, is the first to have signed up as an attendee at ICANN's upcoming Wellington session. One rumor has it that Albus will be recommending to the Board the creation of new top level gTLD named after Hogwarts -- the .hog TLD. We're told that asked his views on TLD management, Albus was heard to remark, "The Sorting Hat has recommended using VeriSign on the back end... after all, having demonstrated that they can be pigs about their new agreement, they're probably the right set of Muggles to administer a .hog domain".

Another rumor insists that Albus, whom Voldemort refers to as a "champion of commoners, of Mudbloods and Muggles", will be casting a transfiguration spell to restore the At-Large directors to the ICANN Board. Asked if Albus will fit right in at an ICANN meeting, he was heard to say: "Why not? As Headmaster, I'm well aware of how to deal with a Chamber of Secrets."

 

Sedo Proposal for One-Letter .Com Domains
 

Sedo has posted this proposal:

Situation Analysis
According to recent proposals, ICANN is considering making one-letter .com domains, such as O.com, available to the public. These domain names would be extremely valuable to any potential owner due to their branding potential and the simple fact that they are extremely memorable. Most experts estimate these domain names could be worth up to six or seven-figures each.

Concurrently, ICANN is proposing an increase to its imposed fees per domain name registered which would amount to over $15 million in 2006. Critics argue that such fee increases would effectively act as a tax on the Internet and should be subject to a budgetary review process involving the broader Internet community.


Typically, new domain names are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, this is not a truly democratic process as it favors those who have computer programs written to monitor and immediately register newly available domains. Sedo believes that these high-value domain names should not be offered to only large corporations or those with a technology advantage, but to any global citizen that is interested in purchasing them at fair market value.

A Fair and Equitable Solution
Sedo proposes that the names be auctioned in an all-inclusive, transparent online process to the highest bidder. This process would allow anyone to have a true opportunity to purchase these rare domain names and further ICANN’s goals of "preserving the operational stability of the Internet;" ... "promoting competition;" ... "achieving broad representation of global Internet communities;" ... "developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes." A transparent auction is the only way to ensure the process is completely fair and unbiased.

Furthermore, Sedo proposes that the proceeds from the auction go directly to bolster the ICANN budget, offsetting the proposed new ICANN fees. For example, Sedo estimates that the sale of the remaining 23 one-letter .com names would generate approximately $2 to $5 million. The auction would serve as an ideal test-case to determine whether the practice can be used in similar future situations.


Conclusion
While ICANN believes it has cause to seek budgetary increases to further its global projects, mandating per-domain name fees that ultimately get passed on to Internet users is not an effective or fair means to an end. Whenever possible, ICANN must avoid adding an extra "tax" for usage of domain names to remain an independent body. In light of the resurgence of the domain name market in recent years, ICANN should instead better leverage the very valuable assets it controls, such as one letter .com domain names, by judiciously issuing high-value domain name assets to generate funds for the non-profit organization.

 

ICANN Ignores the ISPCP
 

Tony Holmes writes:

"Dear ISPCP members,

You will all be aware that the revised dot com agreement has been posted and there is a short window for public comment. I would like to seek your views on whether you consider it appropriate for the ISPCP to post a response through that process. An alternate or an additional option would be to feed back views through the GNSO, as I anticipate quite a high level of debate within Council. Whatever the preferred option, its important we pull together a Constituency opinion, so please comment to the list. The statement submitted on behalf of the ISPCP during the Vancouver meeting which set out our initial concerns was posted to the list and can be used as a reference. From my own perspective it appears that a number of the points we expressed strong views over have not been adequately addressed, but I welcome your input."

The prior ISPCP position:
  • In the view of the ISPCP it is inappropriate to link the settlement agreement with a new registry agreement
  • A bilateral agreement between the two parties which result in a non-competitive arrangement, whereby one party has the right to a presumptive renewal, coupled with the guaranteed potential to increase prices annually runs counter to ICANN’s responsibility to the greater community at large
  • Although it has been stated that the presumptive right of renewal already exists in the current .COM agreement, in fact the reality is that the current renewal terms are not comparable to the ones in the proposed agreement
  • This provision is tantamount to a guarantee that Verisign is handed total dominance of more than 50% of the name space, together with a guaranteed and continual increase return on capital
  • The terms of this settlement and the superfluous inclusion of an unrelated issue, the .COM agreement, leads to the perception that ICANN is bending to the demands of one party over the interest of the greater community.

 

Silence of the Lambs
 

What can you conclude when ICANN GNSO constituency members are silent? The Non-Commercial constituency appears to be adopting the position that silence implies consent. This is the very same dangerous position adopted formally by the Business Constituency: "If no comments are received the position will be deemed approved."

One of the NCUC members, Rick Weingarten who represents the American Library Association, makes this
remark:

"ALA is a member because we generally support the concerns and objectives of NCUC, but our detailed involvement with these issues waxes and wanes. And, speaking for me as an infrequent participant, the confusing arcanity of ICANN policy, process, and politics makes it hard to dive in at the last minute when we suddenly do see an interest. I suspect that we will become more involved again in the future, particularly on the broader governance questions. But, in the meantime, our silence has to be taken to reflect general consent with what is going on. Otherwise, the NCUC leadership would be paralyzed."

It's a shame that constituency members are equating non-participation and silence on key issues as unqualified support for a constituency position (whatever it might be). Silence should be interpreted as just that -- silence.

 

Constituency Statements Posted, Almost
 

The ICANN GNSO Constituency Statements on the introduction of new gTLDs have been posted:
  • ISPCP -- arrives with a note that in December and January the ISPCP considered the issue (even though no comments were made during 56 out of the 60 days that the PDP was in progress)
  • NCUC -- arrives with a note that it is "nearly" a consensus position (although only four or five members out of 40 were involved in discussions)
  • IPC
  • Registrars -- arrives with a note that "This document only reflects the comments of the participants and is not an official position of the GNSO Registrar Constituency or necessarily of its membership"
  • Registries
  • BCUC -- still not posted -- but since the constituency has had no teleconferences in the last two months, nor has posted any website messages regarding this PDP, it shouldn't take them too much longer to invent a constituency statement (we're told that Philip Sheppard is drafting the BCUC position).

 

Conflict of Interest Statements
 

For those of you following the GNSO Council discussion list, you might have been wondering what has prompted the recent spate of conflict of interest disclosures...

I'm told that a certain business-minded GNSO Councilor is performing consulting work for a certain firm in the domain name aftermarket. Apparently this stoked the ire of a certain registry that chose to have a few quiet words with certain friends on the Council. Voila! -- a conflict of interest process emerges. The Councilor in question, by the way, has yet to submit a conflict of interest declaration.

 

Historic First at ICANN
 

During the course of the last three years not one single "certified at-large structure" accredited by ICANN's At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) has ever sent in a written comment on any topic whatsoever -- until now. This is an historic moment.

The comment was tendered by America@Large's Randy Glass to the ICANN At-Large Forum on the topic of new TLD policy. True to form, no one on the ALAC has noticed.

 

ICANN Counsel tells GNSO to bugger off
 

ICANN staff, at the request of the GNSO, have submitted a formal Issues Report on the proposed .com registry agreement. Notably, "Staff does not recommend the launch of a dedicated PDP on this matter as framed by the GNSO Council. "

Most interesting is the General Counsel's opinion:
The General Counsel’s opinion is that "the dot COM proposed agreement in relation to the various views that have been expressed by the constituencies" is not "properly within the scope of the ICANN policy process and within the scope of the GNSO.""

The Staff report identified the six general areas of concern as expressed by the GNSO constituencies:
1. Registry renewals

2. Contract terms of agreement vs. consensus policies
3. Prices for registry services
4. ICANN fees
5. Traffic data usage
6. Development and infrastructure investments

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

Trademarks, IDN & the WHOIS Nightmare
 

Great article over at Names@Work

Excerpt: "If you own trademarks, you’ve got serious trouble ahead. As the International Trademark Assn (INTA) puts it in a comment to ICANN,
“The IDN Guidelines do not mention, let alone deal with, any Whois issues that will arise from the implemenation of IDNs…. INTA respectfully submits that the draft IDN Guidelines must deal with the creation, maintenance and publication of Whois data, and that a further draft dealing with Whois issues should be prepared and resubmitted for public comment.”
What they’re really talking about here is finding violators of their trademarks; about doing searches for IDNs. But respectfully or not, INTA is going to get nowhere on this one, because searching of IDNs is really tough. While you can create and register IDNs (and have been able to for some time), you can’t at present search for anything except an exact match. So if you were farsighted enough to have registered your trademark as a domain name in (say) one of the several Chinese scripts, you will be able to search for that exact domain name, but you won’t be able to do any pattern searching. No plurals, no misspellings, no instances of your mark contained in longer names — no variations at all unless you search for them one by one."

 

APNIC 21 Update
 

The deadline for accepting formal policy proposals for discussion at the forthcoming APNIC 21 has now passed. However 'Informational' presentations are still being accepted for the following SIGs:

If you are interested in presenting a topic relevant to the SIG, please send your proposal to the appropriate SIG chair, cc'ing sig@apnic.net Please note that the IPv6, IX, and Routing SIG programmes are now full. To see the topics being discussed at APNIC 21, please follow the links from the programme at: http://www.apnic.net/meetings/21/programme/


 

ASO Call for Nominations for ICANN Board Seat
 

In compliance with the ASO MoU and ICANN bylaws the Address Council hereby calls for nominations to the ICANN Board to fill the ASO seat currently held by Mouhamet Diop, whose term expires in June of 2006. This nomination period will close on April 4, 2006.

Nominations may be submitted by anyone by sending email to nominations@aso.icann.org. Nominations must include the following information:
  • Full name of person being nominated
  • Contact email address for person being nominated
  • Contact telephone number (if available) of the person being nominated
  • Full name of the person making the nomination
  • Contact email address for the person making the nomination
  • Contact telephone number of the person making the nomination

Nominations will be reviewed in accordance with the ASO Board of Directors selection procedures, as documented on the ASO website.


 

Giovanni Seppia recruited by ICANN?
 

Giovanni Seppia, former General Manager of the Council of European National Top level DOMAIN Registries (CENTR) and ccNSO Council observer, resigned from CENTR on 10 January 2006. Interestingly enough, the RIPE NCC Roundtable Meeting February 2006 Attendee List shows Giovanni now representing ICANN. Expect an announcement sometime soon.

Please note that Fay Howard
returns as interim CENTR General Manager following Giovanni's departure.

 

ccNSO Call for Nominations
 

The ccNSO Call for Nominations for election to the ccNSO council was initiated on 24 January and will conclude in the next two days. Candidates nominated so far include:

Any ccNSO member may nominate an individual to serve as a ccNSO Council member representing the ccNSO member's Geographic Region. Nominations must be seconded by another ccNSO member from the same Geographic Region. Each member can nominate one candidate for election to the ccNSO council and each member can second one candidate. Candidates need be neither resident in the region nor a citizen of a country within the region in which they stand for election. In order to nominate or second a candidate, a member must have been a member of the ccNSO by 23 January 2006


 

How DNS Policy is Produced
 

You might wonder how substantive DNS policies are formulated at the constituency level; the following outlines the process used by ICANN's Internet Service and Connection Providers Constituency:
  1. The GNSO inaugurates a policy development process for new gTLDs on 2 December 2005
  2. The constituency finally announces the PDP a month later on 4 January 2006 and requests comments
  3. Three more weeks go by... no comments are received
  4. With four days left before comments are due, the constituency Secretariat dredges up an earlier Cross-Constituency (BC-IPC-ISCP) paper
  5. Over the next three days, three constituency members make a few minor corrections
  6. No constituency vote is taken
  7. Although ICANN Bylaws require a clear statement of how the constituency arrived at its position and a list of all members who participated or otherwise submitted their views, no such documentation is offered
  8. The constituency statement is submitted without even considering the GNSO Terms of Reference on new gTLDs

Policy deliberations at the constituency level have reached an all-time low. To be fair to the ISCPC, it's just as bad (if not worse) in almost all of the other constituencies. Let's see what happens when the independent evaluation of the GNSO is produced. Stay tuned for yet another whitewash.


 

New ASO Council Chair: Sebastian Bellagamba
 

At its first meeting of the year the Address Council elected Sebastian Bellagamba as chair of the ASO Address Council for the year 2006. Following his election, the chair invited Alan Barrett and Hans Petter Holen to serve as co-chairs for the year. Sebastian is the director of CABASE (Cámara Argentina de Bases de Datos y Servicios en Línea) Argentina, a nonprofit organization with a membership including: Internet access providers, databank producers, telcos, datacomms service providers, and web farms.

 

IAB Points GNSO to a Policy Job
 

A recent Internet Architecture Board (IAB) Internet-Draft has made it clear that ICANN's GNSO should examine the policy implications of the DNAME approach to IDNs.

"There has been discussion of permitting some or all existing TLDs to be referenced by multiple labels, with those labels presumably representing some understanding of the "name" of the TLD in different languages. If actual aliases of this type are desired for existing domains, the IETF may need to consider whether the use of DNAME records in the root is appropriate to meet that need, what constraints, if any, are needed, whether alternate approaches, such as those of [RFC4185], are appropriate or whether further alternatives should be investigated. But, to the extent to which aliases are considered desirable and feasible, decisions presumably must be made as to which, if any, root IDN labels should be associated with DNAME records and which ones should be handled by normal delegation records or other mechanisms. That decision is one of DNS root-level namespace policy and hence falls to ICANN although we would expect ICANN to pay careful attention to any technical, operational, or security recommendations that may be produced by other bodies."

 

Independent Thinking on New TLDs
 

 

ICANN snubs the ITU, again
 

Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg, and calling ICANN transparent doesn't make it so. It seems like every day lately we are gifted with new revelations about how ICANN hides and distorts the truth. An article at ICANNWatch reveals how correspondence from Houlin Zhao (director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau) to ICANN CEO Paul Twomey has been hidden from view. The text of the letter:

Dear Paul,

On 15 December 2005, ITU-T Study Group 2 (SG2) has approved Recommendation E.910, Procedures for registering within the domain ".int". I attach a copy of the approved text.

First of all, I would like to thank you personally and your staff for the valuable inputs that you made concerning this Recommendation and I look forward to continuing cooperation with you and your staff on this matter.

As you probably know, the text in question has been endorsed by the United Nations Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB), and, taking into account the decision of the CEB, SG2 has requested that I transmit the Recommendation to ICANN when it is formally approved, requesting that ICANN inform me with respect to:


1. the process that ICANN will use to consider implementing the provisions of the Recommendation,
2. which, if any, provisions cannot be implemented,
3. the timetable for the implementation of the provisions that can be implemented.

SG2 understands that some of the proposed provisions may differ from the present registration policies and that some proposals may require further consultation, or be difficult to implement at present.
Both SG2 and I look forward to receiving, in due course, ICANN’s time-plans concerning implementation.



 

.com Price Hike!
 

A petition has been posted in response to ICANN's proposed .com price hike.

To: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

We, the undersigned, rise in opposition to the proposed increase in prices for .com registrants. We understand that there are times when price increases are warranted – this is not one of those times.

The VeriSign organization has not proposed any service enhancements that would justify an increase in prices, nor have they been subject to the imposition of any new ICANN policies that have raised their cost of doing business. VeriSign has not documented any extraordinary expense resulting from an attack or threat of attack on the security or stability of the Internet’s Domain Name System, nor has VeriSign suffered from diminishing returns that would impact a costing structure based upon economies of scale -- In Q3 2005 new registrations for .com increased 33 percent, year-over-year.

Permitting a monopoly to raise its prices by up to 7 percent per annum in perpetuity sets a bad precedent. This action raises concerns about ICANN’s commitment to help bridge the digital divide, and it portends comparable increases on the part of other domain name registries that will similarly seek to maximize shareholder returns at the expense of the registrant community.


We understand that part of this proposed price increase is destined to offset the massively increased fees that ICANN has negotiated with VeriSign as part of a comprehensive litigation settlement. We do not believe that the proper way for two litigants to settle their differences is by offering to reach into our pockets to solve their respective issues.

The resolution of differences between ICANN and VeriSign should not be contingent upon approval of a new registry contract that so negatively impacts our registrant community. We petition you to solve your respective issues without imposing an unwarranted price increase upon a community of registrants that had no part in your mutual dispute.

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