Watching the GNSO Councilors busily at work on formulations for the Terms of Reference for their most recent PDP initiative is a truly amusing yet pointless waste of time. The ICANN GNSO Council industriously crafts these Terms of Reference as if the very act itself was a commandment laid down by God Almighty. They are oh so very serious about each and every proposed term...
Then they go ahead and produce their Constituency Statements that totally and completely ignore the Terms of Reference. Go figure. It's nuts.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the required Public Comment Period that's supposed to follow the submission of the Staff Manager's Initial Report on the first PDP. I'm told it's coming soon.
ICANN today announced a series of new hires (all regional liaisons). The list of new appointments includes Giovanni Seppia -- whom this blog predicted would be hired -- as European liaison.
But still no Manager of Public Participation has been hired. The position, required to be filled by the bylaws, has gone unfilled for over three years. This remains an insult to the Internet community and it reinforces the belief that ICANN just doesn't give a damn about the general public.
The GNSO Council is in the process of organizing their second major policy development process -- this time the focus will be on everything that they have so far failed to even start to discuss in the prior PDP. As part of the organization process (which is still lacking the bylaws-required Public Comment period -- yes, it should have started ten days ago already), the Council has decided to form a task force that will exclude participants from the GNSO General Assembly.
That the Council wishes to appoint a task force for the PDP initiated on 6 February 2006 (PDP-Feb06) that consists of the full Council, including the Council members appointed by the Nominating Committee, the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) liaisons.
That constituencies have the option to appoint representatives to the task force in place of their Council members.
That the Council recommends that the constituencies ensure that there is at least one council member from the constituency on the task force.
That Council members, who are not members of the task force, have observer status on the task force, and thus receive mail from the mailing lists and be able to attend task force calls and meetings as observers."
John Jeffrey, ICANN General Counsel and Secretary, writes:
"Thank you for your inquiry concerning the practice of "proxy" voting which occurs during the GNSO Council meetings. In follow up to your inquiry and in furtherance to our discussion earlier today here is some additional information and my office's opinion regarding the same.
We agree with you that there is no provision for proxy voting under the current ICANN Bylaws . The current Bylaws (Article X, Section 4) include the following provision concerning GNSO Council Procedures:
"The GNSO Council is responsible for managing the policy development process of the GNSO. It shall adopt such procedures as it sees fit to carry out that responsibility, provided that such procedures are approved by the Board, and further provided that, until any modifications are recommended by the GNSO Council and approved by the Board, the applicable procedures shall be as set forth in Section 6 of this Article. ..."
Bylaws Article X, Section 6, provides that "Initially, the policy-development procedures to be followed by the GNSO shall be as stated in Annex A to these Bylaws. These procedures may be supplemented or revised in the manner stated in Section 3(4) of this Article."
Since no modified procedures have been recommended by Council or approved by the Board, the only relevant procedures are those stated in Bylaws Annex A ("GNSO Policy-Development Process") .
You provided a link to the "Rules of Procedure of the DNSO Names Council, Version 7" , but that document is no longer in effect. The DNSO document indicates that it was last amended on 18 April 2002. That entire document was obsoleted and superceded by the adoption of ICANN's "New Bylaws" on 15 December 2002. The new Bylaws provisions on the GNSO (which assumed the responsibilities of the former DNSO) continued a substantial portion of the old procedures from the DNSO procedures document, but the New Bylaws also clearly did not retain other features of the old procedures (including any reference to "proxies").
The GNSO Council's practice of allowing Council members to participate in a meeting (by casting a vote) even though they are not "present" does not appear to be consistent with Bylaws Article X, Section 3(8), which provides (in part) that "... the GNSO Council shall act at meetings. Members of the GNSO Council may participate in a meeting of the GNSO Council through use of (i) conference telephone or similar communications equipment, provided that all members participating in such a meeting can speak to and hear one another ..." In other words, under the current Bylaws a Council member who is unable to speak to or hear other Councillors may not "participate" (including voting) in a Council meeting held in person or by telephone.
That same section of the Bylaws (X-3.8) provides that "Members entitled to cast a majority of the total number of votes of GNSO Council members then in office shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and acts by a majority vote of the GNSO Council members present at any meeting at which there is a quorum shall be acts of the GNSO Council ..." This language concerning members "entitled to cast a majority of the total number of votes" appears to relate to the weighted voting provision and not to any otherwise unreferenced scheme for voting by proxy.
We recognize that this may be a "long standing process", but the Council should take prompt action to come into compliance with the Bylaws' requirements. The Council is free to recommend modifications to these procedures (including perhaps a modification to anticipate the participation of deaf or hard of hearing people on the Council). If you'd like Dan and I would be happy to work with you to craft whatever procedures would be inline with the Council's preferences, provided they are in accordance with ICANN's other Bylaws, mission and core values."
I guess this means that GNSO Councilors will have to start showing up to do their jobs...
(1) 9:00 - 10:00 am - Review ICANN mission and core values - identify core values that are relevant to introducing new gTLDs
[From ICANN bylaws: Any ICANN body making a recommendation or decision shall exercise its judgment to determine which core values are most relevant and how they apply to the specific circumstances of the case at hand, and to determine, if necessary, an appropriate and defensible balance among competing values.]
(2) 10:00 am - 12:00 noon - Review papers submitted (around 10) (see http://www.gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/new-gtld-pdp-input.htm) - Invite authors to make a short 10 mins presentation if they wish (must supply a A4 summary of presentation in advance), followed by 5 minutes of questions
(3) 12:00 noon - 1:30pm lunchbreak onsite
(4) 1:30pm - 3:30pm - PART 1 Should we have new gTLDs? THE AIM OF PART ONE IS TO TAKE AN OPEN MIND ABOUT NEW IDEAS AND PERSPECTIVES ON THIS ISSUE. THIS IS NOT THE PHASE TO CRITIQUE THE INPUT. - review impact of tlds added since 2000 - review constituency papers and compare with positions prior to 2000 - have the constituency position statements changed in any way based on the experience of the past 5 years? - review information from submitted papers plus public comments relevant to this question - review external influences - e.g alternative roots (both ASCII and IDN based), search engines, tld (cctld and gtld) registry competition, growth in Internet users that are non-English speaking and users that use different character sets - identify advantages and disadvantages
(5) 3:30pm to 4:00pm - Afternoon tea break
(6) 4pm to 6pm - PART 2 Should we have new gTLDs? - Yes or no? - Attempt to draft an initial policy position that has some level of consensus support from the GNSO constituencies - if consensus can't be reached - then see if there is a clear majority/minority position that can be developed. If so, identify clearly the reasons for each of these positions. - any output from this meeting will become part of an initial report for further feedback from constituencies and the public
(7) 6pm - identify a local place for dinner for those that want to attend (assuming that participants are still on speaking terms after the debate above!)
Saturday 25 Feb
(1) 9am to 9:30am - review outcomes from Friday (note if the clear consensus on Friday is to have no new TLDs - whether ASCII or IDN based - then we can go home at this point :-))
(4) 1pm to 3pm - PART 2 Selection Criteria for new tlds - analyse possible selection criteria - Attempt to identify which criteria have a degree of consensus support from the GNSO constituencies - For criteria that don't have clear consensus - attempt to identify which criteria have support from more than one interest group - any output from this meeting will become part of an initial report for further feedback from constituencies and the public
(5) 3pm onwards - volunteers who don't need to rush to catch flights - to assist in tidying the venue
Comments from Wolfgang Kleinwächter to the “Principles Paper towards a “European Regional At Large Organisation”, released by former and current European ALAC Members on January, 17th, 2006
1. I do not understand why some (former and current) European members of ALAC have started the initiative for an EU-RALO now. The call for an EU-RALO is on the table since three years. The arguments in 2003, 2004 and 2005 not to start with the EU-RALO have been that the number of ALS was seen as too small and not representative enough. “Give us more time for outreach” was the answer when I raised this issue in AL meetings in Capetown (December 2004) and Mar del Plata (March 2005). In September 2004 there were seven accredited ALS in Europe. Now, after another 17 months, we have eight members plus one pending application from a rather unknown Italian group “tldworld.info”. I can not see that this is a new quality, more representative than it was two years ago. In contrary, it is a big shame that within the last 17 months the European ALAC members have been unable to attract more European Internet user groups and organisations.
2. With regard to the accredited eight ALS, I have no problems that these groups are mainly ISOC chapters. The problem is that the big European ISOC chapters – like UK, France or Germany – are not accredited members. Also other big European consumer and user organisations, representing national organisations with much more members than some of the accredited ISOC Chapters, have ignored so far the ALAC invitation. As I said in an earlier mail, to establish an EU-RALO under this circumstances is like organising the Champions League without the Champions. The risk here is that governments will take this as a joke when EU-RALO will speak “on behalf of the Internet users in Europe”. You feed arguments by governmental representatives that the governments represent the interests of the European Internet users and not the user groups themselves. To be frank, I like FITUG, but Michael Leibrand, the German GAC member, will not be impressed by statements coming from this group. Why FITUG was unable to attract ISOC Germany, CCC and all the other Internet User groups with thousands of members, coming together to dozens of meetings every year? Why FITUG as the only German User groups so far, does not come to the Domain Pulse meetings, organized by the German speaking ccTLD Registries (where the majority of Internet end users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have their registration) and is advertising the At Large idea?
3. What I miss totally in the proposed draft is a chapter which defines the aims and principles of an European RALO. Para. 3 in Chapter II says only that the purpose of the EU-RALO is to provide a “channel for participation by the European individual Internet users into the activities of ICANN”. This is only a formal and procedural point. Why you did not define some content and value related criteria which would make Internet user involvement different from the involvement of other stakeholders? I think there is a need to describe more in details the special role and responsibility of Internet users and their organisations in the ICANN context from a European perspective.
4. While I fully support to have two categories of members – institutional and individual - I do not see a right balance between the two categories in the proposed draft. As it stands now, individuals are rather marginalized in the proposed “Executive Board” (EC). What will be the outcome if the EU-RALO would be established now? We have now 8 (or 9) ALS that means each would get one seat in the EC. With the low level of outreach so far I would be surprised to see more than 20 or 30 individual members within the next three months. With other words, the EC would have ten members, nine from the accredited ALS. This looks like a closed club which does not like “foreign members” but want to give the impression that they are “open”. Such a structure is exclusive, not inclusive. It keeps people out and decourages individuals to join.
5. My counter proposal is to establish a Council with ten seats, five filled by the institutional members, five filled by the individual members, based an the principle of geographical diversity, that would mean two members (one individual and one institutional) form Western Europe, two from Northern Europe, two from Eastern Europe, two from Southern Europe and two from Central Europe.
6. I strongly disagree that the officers of the EU-RALO (including the ALAC members) are selected by the Executive Council. This opens the door for a “friend of my friends network” and allows all tricky games behind closed doors. Civil society and At Large stands for bottom up, open and transparent processes. But this is closed, intransparent and top down. This is totally unacceptable. And it is the result of the failure of Chapter II of the proposed draft, where the mission is defined in “technical terms” only and excludes all values and content related orientation.
7. I support in Chapter VI - Funding Mechanism - that the EU-RALO should be in the first 24 months supported by the ICANN budget. But as it stands now, it looks like the former and current ALAC members are asking for money for a half day job for one person in Brussels (selected by the EC) and to guarantee financing of Travel and Accommodation for EC selected people for two years. There is no paragraph which says, that money should be used for local seminars and workshops for further outreach or human capacity building. If money comes from ICANN it should not be spent in five star hotels but to help people on the ground to understand better the challenges of Internet governance from a user perspective.
8. The dateline for Comments – February 15, 2006 – is totally unacceptable. Giving the low level of outreach and publicity, the call for comments has got so far, this can not be taken seriously. The authors of the draft should use the forthcoming IGF consultations in Geneva, February 16 – 17, 2006, to inform about the efforts to build a EU-RALO and to get feedback from the different constituencies, which will come to Geneva. It looks like a coup to create facts before the IGF consultations.
9. So my final recommendation is that the paper should be immediately withdrawn and the former and current members of the ALAC should present a clear and workable plan for outreach and capacity building, based on defined aims, values and principles which serve the interest of the Internet end-users in Europe.
Readers might be interested in knowing the topics discussed during the last week by ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee, the group that's supposed to represent the public in the ICANN process...
What hot burning issues have been under thorough discussion and review? Are they discussing the revised .com agreement which threatens an unwarranted price hike? Are they reviewing new TLD policy matters? Are they attacking issues such as transparency and accountability? Are they discussing the new GNSO PDP? Are they discussing the circumvention of restrictions on certain sTLDs?
Nope. Actually, they aren't doing anything. Nothing. Zip. Not one single post on any topic whatsoever. Not one comment from any of their multiple certified at-large structures. Par for the course for this useless group.
A letter has been sent to ICANN's Vint Cerf by a coalition of registrars opposed to the proposed ICANN-VeriSign settlement agreement. The open letter signed by GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Tucows, Melbourne IT, Register.com, Schlund+Partner AG, Intercosmos Media Group and BulkRegister points to two damaging provisions in the agreement under consideration:
1. Pricing: The proposed revisions provide VeriSign with the unprecedented capability to increase prices by seven percent annually in four of the next six years without cost justification
2. Perpetual Management Rights: The proposed revisions would modify the renewal clauses so that the contract is essentially non-cancellable and ICANN's right to rebid is taken away.
The minutes of the 7 December Internet Architecture Board teleconference have just been posted:
"The IAB discussed two candidates for the IETF position on the ICANN nominating committee. Among other factors, the IAB considered the degree and nature of the candidates' experience with ICANN and the likelihood that the candidates would advocate change in the ICANN board. Consensus emerged for John Klensin; Leslie took the action of informing John."
Bruce Tonkin, chair of the ICANN GNSO Council, quoting from the latest VeriSign Monthly Report states:
"During October 2005, there was a total of 43,228,923 .com names under management (up from 42,541,300 in the previous month), however in that single month 20,580,207 .com names were deleted."
These deletions are part of a pattern emerging in the registrar-monetizer sector wherein certain registrars acting in conjunction with the domain name monetizing industry are measuring potential domain name traffic by testing out domain names (at no cost) during the registry's five-day add/grace period; if the prospective domains don't attract a sufficient amount of pay-per-click traffic they are then deleted before the registration becomes final.
What does this development mean for the rest of us that don't have the same wherewithall to game the system? For starters, it means that millions of domain names are unavailable for us to register while the registrars and monetizers engage in these shenanigans.
Beyond that, it is clear that because the monetizers are using semantic association software to generate a series of PPC links on parked pages, those websites that engage in typosquatting will return the highest traffic count -- for example, a domain name such as americanexpresso.com will be semantically analyzed and will return links for american express which, of course, generates a great deal of traffic. Trademark infringement is the resultant byproduct of this process.
This issue has been under discussion at ICANN for more than a year already (at Argentina and Luxembourg). What does it take to get ICANN to recognize that a problem exists and that solutions are required?
Karl Auerbach has proposed one solution -- the elimination of the add/grace period. Another solution might be found in assessing a per domain fee for all names dropped during the add/grace period.