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Thursday, February 23, 2006

 

Registry Operators: On Objections to Settlement
 

From the Registry Constituency website:

Registry Operators’ Submission
Re: Objections to the Proposed Verisign Settlement

The undersigned registry operators submit this statement in response to certain objections being voiced with respect to the proposed registry agreement between ICANN and Verisign for operation of the .com registry. We are concerned that many of the objections being voiced in this debate reflect either (i) a serious misreading of the actual terms of the proposed agreement or (ii) a very worrisome perspective about the extent to which individual members of the ICANN community can and/or should be empowered to dictate the terms and conditions contained in ICANN’s commercial agreements with DNS service providers. While this statement is submitted by the undersigned members of the registry constituency, our concerns involve fundamental checks and balances built into the ICANN process that are designed to protect both registries and registrars alike.

A Brief History of ICANN’s Policy Authority

ICANN was conceived from the beginning as an organization with a limited charter. This understanding is reflected in ICANN’s by-laws, which contemplate policy development only on issues within ICANN’s mission statement. As specifically set forth in the ICANN by-laws, for examples, only mission-related issues are properly the subject of a PDP.


As articulated in its mission statement, ICANN is responsible for coordinating specified technical functions including:

The allocation and assignment of domain names, IP addresses and numbers, and protocol port and parameter numbers; and
The operation and evolution of the DNS root name server system.
ICANN is also responsible for policy development “reasonably and appropriately related to these technical functions.”

The limited nature of ICANN’s mission is also reflected in the original contracts between ICANN and NSI, and in every registry agreement (RA) and registrar accreditation agreement (RAA) executed since that time. In its original agreements with ICANN, for example, NSI agreed to comply with “consensus” policies adopted by ICANN provided (i) that such policies did not unreasonably restrain competition and (ii) that the policies related to:

Issues for which uniform or coordinated resolution is reasonably necessary to facilitate interoperability, technical reliability and/or stable operation of the Internet or domain-name system;

Registry policies reasonably necessary to implement consensus policies relating to registries and/or registrars; or

Resolution of disputes regarding the registration of domain names (as opposed to the use of such domain names).
The parties also acknowledge that ICANN should have policy-making authority in certain other areas (e.g., to develop the UDRP) involving issues that, while specifically considered in the White Paper, may not have been strictly technical in nature. To avoid subsequent disagreements about these issues, the original registry agreements and registrar accreditation agreements contained a list of specific areas in which ICANN was deemed to have legacy policy authority, as follows:

Allocation principles (e.g., first-come/first-served, timely renewal, holding period after expiration; surviving registrars);

Prohibitions on warehousing or speculation;

Reservation of SLD names that may not be registered initially or that may not be renewed due to reasons reasonably related to (a) avoidance of confusion among or misleading of users, (b) intellectual property, or (c) the technical management of the DNS or the Internet (e.g., "example.com" and single-letter/digit names); and

Dispute resolution policies related to registration of domain names.

Taken together, the general policy making authority granted to ICANN to preserve the stability and security of the DNS and the legacy policy authority listed above created a “picket fence” around ICANN’s authority. ICANN could establish policy and/or best practices affecting issues outside the picket fence, but could not mandate registry and registrar compliance with such policies. ICANN’s ability to impose policy prospectively on registries and registrars was further constrained by procedural safeguards (ICANN’s first PDP) designed to demonstrate the presence of a “true consensus” - i.e., the absence of substantial objections.

When the first new TLDs came online in 2001, the “picket fence” was retained, with only minor refinements. This was no accident: even though operators of the new registries had virtually no bargaining power, the agreements reflected the community’s settled understanding about ICANN’s authority. ICANN was empowered to impose policies - even prospectively - on DNS service providers in a limited number of areas related to interoperability, technical reliability, operational stability, the safety and integrity of the Registry Database.

By 2002, it was widely (but not universally) conceded that the standard for measuring consensus laid out in the Registry Agreements and the Registrar Accreditation Agreements was unworkable. The standard by which consensus was measured - the absence of substantial opposition - was a barrier to policy development. Accordingly, as part of ICANN’s “evolution and reform (ERC)” process, ICANN amended its by-laws to include the GNSO PDP process. Under that process, ICANN could develop and adopt consensus policies, even in the face of substantial opposition, so long as the policy area was within ICANN’s mission statement and ICANN followed specified procedures in developing such policies.

The ERC process not only embraced the concept of the “picket fence” - it incorporated those substantive constraints into ICANN’s bylaws in the form of a mission statement. Post-ERC registry and registrar agreements continued (as they do to this day) to limit the scope of permissible topics for mandatory specifications and policies. In effect, registrars and registry operators confirmed their agreement to abide by subsequently developed ICANN policies so long as those policies were (i) necessary to facilitate interoperability, technical reliability, operational stability on the DNS or the Internet, and the safety and integrity of the Registry Database, or (ii) covered by ICANN’s legacy authority.

Some might argue that the constraints on ICANN’s policy authority are artificial, and should be abandoned. That would be a mistake. The protections of the picket fence and the procedural safeguards are today - just as they were when first agreed - the ultimate source of ICANN’s legitimacy. Private commercial actors - registries and registrars - voluntarily ceded to ICANN, via contractual undertakings, the authority it needed to fulfill ICANN’s legitimate mission. ICANN’s authority is legitimate because the delegation of authority was necessary, but no more than needed, to create policy in areas requiring coordination. ICANN is recognized as a legitimate private standards setting body because its authority answers but does not exceed that needed to perform its legitimate coordinating functions. Absent these constraints, ICANN’s authority would be vulnerable to challenges under the competition laws of most countries participating in ICANN through the GAC.

The Registry Agreement


Notwithstanding the arguments of some of those opposed to the Verisign settlement, the new agreements - including the Verisign agreement - are, with regards to fundamental policy considerations, entirely consistent with the prior agreements.

First, the new agreements obligate registry operators to agree in advance to comply with consensus policies as they are developed in the future.

Second, the new agreements include a picket fence not dissimilar to those found in every registry agreement since 1999. Registry operators must promise to comply with existing and prospective “consensus policies" relating to a very familiar set of issues, including:
Issues for which uniform or coordinated resolution is reasonably necessary to facilitate interoperability, security and/or stability of the Internet or DNS; Functional and performance specifications for the provision of registry services;
Security and stability of the registry database for the TLD;
Registry policies reasonably necessary to implement consensus policies relating to registry operations or registrars; or
Resolution of disputes regarding the registration of domain names (as opposed to the use of such domain names).
As before, the agreements specifically grandfather policies relating to name allocation, warehousing, speculation, IP protection, Whois data, and registration disputes.

As a result, the undersigned registry operators believe that in general, while registries are not equal and there are fundamental differences between sponsored and non-sponsored TLDs, the future agreements and contract renewals should be made consistent with the .com agreement as applicable, and that Registries should be treated on an equitable basis.

Those objecting to the proposed agreement for .com ignore the fundamental continuity and focus instead on presumptions of renewal and the pricing authority. But unless those who object can make a reasonable case that the disputed terms and conditions threaten ICANN’s ability to preserve interoperability, stability, and security, they are not properly the subject of ICANN consensus policy-making.

As a threshold matter, consensus policies must fit within the constraints ICANN has acknowledged from the start - i.e., in order to be binding on registries and registrars, the resulting policies must be reasonably necessary to facilitate interoperability, security and stability of the Internet or the DNS, or relate to the resolution of disputes regarding the registration (as opposed to the use) of domain names.

The GNSO has recently undertaken to draft terms of reference for a PDP to establish the terms and conditions under which existing registry agreements will be renewed. Because this draft TOR is presumably motivated by dissatisfaction about the new registry agreements in general, and the proposed agreement for .com in particular, it provides important context for the objections to the proposed registry agreement for the .com TLD. Accordingly, the scope of the proposed PDP is relevant to the Board’s consideration of the Verisign settlement, and weaddress below certain provisions of the draft TOR that appear to be parallel objections to the .com agreement.

Registry Agreement Renewal. The draft TOR asks “What benefits does the ICANN community derive from presumptive rights of renewal?” This is simply the wrong question. Unless a reasonable case can be made that such presumptions pose a threat to interoperability, security, and/or stability, the question of renewal presumptions can not be a subject for consensus policy making and must, we submit, be resolved through commercial negotiations. Again, that is not to say that the GNSO council is not entitled to develop a view. For example, the draft PDP TOR might appropriately ask:

Do presumptions of renewal pose a threat to interoperability, security, and stability of the Internet and DNS, or undermine existing consensus policies on name allocation, warehousing, Whois data, and registration disputes?

While the undersigned registry operators believe that the answer is a rather emphatic “no,” we have no objection to a serious debate on the question.

Registry Agreements and Consensus Policies. The draft TOR asks whether registry contract provisions should ever be immune from the obligation to abide by consensus policies. This could be an interesting question, and properly constructed, within the scope of a PDP. But it is simply not on the table in connection with the new registry agreements: nothing in any of the new sTLD agreements, in the .net agreement or in the proposed .com agreement with Verisign permits a registry operator to ignore a policy that is (1) adopted in accordance with the PDP procedures, and (2) necessary to preserve the interoperability, security, and stability of the Internet.

Whatever one thinks about proposed agreement between ICANN and Verisign for the .com registry, it does not except Verisign from the obligation that all registry operators have to comply with applicable consensus policies. To the extent that the proposed contract has language that does not appear in other new agreements, that language is nothing more than a belt-and-suspenders exercise that, given the circumstances under which this contract was negotiated, should surprise no one. The fact that ICANN cannot expand the scope of its consensus policy authority beyond interoperability, stability, and security and the legacy policy authority areas is consistent with ICANN’s mission statement and reflected in every registry agreement ever negotiated. Simply put, ICANN does not have the authority to adopt a new mission and then unilaterally obligate registries or registrars to comply with related policies.

The Importance of Negotiating Flexibility

The GNSO is, of course, free to recommend whatever course of action its members agree on. Likewise, individual members of the ICANN community are free to express their views on the proposed settlement. But the community should understand that an issue outside the picket fence cannot be moved inside simply by considering it under the procedural rules set out in the GNSO PDP. Policies and policy recommendations related to issues outside the picket fence simply are not “consensus policies” and are not, as a result, binding on either registries or registrars except as a result of commercial negotiations.
In our view, the vast majority of objections to the .com agreement pertain to issues that are not within the picket fence and that have to date been addressed in commercial negotiations. Those who object to the agreement are, in effect, second-guessing the ICANN Board, and demanding a seat at the negotiating table to negotiate issues outside of ICANN’s mission. The ICANN Board should proceed with extreme caution, and address its critiques head on, without setting a precedent that will complicate ICANN’s ability to take care of business for years to come.

The job of the ICANN Board is to serve the community by exercising its informed judgment based on the best available information. Some of that important information may be proprietary, and not on the public record. Some of that information may relate to the fiduciary obligations of the ICANN Board and properly not on the public record. By acceding to the demands of a few with respect to commercial issues outside of ICANN’s core mission the Board deprives the community of its informed judgment, limits its future negotiating flexibility and, at the same time, makes it increasingly difficult to resist those who would use ICANN’s agreements with DNS service providers to create an anti-competitive regulatory regime. In negotiating agreements with registry operators, ICANN must retain the authority to respond to the commercial realities in which any particular registry operates. This requires that ICANN have the ability to modify its position with respect to fees, renewal terms, the introduction of new registry services, and other issues that may well vary from registry to registry. The Board must retain the authority to actually make a deal that the registry operators on the other side of the table can rely on. Tying the hands of the ICANN board in these areas makes little sense.

While ICANN’s mission includes the promotion of competition, this role is best fulfilled through the measured expansion of the name space and the facilitation of innovative approaches to the delivery of domain name registry services. Neither ICANN nor the GNSO have the authority or expertise to act as anti-trust regulators. Fortunately, many governments around the world do have this expertise and authority, and do not hesitate to exercise it in appropriate circumstances.

Signed by:

Afilias (.info)
Employ Media (.jobs)
Global Name Registry (.name)
NeuLevel (.biz)
PIR (.org)
VeriSign (.com and .net)

February 20, 2006

 

Forrester Research Disparages .travel sTLD
 

From the Forrester Research website:

"The .travel sponsored domain name is now live. Like a mosquito buzzing around your picnic, .travel is an annoying inconvenience. Only three groups are expected to benefit: the sponsor, Tralliance; destination marketing organizations; and small niche travel firms."

CircleID has a good follow-up interview with .travel's Ron Andruff here.

 

DOC Technical and Economic Assessment of IPv6
 

From the NTIA website: The U. S. Department of Commerce has released the final report on the technical and economic issues related to IPv6 adoption in the United States, including the appropriate role of government, international interoperability, security in transition, and costs and benefits of IPv6 deployment. The report was developed by the IPv6 Task Force, led by NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The report is here and includes this comment pertaining to ICANN: "To capture fully the address benefits of IPv6, those entities involved in the process should continue working to ensure that IPv6 addresses are allocated fairly and efficiently. The North American IPv6 Task Force (NAv6TF) indicates that some organizations have had trouble getting IPv6 addresses recently and suggests that allocation procedures may need to be changed so that IPv6 addresses can be obtained more easily."

 

Draft Agenda for 29th CENTR General Assembly
 

The full draft agenda for CENTR's upcoming meeting (2nd – 3rd March 2006, Sheraton Hotel, Heathrow Airport, London) is here, but day number two should be especially promising with the following speakers/events scheduled:

Registry update

  • Experiences of DNSSEC deployment under .se, Anne-Marie Eklund-Löwinder, .se
  • SIDN’s Public Consultation, Bart Vastenburg, .nl
  • Development of .xxx TLD, Stuart Lawley, ICM Registry

Internet Governance

  • IGF update, Markus Kummer, WGIG secretariat
  • Participation in the IGF process, David Hendon & Martin Boyle of UK Gov.
  • European Commission perspective, William Dee

ICANN-related Issues

  • Changes in IANA Service, Kim Davies, IANA

 

DOC/NTIA "Request for Information" on the IANA Functions
 

D -- Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

General Information

Document Type: Sources Sought Notice
Solicitation Number: Reference-Number-DOCNTIARFI0001
Posted Date: Feb 21, 2006
Original Response Date: Mar 07, 2006
Current Response Date: Mar 07, 2006
Original Archive Date: Mar 22, 2006
Current Archive Date: Mar 22, 2006
Classification Code: D -- Information technology services, including telecommunications services
Naics Code: 541519 -- Other Computer Related Services

Contracting Office Address
Department of Commerce, Office of the Secretary, Commerce Acquisition Solutions, Commerce Information Technology Solutions, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Room 6514, Washington, DC, 20230


Description
THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) ONLY ? Solicitations are not available at this time. Requests for a solicitation will not receive a response. This notice does not constitute a commitment by the United States Government.

The Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (DOC/NTIA) is exploring options for Contractor performance of three, interdependent technical Internet coordinating functions. In support of the operation of the Internet domain name and addressing system, a Contractor would furnish the necessary personnel, material, equipment, services, and facilities to perform the following services.


First, the Contractor would coordinate the assignment of technical protocol parameters.
This function would involve the review and assignment of unique values to numerous parameters (e.g., operation codes, port numbers, object identifiers, protocol numbers) used in various Internet protocols. This function would also include dissemination of listings of assigned parameters through various means (including on-line publication) and the review of technical documents for consistency with assigned values.

Second, the Contractor would perform administrative functions associated with root management. This function would primarily involve facilitation and coordination of the root zone of the Internet domain name and addressing system. It would include receiving requests for and making routine updates of the country code top level domain contact and nameserver information.

Third, the Contractor would allocate IPv4 and IPv6 delegations of IP address space. This function would include delegation of IP address blocks to regional registries for routine allocation, typically through downstream providers, to Internet end-users within the regions served by those registries. It would also include reservation and direct allocation of space for special purposes, such as multicast addressing, addresses for private networks, and globally specified applications.

The DOC/NTIA is seeking the following information:

1. Potential Respondents shall describe how they would propose to successfully perform each of the three services, assuming that all services provided by Respondent would be accomplished in accordance with all applicable U.S. laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.

2. Potential Respondents shall describe both their existing relationships with the following entities and the extent to which such relationships would enable Respondents to successfully perform each of the three services:

a. the Internet engineering community,

b. Internet standards development organizations,

c. Regional Internet Registries,

d. country code top level domain operators,

e. generic and sponsored top level domain operators, and

f. national governments or public authorities associated with specific country code top level domains.

3. Currently, the services are performed under contract at no cost to the United States Government. Potential Respondents shall describe proposed financial plans, including, if appropriate, the manner in which charges levied for services rendered would be derived. Charges cannot be based on cost plus a percentage of cost.

Respondents shall not be obligated to provide the services described herein and it is understood by the United States Government that the cost estimates provided as a result of this request are ?best? estimates only.

All information submitted in response to this announcement is voluntary; the United States Government will not pay for information requested nor will it compensate any respondent for any cost incurred in developing information provided to the United States Government. The response date for this market research is March 7, 2006. No collect calls will be accepted. All responses to this RFI may be submitted via e-mail to Carol Silverman, Contracting Officer, at csilverman@doc.gov, courtesy copy to Brendon Johnson, Contracting Officer, at bjohnson@doc.gov and with a hard copy to the U. S. Department of Commerce, Office of Acquisition Management and Financial Assistance, Commerce Acquisition Solutions Division, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 6521, Washington, D.C. 20230.


Point of Contact
Carol Silverman, Contracting Officer, Phone 202-482-5543 (Room 6521), Fax 202-482-4988, Email csilverman@doc.gov - Brendon Johnson, Contracting Officer, Phone 202-482-7401, Fax 202-482-1711, Email bjohnson@doc.gov

 

Commentary: ALAC -- The Broken Conduit
 

The At-Large Advisory Committee is unlike any other ICANN advisory body; it is not merely a collection of appointed advisors (like the members of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee or the members of the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee), but rather it is a group charged with channeling the input from grassroots organizations up to the ICANN Board. Thus far the ALAC has a total of 49 accredited and candidate organizations in its tent.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the ALAC as a conduit that transmits bottom-up input to the Board, one only has to look at the sum total of the contributions provided by these at-large "structures" on any topic... and to be fair to the ALAC, one should be looking at the responsiveness to volatile major issues that command everyone's attention rather than looking at some relatively arcane DNS topic-matter.

So, you might wonder exactly how many of these organizations (the at-large structures) have provided input into the ICANN-VeriSign settlement agreement discussions that have been ongoing in ernest over the course of the last four months. The answer is "none". Not one. Zero.

Clearly, we have a problem.

The ICANN Board needs to have a long, hard look at the ALAC's operations and structure since the current paradigm has failed to produce results.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

 

Has ICANN's ISP Constituency Died?
 

While it may have been an anomaly that no one from the ISP Constituency bothered to put forward any comments in response to the GNSO PDP on new gTLD policy (the constituency's position had to be drafted by their Secretariat as no one from this ICANN constituency responded to requests for input), we now notice that in response to a 2 February call for comments on the hot-button issue of the year -- the proposed ICANN-VeriSign settlement agreement -- not one single comment has been received... and, as you know, the public comment period has just ended.

So, is it time to fold up this non-responsive constituency? It sure looks like it -- even roadkill moves around a bit in the breeze...

 

CFIT & FOIA
 

From the website of the Coalition for ICANN Transparency:

"CFIT today filed an appeal to its original FOIA request, filed on Dec. 1, 2005, challenging the Commerce Department’s disclosure exemptions within more than 100 pages of meeting reports, memos and electronic communications between the Department, ICANN and VeriSign on matters relating to both the .NET and .COM registry agreements. CFIT also filed a second FOIA Request with expanded search terms for more inclusive data dating back to Jan. 1, 2004. "


FYI: CFIT's latest litigation hearing date was set for Feb. 21, 2006... still awaiting results...

 

A Sudden At-Large Interest in ICANN?
 

A sudden surge in European At-Large Structure applications all within the span of one week has left people wondering if there is an effort afoot to ensure that ISOC doesn't capture ICANN's planned EURALO (European Regional At-Large Organization). The newcomers:

As all these groups appear to be German, one can readily surmise that the hand of Annette Mulhberg is at work...

her earlier impassioned call to action has been supported by:
Peter Bittner, Computer Science Forum for Peace and Social Responsibility;Forum InformatikerInnen Frieden und gesellschaftlicheVerantwortung, (FIfF)
Markus Beckedahl, Co-chair of network new media (nnm)
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, ICANN-Studienkreis, University of Aarhus
Andy Mueller-Maguhn, Chaos Computer Club
Dr. Volker Grassmuck, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin


 

WECANN! now in English
 

Annette Mühlberg's WECANN! blog is "not any longer in German but in English - for Europe At-Large and all of you" according to a recent post to ICANN's ALAC discussion list. Her first article in Shakespeare's tongue, "US-Government's Role in ICANN-VeriSign Struggle", discusses the Mike Roberts submission to CircleID and notes that "the question of the internet infrastructure as a public good and what legal framework is needed to give that concept a stable basis would be a very interesting issue for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens this year."

 

Mueller responds to Roberts and Sims
 

Responding to comments from Mike Roberts and Joe Sims posted at CircleID, Milton Mueller states:

I can’t help feeling amused by this debate. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that all sides can agree that the bogeyman of “international control” is far, far worse than what is happening now. More about that later.

Equally amusing, I find myself agreeing with Mike Roberts and Joe Sims on significant points (though not the entire package).

Mike Roberts is on target when he says, “ICANN, VeriSign and the government currently are bound to each other in an incestuous legal triangle in front of which an appearance of public-private partnership is maintained.”

Joe Sims is on target when he says that “providing what amounted to a de facto perpetual right to operate .com was giving up little or nothing, since it was unlikely as a practical matter that operation of this most important of the DNS registries was likely to be moved to different hands, and in return we obtained the ability to redelegate .org and to rebid .net.” More generally, domain name registries that succeed in building up value in their TLDs deserve to benefit from the future value of their investment in physical infrastructure and brand equity. Any other policy would erode the long-term economic sustainability of DNS.

But I’ve got to quibble with Sims about that “ability to redelegate...net”
Because we didn’t really redelegate .net, did we? And the reason is that VeriSign was able to work its lobbying magic in the U.S. Congress and play the “national security” card (which we all know is bogus, at least as far as OUR security is concerned). So public interest was sacrificed to nationalistic politics and Washington-based capture.

Will someone explain to me then what is so terrible about bringing some international political and legal forces into play here? Since it’s true that the USG, VeriSign and ICANN are locked in an unlovely embrace of interdependence and there is no domestic political impetus to get us out of that, why is the UN-based process viewed with such trepidation?

Is it because the US is a paragon of freedom and the rest of the world full of mindless authoritarians just waiting to put the brakes on the internet’s freedom? Give me a break! We have a US President who literally claims that he can make up laws justifying his actions and ignore ones he doesn’t like. We have an NSA that claims it can ask for anyone’s email regardless of whether it’s domestic or foreign and ISPs that are willing to turn it over.

And as someone who has been deeply engaged in ICANN’s policy making processes, complaining about the “slowness” of international processes is gargantuan hypocrisy - we are now in year 8 of ICANN’s existence and it doesn’t have a stable policy toward new TLD additions, it hasn’t reformed the Whois-privacy relationship after 6 years, it is just getting a ccNSO into place after 8 years, etc. etc. The days are long past when we can talk about private sector self-regulation as if it were “nimble” unless one is into making really bad jokes.


 

Address Council Structural/Operational Review
 

From the minutes of the ASO AC teleconference held on Wednesday, February 1, 2006:

Olof Nordling stated that recently ICANN had launched a review of the GNSO. This the second review in accordance with the ICANN Bylaws Article 4 regarding accountability and calls for review of not only the GNSO but the supporting organizations and ASO AC, if feasible, every three years. He explained it was an on-going program and would continue with the SO’s and AC. Olof Nordling called for suggestions on when the review should be, and what should be reviewed. He explained he was providing this provision of the Bylaws as an informational item to the Council and requested the Council think about where they want it to be, and what issues will be important. He further explained that the review will be requested in a more formal fashion in the future.

 

Karl Auerbach on the Revised Settlement Agreement
 

As far as I can tell the revised agreement has repaired not even one of the numerous fatal flaws that were found in the draft discussed in Vancouver.

Has data mining been removed? No. ICANN grants Verisign an entirely unwarranted contractual right to mine DNS usage data for the profit of Verisign with no benefit to those who have paid for domain names or to those who use DNS. Data mining not only adds nothing to internet stability but actually undermines it by distracting Verisign from the primary goal to be obtained, the operation of a reliable, unbiased, efficient TLD registry with associated TLD servers.

Nor does ICANN obligate Verisign to offer prompt, unbiased, and accurate domain name responses to domain name queries.

Has the "Add Grace" period been eliminated? No. ICANN still enables one of the worst of domain name business practices, one that relies on deception and adds utterly nothing to internet stability.

Has presumptive renewal been removed? No.

Is Verisign being driving to establish registry prices that reflect actual costs? No, ICANN simply presumes that price increases are warranted without even a dribble of analysis and in the face of clear and obvious evidence that the underlying costs are actually dropping rather than increasing.

All-in-all, this agreement is unacceptable. The agreement damages the stability of the internet by defocusing the registry operator and suggesting that the registry operator subordinate reliable and accurate operation to whatever profit opportunities may be possible through data mining. The agreement has arbitrary and unsubstantited pricing terms that are not tied to any costs but which must be borne by all users of .com, as a recurring cost year-in-and-year out. And finally, ICANN continues through this agreement the completely outrageous practices enabled by the strange creature known as "add grace".

ICANN's staff should reject this agreement.

If not ICANN's board should do two things:

1) Fire ICANN's staff (and the law firm they use) because they are clearly deaf to the demands of both the internet community and the idea that the overriding purpose of ICANN and this agreement is the reliable, accurate, efficient, and unbiased provision of domain name registration services and domain name query resolution services to internet users.

2) Reject this agreement.

--karl--

 

Business Constituency on ICANN-VeriSign Settlement
 

Dear Vint

It has come to our attention that there is discussion on the Board to consider voting soon on the proposed 2006 version of the litigation negotiation agreement with VeriSign, which includes a revised proposed .com Registry Agreement. The Business Constituency officers would like to remind you and other members of the Board of the GNSO resolution sent to the Board during the Vancouver ICANN meeting: "That the ICANN Board should postpone
adoption of the proposed settlement while the Council fully investigates the policy issues raised by the proposed changes."

The Board should be aware that the GNSO Council is advancing that investigation promptly:

* On January 17, 2006 the Council requested an Issues Report related to the policy concerns raised by all constituencies

* On January 29, 2006 a revised set of documents were posted by ICANN, including a revised proposed .com Registry Agreement

* On February 6, 2006 the GNSO Council voted, by a two thirds majority, to launch a PDP to address the broader policy issues inherent to all registry agreements

* On February 16, 2006 the Council began detailed discussion of the Terms of Reference; a second call on Friday, February 24, 2006 is expected to complete that discussion

The Business Constituency's officers have examined the present draft .com agreement in detail. Two of the officers and several BC members were able to participate in a call with the ICANN senior staff last week to gain further insights. We thank the ICANN staff for this opportunity. That discussion revealed that there was no material change in the core areas that concerned the BC membership which all impact on competition:

* Exclusion from ICANN consensus policy for new registry services;

* a presumption right of renewal;

* the ability of an upstream monopoly to leverage its monopoly downstream to such areas as uses of traffic data.

The ICANN Board has a mechanism to address these concerns. It is the GNSO Policy Development Process to provide policy related to gTLD registries, and such a process is underway. Lacking the guidance that the PDP will provide to the Board, the officers of the BC do not believe that the Board should approve the proposed agreement.

As noted in our response to the first call for comment on the proposed .com award and settlement agreement, the BC is supportive of the settlement of the litigation. We identified several areas that needed changing in the
proposed .com award at that time. As stated above, these areas of concern remain in the revised 2006 .com proposed agreement. It remains clear that tying the litigation settlement to an early renewal of the .com registry
agreement is problematic, given the proposed approach in the proposed .com agreement to some significant policy areas that are likely to affect all existing registry agreements. As noted above, that has led to the initiation
of a policy development process (PDP) by the gNSO Council.

The BC officers are firmly of the view that the litigation should be settled in its own right, or seen to its natural conclusion through the courts without any settlement being linked to the early renewal of the .com registry agreement. Once the two are not linked, the Board and the ICANN community can take the appropriate time to consider the important policy implications of the suggested changes to the registry agreements.

Sincerely

The Officers of the Commercial and Business Constituency (BC)

Marilyn Cade

Philip Sheppard
Grant Forsyth

 

IPC on VeriSign Settlement Agreement
 

The Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the proposed revised settlement agreement between ICANN and Verisign, and in particular on the proposed revised .com registry agreement that forms part of this settlement.

The IPC reiterates the comments made in its December 7, 2005 statement and incorporates them herein by reference (See http://www.icann.org/topics/vrsn-settlement/IPC-statement-re-VRSN-settlement-07dec05.pdf).
With respect to the process for approval of new registry services, the IPC is pleased to see that the revised .com registry agreement reduces from 3 to 2 years the timeframe in which Verisign would categorically not be subject to the procedure for approval of new registry services (NRS) developed by the GNSO Council in accordance with the Policy Development Process (PDP) in Appendix A of ICANN's By-Laws. However, the IPC believes that Verisign's proposed immunity from the approved NRS procedure for any length of time has not been justified.

We believe Verisign should be subject to this procedure from the Effective Date of the Agreement, as are all other TLD registries, unless a specific justification for a deviation can be articulated and justified. We also strongly believe that this same NRS procedure should apply to new registry services that involve the use of traffic data. The apparent
total exemption of such new services from any review procedure remains unjustified, in our view.

It is worth recalling that the PDP was created as a result of ICANN's Blueprint for Reform (http://www.icann.org/committees/evol-reform/blueprint-20jun02.htm)
which recognized that any process for names policy development must (i) encourage broad, informed participation reflecting the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet; (ii) be open and transparent; (iii) promote well-informed decisions based on participation by affected and interested parties and, where appropriate, expert advice; (iv) ensure that those entities most affected have an appropriate role in the policy development process; and (v) encourage bottom-up policy development.

In fact, one of the PDP's first uses was in connection with the very issue as to which Verisign would, under the terms of the proposed revised agreement, be able to bypass it, namely new registry services. Specifically, in late 2003, ICANN's Staff Manager recognized the need for a predictable procedure for the introduction of new registry services and recommended that the GNSO initiate a PDP on this issue
(http://www.icann.org/gnso/issue-reports/registry-svcs-report-19nov03.htm). As support for this recommendation, the Staff Manager recognized the diverse characteristics of new or modified services that had led to different results for different requests, without a clear articulation of the reasons for each decision.

While we understand that the SiteFinder service itself is carved out of the proposed revised agreement, the fact remains that, were the proposed revised .com registry agreement to go into effect as is, Verisign would be empowered to unilaterally and without any review procedure roll out a new registry service involving traffic data that was just as controversial as SiteFinder. Indeed, for any other new registry service, no matter how controversial, Verisign would be allowed to bypass the NRS review procedure established via the PDP process. The potential for further disputes involving ICANN, Verisign, and ICANN constituencies could be significant. Surely this cannot be in ICANN's interests.

As a result, the IPC strongly recommends that the proposed .com registry agreement be amended to require Verisign to be subject to the NRS procedure developed in the PDP for new registry services, including for new registry services based on the use of traffic data, unless a specific exception can be articulated and justified.

Finally, we do not consider the statement that "Verisign has provided confidential reports to ICANN" as responsive to our expressed concern about how if at all Verisign has lived up to its obligations under Appendix W of the existing agreement. This does not bode well for the prospect that ICANN will improve on its current level of performance
with regard to contract compliance and enforcement.

Submitted by Caroline G. Chicoine,
Vice President of the IPC,
on behalf of the IPC.


 

The Stratton Sclavos Letter
 

Dr. Vinton G. Cerf
Chairman of the Board
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Ray, California 90292-6601

Re: Board Approval of Proposed .com Registry Agreement

Dear Dr. Cerf:

The approval of the proposed .com Registry Agreement currently is before the Board of ICANN. Through approval of the agreement, ICANN has an opportunity to resolve years of business disputes and litigation that have been expensive and disruptive not only to VeriSign and ICANN, but to the broader Internet community as well, and to put in place between the parties a principled agreement that both broadens ICANN’s supervision of the DNS and insures the necessary investment in the DNS infrastructure. Representatives of ICANN and VeriSign have invested extensive resources and considered effort in analyzing and negotiating the proposed .com agreement, as well as soliciting input from appropriate government agencies.

One Billion Internet users, over 15 Billion daily DNS queries, and over $1.7 Trillion of e-commerce depend on the continued secure and reliable operation of the .com registry. The .com registry is unique in scope and in the requirements it places on the registry operator to build and maintain a secure and reliable infrastructure. Nonetheless, VeriSign’s operation of the registry at all times has met the highest standards. Indeed, there is no precedent or evidence that any other organization or company could meet VeriSign’s extraordinary record of performance, including its achievement of 100% DNS availability. VeriSign’s stewardship of the .com registry is critical to a secure and reliable DNS, especially now when the security and stability of the Internet and DNS face new and increasing threats of attack and increasing demands for reliability. The proposed .com agreement establishes the structural and economic framework necessary to preserve a stable and secure DNS.

Further, the proposed .com agreement broadens ICANN’s role in, and supervision of, the operation of the registry, maintains caps on registry prices, and provides a stable basis to fund ICANN’s ongoing mission. First, the agreement requires all proposed services that only the registry operator is capable of providing by reason of its designation as registry operator to proceed through a review process by ICANN, including with respect to the implications of the proposed service for security, stability and competition. Such broad supervisory authority did not exist in the past. Issues over the scope of ICANN’s authority in this regard under the 2001 .com agreement have led to disputes and litigation and a deceleration of innovation within the DNS.

Second, the proposed agreement firmly maintains price caps into the future. While VeriSign does not agree that restrictions on price are necessary in view of the growth of a competitive market among registries worldwide, we have agreed to continue price caps in the proposed agreement as an accommodation to competing viewpoints. VeriSign’s registration prices have been frozen for approximately eight years, unlike the prices of businesses in virtually any other area of commerce, despite increased service, demand, and threats to the secure and stable operation of this critical infrastructure. Some market based pricing flexibility is necessary in the future, however, to insure appropriate investment in the security and stability of the DNS infrastructure. The current proposed .com agreement fairly strikes a balance between these competing interests.

Third, the proposed .com agreement provides ICANN for the first time a source of regular and secure funding for its operations, unencumbered by concurrent policy expectations and demands. In the past, interested parties have tried to use ICANN’s budget to threaten and coerce ICANN into taking action in the narrow interests of those parties and contrary to and in spite of the broader interests of the Internet. The proposed agreement guarantees ICANN the independence it needs to properly fulfill its espoused mission.

For all of these reasons as well as others, approval of the proposed .com Registry Agreement, and its submission to the Department of Commerce, should proceed without delay.

We are aware of a recent letter to you from eight registrars who are attempting to influence ICANN’s processes with respect to the proposed agreement. These eight registrars plainly neither speak on behalf of the larger Internet community, nor evince an understanding of, or concern for, the requirements for a stable and secure operation of the DNS. They speak only in their own narrow economic interests.

The eight registrars raise two issues with respect to the agreement. First, the registrars object to the level of the price caps. This small group of registrars is seeking to prevent infrastructure investment among registry operators through a freeze on registry prices which would result in the registrars maximizing their profits at the expense of the broader Internet community and continued investment in the DNS infrastructure. It is notable that none of these registrars reduced the price of their services to consumers when VeriSign recently reduced the price of registration in the .net domain. Instead, these registrars maintained their prices and claimed the benefit of the price reductions, not for the Internet community or consumers, but rather for themselves.

Second, the eight registrars object to the renewal clause of the proposed .com agreement as newly providing for automatic renewal. The renewal clause of the existing 2001 .com Registry Agreement, however, guarantees VeriSign an automatic renewal on terms such as those included in the proposed .com agreement. In addition, the proposed .com agreement preserves for ICANN the right to conduct a re-bid in the event VeriSign does not live up to its responsibilities under the agreement. So long as a registry operator complies with its responsibilities, however, certainty of renewal -- a firmly established principal in the operation of critical infrastructure -- is necessary for an operator to have the proper means and incentives to invest on an ongoing basis in the security and reliability of the DNS infrastructure.

The secure and reliable operation of the .com registry and the DNS are too important to the international and Internet community to be placed at risk by delaying the approval of the proposed .com registry agreement or yielding to the threats of a few who may be willing to place their interests ahead of those of the larger Internet community. We urge a prompt approval of the proposed agreement by the Board.

Sincerely,

Stratton Sclavos
Chairman and CEO
VeriSign Inc.

 

GNSO Review Update
 

ICANN Senior Policy Counselor Liz Williams writes:

As the senior staff member responsible for the GNSO Review, I will soon be able to provide much more detailed information on the way in which the Review will be proceeding now that the appropriate formalities from last night's Board meeting are completed.

For the benefit of Council members who have not been involved in the establishment of the Review, I've provided some easy to navigate background. I hope this also helps other Council members with their preparation for the Review.

1. The July 2005 Luxembourg Resolution initiated the Review and started a process of discussion between the Board, Council, and Staff on the establishment of the Terms of Reference.

http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-15jul05.htm#p4

2. The December 2005 Vancouver Resolution approved the Terms of Reference which had been developed in consultation with individual members of the Board, Council and Staff

http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-04dec05.htm
A 21 day public comment period about the draft Terms of Reference was conducted between 27 October 2005 and 17 November 2005. The archive of comments is at http://forum.icann.org/lists/gnso-review-tor/

3. The 14 December 2005 ICANN website posting sought requests for proposals from independent evaluators http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-14dec05.htm

4. The 21 Feb 2006 Board Resolution approved the appointment of an independent team of evaluators but is not available online as yet.

5. Background documents on the GNSO Review can be found at

http:// www.icann.org/gnso/review-tor-background-04nov05.htm.
These include the recommendations from the GNSO Council Review, the relevant ICANN By laws and other helpful information.

6. The Terms of Reference can be found at http://www.icann.org/gnso/review-reference-terms-27oct05.htm.

7. Article IV Section 4 of ICANN's Bylaws (http://www.icann.org/general/archive-bylaws/bylaws-08apr05.htm#IV) gives guidance about the conduct of the review and I've copied it here for easy reference. I have added some emphasis which may provide clarification about the process.

1. The Board shall cause a periodic review, if feasible no less frequently than every three years, of the performance and operation of each Supporting Organization, each Supporting Organization Council, each Advisory Committee (other than the Governmental Advisory Committee), and the Nominating Committee by an entity or entities independent of the organization under review. The goal of the review, to be undertaken pursuant to such criteria and standards as the Board shall direct, shall be to determine (i) whether that organization has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure, and (ii) if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness. The results of such reviews shall be posted on the Website for public review and comment, and shall be considered by the Board no later than the second scheduled meeting of the Board after such results have been posted for 30 days. The consideration by the Board includes the ability to revise the structure or operation of the parts of ICANN being reviewed by a two- thirds vote of all members of the Board.

Finally, ICANN Bylaws Article X, Section 5 which deals with the GNSO's operating procedures.

 

ICANN-VeriSign Settlement Agreement Update
 

Dear Council Members:

The ICANN Board just concluded its teleconference today and took the following actions.

(1) Approval of São Paulo, Brazil as the venue for the 2006 ICANN annual meeting the first week in December; and

(2) Approved funds to pay the evaluators for their work in connection with the review of the GNSO;

Although there was a discussion regarding the VeriSign settlement negotiation, there was no action taking. There is a scheduled call for next week 28-Feb-2006. Although the Chair and secretariat have not yet finalized the agenda for that call it is most likely to involve further VeriSign discussions as well as those items which have not yet been completed from today's call. As always, I will try to keep the council informed of any developments.

Best regards,

Michael D. Palage

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

 

Internet Governance Forum Takes Shape
 

Milton Mueller posts to ICANN's Non-Commercial Constituency discussion list:

Desai asks for advice on "themes" and program committee; no date set for first meeting. IGP encourages civil society actors to submit preferred "themes" such as human rights, freedom of expression and privacy, as few governmental or business entities are interested in those topics.

February 20, 2006. The open consultation in Geneva on the emerging Internet Governance Forum Feb. 16-17 managed to build consensus around a few features of the new institution, including open participation, a 4-day time span for the first meeting, and a structure that combines large plenaries with breakout groups.

The Chair of the meeting, India's Nitin Desai, concluded by issuing a call for participants to propose a structure for the "multistakeholder group" that would vet the Forum's agenda, and asked for more public input on the "themes" or discussion topics for the agenda of the first meeting in Athens. The meeting was marked by tensions over "multistakeholder governance" and efforts by some governments and business interests to make certain topics off-limits to the Forum.

Nearly everyone who spoke gave rhetorical support to the "multistakeholder principle" - the idea that governments, business and civil society should be equal partners in developing policies through the IGF. In reality, governments of all types constantly chafed at the new model, and repeatedly threatened to revert to old ways. The government of Iran openly complained that it had to listen to so many civil society voices. The European Union, though committed enough to the principle to set up a special meeting with civil society actors, had similar trouble accepting diverse views. Some governments even proposed that the forum have three separate Bureaus, one for governments, one for business, and one for civil society -- an idea that, if implemented, would confine the different stakeholders to separate decision making silos and eliminate true cross-sector dialogue. Nevertheless, the meeting itself was run on an equal status basis.

Sharp exchanges took place over the nature and scope of the themes or issues the IGF could take up. As expected, business and Western governments urged the IGF to avoid anything controversial or anything that intersected with the activities of existing international organizations. They tended to favor spam and cybercrime as focal topics. Some complained that these participants viewed the IGF as a once-off annual meeting rather than as a true policy development process feeding into more authoritative venues. Brazil and other G77 nations, on the other hand, wanted to use the Forum to develop "public policy principles" for the coordination of internet resources, and -- picking up on a proposal from the IGP -- saw a role for it as a vehicle for the development of an Internet framework convention. It became apparent that efforts by the EU and Australia to keep the IGF away from those topics was motivated by their attempt to resolve the unfinished WSIS business by means of private, bilateral, government-to-government negotiations with the United States. Civil society actors present at the meeting strongly opposed those efforts, noting that if the truly important and controversial issues were removed from the Forum and confined to govt-govt meetings, then para 72 of the WSIS agenda has been completely abandoned and the Forum's promise of broader, more open and inclusive form of policy development has been rendered hollow.

The structure of a IGF "Program Committee" or "Bureau" was another key area of controversy. This would be the representative body designed to make decisions about agenda and some content. IGP proposed a 12-person council, composed of 5 government representatives (one from each geographic region), 2 business, 2 civil society, and 2 academic/technical, plus the chair. Most Western governments, the private sector and civil society supported a small body, which they preferred to call a "program committee" in order to emphasize its limited powers. Some governments, however, wanted a larger body which they could populate with representatives of their preference, turning the thing into a top-heavy and politicized decision-making authority.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Desai summarized the results as follows:
* A date for the first IGF will be announced in a few days.
* The Forum will have open participation.
* The first IGF meeting in Athens will take 4 days
* There will be a plenary and space for smaller meetings.
* Participants were asked to fix their ideas on three major themes and transmit them to the Secretariat by March 31.
* It will be a UN process and thus will need a host country agreement
* There was no consensus on a management structure, or even on what to call
the representative decision making body. Desai did, however, rule out separate bureaus. He asked participants (especially governments) to consider this issue and respond by Feb. 28. Once the UN process constitutes it, they will solicit names from the various stakeholders and that will take several weeks.
* In a victory for the civil society advocates, Desai concluded that the text of the WSIS Agenda doesn't rule out any topic. What the Forum discusses, he said, is
just a matter of priorities.

There were strong demands for some kind of regional process to accompany things. Desai noted that such a process can't get off the ground easily, as it must involve the regional commissions. All in all, the outlines of the new Forum are still hard to discern, but in those areas where consensus was reached the results were not bad.

 

Re: The Taming of the Shill
 

Ross Rader has pointed to yet another coordinated letter writing campaign orchestrated by VeriSign. We saw sufficient evidence of this in Round One of the proposed ICANN-VeriSign settlement agreement, and it begs the question: if VeriSign remains willing to suborn the Public Comment process, then how can anyone regard them as a responsible trustee for any namespace (let alone .com)?

 

Joe Sims & the VeriSign Settlement Agreement
 

CircleID has posted a well-written article by former ICANN CEO Mike Roberts entitled "The Villain in the ICANN-VeriSign Struggle is the U.S. Government". The article is followed by equally intriguing commentary from Karl Auerbach and by former outside ICANN Counsel Joe Sims who seems to be in the thick of the current VeriSign-ICANN negotiations.

Joe writes: "So there are multiple protections built into the agreement against exploitation of registrants—not perfect, because the market for domain name registrations is not perfectly competitive, but in our judgment sufficient under the circumstances."

One has to wonder whether it was Joe, rather than VeriSign, that initially proposed the seven percent price hike for .com registrants. But that aside, more important is the question as to whether Joe has been influencing ICANN Staff to pursue a course that sets ICANN squarely in the role of a regulator that acts on periodic price increase requests. Readers are reminded to review the article, "What Joe Sims Doesn't Get" by David Johnson and Susan Crawford (a current ICANN Board member).

 

CORE writes to ICANN director Palage
 

Hi Mike,

I think the settlement agreement is what concerns all of us registrars. In that respect I have several requests:

- please ask the Board members to *carefully* study the aspects and importance of this decision. I know that some Board members are not even aware of the competition issue..

- I have to advise to treat staff information with care. Staff will recommend to sign the deal. In our teleconf with staff we were not able to learn why they have this position. I feel that staff was not prepared for the settlement negotiation and certainly did not negotiate a good deal, see
http://forum.icann.org/lists/revised-settlement/msg00149.html

- All Board members should study all posts on the public comment forum. Yes, this will take 3 hours for everyone to read. But the importance of this matter should be enough justification. For the reason mentioned above, I would not rely on a summary prepared by staff. Also, if there is a simple pro-against count, the numbers will not be accurate due to the paid lobbyists on the forum, see
http://forum.icann.org/lists/revised-settlement/msg00148.html

- I invite you to use my pro-con summary, which I think expresses the view of (not only) the registrars
http://forum.icann.org/lists/revised-settlement/msg00154.html

In short, the biggest danger we face is an uninformed decision or a decision that relies on misrepresented information. ICANN's own mission statement calls for well-informed decisions.

PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE IS WELL-INFORMED. If you feel that some Board members are not up to speed, ask them to work on it. This is a crucial test for ICANN. We must not fail because of misinformation.

Thanks,
Marcus
CORE Council of Registrars

 

The ALAC Deceives Vint Cerf
 

1. The ALAC's Bret Fausett sent the following e-mail to Vint Cerf:

From: Bret Fausett

Sent: Monday, February 20, 2006 3:36 PM
To: Vint Cerf;
revised-settlement@icann.org
Subject: ALAC Input on ICANN-VRSN Agreement


Dear Dr. Cerf and Members of the Board of Directors:

The At Large Advisory Committee ("ALAC") has carefully reviewed and considered the revised agreements between ICANN and Verisign and does not believe that the revisions address the serious concerns of registrants previously described by the ALAC in both its written submissions and its meeting with the Board in Vancouver. In order to fulfill ICANN's role of
promoting and sustaining a competitive environment, the ALAC recommends that the Board take the following actions:

1. Reject the proposed settlement agreement;
2. Proceed to trial with Verisign; and
3. Begin a renewal/rebid process for .COM in accord with the renewal
provisions of the existing agreement.

The ALAC understands that ICANN Staff believes that one of the litigation risks to ICANN is that the legal foundation on which ICANN was built will be eroded. We believe that this is a risk worth taking. An ICANN that cannot ensure competition and protect registrants from
monopolistic pricing is not an ICANN worth retaining.

Respectfully submitted,
At Large Advisory Committee



2. Vint Cerf replies:

Brett, is this a unanimous expression?

Vint

Vinton G Cerf
Chief Internet Evangelist
Google/Regus
Suite 384
13800 Coppermine Road
Herndon, VA 20171

+1 703 234-1823
+1 703-234-5822 (f)

vint@google.com
www.google.com


3. Bret responds:

Yes, this was agreed by the Committee without any dissent.

Bret


4. The problem:

According to the public record, only two thirds of the members of the ALAC agreed with the position put forward; the other third of the Committee did not comment, and candidly the Committee failed to even discuss the revised settlement agreement. Stating that there was no dissent when a topic has only been under consideration for two days is stretching the truth substantially.

This statement is no more than a shallow response that is totally unsupported by the fruits of discourse. Nowhere do we see a discussion as to why ICANN should proceed to trial with VeriSign instead of engaging in another round of negotiations. Nowhere do we see legitimate reasons stated as to why this proposed settlement should be scrapped. This is not an example of substantive decision-making... this is nothing more than shooting from the hip on the part of those that aren't inclined to fully evaluate and discuss a proposed settlement.

The ALAC did not conduct a vote of it's membership. It merely scrambled to release a pithy comment bereft of supporting reasoning. The ALAC wants the proposed settlement agreement rejected -- it would be nice to know why. The ALAC wants the trial to resume -- it would be nice to know why. Of course, we'll never know why since no real discussion of the issues has ever transpired. Let's just hope that the board recognizes uninformed opinion.

 

Public Comment Period Begins, Again
 

The second round of public comments pursuant to the GNSO Initial Report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains has started. Public comments are open from 20 February to 13 March 2006. The Initial Report may be read here.

Comments may be submitted to new-gtlds-pdp-initial-report@icann.org. The comment archives are at http://forum.icann.org/lists/new-gtlds-pdp-initial-report .

 

PDP2: Draft Terms of Reference
 

ICANN's Staff Manager Olof Nordling has posted a draft Terms of Reference for the GNSO's second major PDP:

Terms of Reference for a PDP to guide Contractual Conditions for existing generic top-level domains:


1. Registry agreement renewal


1a. Examine whether presumptive rights of renewal in registry agreements serve to promote ICANN's core mission and values, including promotion of competition, DNS stability and security.

1b. Examine whether or not the term, expiry and cancellation conditions, and rebid considerations (“Rights of Renewal”) provide benefits to the ICANN community and if so, what they are, including whether such conditions encourage long term investment in registry operations.

1c. Recognizing that not all 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 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 diversity of sponsored TLD policy making should be redefined and if so, what changes would be needed, and under what circumstances such changes would be applied.

2c. Recognizing that current registry agreements include varying limitations on scope and applicability of consensus policy, examine the extent to which registry agreements could state that consensus policies may not affect certain terms of the agreement and determine whether future registry agreements should be restricted to a uniform scope and applicability of consensus policies.


3. Policy for price controls for registry services

3a. Examine in what ways price controls contribute to ICANN's core mission and values, especially the promotion of competition and the net effects on end users.

3b. While not discussing the prices of registry services, examine what conditions might justify price controls policy for particular registries.

3c. Examine objective measures (cost calculation method, cost elements, reasonable profit margin) for approving an application for a price increase when price control is applied.

3d. In view of the findings, determine if registry agreements should prescribe or limit the prices for registry services.


4. ICANN fees

4a. Examine whether ICANN fees defined in registry agreements should be subject to policy determination.

4b. Examine whether ICANN fees should be tailored to registry business models.

4c. 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 the differences in registry data available to "thin" and "thick" registries and which privacy rights exist in such registry data.

5b. Examine how the use of registry data can enhance services to registry clients.

5c. Determine whether any allowances should be made for non-discriminatory access to registry data.

5d. Determine whether the uses of registry data should be restricted.


6. Investments in development and infrastructure

6a. Examine how requirements for specific investment levels in registry agreements promote ICANN's core mission and values, especially as to promoting competition and ensuring DNS stability and security.

6b. Determine whether registry agreements should require specific investment levels in the areas of development and infrastructure.

6c. Determine whether security and stability goals should be reflected in registry agreements as specific commitments, either as customer service levels or as investment targets.



Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

No More Anonymity in .us Namespace
 

In a stunning blow to anonymity rights on the Internet a judge has ruled that the NTIA may continue to prohibit proxy registrations in the .us namespace. From the pcpcity.us website:

Peterson v. NTIA:

"On the hearing of this date, the federal judge denied the Plaintiff’s motion to enjoin the NTIA’s termination of proxy registrations. According to an informal report, the Plaintiff’s attorney was permitted to speak only in response to question by the judge. The judge then read a lengthy and pre-prepared ruling. That judge ruled

(a) that the Plaintiff does not have injury-in-fact because he posts his name on his website and his address can be found, [not factually true] and
(b) that under the public contract exception to the Administrative Procedure Act, NTIA was not required to give public notice and allow comment regarding its decision to prohibit proxy registrations.

The judge also suggested (though it is not sure if he ruled) that the government has a compelling interest in disallowing proxy registrations."

In view of this ruling against proxy registrations, it will be interesting to see what action, if any, ICANN takes with respect to anonymizing services (proxy registrations) in the remainder of the gTLDs.


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