Monday, January 31, 2005

Constituency Statements: A Procedural Joke

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So far, a constituency statement has been tendered by the IPC and a preliminary submission has been put forth by the registrars with regard to the WHOIS Task Force recommendations, neither of which fully accord with the requirements under the ICANN bylaws. The documents submitted do not record any constituency vote, nor a record of constituency meetings or teleconferences, nor do they cite a list of all members who participated or otherwise submitted their views. A review of accessible documents shows that there is no record on the IPC discussion list of any exchange of views. A typical day at ICANN.

The ICANN bylaws state:

Constituency Statements. The Representatives will each be responsible for soliciting the position of their constituencies, at a minimum, and other comments as each Representative deems appropriate, regarding the issue under consideration. This position and other comments, as applicable, should be submitted in a formal statement to the task force chair (each, a "Constituency Statement") within thirty-five (35) calendar days after initiation of the PDP.

Every Constituency Statement shall include at least the following:

(i) If a Supermajority Vote was reached, a clear statement of the constituency's position on the issue;
(ii) If a Supermajority Vote was not reached, a clear statement of all positions espoused by constituency members;
(iii) A clear statement of how the constituency arrived at its position(s). Specifically, the statement should detail specific constituency meetings, teleconferences, or other means of deliberating an issue, and a list of all members who participated or otherwise submitted their views;
(iv) An analysis of how the issue would affect the constituency, including any financial impact on the constituency; and
(v) An analysis of the period of time that would likely be necessary to implement the policy


Will ISPCP Ignore Election Requirements?

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An "Election Activity Notice" has been sent to the members of the ISPCP who will be electing two constituency members to be representatives to the GNSO Council, two constituency members to be part of the constituency's Executive Committee, and a representative from the constituency to the ICANN Nominations Committee.

Perennial Names Council squatter Tony Harris who has served since May 1999 has already been re-nominated to the Names Council, notwithstanding the fact that the ISPCP Articles state: "NC Representatives may not be elected for more than two successive periods."



The ICANN Train is Always Late

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On 16 November 2004 Network Solutions, LLC filed a Reconsideration Request with ICANN. These requests, per the ICANN bylaws, are supposed to be handled in a timely manner:

"The Reconsideration Committee shall review Reconsideration Requests promptly upon receipt and announce, within thirty days, its intention to either decline to consider or proceed to consider a Reconsideration Request after receipt of the Request. The announcement shall be posted on the Website."

As yet there has been no announcement posted on the Website, and it is well past 30 days.


Not Sufficiently Represented

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On the NCUC discussion list African internet activist Alan Levin writes:

"I strongly support the ICANN strategy to support "Developing Country Internet Communities to enable further participation in the ICANN mission". Coming from a developing country I assure you that our interests are not sufficiently represented at ICANN and if ICANN (within a narrow or wide scope) is to be held accountable for its policies in any way, it must do more than it does now to ensure Developing Country Internet Communities are included in the process."

On his personal website Alan further shares his values:

"I believe in democratic participation in decision-making, open processes, the right to communicate, and a fair balance between rights of privacy, speech, consumers, and property in Internet governance. This is something that I live and practice and reflects my style of working. I am an optimist and believe that all governing directors of non-profit or community organisations should demonstrate their support for these important principles. All voices should be heard.

I recognise there are problems with domain names worldwide. The current systems allow for names to be allocated either on a first-come-first-serve basis, or on a proof of trademark, company name, or area, with various levels of restriction. Some top level domain (tld) systems work quite well and others work technically but do not assist economic growth, while others don't work at all. It is with this in mind that I have been pursueing the AfriDNS project for four years.

Organisations can make things happen. Groups can make things happen, but it is every individual in every group in every organisation that make things work."

Alan was an ICANN @ Large Director nominee.


A Lack of Transparency at ALAC

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In a post entitled "What are the despots afraid of?", Rik Panganiban, Communications Coordinator for the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, writes: "To put it more practically, why can I not turn on the TV or turn on the radio and hear what the UN is doing? Why is there no broadcast on the internet of the meetings of the UN? The beginning of a democratic order is transparency -- knowing what is happening at the governing body."

One might ask the same question about the meetings of ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee -- why are there no minutes ever posted -- why are there no mp3 recordings of ALAC teleconferences? Why don't we know how each member voted on a given proposition?


Proposed At-Large Resolution

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Having read Karl Auerbach's "ICANN and Its Fairy Tale", I have taken the liberty of re-drafting his eloquent comments as a Resolution to be submitted through the WSIS process:

We recognize ICANN as an industrial cartel in a mutual assistance pact with the intellectual property industry that has as its goal the management of the domain name industry by defining the products offered by that industry, setting prices of those products, and selecting who may and who may not participate in that industry.

We do not recognize ICANN as responsible for ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems as ICANN does nothing about IP addresses, as ICANN engages in no DNS technical matters, as ICANN does nothing about DNS security and as ICANN has no role in service standards or over DNS root operations which are operated by an entirely independent group over which ICANN has no authority. IANA, not ICANN, records internet protocol numbers, and the IETF instructs IANA what to write.

We believe that ICANN's abandonment of its role of technical oversight and its assumption of the role of business regulator has weakened the internet and made the internet more vulnerable to failure and attack.

We therefore resolve to recognize the comment of the U.S. Department of Commerce that “if ICANN does not make significant progress on the transition tasks, alternatives will be identified and considered”, and we call upon all parties to initiate such a search for alternatives.

ALAC Wrestles with Resolution

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To endorse or not to endorse? Or how to endorse without really endorsing... a quandry has presented itself to the members of the ALAC -- Izumi Aizu writes:

"To clarify, this resolution will be first signed by "individuals" who joined the working group, so not representing ALAC as a whole in the initial stage, but Vittorioand my name will be there. THEN, this will be circulated to all ICANN community and seek for broad endorsement. Of course, it is better to take ALAC's full endorsement at this stage, but it is not necessary. I also see some "weekness" from AtLarge/user/Civil society perspective, but still this can be an acceptable baseline within ICANN community. So, unless there is a strong objection, I will send my endorsement to the group, with the understanding that I am a member of ALAC, but
signing as individual."

This reminds me of the conversation that Izumi had with the ICANN Board in Cape Town:

"And so we're sort of perhaps facing a dilemma, too, because on the one hand, individual users, at large or civil society, usually want some kind of independence, neutrality or whatever, that we don't want to be under the ICANN control. I was described, "are you going to be a puppet of the ICANN board to just reinforce ICANN, that CORRUPT organization"? That kind of image is usually trying to be, especially active citizens are vocal. They want to be independent. So if you make an appearance too close to the status quo, you need some sort of a credibility. But at the same time, you have to be inside. So it's a very difficult job we are facing."

Note to Izumi: you can't sit on both sides of the fence.

GNSO Constituency Recommendations on WHOIS

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According to the GNSO Calendar, all GNSO Constituencies must submit their comments on the WHOIS Task Force recommendations today.

The Task Force Recommendations Relating to Improving Notification and Consent for the Use of Contact Data in the WHOIS System are:

1. Registrars must ensure that disclosures regarding availability and third-party access to personal data associated with domain names actually be presented to registrants during the registration process. Linking to an external web page is not sufficient.

2. Registrars must ensure that these disclosures are set aside from other provisions of the registration agreement if they are presented to registrants together with that agreement. Alternatively, registrars may present data access disclosures separate from the registration agreement. The wording of the notice provided by registrars should, to the extent feasible, be uniform.

3. Registrars must obtain a separate acknowledgement from registrars that they have read and understand these disclosures. This provision does not affect registrars' existing obligations to obtain registrant consent to the use of their contact information in the WHOIS system.

ISP Version of SiteFinder Launched

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A Washington Post staff writer reports on a product offered by Paxfire that is "turning the address bar of every subscriber to an ISP into a search bar". The article notes: "Few had noticed that Paxfire, in partnership with NeuStar Inc., a District company that runs the ".biz" and ".us" registries, conducted a trial of a similar redirect program five months before VeriSign's". The President of Paxfire, Mark Lewyn, said "each ISP that uses Paxfire has its own "landing page" to which users who make typing erros are redirected. ISPs can customize the page with their branding and with paid and unpaid links. When a user clicks on a sponsored link, Paxfire and the ISP split the resulting revenue. Users can also opt out of the program, which they couldn't do with the Internet registries."


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Internet Governance Priorities Forum

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The Discussion Forum on Internet Governance Priorities for the Asia-Pacific region (IGOVAP) is producing some excellent commentary on subjects ranging from "Internet Governance" to "Centralized Planning of IP Address Management" with contributions from notables such as James Seng, Jefsey Morfin, Chun Eung Hwi, Geoff Huston, Adam Peake, B. Manning and many others. The IGOVAP Forum will run to February 17.

Vittorio Bertola: Update on WGIG

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Vittorio Bertola, Chair of the ALAC and member of the Working Group on Internet Governance, provides an update on the WGIG:

I thought useful to send a brief reminder to the Plenary about what the WGIG is and what it is doing.

The WGIG is a group of experts that was chartered by the Plan of Action of the Geneva Summit, with the following mission:
i) Develop a working definition of Internet Governance;
ii) Identify the public policy issues that are relevant to InternetGovernance;
iii) Develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, existing international organizations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries.

As such, the WGIG does not deal with policy, but only with the mechanisms through which policy is discussed and approved - which, however, are the key for a long term solution to many of the problems we complain about. WGIG members were appointed by the UN Secretary General, following consultations with stakeholders (including our own process for suggestions), but were chosen so to form an inclusive group that would collectively have the necessary skills on the different issues; while composition is balanced in term of geography and stakeholders, there is no direct representation involved.

The WGIG is required to present an interim report to PrepCom-2, and then a final report on June 30, so that it can be discussed in PrepCom-3. Consequently, PrepCom-2 will not discuss or negotiate any issue pertaining to Internet governance, while these issues will be discussed and negotiated at PrepCom-3.

The interim report will be a collection of "issue papers" that describe the issues that belong to the Internet Governance field (parts i) and ii) of the mission). The third part of the mission will be discussed from March on. These issue papers are now being drafted by the group; a list of the issues was prepared by the Secretariat, and each issue was then taken by a WGIG member, volunteering to act as "lead drafter"; first drafts were due by January 20, and are now under discussion by the whole group. Current plans are to finalize the drafts by January 31, so that they can then be commented by the public, either online or at the open consultations that will be held in Geneva on February 15-16.

The group will then meet the following two days to take comments into account and then release the final papers, which will form the interim report. This report will be presented to PrepCom-2 on February 24 (I have no idea whether some discussion will follow, maybe someone in the CSB knows?). Thus, caucuses and working groups should be prepared to submit comments before February 14, and/or to send someone at the open consultations to read them in front of the group.

I am working, together with the Secretariat, to ensure that the consultations are webcast in English and French, and that there will be options for remote input. I think that a number of strategic objectives of our collective action could be significantly helped by positive results of the WGIG. So I think that we should try to coordinate ourselves, including WGIG members, connectors and all other civil society participants, so to make our action in the group effective.

In any case, the WGIG will not take decisions, but rather make proposals to be then discussed and negotiated at PrepCom-3. While having the WGIG make proposals that we like will be very important, an equivalent work will be necessary in view of Tunis, to get these proposals approved by the governments and reflected in the outcome of WSIS-II.


On Privacy

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A two-day conference featuring such notable speakers as A. Michael Froomkin, Declan McCullagh and Marc Rotenberg entitled "The Concealed I: Anonymity, Identity, and the Prospect of Pr­ivacy" will be held at the University of Ottawa, Canada, on March 4-5, 2005.
It is not yet known whether any members of ICANN's President's Standing Committee on Privacy will be in attendance.

Actually, we still don't know much about this committee even though ICANN continues to pride itself on transparency. So, what do we know?
  1. We know that Paul Twomey reported to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that "Whois-related discussions will be a continued focus of ICANN’s Whois Steering Group and the ICANN President’s Standing Committee on Privacy."
  2. We know that the position description for the VP of Supporting Organizations & Committee Support states that he will "Assist in the planning and implementation of the President’s Standing Committee on Privacy".
  3. We know that the Memorandum From ICANN CEO Paul Twomey Concerning Whois stated that "a “President’s Committee on WHOIS” will be established to support coordination and collaboration in further fact-finding and analysis, and Supporting Organization development of draft policy and practice recommendations. The Committee will be broadly representative of ICANN constituencies interested in WHOIS issues, and comprised of knowledgeable individuals who are committed to understanding a broad range of views and working together to help prioritize WHOIS issues and move the community forward."
  4. We know this Standing Committee has thus far done nothing to contribute to WHOIS discussions. Perhaps it's time for Paul Twomey and Paul Verhoef to provide the community with an update.

Updated NCUC Comments on ICANN Strategic Plan

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Non-Commercial Constituency Chair Milton Mueller has provided a consolidated draft regarding the ICANN Strategic Plan based on constituency feedback:

1. Accountability and the Dept of Commerce MoU.

The Strategic Plan should include greater recognition of the importance of the transition from USG supervision. The Strategic Plan needs to look beyond the immediate issue of satisfying the US Department of Commerce MoU and present a compelling vision of a new governance model that is:
* more democratic
* willing to accept new forms of external accountability
* confident enough to continue evolving and improving.

As a private yet global organization, with regulatory and "taxing" powers over the domain name supply industry and indirect powers overthe users of domain names, some supervision and accountability mechanisms will be required. NCUC strongly supports a transition which would internationalize this responsibility beyond the United States Department of Commerce. At the same time, we recognize the dangers of overly intrusive and arbitrary forms of governmental (or intergovernmental) intervention in the management of Internet identifiers.

Recently, the issue of ICANN's supervision and accountability has been reframed by the emergence of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). Because the WSIS and WGIG processes are largely outside of the direct control of ICANN and the USG, we do not expect a detailed discussion of those topics in the Strategic Plan. However, we would like to see some indication of openness on ICANN's part to new global institutional arrangements designed to foster accountability and supervision arrangements that minimize the potential for abuse and provide a safety valve for correcting procedural and substantive problems.

In general, NCUC favors the direct participation of civil society fostered by the ICANN model over the intergovernmental model as the primary form of accountability. At the same time, civil society groups within ICANN believe that the current advisory status of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), and the imbalance between commercial and non-commercial constituency groups in the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), prevent ICANN from properly reflecting the interests of the non-commercial and individual users of the Internet, unfairly advantaging specific interest groups.

We do not believe that the reforms introduced two years ago resolved these problems. Seemingly petty but consequential forms of bias, such as granting the GNSO Business constituency two representatives on the Nominating Committee when other constituencies only get to select one, are symptomatic of the kind of bias that often permeate ICANN's processes.

Rather than implying that reform is complete and satisfactory to all parties, the strategic plan should recognize that problems still exist and need to be addressed.

2. Special Funds Regarding the "Restricted Fund for Developing Country InternetCommunities"

NCUC supports the concept but would prefer to see it re-labelled a "Restricted Fund for Technical Forums in Developing Countries." Encouraging and facilitating knowledge-sharing on technical matters related to DNS and IP protocols falls within ICANN's general purview and fosters coordination rather than top-down management. In this context, the constituency stresses that it is neither ICANN's role to create communities where none exist, nor to seek to "guide"communities on a particular path. The genius of the Internet has been its ability to allow self-organizing communities to engage in voluntary cooperation. This ensures a continuing wellspring of new ideas and innovations.

If ICANN were to go beyond its role as a facilitator and coordinator by attempting to "jump start" a local community or "correct" a local communities "mistakes," such actions -- however well intentioned -- would be antithetical to the traditions of theInternet community and to ICANN's guiding principles.

We therefore encourage ICANN to reaffirm the bottom-up nature of its relationship to local Internet communities, to define clear and transparent procedures for organizations to apply for these funds, and to avoid making grants at the discretion of central staff. ICANN should have objective, neutral and participatory mechanisms to determine who gets these funds. Any evaluation committee should include representatives from each of the Supporting Organizations.

Similar questions and problems arise with respect to the discussion of a Special Restricted Fund for Internet Security. In this case the purpose of the Fund is even less well defined than the other one, and we would withold any support for this concept.

Parts of the Strategic Plan indicate that its purpose is to enable people from developing countries to participate in technical forums related to security - a function that is already covered by the other proposed fund. Other parts of the description indicate that the purpose is to support research and development activities or the standardization activities of the IETF. This is not an appropriate function for ICANN, and the combination of ICANN's regulatory powers with the voluntary standardization activities of IETF and other technical forums is undesirable and dangerous.

3. Competition and Choice

Competition and choice should definitely be a priority for ICANN. On new TLDs, we recommend replacing the term "predictable strategy for selecting new TLDs" with "predictable process for responding to demand for new gTLDs." Seven years after ICANN's creation, it should have more than a "strategy" regarding new gTLDs, it should have a well-defined, objective, and transparent process for adding them.

Moreover, ICANN should emphasize that applicants from all over the world, reflecting all linguistic groups and cultures, should have a fair and equal opportunity to apply for and win resources from ICANN. Those proposing new TLDs should know how many are available each year and what they must do to qualify for one. They should also be assured of a fair, quick response to their proposals, rather than long, indeterminate, and untransparent private negotiations.

ISPCP: No Comment yet on DNS Cloud Solution

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In reviewing the .net applications, I was intrigued by something I found in the Afilias proposal -- a security implementation described as the "DNS Cloud". However, as this proposal indicates that connectivity to the Cloud is by invitation only to the largest ISPs and recursive DNS server operators, I wondered if anyone in the ISP Constituency had taken note of the proposal and had any thoughts on the topic. A review of the ISPCP discussion list shows that it's not yet on their radar... The Afilias proposal is reprinted below:

Since it is clear that even some of the world's largest DNS networks can be taken down by an array of botnets, a stronger, more resilient solution had to be created: the "DNS Cloud".

Since there is currently no commercially available or practical method of filtering or processing the "Perfect DNS DDoS" packet, the DNS Cloud solution provides a mechanism that meets the primary objective of an authoritative DNS system while under a crushing attack --enabling recursive servers to continue to resolve queries normally.

UltraDNS has achieved this by identifying the largest sources of legitimate DNS queries for the zones that UltraDNS is authoritative for, and then deploying complete authoritative UltraDNS Nodes onto local segments that contain the "Trusted Recursive Servers". These "Local Nodes" are then connected via point-to-point Ethernet circuits, and queries from the Trusted Recursive Servers for the UltraDNS zones are then asked, and answered, in a fully isolated and protected environment. This topology provides for unprecedented sub 5 millisecond query response times within the networks where Local Nodes are installed.

The Local Nodes are functionally identical to the normal Public Nodes, and include the use of the announced Anycast IP addresses via BGP as well as protected connectivity to the UltraDNS Replication System, to assure data consistency. The Local Nodes employ the same operational mechanisms as the Public Nodes so that anomalies are identified in the same way, and are handled accordingly. Should the Local Nodes within a Host ISP's network fail for any reason, the local routes would be withdrawn as a result, and the Trusted Recursive Servers will automatically follow the normal external announcements and paths to the UltraDNS Public Nodes. The Host ISPs (the ISPs controlling the Trusted Recursive Servers that are the sources of the queries) protect access to "their" UltraDNS Local Nodes, and are encouraged to permit their customers to also access the Local Nodes via their own recursive servers that are configured to forward queries for UltraDNS's zones to the Trusted Recursive Servers. However the Host ISP is responsible for making this decision and for managing it. The Host ISPs must confirm their understanding that if they have not maintained the integrity of the local isolated network, they will not experience the benefits of this system during a DDoS.

By inviting the largest service providers to connect directly and privately to the UltraDNS directory infrastructure via the DNS Cloud, the authoritative DNS information stored by UltraDNS can be assured as being valid and always available to these participating ISPs' end users. The DNS Cloud will provide DDoS resistant resolution to almost 100 million Internet users, and is anticipated to provide resolution for double that number by the end of the second quarter of 2005. As more Local Nodes are deployed into Host ISP networks, the effectiveness and viability of the Cloud increases proportionally with the number of end users now protected from the effects of DDoS within those networks. In addition, UltraDNS has begun to distribute this innovative solution around the world. The first of these was announced at the ICANN meeting in Cape Town, and is now deployed at the JINX exchange in Johannesburg, South Africa, to serve that region.

Connectivity to the Cloud is by invitation only to the largest ISPs and recursive DNS server operators. Smaller enterprises and lower usage recursive DNS server operators will not have direct access to the Local Node DNS Cloud. However, they can utilize their upstream service provider for this purpose. This forced hierarchy preserves the decentralized and public nature of the DNS, but introduces a now-required level of security, authentication and responsibility into the entire model in order to maintain the security and stability of the DNS.

Adoption of the DNS Cloud has occurred at the expected rate, and it is anticipated that upon award of the .NET contract, Afilias would expand the DNS Cloud to include an international base of regional ISPs in emerging Internet communities.

ICANN as an IGO?

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One fascinating admission within the ICANN Strategic Plan is that the Corporation annually re-examines the jurisdiction under which it resides:

5a.iii) ICANN is currently incorporated under Californian law and has tax-exempt status as a non-profit, public benefit corporation under U.S. Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3). The June 2004 review concluded that there was no advantage to changing ICANN’s corporate status at this time. The review, in conjunction with the review of ICANN’s revenue sources in preparation for this strategic plan has allowed for consideration of many alternatives to best prepare a solid future for ICANN as a global organisation.


I am sure that members of the Internet community would have appreciated the opportunity to have read the "June 2004 review" that considered these corporate status alternatives. One wonders if the document has been posted somewhere :)

We are all aware that ICANN has had to deal with numerous lawsuits, the costs of which are born by its paying constituencies. As William Drake writes: "It is reasonable to expect that when the US government’s patronage ends, ICANN could experience a torrent of further legal challenges concerning restraint of trade under US laws. This is just one of the legal and other uncertainties about how a post-MOU ICANN might operate."

IGO status confers immunity upon an organization. In the face of an escalating slew of lawsuits, immunity is nice to have. The Convention on Privileges and Immunities of Specialized Agencies states:

Art. III: Property, funds and assets
[Section 4]
The specialized agencies, their property and assets, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except in so far as in any particular case they have expressly waived their immunity.

Further, we already may assume that a great many developing country governments do not support private governance by a California-based corporation and are not satisfied with being relegated to an advisory role in ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee, but are reasonably comfortable within IGO bodies such as the ITU. Is it time for the community (not just ICANN staff) to consider a change in ICANN's corporate status from a 501c3 to an IGO?

While this possibility will probably antagonize U.S. Senator Conrad Burns who appears to have issues with ICANN "turning into a mini-international organization", I view it as worthwhile to openly have this discussion.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

CPSR on Internet Governance

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William Drake is the President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) and a Senior Associate at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in Geneva, Switzerland. He put forward these remarks on "ICT Global Governance and the Public Interest" in a paper presented at the WSIS Thematic Meeting on Economic and Social Implications of ICT held 17-19 January 2005, in Antigua (Guatemala):

"A great many governments around the world are deeply uncomfortable with this unilateral US control, and some even fear the possibility of politically inspired decisions to manipulate, disrupt or terminate their nations’ connections to the Internet. As such, they would like to see the root placed under multilateral management. ICANN would like to assume control itself when its MOU with the US government expires in 2006, but this also would raise international political problems. For its part, the US government repeatedly has stated that it has no intention of transferring its authority over the master server to any entity, although there is some ambiguity as to whether this will remain the policy. Given the political divisions on this issue, a strong international treaty or agreement on the conduct root management---under whichever entity---might constitute a viable middle ground."

Mr. Drake's most perceptive commentary, however, is to be found in another submission entitled "Reframing Internet Governance Discourse: Fifteen Baseline Propositions*". The document is highly recommended for those seeking an overview of the current WGIG/WSIS discussions.

Always the Last to Know

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Apparently the At-Large now has a Coordinator for Africa. I guess that ICANN just forgot to tell us. The paperwork on the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the WSIS
Pre-Conference Activities notes this entry in the agenda:

Internet Governance - Organising the Involvement of the At-Large: Ms. Eliza Sam,
Coordinator for Africa, ICANN At Large, USA

Welcome aboard Ms. Sam. Perhaps the ALAC will be kind enough to post your bio and contact details.

ICANN Board Misses Deadline on Numbers

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The ASO MOU was signed on 21 October 2004 and specified that "Under this agreement the ICANN Board will ratify proposed global policies in accordance with the Global Policy Development Process, using review procedures as determined by ICANN. ICANN will publish these procedures no later than ninety (90) days from the date of the signature of this agreement by all parties." Another deadline missed.

Meanwhile, the Global Addressing Policy (ASO-001-2) submitted for the approval of the ICANN Board of Directors on 3 September 2004 still awaits a decision. The policy describes the procedure by which IANA will make IPv4 allocations to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). ASO-001-2 has been approved in accordance with the four RIR's local policy development processes.

Karl Auerbach had some interesting thoughts on Global Addressing Policy which may be reviewed here.

Still Waiting for ICANN Staff

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In "No Such Weblog" Thomas Roessler provides an update on the work of WHOIS TF1/2:
"As one of the members of TF1+2, I'm of course unhappy that the group has finally come full circle, and that the work done over the past year (it's not just 175 days -- there were TF1 and TF2 before!) seems mostly moot today: On conflicts between applicable law and the RAA, we're waiting for ICANN staff (still no appointment, sorry); on tiered access, we're apparently back to "fact-finding" (not that we spent spring 04 on that, in two separate groups); and now, on notification and consent, we can look for a new consensus, because the contracted party objects."
Back on 6 December 2004, Jordyn Buchanan reported that "Jeff Neuman and I are hoping to receive feedback from ICANN on the potential impact of the procedure to resolve conflicts with local/national privacy law within a week." That was quite a while ago.

How long does a Task Force have to wait to get requested assistance from the ICANN Staff? How is a Task Force to comply with bylaws-mandated timelines if the ICANN Staff fails to do its job in a timely manner? Perhaps it's time to forward a complaint to the ICANN Ombudsman regarding "inactions by one or more members of ICANN staff". Polite requests from TF members have apparently fallen on deaf ears.




At-Large Structures

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I happened to come across the comment on the .net rebid submitted by the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), a group representing over 3000 software developers, systems integrators, IT consulting/training firms, and e-businesses (that offers free membership for individuals). It occured to me that this group is the type of organization that should be an "At-Large Structure", along with groups like the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) with its 78,000 members , the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) with its 365,000 members in over 150 countries, or the Confederation of European Computer Users Association (CECUA) with chapters throughout Europe .

At issue: Why haven't these groups been approached by Denise Michel (ICANN's Executive Director of the At-Large), by Kieran Baker (ICANN's General Manager for Public Participation), or by Vittorio Bertola (Chair of the ALAC) and his associates on the Committee? In the ICANN process I often hear the "outreach" buzzword, but I fail to see any serious effort being made to bring responsible parties to the table.

There are lots of "structures" out there that in their own way contribute occasionally to the ICANN process, by way of comments to public forums, by participation at ICANN plenary sessions, etc. We obviously know who these groups are as they have already made an effort to communicate with ICANN. Why isn't a proactive effort being made to have these groups certified as At-Large structures?

ICANN Staff Misses Deadline

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The GNSO Council on January 13 passed a resolution to initiate an Issues Report on the "problems caused by contention for domain names made available by a gTLD registry". The ICANN bylaws specify that "Within fifteen (15) calendar days after receiving either (i) an instruction from the Board; (ii) a properly supported motion from a Council member; or (iii) a properly supported motion from an Advisory Committee, the Staff Manager will create a report (an "Issue Report"). It is now past the 15 calendar days and no Issue Report has been posted.

Each Issue Report is supposed to contain the following:

a. The proposed issue raised for consideration;
b. The identity of the party submitting the issue;
c. How that party is affected by the issue;
d. Support for the issue to initiate the PDP;
e. A recommendation from the Staff Manager as to whether the Council should initiate the PDP for this issue (the "Staff Recommendation"). Each Staff Recommendation shall include the opinion of the ICANN General Counsel regarding whether the issue proposed to initiate the PDP is properly within the scope of the ICANN policy process and within the scope of the GNSO. In determining whether the issue is properly within the scope of the ICANN policy process, the General Counsel shall examine whether such issue:
1. is within the scope of ICANN's mission statement;
2. is broadly applicable to multiple situations or organizations;
3. is likely to have lasting value or applicability, albeit with the need for occasional updates;
4. will establish a guide or framework for future decision-making; or
5. implicates or affects an existing ICANN policy.
f. On or before the fifteen (15) day deadline, the Staff Manager shall distribute the Issue Report to the full Council for a vote on whether to initiate the PDP.

At the Cape Town ICANN GNSO Council Chair Bruce Tonkin Meeting provided this briefing on the re-selling of valuable deleted domain names in a secondary market issue:

The issue: The typical model for selling deleted TLDs is first-come first-served and this works well for ordinary names where the profit to registries and registrars is small and similar. But it does not work for special names where the domain name equity is much higher, either because the name has perceived value, or there is a desirable level of associated traffic with the name. A secondary market has grown up to remarket the names. Some names are bought for speculative resell; others because they have traffic still active and are resold to redirect the traffic to other, sometimes undesirable, sites. This market has created a new business opportunity for registrars and a problem for the registries. Certain registrars are “slaming” the registries with automated requests for desirable names. Because the present system provides equal access to all registrars, some registrars have created new ICANN accredited daughter registrars whose sole purpose is to request deleted names – thus increasing the chance for the parent registrar to get desirable names. This massive set of requests is affecting the ability of the registrars to manage their existing bona fide business efficiently. This impacts on stability.

Options: Options are under consideration within the registrar community. A joint workshop arranged by the registrars and ICANN staff was held in Cape Town and several presentations were made which broadly covered these options:

  1. Ratio - a registrar gets a number of commands in ratio to its business with the registry.
  2. Cash for quotas – a registrar pays the registry for a batch of requests.
  3. Auction – registry sells the lapsing name to the highest bidding registrant. But who gets the proceeds? Is it ICANN, charity, the registry, the previous registrant?

    Choices of process to implement these options:
    A registry chooses an option for itself.
    ICANN imposes a uniform process on all registries and registrars either through a consensus policy or a direct negotiation with registries/registrars.

    Additional Issues: ICANN is accepting registrar accreditations that have a different purpose than offering registration to ordinary users. The demands made on the registry are different. ICANN gains USD 4000 per accreditation, regardless of the kind of registrar. It is not clear that there is any way to define or police such destabilizing behaviour. Possible need for an interim solution before a consensus policy.

If the ICANN Board expects the GNSO Council to work within the PDP constraints as established by the bylaws, it would be a good idea for Paul Twomey to have a word with his Staff. Deadlines apply to ICANN employees as much as they apply to GNSO volunteers.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Pre-Registration for ICANN Mar del Plata

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Registration is now open for the 4-8 April 2005 meeting in Mar del Plata, Argentina. A list of pre-registered attendees may be also be viewed. The usual schedule devoid of details has been posted so that all of you in the At-Large community can commit to spending lots of money on travel expenses without any clue as to what topics will be under discussion at these sessions. No At-Large Meetings are currently on the agenda.

Suggestion for the ALAC

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The last ALAC Monthly Announcement asked users for input to improve and strengthen the Committee’s activities. Here is my suggestion:

When I look at the discussion list operated by the Non-Commercial constituency I see representatives from nineteen different organizations communicating with each other, actively discussing and debating matters pertaining to ICANN and the DNS. Meanwhile, I note that the ALAC has certified an equal number of At-Large “structures” that, by contrast, haven’t contributed any commentary whatsoever on any topic.

Just a guess, but couldn’t this communication issue be corrected by having the ALAC provide a discussion list to its certified “structures”? After all, the ICANN bylaws do state: "The ALAC is also responsible for coordinating the following activities: (7) Offering Internet-based mechanisms that enable discussions among members of At-Large structures"

ALAC "Due Diligence"

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Several At-Large Structure applications have been growing mold in the ALAC queue. The applications for the Intellectual Property & Technology (IPT) Section of the Hawaii State Bar Association and Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CfM) date back to June/July of 2004. One would think that 200+ days is sufficient to conduct due diligence.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Democratic Initiative at NANOG

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Participants on the mailing list of the North American Network Operators' Group (NANOG) have launched a democratic reform initiative. They propose to turn NANOG into a membership organization, with a membership consisting of all people who have attended at least one NANOG meeting in the last year. They propose a seven-member Board elected by the membership, with one vote per member. The upcoming Sunday meeting in Las Vegas that will consider this proposal will be web cast and a one-way conference bridge will be in operation. There will be an IRC channel with note takers for possible Q&A participation.

Contrast this reform initiative with ICANN's reform -- the NANOG reform offers membership and representation; the ICANN "reform" continued to deny membership to ICANN participants and eliminated elected representation for the contributors to the DNSO General Assembly mailing list while eliminating all elected representation for the at-large on the ICANN Board.

It's time for a more democratic ICANN.

UNESCO: Free Expression Conference

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UNESCO is hosting an international conference in Paris next month on "Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace," which will provide a forum for discussing whether universal free expression standards should be applied to the Internet and how free expression can be protected while respecting individual privacy, national laws and cultural differences. Scheduled to take place from 3 to 4 February 2005 at UNESCO's headquarters, the conference is one of UNESCO's thematic meetings contributing to the preparation of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

ICANN Staff tells ALAC how to vote

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In a letter posted to the Interim ALAC discussion list ICANN Staffer Denise Michel cites unpublished correspondence from the RIR's Paul Wilson in a bid to influence the ALAC vote on whether to endorse the WSIS Workshop Planning Group Draft Resolution.

Aren't we past the point where ICANN staff has to meddle in the affairs of an Advisory Committee in order to secure a desired result?

Esther Reacts to ICANN Loyalty Oath

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Responding to the request to endorse the WSIS Workshop Planning Group Resolution, Esther Dyson writes: "Why support it?Let's start from the position of *not* supporting it unless there is some reason to do so." The resolution, drafted by some of ICANN's most ardent supporters, is nothing more than a naked pledge of allegiance to the status quo. You will note that the non-commercial constituency had the good sense to avoid participating in this stupid exercise.

WSIS Workshop Planning Group Draft Resolution

Whereas:

1. ICANN is a bottom up, consensus based, participatory global organization, responsible for coordinating the unique identifiers of the Internet. In particular, ICANN is responsible for ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems, such as the domain names, IP Addresses, protocol and parameters, the Internet root server system and those policies that are related to the unique identifiers.
2. At ICANN's creation, the community recognized the importance of a unique forum to address these issues, and has supported the continuing evolution of ICANN as the unique forum for coordinating the unique identifiers of the Internet and related policy.
3. As the Internet evolves, so does the need for the participation of an ever growing and diverse set of stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on the participation of stakeholders from developing countries.
4. With this expanding participation, ICANN will continue to evolve and mature in its role in coordinating the Internet’s unique identifiers, and in increasing awareness and understanding of its role in advancing the Internet.. Recognizing :
5. Internet Governance has emerged as an important issue in many fora, most especially through the WSIS process.
6. That no single entity or organization possesses the expertise nor broad participation to undertake addressing all aspects of Internet Governance in isolation.
7. ICANN provides the opportunity for participation by diverse stakeholders associated with, and interested in, its activities and mission related to coordination of the unique identifiers of the Internet.
8. That many of ICANN stakeholders who are involved in ICANN’s work are also involved in the broader set of initiatives and organizations already engaged in discussing or addressing Internet Governance.

RESOLVED THAT:

9. We endorse the ICANN model of a private public partnership-- involving the broadest set of stakeholders: civil society, non governmental organizations, commercial and individual users, suppliers, and governments-- responsible for coordinating the unique identifiers of the Internet and related policies. We support the continuing internationalization of ICANN.
10. We call on those who seek change in the present stakeholder driven model for coordination of the technical management of the Internet's unique identifiers to fully participate in ICANN's process and activities, and work with ICANN's stakeholders to address their concerns within the ICANN process.
11. We call on the ICANN Board, all ICANN stakeholders and staff to participate in the Working Group on Internet Governance and in the World Summit on the Information Society to advance broad support for the public private, stakeholder-driven model for coordination of the Internet’s unique identifiers.
12. We urge the ICANN board, ICANN stakeholders and staff to support the growing awareness and understanding of what ICANN does, while recognizing the need for collaboration, cooperation, coordination, and coexistence with other organizations and entities who are engaged in the larger issues and activities related to Internet Governance.
13. We support the collaboration and cooperation within the ICANN community of regional Internet registries, ccTLD managers, non-commercial and business organizations, individual Internet users , the broad technical community, root server operators and governments and support activities that increase understanding of ICANN’s work and focus as the forum for coordinating the unique identifiers of the Internet and related policy..
14. We support improved communications and collaboration within all members of the ICANN community for increasing understanding and participation in ICANN, in particular from developing countries.

The WSIS Workshop Planning Group:
Vittorio Bertola, At-Large Advisory Committee
Izumi Aizu, At-Large Advisory Committee
Marilyn Cade, Business Constituency
David Fares, BusinessConstituency/USCIB
Tony Holmes, Internet Service & Connectivity Providers
Elana Broitman, Registrars
Jeff Neuman, Registries
Peter Dengate Thrush, InternetNZ
Theresa Swinehart, ICANN
Denise Michel, ICANN

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Spectacular Deals by Registries/Registrars

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Directi, an ICANN accredited registrar, today announced the availability of .INFO domain names at a price of $1.11. The new promotional price will be available for the entire year until Jan 1st 2006. One might wonder how such a deal is possible as registry prices for domains have generally been in the six dollar neighborhood... the answer lies in a promotion that was first announced on 2 December 2004 by Roland A. LaPlante, VP and Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias: "Afilias will be offering .INFO domains at a promotional rate of $.75 for the first domain year for the period January 1, 2005 - January 1, 2006. Only newly created domains will be affected by this promotional rate."

Not to be outdone, Hakon Haugnes of the Global Name Registry announced twelve days later "a promotion for .NAME in January that will provide for "Free Trial" Registrations of .NAME domains and email addresses. The Free Trial period will be for 30 days and applies to both .NAME second level domains, .NAME third level domains, and .NAME email addresses. Registrars can sign up for this promotion until March 1st".


DENIC Expands Server Network

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Heise Online reports that a Denic server upgrade has been completed: "At each of the 11 locations, a cluster consisting of three name servers and one control computer is now being used instead of a single name server. Load balance servers ensure that incoming inquiries are evenly distributed across the three servers so that each server only runs at a maximum of 5% capacity in normal operation." The article also states that "In addition, DeNIC has put a second IPv6 name server into operation in Vienna."

New Non-Commercial Constituency Website

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The NCUC website at http://www.ncdnhc.org has been re-designed. The new look offers clear navigation to archives, discussions, schedules, a members list, and contact details. Congratulations on a job well done.

Registrar Follies

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The challenge: How to defend an indefensible position. The registrar constituency has fielded a proposal that will soon be voted upon that attempts to respond to the GNSO Council call for constituency statements in regard to the reasonable recommendations of Taskforce 1/2 (cited below); the constituency has debated the matter back-and-forth for the last month and now seeks to reject all three consensus recommendations. At issue, the fact that a group of bulk registrars don't want to spend the meager amount of money required to implement the recommendations.

Explaining the TF recommendations and the initial registrar reaction, Jordyn Buchanan writes: The driving force behind these recommendations is that registrants DON'T read shrink wrap agreements and hence will not know that their contact information is being made publicly available through WHOIS. Hence, they should be explicitly made aware of this fact separate from the agreement that they're not going to read. Overall, it seems that the statement as it currently stands reiterates the problem (that registrants don't read the current agreement so aren't aware of the use of their data) but seems to say "but we're not willing to do anything to fix it". I'm not sure that this is a view that is likely to carry a lot of weight within the task force, and it may be difficult to find the support of any of the other constituencies.

The reasonable TF recommendations are:

1. Registrars must ensure that disclosures regarding availability and third-party access to personal data associated with domain names actually be presented to registrants during the registration process. Linking to an external web page is not sufficient.
2. Registrars must ensure that these disclosures are set aside from other provisions of the registration agreement if they are presented to registrants together with that agreement. Alternatively, registrars may present data access disclosures separate from the registration agreement. The wording of the notice provided by registrars should, to the extent feasible, be uniform.
3. Registrars must obtain a separate acknowledgement from registrants that they have read and understand these disclosures. This provision does not affect registrars' existing obligations to obtain registrant consent to the use of their contact information in the WHOIS system.

ICANN's Fear of Transparency

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At CapeTown: VINT CERF -- I'm going to introduce this motion. We are resolving, if you agree, that the minutes of the meetings of 26 June 2003, 23 July 2003, 8 August 2003, 19 August 2003, 9 September 2003, 12 September 2003, 13 October 2003, 30 September 2004, 18 October 2004, and 15 November 2004 are approved and adopted by the board as presented. I place that motion on the table and ask for a second. Mike Palage seconds.

Has anyone seen these minutes? What ever happened to: "ICANN and its constituent bodies shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner" -- I guess that transparency applies to everyone except the Board. At a time when WSIS participants are calling for transparency in the management of the Internet, why is ICANN still refusing to release their Board meeting minutes? Perhaps some member of the Board will see fit to explain and justify their actions... but I tend to doubt it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

EURid Pre-Registration Warning

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EURid, the registry selected to operate the soon-to-arrive .eu domain, warns of spam emails from a company that claims to have "taken the liberty to pre-register your .eu name"

We have received a number of complaints from people who have received unsolicited (spam) emails in which the sender claims to have pre-registered their .eu domain name on their behalf. Please note that there are no accredited .eu registrars at this time and it is not possible to pre-register a .eu name with us. Such pre-registrations sit only in the database of the provider offering the service and have no official status with the .eu registry. Over the coming months, we will accredit a network of .eu registrars across Europe and publish a list on our web site. You will need to contact one of those registrars in order to obtain your .eu name.


Still on the horizon (due for completion in 2005) by way of operational requirements:
  1. Official notification of the public policy rules and principles to the selected Registry for implementation (Article 5.1 of the Regulation).
  2. Notification of the designation of the Registry to ICANN and start of the delegation process of the .eu TLD to the Registry by ICANN.
  3. Establishment of the registration policy by the Registry in consultation with the Commission and interested parties.
  4. Completion of the delegation process with ICANN.
  5. Adoption of the procedure for accreditation and accreditation of Registrars by the .eu Registry
  6. Implementation of the sunrise period subject to the public policy adopted (Article 5.1.b of the Regulation)
  7. Implementation of the extra-judicial settlement of conflicts policy and procedure subject to the public policy adopted (Articles 5.1 and 4.2.d of the Regulation)
  8. Registry can start processing applications for names made via registrars.

WHOIS TF1/2 Blows Another Deadline

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January 14 was the Task Force's deadline for "Submission of Tiered Access Models". At a teleconference held four days later we note Agenda Item 3: "Discuss how to proceed since we didn't get models of tiered access and our deadline has passed."

This task force has already been "at work" for 175 days. The ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee that drafted bylaws provisions relating to task force timelines envisioned a process that would last "from initiation to decision – 60-90 days". The Policy Development Process was not supposed to go on and on and on ad nauseum. Meanwhile, we get this response from the Council: "The Council supports the recommendation of the external reviewer for more flexibility in the timelines of policy development."

Just how much more time do these folk need? This is just so much BS. It's a wonder that ICANN puts up with this nonsense. Even the registries are starting to get vexed -- in a recent public comment they state: "It is important that timeframes be adhered to so that ICANN constituencies are not placed in an untenable business position by a never-ending PDP related to a critical business process." By the way, the Task Force cancelled today's scheduled teleconference.

NCUC Draft Comments on ICANN Strategic Plan

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Excerpt: "Civil society groups within ICANN believe that the current advisory status of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), and the imbalance between commercial and non-commercial constituency groups in the Generic Names SupportingOrganization (GNSO), prevent ICANN from properly reflecting the interests of the non-commercial and individual users of the Internet, unfairly advantaging specific interest groups. We do not believe that the "reforms" introduced two years ago resolved these problems. Seemingly petty but consequential forms of bias, such as granting the GNSO Business constituency two representatives on the Nominating Committee when other constituencies only get to select one, are symptomatic of the kind of bias that often permeate ICANN's processes."

Debate on ICANN Restricted Fund

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On the non-commercial constituency discussion list Milton Mueller writes:

Some time in the next week we will teleconference with ICANN staff about the strategic plan. I am formulating a response. One issue strikes me as open to debate. ICANN proposes to create a "Restricted Fund forDeveloping Country Internet Communities." Do we favor or oppose?

In favor: ICANN provides support for workshops and technical forums in developing countries. The governance model of ICANN has been critizied by many on grounds that it does not foster participation from developing countries. This can be viewed as an appropriate response.

Oppose: this steps outside of ICANN's coordination role and makes it into a much more expansive welfare state type of agency. Those who are supported by ICANN are also, to a large degree, under the control ofICANN; it might be better for independent agencies (foundations, higher education institutions, civil society organizations, governments) to provide this kind of support.

Please give me your opinion.


ICANN Mar del Plata: No More Room at the Inn?

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In an e-mail posted to the GNSO Council, Tony Harris writes:
With regards to the upcoming ICANN meeting in Mar del Plata(Argentina) April 4-8th., we have been advised by ICANN that a link from the ICANN website to the
local host organization site ( www.icannmardelplata.com ) will be implemented shortly. Since some of you may be needing this information in order to make your travel arrangements, I thought it might be useful to mention this. FYI the venue hotel (Sheraton) is totally booked already, and the second best choice (Costa Galana Hotel) which is 700 mtrs away is rapidly filling up.

A popular ICANN? or perhaps soccer aficionados?

RSSAC Review: Where is it?

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ICANN bylaws require a periodic review of ICANN structures and operations by an entity or entities independent of the organization under review. Per the bylaws, the first of such reviews, to be initiated no later than 15 December 2003 and to be completed in time for Board consideration at ICANN's annual meeting in 2004, shall be of the GNSO Council and the ICANN Root Server System Advisory Committee -- So where is the RSSAC Independent Review?

We all know that the Patrick Sharry independent review of the GNSO Council was a last minute rush job started just a few weeks before the Cape Town meeting. In all probability, the oh-so-diligent ICANN Staff haven't even located an independent party to conduct this review. On the other hand, perhaps a Review isn't really needed as the last meeting of the RSSAC (according to their website) was apparently held on 24 March 2003. How exactly does one review a committee that doesn't meet for almost two years? Let's just hope that their website is simply woefully out of date, and that they actually do convene at IETF sessions.

Whatever the case, the RSSAC Review has not been released. Perhaps this "inaction by one or more members of ICANN staff" will form the basis of the first complaint sent to ICANN's new Ombudsman.


ccNSO Minutes

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Minutes - ccNSO Council Meeting (By teleconference) 13.00 UTC 18 January 2005:

Resolutions:

3.01 Pursuant to Article IX Section 3.9 of the ICANN By Laws and following the members election process IT WAS RESOLVED to nominate Peter Dengate Thrush for seat 11 and Demi Getschko for seat 12 on the ICANN Board.

3.02 Given that under the ICANN By Laws, the term of seat 11 expires in June 2005 and the term of seat 12 expires in December 2005 and given that these are both very short periods of time IT WAS RESOLVED to seek members approval (at the ccNSO meeting in Argentina in April 2005) to the proposal that the Council re-nominate Peter Dengate Thrush to the Board of ICANN in June 2005 for a full 3 year term and re-nominate Demi Getschko to the Board of ICANN in December 2005 for a full 3 year term.

3.03 Given the formation of the ICANN Nominating Committee for 2005 and given that the ccNSO is entitled to nominate one person to that committee IT WAS RESOLVED to put out a call to both members and non-members for volunteers to fill that role.

3.04 IT WAS RESOLVED that pursuant to the by laws the AFTLD organisation be formally designated as the regional organisation for the African region.

3.05 IT WAS RESOLVED to immediately form a Working Group on Councillors terms of office so that a proposal for changing the current structure for the election of Councillors and their terms can be discussed at the ccNSO meeting in Argentina and finalised at the ccNSO meeting in Luxembourg.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Catastrophic Webserver Failure at NTIA

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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), known to us for its "oversight" of ICANN, has posted this note on its website:
January 24, 2005: NTIA has experienced a catastrophic failure of its webserver. The data here is from an older backup copy of the website. We are attempting to recover all the data and will post it as it becomes available. We apologize for any inconvenience this outage has caused.

Perhaps they should have asked to participate in ICANN's testbed escrow service :)


Increase in Domain Name Registrations Expected

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Chief gTLD Registry Liaison Tina Dam writes:

Dear Registries and Sponsors,

ICANN received an inquiry about the need for a temporary increase in access to the shared registration system for registration of new domain names. This increase is due to a specific marketing program that is anticipated to result in a temporary significant increase in new domain name registrations. ICANN has been asked if this raises an issue under the equivalent access provisions of the Registry Agreement. In this instance the increase in access is not a violation of the equivalent access provision: all registrars will still be able to register new domain names as their demand requires and the pursuit of this opportunity by one registrar does not preclude others form pursuing similar endeavors. Marketing programs such as these enhance and promote competition in a way consistent with ICANN's mission.

Perhaps someone knows... does this have anything to do with the .info promotion, or is something else on the horizon?

.CAT TLD Passes Initial ICANN Evaluation

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In a comment posted to Bret Fausett's Lextext blog, former ICANN director Amadeu Abril i Abril (who has been advising the proponents of .cat) states:
"In any case .cat passed the evaluation last July, unlike many of those proposals already in the contractual negotiations with ICANN. Then we have been asked to overcome different "political" hurdles, and so we have. Let's see whether the Board takes up its own responsibilities today. "

The ICANN Board was scheduled to discuss the sTLD applications of .cat, .asia, and .xxx today. Details should follow soon.


ICANN Registries Trash GNSO Council Review

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In an analysis posted to the GNSO Council list, the gTLD Registry Constituency politely rips into the Independent GNSO Council Review. Here are a few choice remarks:

  1. "This conclusion with regard to the .net criteria work by the Council is false and details regarding missed deadlines were publicly communicated..."
  2. "There is no evidence that the required Issue Report, containing even the minimum information and instruction required by Section 2, was created or transmitted to the GNSO Council."
  3. "We have not been able to locate any public posting of the minutes of the GNSO Council meeting that allegedly took place on 1 April 2004 authorizing the creation of the "Subcommittee" notwithstanding the fact that under the Bylaws those minutes should have been posted by 22 April."
  4. "There does not appear to be any public record of a vote by the Council."
  5. "The one constituency statement received failed to contain even the minimum disclosures required by Section 7(d) for the Subcommittee's consideration of those statements (i.e., voting results, how the constituency arrived at its position in the statement, dissenting or opposing positions of constituency members to the position submitted as the consensus position in the constituency statement, any analysis of time or impact on the constituency, etc.)."
  6. "The ICANN Staff Manager did not compile an Initial Report and post it within 50 days of the PDP initiation."

A refreshing bit of honesty. Who knows what this might portend?


ICANN Announces At-Large Workshop

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ICANN will be offering "the ICANN At-Large Workshop" on February 1 in Accra, Ghana (timed to coincide with the WSIS African Regional PrepCom 2005). This workshop has supposedly been arranged by the Interim At-Large Advisory Committee, but those in the know are aware that ALAC members have had no public discussions about this event (which obviously was completely orchestrated by ICANN Staff).

The Workshop will cover such topics as:
  1. ICANN At Large -- Promoting Effective Participation in the ICANN Process: Tracing the History and Explaining the Proposed Internet User Community Participatory Structure
  2. Becoming an At-Large Structure (ALS): The Process and the Modalities
  3. Promoting Effective Participation -- The Way the Internet User Community Sees It; Contributions from Internet User Community Organizations and Prospective At-Large Structures on How to Promote Effective Public Participation in the ICANN Process and Other National, Regional and Global Internet Governance Organizations and Institutions

As a bonus, ICANN/At-Large will have a booth at the WSIS Conference Exhibition, 31 January – 4 February at the Accra International Conference Center, to provide information and answer questions about ICANN and At-Large.

As sadly there is no time in my schedule that would allow me to be in possession of a valid health certificate for Yellow Fever within the next few days, I will have to pose a few questions by way of this blog:

  1. Why are the minutes of ALAC meetings never posted? Don't these "nominated representatives" of the At-Large believe in transparency?
  2. Why has no member of this ALAC called for the democratic election of At-Large representatives to the ICANN Board?
  3. What value is there in participation without representation? Why should registries, registrars and other special interest groups have elected representatives in the ICANN process while the public has none?

As this ALAC lacks the inclination to respond to any comments from the public, I seriously doubt that answers will be forthcoming anytime soon.


On ICANN & Panix.com Hijacking

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Interesting tidbit on the Non-Commercial Constituency's mailing list:
A lawyer friend who needs to remain nameless had this to say about the Panix domain hijacking: "You know what stinks about the whole Panix story? I see domain names get stolen just about EVERY day. The only story here is that Panix has enough friends in the wine and cheese party to get help. If you are just a normal domain registrant, the message from ICANN is "f*ck off".


Auerbach on Bush Inaugural Address

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In an article entitled "Wanna Bet He Won't Apply It To His Own Government?", former North American ICANN At-Large Director Karl Auerbach writes:

"In President Bush's Second Inaugural Address the President said:

"it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture"
Does he really mean this? If so then let him begin at home, with his own Department of Commerce, in particular the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and its internet guild, ICANN.

ICANN, as we well know, was established through the efforts of NTIA. The Department of Commerce has several agreements with ICANN. NTIA and the Dep't of Commerce yearly, if not more frequently, endorse ICANN's actions and promote ICANN as a model institution of internet governance. If ICANN is not technically an arm of the Executive (Presidential) branch of the US Government, then it is certainly the well tended fruit of that government.

Those governmental contracts and endorsements have included an acceptance of ICANN's repudiation of ICANN express obligation to bring the public into its decision-making forums and processes.

If President Bush means what he says then he ought to require his own Department of Commerce to bring the principle of "democratic movements and institutions" to the internet and require ICANN to live up to its promises to let the public elect at least half of ICANN's Board of Directors."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Domain Name Reseller Problem

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On the registrars discussion list Bob Connelly noted:

"In my opinion, much of the criticism which is directed against ICANN Accredited Registrars results from the loose connections between said Accredited Registrars and strings of resellers. It is alleged that some resellers appoint subordinate levels of resellers and that sometimes these resellers are unaware of the identify of the Accredited Registrar receiving their registrations. Still further, it is alleged that some resellers are acting as resellers for two or more Accredited Registrars. The persons drafting the Task Force recommendations may well be directing their criticisms at practices which are not committed by Accredited Registrars but rather at practices of some but not necessarily all resellers of a few Accredited Registrars."

It would be interesting to know what percentage of domain name registrations are conducted by way of what appears to be a largely unregulated reseller community. To give you a sense of the scope of the potential problem, consider the fact that while there are only a few hundred accredited registrars, a single wholesale registrar such as Tucows can have "more than 6,000 resellers in over 100 countries", while a registrar such as Directi proudly advertises their "10,171 Resellers spread across 215 countries".


VeriSign: No Culpability in Panix.com Hijack

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In an e-mail sent to the NANOG list, VeriSign's Matt Larson states "I'd like to make a few comments about the panix.com transfer issue:

First, I can confirm that the panix.com domain was not in registrar lock status at the time of the transfer.

Second, VeriSign did indeed send a transfer email to Dotster. The logs show the message to Melbourne IT that Bruce already posted as well as the corresponding message to Dotster.

Third, every day VeriSign publishes a report for each registrar that shows, among other things, a list of pending outbound transfers. We have confirmed that panix.com appeared on Dotster's daily report as a pending outbound transfer for five days. (We cannot publish Dotster's reports without Dotster's permission.) Finally, there were many people here at VeriSign working behind the scenes over the weekend on this issue. Our ability to act unilaterally is constrained as we follow the process within the consensus policy for transfers -- I hope everyone can understand and appreciate this. But we can focus our efforts on opening communications and working toward a resolution among the all parties.

That's what happened last weekend: Martin Hannigan and I got the ball rolling on Sunday morning about 1000 EST. Our 24x7 customer service department contacted Dotster and Melbourne IT. Melbourne IT changed the panix.com name servers back to their original settings and transferred the domain back to Dotster."

Meanwhile, Bruce Tompkin (Chair of the GNSO Council and representative for Melbourne IT) reports: "The ICANN policy change had no impact on this particular incident. As the incident has been documented so far, the transfer would have occurred under both the old and the new policy." ... not a very comforting summation.


Registrar Gouging

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There are registrars that continue to charge as much as $200 to execute a restore command during the Redemption Grace Period (while registries only charge a maximum of $40 for this service). The Redemption Grace Period Technical Steering Group proposed that six months after the adoption of the RGP ICANN's president should reconvene the steering group to review the implementation of the RGP, to suggest possible improvements to the RGP and to discuss a development of a stage two which would enable registrants to choose the restoring registrar -- that was over two and half years ago.

Although the Steering Group rightly recognized that it would be desirable to allow registrants to be able to restore their names through a registrar other than the one that deleted their registration, the current inaction on this issue means that registrants have no real recourse other than to submit to ongoing and onerous registrar abuse -- they cannot take their business elsewhere; they cannot shop for a better deal as they are locked into a pact with their original registrar... They have no freedom of choice, and ICANN, of course, does nothing.


ICANN Strategic Plan Junket

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Although ICANN released its three year Strategic Plan for public comment well over two months ago, the constituencies of the GNSO have decided that they require a junket to Amsterdam in order to better formulate their thoughts regarding this document before the comment period expires on 28 February. Organized by the Business Constituency's Marilyn Cade (formerly representing AT&T but now representing mCADE LLC), this session will be in addition to the teleconferences with each GNSO constituency that are now being scheduled by the ICANN staff.

Let's see if anyone bothers to ask these questions:
  1. Will the at-large community ever have democratically-elected representation on the ICANN Board?
  2. What will be the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system?
  3. With the WSIS process calling for transparency in the Internet's management, will ICANN post the minutes of its Board meetings that haven't been posted since June 2003?
  4. Having closed their General Public Comment Forum (it's now read-only), does ICANN intend to continue ignoring the public it purportedly serves?
While assuredly many loyal ICANN devotees will arrive in Amsterdam for this session, Interim ALAC representative Thomas Roessler has already stated: "fyi. I'm not going."

No More Unsponsored TLDs?

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In another blow to the aspirations of Chris Ambler to finally launch .web, three of ICANN's GNSO constituencies (the BC/ISP/IP triumvirate) have declared: "All future names should be sponsored". The release of their White Paper on limited Internet domain name expansion follows Vint Cerf's highly publicized remark:
I want to go on record as saying, because I said it in another session a couple of days ago, that I am no longer sure that I have a strong understanding of why I would be motivated to create a new TLD. I'm just suggesting that having a solid philosophical basis that doesn't lead to a serious problem later will make me a lot more comfortable than I am right now, which is why the gTLD process, this whole discussion about criteria and everything else, is so important. That's why the white papers will be very helpful.

Where Vint leads, the minions apparently follow. But what can we say about this White Paper? It seems to be no more than a reprise of the much earlier BC paper "A Differentiated Expansion of the Names Space" (with a fresh update to attack the auction model proposed by both the OECD and Mueller/McKnight). For those interested in a much more reasoned approach to the issue, consider reading the March 2003 Manheim/Solum paper: "The Inefficiencies of Differentiated Expansion: an analysis and critique of the Business Constituency position paper on expansion of the top level namespace".



Registrar cites Transfer Procedure Chaos

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In a note sent to the GNSO Council (which had to be posted by way of the ICANN Forum since the GNSO Council has no intake mechanism) Bob Fox writes:
I'm dropping this note to make sure that the members of the GNSO are aware of the chaos caused by the registrar-registrar transfer procedure. I can only suppose that this mechanism was suggested and supported by the "Registrar Constituency". In my opinion as a Registrar who is not a member of the "Registrar Constituency" the constituency is run by the larger members for the promotion of their businesses. Not for the promotion of common sense, reason and the better good of the internet community. I call upon you to do something about this.

While Bob's heart is in the right place, I seriously doubt that anyone on the Council will even read his comment. It's been a week since the panix.com hijacking and no one on the Council has even seen fit to discuss the policy and security implications.