Saturday, January 29, 2005

ICANN Staff Misses Deadline

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.


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