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ICANN continues to ignore the public that overwhelmingly disapproves of new gTLDs (comments of Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.)

  • To: "6gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx" <6gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: ICANN continues to ignore the public that overwhelmingly disapproves of new gTLDs (comments of Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.)
  • From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 15 May 2011 07:09:18 -0700 (PDT)

By: George Kirikos
Title: President
Organization: Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.
Website: http://www.leap.com/
Date: May 15, 2011


INTRODUCTION:

Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. owns and operates a network of some of 
the leading websites in the world, including Math.com. We continue to invest in 
the internet space, having recently acquired School.com.


SUMMARY: 

ICANN should abandon its current approach, and instead go back to basic 
principles, including maximization of benefits to consumers. It should follow 
the approach advocated by Ms. Deborah Garza in the 2008 NTIA/DOC/DOJ letter to 
ICANN, and also listen to concerns of experts like Tim Berners-Lee who oppose 
new TLDs.
MAIN: 


We have commented in every new gTLD comment period that ICANN has created. We 
do so again for this 6th Draft Applicant Guidebook. However, ICANN has not 
listened to the concerns of ourselves and others, and instead has placed its 
own interests ahead of the public.

We reiterate our most recent comments at:

http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00000.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00002.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00003.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00004.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00005.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00006.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00007.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00015.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00016.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00096.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00125.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00143.html


and the comments to the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Draft Applicant Guidebooks.

This latest guidebook does nothing to address our concerns. We also endorse the 
comments of the many other critics of ICANN's programs, including those of K 
Claffy at:

http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00138.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00139.html
http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/msg00140.html

who even noted:

"From reading the public comments it looks like everyoneis getting pretty weary 
of reposting their same concerns after they've been repeatedly ignored by 
ICANN, but i guess i'll join the growing club."

We also share the concerns of the elected representatives who grilled Kurt 
Pritz in Washington, DC recently over ICANN's rush to implement a plan that is 
not supported by the public. To be blunt, while ICANN is suggesting to the 
public that this guidebook is moving towards perfection, the public is pushing 
back to say that ICANN is simply "polishing a turd". No matter how much ICANN 
attempts to polish it, it is what it is, and will not be palatable to the 
public no matter how much wax it employs.

It's time for ICANN to go back to first principles, and reboot the new TLD 
program in its entirety. Experts like Tim Berners-Lee had argued that new TLDs 
were considered harmful:

http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/TLD
http://forum.icann.org/lists/competition-pricing-prelim/msg00016.html

and it's time to realize they were absolutely correct. ICANN's own economists 
did not show that the benefits of new TLDs would outweigh the costs to the 
public. Furthermore, ICANN's own economists were not given proper instructions, 
to explore what mechanisms would *maximize* the benefits to the public, while 
minimizing the costs upon the public. Had ICANN done so, we have no doubt that 
maximization of consumer welfare (i.e. benefits to end-users) would have been 
realized only through fixed-term registry contracts, awarded via 
competitively-bid tender processes. This is exactly what the DOC, NTIA and DOJ 
were advocating in 2008, see:

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/comments/2008/ICANN_081218.pdf

See the last two pages of that document, for example:

"Finally, ICANN should require competitive bidding for renewals of a gTLD 
registry agreement, rather than granting the incumbent operator a perpetual 
right to renew without competition.........competitive bidding has resulted in 
lower domain prices and higher operating specifications....ICANN's approach to 
TLD management demonstrates that it has adopted an ineffective approach with 
respect to its obligation to promote competition at the registry level. We 
respectfully suggest that the DOC refrain from expressing satisfaction with 
ICANN's progress toward the goal of promoting competition among TLDs unless and 
until ICANN develops a credible and effective policy that compels it to employ 
tools such as competitive bidding to manage TLDs in a manner that safeguards 
the interests of registrants in obtaining high quality domains at the lowest 
possible prices. To date, we believe that ICANN has not come close to 
fulfilling its obligations to employ competitive
 principles in its management of TLD registry operations."

This letter was dated December 3, 2008, yet it remains true today. ICANN has 
done the exact *opposite* of that letter said should be required of ICANN. 
Indeed, ICANN has recently put forth a renewal of the .NET agreement with 
VeriSign:

http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-11apr11-en.htm

http://forum.icann.org/lists/net-agreement-renewal/


which guarantees price increases for VeriSign, instead of requiring a 
competitive tender in order to maximize benefits for consumers. This is a slap 
in the face to the DOC, DOJ, NTIA and to the public. In these difficult 
economic times, ICANN's bad policies translate into higher costs for consumers 
on the order of several hundred million dollars per year (i.e. higher costs for 
com/net alone, compared to competitive tenders). That directly translates into 
lost jobs, as the savings could be used by companies to reinvest in productive 
pursuits, rather than being wasted on monopolistic fees paid to VeriSign.

CONCLUSION:

ICANN's record in TLD management remains appalling, and we call upon the DOC, 
NTIA, DOJ and GAC to compel ICANN to go back to the drawing board. In the 
alternative, if ICANN does not demonstrate a willingness to do so, it's time to 
end the ICANN "experiment", end the outsourcing of TLD management to ICANN, and 
instead restore the management of TLDs to the DOC/NTIA.

Sincerely,

George Kirikos
416-588-0269
http://www.leap.com/



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