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Objections to renewal of .aero sponsorship agreement

  • To: aero-renewal@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Objections to renewal of .aero sponsorship agreement
  • From: "Edward Hasbrouck" <edward@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 04 Feb 2006 16:22:58 -0800

ICANN has requested public comments concerning the
application by SITA for renewal of the .aero
sponsorship agreement between SITA and ICANN:

http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement1-21dec05.htm

As a member of the Sponsored TLD community and the
global Internet community, I question whether the
Sponsor's continued sponsorship would be in the best
interest of the .aero Sponsored TLD Community and the
global Internet community.

I also call to ICANN's attention that SITA has been and
remains in continuing, material breach of its contract
with ICANN; is not representative of the majority of
the Sponsored TLD Community; and has made materially
false statements to ICANN in its application for
renewal of the.aero sponsorship agreement.

For all these reasons, I request that ICANN *not* renew
the.aero sponsorship agreement with SITA, and that 
ICANN implement improved procedures for oversight and 
enforcement of TLD sponsorship agreements.

1. BREACH OF CONTRACT BY SPONSOR

The .aero sponsorship agreement includes the following
contractual commitments to ICANN by SITA ("Sponsor"):

http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/sponsored/sponsorship-agmt-
05nov04.htm

        4.2. General Obligations of Sponsor. During the
        Term of this Agreement, Sponsor shall, in
        developing or enforcing standards, policies,
        procedures, or practices within the scope of
        its delegated authority with respect to the
        Sponsored TLD:

                4.2.1. publish such standards,
                policies, procedures, and practices so
                they are available to members of the
                Sponsored TLD Community;

                4.2.2. conduct its policy-development
                activities in manner that reasonably
                provides opportunities for members of
                the Sponsored TLD Community to discuss
                and participate in the development of
                such standards, policies, procedures,
                or practices;

                4.2.3. maintain the representativeness
                of its policy-development and
                implementation process by establishing
                procedures that facilitate
                participation by a broad cross-section
                of the Sponsored TLD Community;

                4.2.4. ensure, through published
                procedures, adequate opportunities for
                members of the Sponsored TLD Community
                to submit their views on and objections
                to the establishment or revision of
                standards, policies, procedures, and
                practices or the manner in which
                standards, policies, procedures, and
                practices are enforced;...

In addition, Attachment 23, incorporated in the
agreement, provides as follows:

http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/aero/sponsorship-agmt-att23-
17nov01.htm


        2. Open Forum for Communication

        Sponsor will operate a web site located at
        www.information.aero to provide clear
        information to prospective registrants about
        registration procedures. In addition, Sponsor
        will post on its web site, information about
        its procedures and policies as well as
        Sponsor's meeting minutes and decisions so that
        any interested person or entity will can be
        aware of, and have an opportunity to respond
        to, Sponsor's actions and understand how to
        participate in the sTLD. See also Subsection
        4.2.1.

SITA is in continuing material breach of sections 4.2.1
through 4.2.4, and Section 2 of attachment 23, of the
.aero sponsorship agreement with ICANN.

Nothing on the Web site at http://www.information.aero
provides any information to members of the Sponsored
TLD Community, or the global Internet community, as to
how "any interested person or entity" can "participate
in the sTLD", particularly in policy decision-making.

SITA claims to have "consulted" with a "Dot Aero
Council" on some (unspecified) .aero policies:

http://www.information.aero/index.php?id=11

But the "Dot Aero Council" consists primarily of SITA
itself: of 19 categories of potential registrants of
.aero names, 11 are "represented" on the Dot Aero
Council by SITA itself.  And those 11 include the
categories of potential registrants including the
largest numbers of people (passenger associations,
workers' unions, aviation professionals, and pilots).

Contrary to section 2 of Attachment 23, the .aero Web
site contains no information about how any of these 11
categories of .aero community members allegedly
"represented" by SITA, or "any interested person or
entity", can participate in .aero decision-making.

No notices of meetings or notices of proposals made to
the Dot Aero Council, or for the meetings of SITA in
which SITA itself ultimately makes .aero policy
decisions (after possibly "consulting" with the Dot
Aero Council) are publicly available.

The entire Dot Aero Council Web site is password
protected.  There is no information as to how community
members or other interested persons or entities can
request a username and password, or what the criteria
are for issuance of usernames or passwords:

http://www.information.aero/index.php?id=152

There is no way for community members or other
interested persons or entities to know what issues are
being considered; what policy proposals have been made;
or when, where, or by whom they will be considered.

There are no opportunities for the majority of
categories of members of the .aero community "to
discuss and participate in the development of such
standards, policies, procedures, or practices".

For example, SITA has proposed amendments to the .aero
sponsorship agreement with ICANN -- the highest level
of TLD policy:

http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/aero/sponsorship-amendment1-
13jan05.htm

These proposed amendments were never made known to
members of the .aero community before they were
proposed by SITA to ICANN.  There was no opportunity
for members of the .aero community to participate in
the development of these .aero policy amendments.

Similarly, SITA has announced an agreement to migrate
.aero to a new registry operator:

http://www.information.aero/fileadmin/documents/.aero_-_Afilias_-
_FINAL.pdf

http://www.information.aero/index.php?id=93&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=72&tx_ttnews
[backPid]=3&cHash=5fcc2a1c2d

But the first public announcement came *after* the new
registry agreement had been approved by SITA.  There
was no notice of any opportunity for community input
into whether to change registries, the selection of a
new registry, or the terms of the registry contract.

The highest level of policy decisions concerning the
.aero Sponsored TLD -- amendments to the sponsorship
agreement, and the selection of a new registry operator
-- have been made by SITA entirely in secret.

SITA is in material breach of its agreement with ICANN.

2. NON-REPRESENTATIVENESS OF SPONSOR

As discussed above, SITA has designated itself as the
"representative" in the "Dot Aero Council" of the
majority of the categories of potential .aero
registrants and .aero community members.

But there is no evidence in SITA's application for
renewal that SITA is capable of representing, or has in
fact successfully represented, these interest groups.

SITA does not represent, and is inherently incapable of
representing, the majority of members of the .aero
community, and has not operated the .aero TLD in their
interest or that of the global Internet community.

In particular, since a controlling interest in SITA is
held by airlines, SITA is inherently incapable of
representing groups whose interests are often opposed
to those of airlines, including airline passengers and
passenger associations, aviation workers and their
trade unions, and "aviation media" (the category to
which I belong as a writer and electronic publisher
focused on consumer reporting for air travellers).

3. MISREPRESENTATIONS IN RENEWAL APPLICATION

In its application for renewal of the .aero sponsorship
agreement, SITA "certifies that it has complied with
all material terms of the Sponsorship Agreement"
(except for certain provisions not discussed here):

http://www.icann.org/tlds/renewals/aero-renewal-proposal-16dec05.pdf

As detailed above, SITA has not complied with material
terms of the sponsorship agreement specifically those
related to openness, transparency, and decision-making
procedures in Section 4 .2 of the agreement and Section
2 of Attachment 23 to the agreement, as well as those
pertaining to representativeness by the sponsor of the
sponsored TLD community.

SITA's claim in its renewal application to have
complied with the terms of the .aero sponsorship
agreement is clearly false, and appears on its face to
have, necessarily, been knowing and deliberate.

These are not minor, innocent, or inadvertent breaches
of contract by SITA.  These are breaches of the most
fundamental rules for the exercise of decision-making
authority delegated by ICANN, continuing years after
they were brought directly to the attention both of
SITA and ICANN, including ICANN's Board of Directors.

Accordingly, I request that ICANN's agreement with SITA
for sponsorship of the .aero TLD not be renewed, and
that ICANN implement improved procedures for oversight
and enforcement of TLD sponsorship agreements.

Sincerely,

Edward Hasbrouck


----------------
Edward Hasbrouck
<edward@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
<http://hasbrouck.org>
+1-415-824-0214

"The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World"
(3rd edition, 2004)
"The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace"
<http://www.practicalnomad.com>




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