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[bc-gnso] NetChoice blog post from Sydney

  • To: <bc-gnso@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [bc-gnso] NetChoice blog post from Sydney
  • From: Steve DelBianco <sdelbianco@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 17:06:38 +1000


Pausing for Breath on a Didgeridoo

The didgeridoo performance that kicked off this week's ICANN meeting in
Sydney prompted Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush to marvel at how the player
produced a continuous sound without pausing for breath. The didgeridoo could
become the official instrument at ICANN, which pushes ever forward with its
plans, often without pausing to respond to the legitimate concerns of

ICANN has a lot on its plate this week -- the upcoming expiration of its
formative agreement with the U.S. Government, the introduction of hundreds
of new top-level domains (TLDs), internationalized TLDs, and internal
restructuring, just to name a few.

What's concerning is that with such a loaded agenda, ICANN seems to be
succumbing to an artificial sense of urgency, trying to mow through complex,
challenging policy changes without taking the time needed to get the policy

One example of this trend was Monday¹s discussion of vertical integration
among registries and registrars. It's a complicated issue, and one that
could have serious ramifications for all Internet users, as I tried to point
out in my comments:

> Allowing registries (wholesalers) to be owned by registrars (retailers) and
> vice versa may have some beneficial effects for the market, but also may have
> severe unintended consequences for Internet users in the business community
> and elsewhere.
> The economists brought in by ICANN talked about market power problems with
> exclusive or preferential vertical contracts.  But registrants are also
> impacted by old fashioned spite and rivalry, if it compromises market
> performance.  For instance, some registrars choose not to sell some TLD
> domains because they don¹t want to enrich a competing registrar who¹s running
> the TLD registry.
> This isn't just hypothetical concern -- it's happening today with the dot me
> TLD. .me is a GoDaddy project, so some rival registrars don¹t even show .me as
> an available TLD.  If I¹m a registrant in .me, or trying to build a social
> network around .me domains, I lose when inter-registrar rivalries suppress
> registrations (and traffic) in the TLD.

The complexity and lack of consensus on the issue was illustrated by the
free-flowing (and long-running) debate that followed the discussion, but the
buzz in the hallways is that ICANN is in a hurry to make a final
determination on this issue to clear the way for the introduction of new
top-level domains.

Unfortunately, that buzz is a familiar tune, since ICANN often deems that
meeting its own deadlines is more important than achieving real consensus on
serious issues.

As much as we enjoy the continuous sound of the instrument, it may be time
for the organization to stop and take a breath.

--Steve DelBianco

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