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ICA Strongly Supports a Thirty Day Extension of the Comment Period

  • To: "gnso-improvements-report-2008@xxxxxxxxx" <gnso-improvements-report-2008@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: ICA Strongly Supports a Thirty Day Extension of the Comment Period
  • From: Phil Corwin <pcorwin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 16:42:33 -0400

Attorneys at Law
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-1701
Philip S. Corwin, Partner

By E-Mail

March 21, 2008

Board of Directors
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601

Re: Request for Extension of the Comment Period Regarding GNSO Reform

Dear Members of the ICANN Board:

This comment letter is submitted by the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) in 
regard to the Board's February 15th Resolution establishing a thirty day period 
for final public comments on the Report regarding GNSO improvements.. ICA is a 
not-for-profit trade association representing the direct search industry. Its 
membership is composed of individuals and companies that invest in domain names 
(DNs) and develop and monetize the associated websites, as well as the 
companies that serve them. Professional domain name registrants are a major 
source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself.

The ICA was recently admitted as an international member of the Commercial and 
Business Users Constituency (CBUC) and submits this request in that capacity. 
The ICA's position is as follows:

 *   We stand in strong support of the joint request submitted earlier this 
week by CBUC in conjunction with the Intellectual Property and the Internet 
Service and Connection Providers constituencies.
 *   We agree that the February 15, 2008 Report from the governance committee 
is a proposal for radical structural change of the GNSO Council that maintains 
and enhances the dominance of the contract parties while diminishing the role 
of commercial interests.
 *   We agree that the Report has key defects relating to adequate incentives 
for effective policy development; credibility of commercial interest 
participation; and ICANN's oversight and public interest responsibilities.
 *   We strongly support extension of the comment period on the Report for an 
additional thirty days, until April 25th, to allow for the completion and 
submission of an alternative structural proposal from the three concerned 
constituencies as well as to allow them to seek support for that alternative 
from the public interests community. This alternative proposal is designed to 
address the substantial defects of the Report and to assure that the influence 
of users is greater than the interest of contract parties under any adopted 
plan for GNSO improvements.

ICANN's handling of this critically important matter can also be expected to 
have a substantial effect on the decision of the U.S. government regarding 
extension or termination of its oversight of ICANN when the current Joint 
Project Agreement (JPA) expires in 2009, as it directly bears on whether 
ICANN's operation conforms with the vision of private sector leadership that 
was a central objective in ICANN's creation. As we stated in our submission of 
February 15, 2008 to the Department of Commerce in regard to the JPA:

ICANN is in the process of considering a proposal for GNSO "improvements" that 
would substantially reduce the ability of the three present business sector 
constituencies - commercial and business users (CBUC), intellectual property 
(IP), and Internet service providers (ISP) to influence ICANN's policymaking 
process. This downgrading would be accomplished by shifting much of the policy 
development process to ad hoc working groups while simultaneously awarding half 
of all voting power to  the two constituencies with which ICANN has direct 
contractual relationships (registries and registrars), with the combined 
noncontractual business sector constituencies sharing one-quarter of all voting 
power. As the ICA has just been provisionally approved as a member of CBUC this 
downgrading of business sector policy influence will diminish the ability of 
professional registrants to influence ICANN policymaking.

The ICA shares the substantial concern of other business entities that, under 
the pending proposal, the contractual constituencies will have little incentive 
to make the ad hoc working groups effective drivers of policy decisions - and, 
at the same time, the diminished role of noncontractual business entities will 
undermine their incentive to continue active participation in the ICANN 
process. In the long term this will diminish ICANN's credibility and quite 
possibly lead to the perception that it has morphed into a trade association 
for the contractual parties. This result would be at sharp odds with the 
original vision of ICANN as a consensus-driven, bottom-up organization taking 
its overall direction from commercial and noncommercial users of the domain 
name system, and not from the middlemen who administer it. No firm decision 
regarding termination of the JPA should be undertaken until a final decision on 
the future structure and operation of the GNSO has been made and the results of 
that decision have been observed for a reasonable period of time.

On the final day of its just-completed Delhi meeting the ICANN Board voted to 
put the GNSO improvements plan out for public comment for a period of only 30 
days, rather than the far more meaningful 60 day period sought by many members 
of the business constituency - especially given that the main recommendations 
were accompanied by two sharply dissenting minority reports. The Department Of 
Commerce should carefully monitor this ongoing process to assure that there is 
no unseemly rush to implement a controversial proposal that may permanently 
degrade the ability of noncontractual business interests to meaningfully 
influence ICANN policymaking. (Emphasis added.)

The requested extension of the comment period will leave more than enough time 
for consideration of the alternative proposal by the ICANN Board when it meets 
on June 27th in Paris. As this is a matter that goes to the heart of the ICANN 
structure and policy making process, and that will have long term consequences 
for ICANN's operations as well its perception by all interested parties, we 
believe that fundamental fairness requires that the Board grant the thirty day 
extension of the comment period that has been requested in good faith by the 
affected commercial constituencies.

Philip S. Corwin
Counsel, Internet Commerce Association

Philip S. Corwin
Butera & Andrews
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20004
202-347-6875 (office)

202-347-6876 (fax)

202-255-6172 (cell)

"Luck is the residue of design." -- Branch Rickey

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