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  • To: <net-rfp-general@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject:
  • From: "Steve Metalitz" <metalitz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005 17:12:03 -0500

February 4, 2005 

The Coalition for Online Accountability (COA) welcomes the chance to
comment upon the applications that have been lodged with ICANN from
entities seeking to operate the .NET registry beginning in July 2005.  

COA  (formerly the Copyright Coalition on Domain Names (CCDN)) consists
of eight leading copyright industry companies, trade associations and
membership organizations of copyright owners: the American Society of
Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); Business Software Alliance
(BSA); Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI); Motion Picture Association of
America (MPAA); Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA);
Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA); Time Warner, Inc.;
and the Walt Disney Company.  COA's goal is to enhance and strengthen
online transparency and accountability by working to ensure that domain
name and IP address Whois databases remain publicly accessible,
accurate, and reliable, as a key tool against online infringement of
copyright, as well as to combat trademark infringement, cybersquatting,
phishing, and other fraudulent or criminal acts online.  

At the outset we note that the opportunity for public review of these
applications has been very limited.  In our view, two weeks is not a
sufficient time period to thoroughly review and comment upon the
voluminous submissions that have been made.  Accordingly, we focus this
submission solely upon the applicants' proposals for operating a Whois
registry service, as set forth in Appendix O of each application.  

We note that the .NET RFP, see
states that, with regard to publicly available Whois service,  the .NET
registry operator must meet the specifications of Appendix O either of
the current .NET registry agreement (if the applicant proposes to
maintain the "thin registry" model), or of the current .ORG  registry
agreement (if the applicant proposes a transition to the "thick
registry" model).  According to the RFP, "this is an absolute
criterion."  .NET RFP at 13.    An applicant who fails to meet any
absolute criterion "will be eliminated from the process."  Id. at 2.  

Under these ground rules, the DENIC application should be eliminated
from the process.  DENIC proposes to migrate .NET to a thick registry
model, but its proposed Whois service does not resemble in any way the
specification contained in Appendix O of the .ORG registry agreement.
See .ORG Registry Agreement, Appendix O, at
Under Section 7.3 of that Appendix, the registry Whois output for both
the Domain Record and the Contact Record contains a number of data
elements to enable the Whois requester to identify and contact the
registrant and the administrative and technical contacts of the
registrant.  By contrast, under DENIC's proposed Appendix O, see
http://www.icann.org/tlds/net-rfp/applications/denic.htm, registry Whois
data output would include only registrant name and street address, with
no other contact data (e-mail, phone, or even city/state/country)  or
any listing of administrative or technical contact information.
Furthermore, the nameserver data provided would not include IP address.

Similarly, the Sentan proposal in its current form does not fulfill this
absolute criterion.  Sentan proposes migration of .NET to what it calls
a "modified thick registry," and thus its Appendix O must meet the
specifications of the existing .ORG agreement.  However, Sentan proposes
that its registry Whois output would include name, organization and
postal address of the registrant only, with no phone or e-mail
information, and no data on administrative or technical contacts.  The
Sentan proposal does state that, "in the event ICANN desires Sentan to
operate a fully thick registry, including the WHOIS display, it shall do
so post transition." See
http://www.icann.org/tlds/net-rfp/applications/sentan.htm. This "event"
has already occurred, and is reflected in the .NET RFP.  Thus, the
Sentan proposal should either be evaluated on the assumption that a
"fully thick" registry model will be operated, or else the proposal
should be eliminated for failure to meet an absolute criterion.  

The Afilias proposal is ambiguous.  While it appears to contemplate
operation (after a transition period) of a thick registry Whois that
complies with the current .ORG agreement, it also presents, in Section
7.3 of Appendix O, an incomplete set of data elements (lacking all
address, phone and e-mail data for registrant and all contacts) as "an
example of a Whois response for a domain that is stored in the registry
as an EPP-based domain however certain information is not disclosed
because of DCP considerations."  See Afilias .NET Application Form, at
http://www.icann.org/tlds/net-rfp/applications/afilias.htm.  Afailias
may well have the ability and willingness to meet the absolute criterion
regarding public Whois output, but this should be clarified.  

The concern raised in this submission is not a mere technicality.
Failure of the .NET registry operator to fulfill the absolute criterion
regarding Whois output would severely undermine or entirely eliminate
the value of Whois and nameserver data in providing accountability and
transparency to Internet activities taking place on .NET.  This would
undercut the efforts of consumers, parents, journalists, law enforcement
agents, computer security operatives, intellectual property owners, and
countless other Internet users to track down who is responsible for
particular sites or nodes online.  The result would be to make the
second largest gTLD a much more comfortable place than it is today for
online criminals, infringers, phishers, scam artists, and other
malefactors.  We know that ICANN already understands this, which is why
it decided to make compliance with existing registry practices an
absolute criterion in this competition.  Now it is time for ICANN to
implement that decision.  

Thank you for considering our views.  

Respectfully submitted, 

Steven J. Metalitz
Counsel, Coalition for Online Accountability 
Smith & Metalitz LLP
1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 825
Washington, DC 20006 USA
tel:  202/833-4198
fax: 202/872-0546
e-mail:  metalitz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 

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