Comment on ICANN's Four Primary Issues
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed settlement agreement with Verisign and the proposed new .COM Agreement. Although I am a member of ICANN's At Large Advisory Committee, serving as its liaison to the GNSO, and have contributed to the ALAC Statement posted elsewhere on this comment board, these comments are my own.
As I have reviewed the posted agreements, they seem intended to address four primary issues:
(1) the implementation of new registry-level services and the settlement of the litigation over those issues with Verisign;
(2) transition of root service publication and management from Verisign and the United States to ICANN;
(3) an improved, predictable funding mechanism for ICANN; and,
(4) renewal and/or extension of the .COM Registry Agreement for another period of years.
The fact that Verisign and ICANN would discuss these issues at the same time for their mutual convenience is understandable, but I would recommend that they be unbundled for purposes of discussion and final approval. Let me provide my comments and recommendations on the four issues in turn.
As a domain name registrant managing approximately 25 registrations, I believe that the settlement of the litigation, the resolution of new registry services previously proposed by Verisign, and the transition of root service publication and management to ICANN are beneficial to ICANN and, on balance, in the best interests of domain name registrants like me. The other two issues require more consideration.
A new funding mechanism for ICANN should be created as a product of an informed discussion among domain name registries, domain name registrars, domain name registrants (who ultimately fund ICANN through the fees they pay to their registrars), and any other entities, such as RIRs and ccTLD registries, from which ICANN intends to seek funding. The new funding mechanism should not only include a predictable way of funding ICANN, but it also should include checks and approval mechanisms by the greater ICANN community to ensure that ICANN's budget and aspirations do not exceed its narrow mission of technical coordination. To the extent that the creation of a new funding mechanism will require more time than ICANN's current funds on hand will allow, I encourage ICANN to seek an intermediate agreement from registrars for short-term funding. From what I heard at the meeting in Vancouver, the registrars are willing to meet ICANN's near term financial needs.
Once the immediate financial issue is resolved, I recommend that the ICANN President and Board create a multi stakeholder committee, which should include significant representation from domain name registrants, to propose a new funding mechanism for the corporation.
Finally, on the .COM renewal, which is the most controversial of the four issues noted above, the current agreement with Verisign expires on November 10, 2007. To the extent that the current agreement must be modified to account for new registry-level services, ICANN and Verisign should enter into contractual negotiations designed to modify that contract for its remaining two years. Whether the .COM agreement is renewed and, if so, on what terms it is renewed, should proceed under the normal course of renewal planning and review contemplated in the existing agreement.
Thank you again for the opportunity to contribute to ICANN's ongoing work.