This was the article Robert posted at the ICANN-WATCH site:
Afilias recently noted
their "resolve to live up to both the spirit and letter of our agreement with ICANN
in an open and transparent way." (The Register, 9/10/2001) This commitment to openness
and transparency is to be commended. It is important for evaluation of the start-up
of the new top level domain .INFO and for learning lessons that can be applied to
the start-ups of future top level domain names. In light of this commitment, the
following are twelve key questions that should be investigated. When the answers
to these questions are brought to light, then the start-ups of future top level domains
will be improved.
1. Why were there not basic
data-entry checks for Sunrise period registrations to avoid blatantly-fraudulent
Sunrise period registrations of non-trademarked names? (e.g. check to see if there
is a valid date in the date field? check to see if the name in the trademark name
field matches in any way the domain name?)
2. Why has Afilias ignored proposed
solutions (such as the one at DomeBase.com) which would address the problem of bogus
Sunrise registrations so that Land Rush pre-registrants are not cheated out of their
non-refundable pre-registration fees and paid chances at names taken by fraudulent
Sunrise registrations? Currently, it looks like the score is: Cheats=1, Honest People=0.
Is it too late to implement a Land Rush II to give those who were cheated out of
pre-registration fees in the first Land Rush a chance without making them pay twice?
3. Independent investigations have estimated that the percentage of bogus Sunrise
period registrations is between 15-25% of all names and a much higher percentage
of valuable generic names. Afilias has said that they will address this problem by
challenging names themselves. How will Afilias identify which names to challenge?
What percentage do they plan to challenge? Will they challenge enough to substantively
correct the problem or only a small fraction?
4. Who authorized cutting off the
author of one of these independent investigations from participation to the "New
TLD Agreements Forum" on the ICANN website -- until other participants expressed
shock and requested his reinstatement?
5. Did Afilias or individuals within Afilias
reserve their own personal names, geographic names such as states, or names with
legitimate trademarks held by other parties (e.g. cybersquatting)?
6. Is Afilias
management creating a new company called "Afilias USA?" If so, why? What are the
implications for assets and liabilities? What are the implications for customers
of the original Afilias? Was the public informed? Were even all of the Directors
of the original Afilias informed?
7. Most of registrars
have done a good job working with the uncertainties of the .INFO start-up period,
adjusting to changing rules and schedules, and providing good, honest customer service
for pre-registration. However, there are some practices by a few registrars that
need to be addressed --
8. Did some registrars encourage trademark fraud by: sending
e-mails promoting registration of non-trademarked names during Sunrise; advertising
that trademark details are "optional"; or themselves filling in fraudulent trademark
9. Did some registrars or their staff register names using fraudulent
10. Did some registrars or their staff abuse the registrar
reserved privilege by reserving their own personal names, geographic names such as
states, or names with legitimate trademarks held by other parties (e.g. cybersquatting)?
11. Are some registrars accepting payment for something that they can not sell?
For example, are they charging non-refundable pre-registration fees for names that
are not available because they were reserved or already registered?
12. Are some
registrars using "bait and switch" tactics on consumers -- by tacking on additional,
unapproved credit card charges that were not specified when consumers pre-registered
or by switching from single to multiple submissions per name?
of the reasons given for the relatively-slow introduction of new top level domain
names by ICANN is the importance of "doing it right." To ensure that the start up
of new top level domains names by ICANN is indeed "done right" and that evaluation
of these start-ups is done in an "open and transparent way", it is important that
the answers to these questions be brought to light and applied to future start-ups.