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Username: richard04
Date/Time: Sun, March 17, 2002 at 12:16 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Most key .info and .biz names are still locked up - this new tld forum is not over


The New TLD agreements have been advertised as ICANN's "proof of concept"... well, the "proof of concept" is far from proven, in fact it remains a shambles.

This forum has followed the working out of the TLD agreements and commented on them, providing a vital analysis from the standpoint of the consumer and the internet public.

Early on it challenged the assumption that a trademark name (held by hundreds of different companies) could be rightly assigned to one entity at what ICANN called "Sunrise".

Before Sunrise even took place, it predicted that the system would be abused and warned the so-called professionals.

It questioned the right of ICANN to hijack a TLD like .biz from a company that was already making its living from it.

As the first Sunrise frauds came to light, it blew the whistle on domain-squatters like Govinda Leopold, the Afilias board member who obtained fake Sunrise names through the use of phoney Trademark numbers.

It predicted the scale of the fraud would be in the region of 20% - a claim strongly refuted by Michael Palage but which later turned out to be absolutely correct.

It was vindicated by the resignation of Afilias Director Robert Connelly, who called the .info Sunrise an "abomination".

It offered through the Domebase solution an equitable and commonsense solution to the Sunrise fiasco, but was ignored by ICANN and Afilias.

It brought to light deliberate falsification of Trademark data by Registars, and extracted admissions from executives like Lars Hindsley.

It revealed the way in which companies like Speednames (represented on the Afilias board) and Domainbank (run by Afilias CEO Lubsen) had profited by a total exceeding $500,000 to abuse Afilias's own Sunrise system, by submitting facially ineligible Trademark data.

It published the hundreds of names falsely registered by ICANN accredited registrars, and asked why ICANN was prepared to support these companies, and accommodate their fraud without sanction.

It called on Vint Cerf and Stuart Lynn to enter into dialogue and just talk about some of these very serious concerns.

It showed the world the "scam" of the same names being sold first for the Landrush, then at Sunrise, and now being sold yet again for a third time at Landrush 2.

It worked co-operatively and asked questions which it was fair and reasonable to ask.

And the New TLD Agreements STILL require a forum as long as the "proof of concept" has not reached its chaotic conclusion. Because the key issues for discussion are not the paperwork, but how these agreements work out in practice and impact upon consumers.

In short, with over 10000 key .info generics still unaccounted for and locked up; and even more key .biz names lost in a void after legal action; it has to be said that the real roll-out has hardly even begun.

This same week, the ICANN board under Stuart Lynn's discredited leadership has initiated steps to remove the democratically accountable elements of the Board. Even senior congressmen have had enough of ICANN's opaque dealings.

And to cap it all, Stuart Lynn has marginalised the Public Forum as "a joke".

It's absolutely simple : forums like this one (which has had over 7000 contributions in its short life) are a tiny window through which some light of truth may shine.

In a free and democratic society it is right that consumers should be protected; that consumers should ask fair questions; and that executives who claim the right to administer a worldwide resource (for all humanity) should be answerable and accountable in an open and honest process.

To say that ICANN has failed in this duty is a huge understatement. It has known (and been made aware) of successive frauds. It has been party to contracts which facilitated these frauds. And it has presided over the fraudulent activities of its protege registrars which it continues to accredit and promote - without sanction or public criticism.

This new TLD forum is not over, because the internet community will not be sidelined by a quango which grows self-perpetuating and drifts further and further from the consumers it purports to serve.

Vint Cerf had a not insignificant reputation in the past. Much indeed has been owed to him in times gone by. But he has kept silent. He has evaded this group. By association with ICANN, he has presided over processes which ran away from public comment. Processes which surrendered the consumer interest of small businesses and the internet community in favour of big business and the Trademark lobby.

He has sided with those who were prepared to accommodate a culture of corruption. He has presided over the defrauding of Landrush customers who lost in the region of $3,000,000. He has presided over the fraudulent actions and the imbecilic ineptitude of the Afilias Board and executive. He has smiled benignly at the corrupt Registrars and when proven corrupt, he has continued to accredit them and promote them in the name of ICANN.

Where is the consumer in all this?

Where is the protection for ordinary people?

That is, primarily, what this forum has all been about.

ICANN's defence has repeatedly been that this has all been a "proof of concept". But the losses sustained as a result of fraud, as a result of Registry and Registrar abuse, as a result of non-existent safeguards - these were not a "proof of concept" : these were real people losing real money, losing real time, losing real ideals and plans for their future.

This forum wishes to continue to monitor the implementation of the New TLD agreements.

No open, honest and transparent organisation could deny that it has an important role to fulfil, and any half-decent organisation would value the input, dialogue and co-operation that this forum can offer.

It is not yet appropriate to close this forum. It would be more appropriate for ICANN to question the continuing mandate of its own executive.      


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