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Username: pvos
Date/Time: Fri, October 27, 2000 at 5:22 PM GMT
Browser: Netscape Communicator V4.06 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: PR flacks really need to restrain themselves :-)


                My (PETER VOS) comments are preceded by a *******
Meek's comments are not marked
Crocker's comments are preceded by a ?????????

Although Webster asked for no comments to his rather lengthy post (when a link referring to the article would have suffice).  because "it simply clogs up this Forum." I would point out this Public Comment Forum is dedicated to discussion of New TLD Applications that have been submitted to ICANN.  Seems like a perfectly good place to reply- provided the reply is on topic and devoid of invective or ad hominem attacks.

For brevity,  I have deleted sections which I did not comment on.  I have tried to maintain the context of each section for reference.

====== begin thread

       The acrimony between ICANN and its legions of critics is as thick as the peanut butter on a two-year-old’s sandwich. Truth is, ICANN has manufactured most of its own troubles, starting with a stupefying bent toward secrecy, while pledging to operate in a spirit of consensus and transparency.

?????????  Those of us in the technical community, who are active with DNS and ICANN would be interested in hearing detail about whatever conspiracy is being claimed, here. The secret is so well kept, literally no one appears to know about it, including those presumably involved... 

******   I think that "conspiracy" is probably too harsh, but there is no question that folks have been attempting to hijack the process in a variety of ways for some time and that conflicts of interest, typified by the sorts of allegations leveled at Stubbs, are clearly not being addressed even handedly.  It is a shame that Jon passed away at such a critical point - although I am sure his death at ANY time would have been viewed as occuring at "a critical juncture."

       There are three generic top-level domain names right now: .com, .org and .net. By far the most coveted is .com. However, the dot-com space has nearly reached its saturation point. Trademark conflicts abound. And just try to find an available two or three letter dot-com — you’d have better luck finding sweat on a dog’s back.
       That scarcity forced ICANN to choke on its hairball policy that new domains couldn’t be introduced for fear of crashing the entire Net, and it began the process of taking applications to create new domains.

????????? ICANN has never had a policy that new domains could not be introduced. It has had a policy of proceeding with due diligence and due caution, as apprpriate for an organization that is a) new, b) responsible for operation of critical infrastructure resources, and c) having to pay rather a lot of attention to the carping of poorly informed critics. 

**** I agree the arguments of whether or not to add new tLD is a red herring.  But that cuts both ways.  The fact that ccTLDs are routinely added and nothing comes to a grinding halt really argues in favor of adding the .web, .shop, etc. gTLDs.  If you read RFC 1591 and particularly the section relating to RFC 1480 you see that this is an isssue which was identified and actually addressed by Jon over seven years ago.  Of special  note however, in RFC 1591 is Jon's definition of "designated managers."  I point this out for the following reason: Registries (not registrars or registrants) would be  the equivalent institution to "designated managers."  In his inimitable way, Jon clearly and succintly outlined the minimal criteria of that job. 

"The major concern in selecting a designated manager for a domain is
   that it be able to carry out the necessary responsibilities, and have
   the ability to do a equitable, just, honest, and competent job." 

Jon goes on to list the specific requirements.  In my opinion, IOD has always, and continues to meet these requirments.  It was based upon that decision that I elected to register several .web domains with IOD but did NOT support the myriad of other "Alternic" solutions being touted.  I think it is important to determine if Afilias or Neustar could meet that challenge.  I would suggest that NeuStar fails because it has no track record, and Afilias fails because the track record of many of its members is suspect.  I would be interested if anyone could point to a case where IOD violated the guidelines proposed by Jon in RFC 1591.

       The ground rules noted that anyone could submit an application to run a new domain, a potentially lucrative business that can return hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.
       But the brutal truth is, ICANN didn’t want just anyone to submit a proposal, so they imposed what amounted to a digital poll tax: all applicants had to pony up a non-refundable $50,000 check. Some 47 applications were received, pouring $2.35 million into ICANN’s cash strapped coffers.
       And none of the applicants is guaranteed it will get to run a new domain; ICANN hasn’t even decided how many new domains to create. Estimates range from three to 12, but hundreds of new domains were proposed in the bidding.

???????????????  47 is hardly a small number, thereby suggesting that the barrier to entry is not nearly as onerous as is being suggested. How many untested (and problematic) new business sectors get that many entrants right out of the gate? 

***** I agree with the idea that 47 applications is a good middle ground, but to answer the rhetorical question regarding entrants to new business sectors - take your pick (aviation, automotive, telephone, railroad, banking) usually there are hundreds if not thousands of companies pioneering a new business sector - that is why the pioneering rules are in place. 

        But one group of players has seen to it that they have an inside track in being selected to run one of the new domains.
       Members of a newly created company called the Afilias Group have, in one way or another, managed to get their hooks into more than one-third of the domain proposals. Members of Afilias include the current monopoly domain name registry owner, Network Solutions, Inc.

  ?????????????????   Let's see if we get the innuendo right: it is bad that interested parties got together to cooperate on an application? It is bad that they participated in more than one application? It is bad that the company that has a monopolistic position in the pre-expansion world is being permitted to participate as an equal-among-many? 
  It would be interesting to see the legal basis for excluding NSI from a cooperative and equally interesting to fantasize about the ensuing lawsuits. (And I am no fan of NSI.) 
  Did anyone bother to ask about NSI's participatiion in this group? Has it, for example, been out-voted with any regularity? (The answer is that it has, of course.) 

*************  First, I think it IS bad that the company with a monopoly position is now being permitted to EXPAND its influence even further.  No one is suggesting that the existing gTLDs be taken away from NSI what they are arguing is that NEW areas should not be granted to them at this time. That seems reasonable if the true goal it to bring competitive forces into the market.  Second, the (fantasy/promise/threat) of lawsuits could be construed as a bullying tactic that is inappropriate if folks are seriously looking to improve the workings of this global resource.  Again, I stress Jon's point from RFC 1591 that the designated manager is a TRUSTEE...

       That Network Solutions is even being allowed to participate, in any way, in the creation of new domains is a travesty. The U.S. government created Network Solutions’ monopoly in the first place and then spawned ICANN as a means to help introduce competition into the domain name market. ICANN apparently forgot to look up “competition” in the dictionary.

??????????????????  NSI's market position is, indeed, remarkable and inappopriate. Does the best way to fix this require making special, exclusionairy rules against NSI, or rather simply to require that it compete on an equal footing? Mr. Meeks apparently forgot to look up "complexity" in the dictionary. 

**************  I think the ad hominem attack betrays a hidden agenda.  No one denies the complexity, but I find it difficult to believe that NSI would be irreparably damaged by not being included at this time in the NEW domain name registry space.

???????????????   The reference to "insiders" is equally remarkable, since a) it presumes an outcome that has not yet happened, b) it presumes that the application process was not open to all who satisfy the listed requirements, and c) it states that those inside ICANN are being given allocations. This last point is a charge of extreme conflict of interest and it would usually be accompanied by at least a modicum of documentation to back up the claim. Such documentation is eagerly sought, Mr. Meeks.

************  My understanding is that NSI has a clear conflict of interest and that there are identified individuals with clear conflicts of interest.

       I suppose the real test of whether ICANN has the political will to “do the right thing” will come with its decision over who gets to run the .web domain, which surveys show is the most desired new domain.
       Small catch: .web already belongs to Image Online Design.

???????????????? Small catch:  No it does not. Not in the ICANN/IANA domain system. 

*************** I agree, they do not OWN it - the courts have spoken on this.  The fact is equally true that NO ONE owns their domain name.  The courts have spoken on that as well (the case comes to mind)  However, IOD HAS been managing the registrations in .web for four years and done it as I mentioned before, according to the guidelines proposed by Jon in RFC 1951.  Now before you jump on that point and argue that RFC 1591 is not the guiding document, etc. please note that it is an accepted standard and at a minimum provides a standard against which effective management of domain name spaces can be measured.

       Image Online Design has been running an alternative domain name registry using .web since 1996; that registry has attracted about 20,000 paying .web domain name holders.

       ICANN has refused to recognize Image Online Design’s efforts when in fact it could specifically set aside .web under a “pioneer’s preference” exemption, much like the Federal Communications Commission has done when handing out slices of the airwaves to companies that have pioneered particular technologies.

?????????????   IOD did not come up with the "idea" of .web first. Further this raises an interesting question: what exactly are they supposed to have "pioneered"? That people are interested in the web? That people want additional top-level domains?    Giving anyone special position is called favoritism. The purpose of the ICANN exercise is to increase competition. Competition is about the absence of favoritism from an oversight body, not about having the body engage in favoritism. 

*********** Meeks did not claim they came up with the "idea" - this is not a patent dispute.  What they pioneered was the registry - they reduced it to practice and used it in interstate commerce.  That is a legitimate claim to primacy and fits the definition of pioneering... they were first.  Please note that the point of the pioneer preference is to reward folks who start a new industry BEFORE the government regulates it.  Yes, they deserve a special position.  Without their risk taking behavior, there would be nothing for those who come later to benefit from.  Imagine the chilling effect if every new venture that defined a new industry had to think about whether they would find themselves dispossesed by government or quasi governmental regulators at a later date?  What would this have done to the Wright Brothers, to Edison, to Tesla?  Since the banner of competition is being waved, I would refer back to the previous points about enjoining an established monoply player from having any influence in the NEW territories at this time.

       Image Online Design CEO John Frangie said the Afilias bid for .web is led by the “world’s greatest monopolistic force: NSI.” Frangie then goes on to say that Network Solutions has “put together a cartel of 19 companies to capture even more market share,” noting that the Afilias proposal is a “cynical attempt to enhance the entrenched monopoly of NSI” and thereby “perverting the very process that ICANN established to increase competition.”
       I couldn’t have said it better.

  ?????????????  You couldn't? That is unfortunate, since we are afforded no factual basis for the claim and IOD is just a tad biased. A reporter is supposed to be neutral, absent documented facts. For that matter, a reporter is supposed to make some effort to acquire facts. 

**********  The fact stated is a quote attributed to John Frangie.  Twisting the quote out of context is sophistry.

       And just finish off this murky tale, the other bidder for .web is listed as NeuStar, which as it turns out is really “JVTeam,” a “new company formed by NeuStar and Melbourne IT,” its application says. The latter of those two is a member of CORE and thus also a member of Afilias. Smell a trend here?

  ?????????????  A trend? Oh my goodness, yes. It is called hedging one's bets in a lottery. Any intelligent participant in a process such as this will try to find ways to win, and participating in multiple bids is the standard technique. 
  Full Disclosure: I have recently become an advisor to Neustar. I have no previous financial involvement in this topic. Highlighting that the process is open: Neustar has extensive registry experience for telephone number administration, but is new to DNS administration. 

**********  Hedging bets in this scenario is clearly decreasing not increasing competition.  That is the major point of contention here.

       Wallow through this JVTeam bid for .web long enough and you come across this statement:
       “JVTeam is prepared to meet with ICANN and discuss any legal issue relating to a .web registry. If necessary, JVTeam will indemnify ICANN for legal expenses incurred by ICANN resulting from any legal challenges brought regarding a grant of the .web registry to JVTeam.”
       I’m sure they didn’t mean to try and bribe ICANN, but it sure sounds like the old comedy sketch where a conniving driver, pulled over for speeding, hands the cop his license wrapped in a $50 bill.

????????????????  A bribe? Bribes are supposed to create some inapprpriate benefit for the bribed party. To guarantee to cover the legal costs -- if there are any -- is a bribe? Companies do not casually offer to indemnify another party, when there is a significant potential for a credible -- or even incredible -- lawsuit. However such language in a contract is extremely common. A far more reasonable interpretation of the offer is that a company that is trying to make a profit has determined that the IOD position is sufficiently lacking in real legal merit so as to make the risk associated with indemnification minimal. 

*********** The section in question is notable because the Unsponsored TLD transmittal form (sections B9,B12, B14.1,and B14.2)   CLEARLY releases ICANN from any such claim, I wonder why they felt the need  to assert this?  My concern is that this is in fact a veiled threat.  The odd thing is that in the next section NeuStar states:
                 "In the event, however, that ICANN determines that it will not grant a .web registry DUE TO POTENTIAL LEGAL CHALLENGE  [emphasis added], JVTeam proposes the following alternative unsponsored, unrestricted  TLDs, in order of preference:"

*************** Is NeuStar leaving the door open to potentially mounting their own legal challenge?  The wording of the above suggests that they will accept the other five tlds if ICANN WILL NOT approve .web - presumably to ANYONE  - and only if the decision is made to avoid legal challenges.  Clearly this is ignoring the relevant sections of the Unsponsored TLD transmittal form cited above.  This is either poorly worded or a thinly disguised threat.

       ICANN will deliver its decision on new domain names in November. The group can redeem itself, if ever so slightly, by outright dismissing all proposals from established players in the domain name space. But don’t hold your breath.

  ?????????????   Now here we have a truly novel idea: For an activity involving administration of critical infrastructure, let us formally exclude anyone who has any experience with it. How clever! 

***************************  This is a red herring.  The support for folks like IOD and is based on the fact they DO have this experience.

Peter Vos
Internic Handle (PV12)
IOD registrant since 1996



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