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Username: cyber-cynic
Date/Time: Tue, October 31, 2000 at 7:22 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Are we all missing the point?


Granted this forum is for discussing the applications and who should be allowed to run which registry. But should the real question not be "what brought us here in the first place?"
If we take a moment and look past all these companies vying for the new registry business, which they sure have a right to do and hell shelling out 50k up front, non-refundable too mind you, that's pretty keen; and if we just take a little peek into recent history, we can see what brought us here and maybe even what tomorrow will bring.

I will be the first to admit that I don't know all the facts, but I know enough to know that the history of ICANN and NSI is not only a debacle, but in my opinion also a travesty of justice.

What I am referring to is the fact that NSI was appointed to run the TLD registry (I guess nobody expected that it would be such a cash cow) but in the end laid claim to the register (and by that I mean the actual data) and when it came time to review NSI's role they basically held the internet world hostage because they had their grubby little fingers on the data and ICANN (or whatever name they went by then) were dictating lame duck policy because they were powerless without the register and could do nothing to oust NSI. They even had a hell of a time getting NSI to allow access to the data by new registrars.

Since the NSI registry model is obviously flawed and you would have figured ICANN would have learned from it's mistakes, but heck no it looks like they are heading down the same well trodden path albeit with their eyes open this time and the whole internet world in tow, by getting everyone involved in forums etc. I suppose at the end of the day when crunch time rolls around at least they can say well we got input from the community and it was a public process. Well a rip-off in public or a rip-off in private is still a rip-off except in the latter case not everybody knows how dumb you were (no insinuation here) to get ripped in the first place.

Anyway let's not digress. The point I am making is it did'nt work very well last time (except for NSI of course) and it sure ain't gonna work this time for ICANN or you and me. . In the end it doesn't really matter who runs the registry, what matters is it how it is done. Now I don't mean do they do a good job (I am sure most of they applicants can do that after all with this cash cow they can hire talent) what I mean what is the structure and the guidelines and who can do what.

The biggest problem with the present arrangement is that it is not fluid i.e. you can't change it even if you wanted to. Here's a for instance. Just try firing NSI as the registry, you can't and yet where was it ever spelled out that they would be able to exercise a monopoly over the register. Try this for size - just why did Verisign pay such a ridiculously high price for them? you guessed it the register of course. This is what I refer to as the travesty of justice. The data does not "belong" to NSI and yet their company was sold/valued based on that. The point is not that they got a lot of money for their company but that they are able to "control" the register. A similar situation should not be tolerated in the future.

Now having critcised the mess to date, I guess I have to offer some solutions even if just to show that I have given this some thought and to avoid some of the mindless criticism I am bound to receive.

First things first - new registration model. I am not totally sure how far ICANN's "responsibilty" extends, but if this is not within the powers or in their brief then they should hand it over to someone else.

In any case setting a few policies and strategies would go a long way to avoid some of the previous pitfalls and I came up with these in less than a day.

1. Keep control of the data. It may be another bureaucracy but a good one this time. Set up something like an Intellectual Property Trust (IPT), give them a Computer and some experts to boot and let the register (data) reside on their computer. They create an interface and can then control which registry operator can access the data.

2. Single role. You are either a registry operator or a registrar, you can't be both period. None of this monopolistic nonsense of I want to be registry operator and registrar.

3. Split the pie. Only one TLD per registry operator.

4. No self registrations. The IPT should have registrar status for all TLD's. A registry operator or registrar cannot register domains for their own account except through the IPT.

5. Minimum number of Registrars. Each registry operator must appoint at least 5 registrars to be online from day one the TLD is activated.

6. Registry operator contract term & renewal. Registry operators should be appointed on a contract basis, say for 3 years and should basically be viewed as a contractor who is maintaining a database. ICANN or whoever can decide if they want renew with the same contractor or appoint a new one evry 3 years, just like in other industries.

7. Price Controls. This is meant the good way. This is a money for jam business so there is no reason domains should be expensive. A max price of say $5 (note max price, not min and not recommended, just the top limit) should be set for registry operator to charge registrars. Registrars in turn should not be allowed to charge end users more than a certain amount as well.

8. Registry fee. I don't agree with Icann's excessive non-refundable fee that they called for in this process, 5 or 10 thousand should have been enough for weed out non serious contenders. However, a substancial fee might be appropriate from the company who is going to run this cash cow for 3 years.

Well I am sure I can come up with more. My question is - why can't ICANN?

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Something I learned as kid when someone called me names - let's see if I riled some feathers, I sure hope so.


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