Re: part 3: historical timeline of ICANN's economic research commitment to launching new gTLDs
On Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 09:16:46AM -0800, k claffy wrote: An attempt to briefly summarize some of the historical timeline of ICANN's activities to meet its commitment to resolve open questions regarding economic impacts of expanding the generic TLD space . (I left out the flip-flop on vertical integration of registar/ registry industries, which has its own specious trajectory covered in other public comments and meriting further explanation from ICANN.) 1. 18 October 2006, "Adopted Resolutions from ICANN Board Meeting" : Resolved..the President is directed to commission an independent study by a reputable economic consulting firm or organization to deliver findings on economic questions relating to the domain registration market, such as: whether the domain registration market is one market or whether each TLD functions as a separate market, whether registrations in different TLDs are substitutable, what are the effects on consumer and pricing behavior of the switching costs involved in moving from one TLD to another, what is the effect of the market structure and pricing on new TLD entrants, and whether there are other markets with similar issues, and if so how are these issues addressed and by who? 2. December 2008: the U.S. DOC sends a letter, on behalf of the USG , reminding ICANN that they should not move forward with new gTLDs until they resolve open research issues, including completion of the economic/market study and cost-benefit analysis. Most comments, and especially most firms representing customers of the domain name industry, are opposed to adding new gTLDs, which basic economic reasoning suggests will weaken security, stability, integrity of the DNS. 3. March 2009: ICANN releases two studies by Dennis Carlton, an economist at the University of Chicago that asserted, without much basis in fact, that the introduction of gTLDs would be good for consumer welfare [1, 2]. 4. April 2009: The public comment for these two studies includes a great public thrashing of them for being inexcusably poorly reasoned , self-contradictory, naive, and not based on any empirical facts. Conspicuously, there is never any ICANN-provided summary of the public comments for this document, the only documents published that month (or in recent months) lacking such summaries. Instead the place where the public comment summary should be  points back to Carlton's report itself. 5. June 2009: ICANN commissions Carlton to write two new papers  responding to the public criticisms. Carlton delivered two papers that were disturbingly similar to the earlier ones, and these new papers were similarly criticized. Public and private sectors around the world are still virtually unanimously opposed to new gTLDs. Supporters are mainly those few who plan to monetize new TLDs, and/or do not reveal their affiliation. Again unlike all other reports  released that month, ICANN does not provide summaries of the public comments for these reports either, or indeed, any indication that they have read any of the comments on any of the economic reports thus far. 6. In September 2009: leaders from the U.S. Congressional House Committee on the Judiciary send a letter to ICANN expressing concerns that new TLDs will likely result in serious negative consequences for U.S. businesses and consumers  and again ask whether ICANN plans to carry out a credible economic study on the launch of new gTLDs. 7. Between October 2009 and March 2010: ICANN considers and dismisses the idea of gathering some measurements (survey) data to inform community understanding of potential economic impact. At the March 2010 meeting the ICANN board votes against gathering any data despite much public support for doing so, because data gathering would constitute "adding another step, another process, another set of community discussions and debate to the process." 8. July 2010: ICANN hires two "new" economists to write a report entitled, "An economic framework for the analysis of the expansion of generic top-level domain names", including: (1) a survey of published studies and resources that describe the potential impacts of new gTLD introduction: (2) examination of theoretical arguments about benefits and costs of increased gTLDs; (3) suggestions of new empirical studies that could help assess costs and benefits. Like the previous Carlton report, the authors still evaluate concerns raised by others by dismissing them without further study. One reason for the similarity between the two reports is the overlap in authorship -- despite the loud complaints in the public comment forum that the previous report was not sufficiently objective, ICANN commissions a second report ultimately co-authored by the same company (Compass Lexecon)  as the first report, a fact hidden by ICANN's emphasis on only the Stanford and Berkeley co-authors in the report's description on the ICANN web site. The report is widely criticzed, and again, of the 19 reports that month , it is the only one without a public comment. 9. 2 December 2010: DOC/NTIA issues another letter again scolding ICANN not to proceed with program until outstanding issues such as economic studies have been resolved . [Between February and December 2010 I ask ICANN privately several times to please shed some transparency on this issue, and receive no response until late December, where I'm told that the public comments will be addressed in the follow-up version of the latest economic framework report. They are not.] 10. 3 December 2010: Within 24 hours of the DOC letter, and hours before the ICANN meeting in Cartagena begins, ICANN releases the promised update to the economic study . This 77-page report makes a pretty strong case that there has been no demonstrated significant consumer or social benefit from gTLD expansion in the past, followed by the vague conclusion that ICANN should move forward anyway. There is no coverage of the concerns in the previous public comment periods, except for additional depth in the case studies which suggest the opposite of the report's conclusion. [I ask ICANN again on 14 December 2010 where the analysis of public comment was, and never received a response. The concerns are again glossed over at the Cartagena meeting, even in sessions devoted entirely to outstanding gTLD issues . ] As with many other areas of Internet science and technology policy, no one denies that (or why) we have an epistemology problem regarding the emerging discipline of domain name economics. But if ICANN is going to conspicuously ignore overwhelming concerns from every other industy except those that are perceived by many as having captured ICANN years ago, then it's time for a hard stop and a hard look at the process. References  Dennis Carlton. Preliminary Report of Dennis Carlton Regarding Impact of New gTLDs on ConsumerWelfare. http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/ prelim-report-consumer-welfare-04mar09-en.pdf.  Dennis Carlton. Report of Dennis Carlton Regarding ICANN's Proposed Mechanism for Introducting New gTLDs. http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/carlton-re-proposed-mechanism-05jun09-en.pdf.  George Kirikos. Criticisms of Compass Lexecon. http://forum.icann.org/lists/economic-framework/msg00002.html.  ICANN. ICANN Email Archives: competition-pricing-prelim. http://forum.icann. org/lists/competition-pricing-prelim/.  ICANN. ICANN New gTLD Program Information Center. http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/related-en.htm.  ICANN. ICANN Public Comment April 2009. http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200904.html#compri.  ICANN. ICANN Public Comment July 2009. http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200907.html.  ICANN. ICANN Public Comment July 2010. http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-201007.html.  ICANN. New gTLD Economic Study Phase II Report is Released. http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-03dec10-en.htm.  ICANN. New gTLD Program Status. http://cartagena39.icann.org/node/15497.  ICANN. US Government Opposes Launch of New gTLD Program in Cartagena. http://blog.icann.org/2010/12/us-government-opposes-launch-of-new-gtld-program-in-cartagena/.  ICANN. ICANN Adopted Resolutions from ICANN Board Meeting, October 2006. http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-18oct06.htm.  NTIA. Correspondence to Peter Dengate-Thrush, ICANN Chairman of the Board of Directors from Meredith A. Baker, Acting Assistant Secretary for Communication and Information, NTIA. http://www.icann.org/correspondence/baker-to-dengate-thrush-18dec08-en.pdf.  US Congress. Correspondence to Rod Beckstrom, ICANN President and CEO from Congressman Lamar Smith and Howard Coble. http://www.icann.org/ correspondence/smith-coble-to-beckstrom-15sep09-en.pdf.