Joint Statement by At Large Community members
The following Statement has been posted on the www.icannatlarge.com site and is still open for more signatures of support:
Individual Users Constituency Statement:
We the undersigned long-time participants in ICANN's generic domain name policy development process have chosen to address the Board on behalf of the as yet unrecognized constituency of individual Internet users in order to facilitate the Board's understanding of the proposed settlement's effects on our unrepresented stakeholder community. We look forward to assisting the Board in arriving at the irrefutable determination that the proposed settlement agreement with VeriSign fails to serve the best interests of our community, of ICANN, and of the Internet community as a whole, and must be rejected in its totality. Our actionable comments appear in bold type within each consideration.
The settlement's effect on the Internet's individual users:
1. As we look at the issues emerging from the WSIS discussions, we note a predominant concern that has been expressed regarding the
pre-eminence of a single nation in Internet matters. We see that the bulk of the revenues within the Domain Name System flow from the rest of the world to the coffers of U.S.-based sponsoring organizations: VeriSign (.com and .net), Public Interest Registry (.org), NeuLevel, Inc. (.biz), Registry Services Corporation (.pro), Tralliance Corporation (.travel), DotCooperation LLC (.coop), Afilias, Ltd. (.info), Employ Media LLC (.jobs). The proposed settlement agreement, by retaining presumptive renewal provisions, does not serve to counter this trend; instead, the agreement serves to solidify a U.S. stranglehold on registry services to the detriment of the international community of Internet users that might well derive better benefits (both financial and innovative) from a more internationalized approach. We accordingly ask the ICANN Board to better allow for further internationalization of the gTLD registry community by creating the opportunities that will invariably result from setting aside presumptive renewal language in registry contracts in favor of competitive re-bid provisions.
2. The Internet's individual users benefit from investments that increase registry efficiency and stability. We support the $200,000,000 commitment that VeriSign made to registry infrastructure improvements (documented in Appendix W to the prior .com agreement), as a measure that would serve the needs of our community. The proposed settlement allows VeriSign to contractually walk away from this research and development commitment to the detriment of our community. We accordingly ask the ICANN Board to not accept the proposed settlement so that VeriSign will remain obligated under the terms of the 2001 .com contract to perform this service. We further ask the ICANN Board to publish VeriSign's annual reports on this $200,000,000 research and development activity.
3. As a community, Internet users are invariably affected by policies that are implemented without the benefit of consensus-based decision-making. We are highly concerned about the probity of Staff negotiations with VeriSign that resulted in such an unacceptable settlement agreement (especially in view of the fact that settlement negotiations were transpiring as a backdrop to the recent .net negotiations), and we worry that private bargaining on the part of ICANN Staff has supplanted the policy formulating mission of ICANN's Supporting Organizations. As individual users still retain some rights within the ICANN process, specifically the right to comment and the right to be called upon by a Task Force within a Supporting Organization Policy Development Process, we view it as a necessary defense of our rights to insist that when unresolved policy matters arise in the course of contract negotiations, that the ICANN Board direct the appropriate Supporting Organization to come to a policy determination prior to having Staff exercise their own judgment on such policy matters.
4. The Internet's individual users appreciate the fact that ICANN's Articles of Incorporation contain a clause that states: "No substantial part of the activities of the Corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda." We view the systematic propagation of doctrines or causes on the part of the Domain Name System's steward as not an appropriate action. The settlement provisions that bind VeriSign to a cheerleading role in support of ICANN are therefore regarded by our community as an act that chills free speech and as a material breach of ICANN's Articles of Incorporation. As a mindset that allows for impediments to free speech affects everyone in ICANN's ambit, we accordingly ask the ICANN Board to dispense with any settlement language that would curtail free and unimpeded discussion. We believe that all Internet users, including registry operators, have the right to come to their own conclusion as to whether ICANN is the appropriate technical coordination body for the DNS, and that they have the right to advocate such views without restriction. We further ask the ICANN Board to eliminate from its bylaws all language which preconditions involvement in certain ICANN bodies based upon "commitment to the success of ICANN" - such loyalty oaths are at odds with the evolution of Internet governance which may indeed determine that other institutions or models may better serve the future needs of the Internet community.
5. Individual internet users have long been worried about the prospect of registry or registrar failure and the potential impact of service disruptions on our community. As we do not see a registry failover program in place that would allow for continuity of service provisioning in the event of a material breach by a registry, we accordingly ask the ICANN Board to establish a registry failover program. Additionally, as we recognize the value of a compliance program (supervised by compliance officers) that comports with the compliance initiative detailed in ICANN's 7 October 2005 Status Report to the U.S. Department of Commerce, we ask the ICANN Board to ensure that any settlement with VeriSign retains and augments the Sanctions program outlined in Appendix Y to the prior .com agreement.
6. A constant refrain in global discussions among the worldwide community of internet users has been the ongoing need for increased competition, freedom of choice and affordability. We Internet users do not deem it appropriate for ICANN and VeriSign to be settling their contractual dispute by colluding in a course of action that serves to take even more money out of our pockets in perpetuity - this does not make the Internet more affordable to those that would seek the benefits that domain name registration has to offer. Accordingly, we ask the ICANN Board to establish a policy with respect to registry price caps prior to entering into any settlement with VeriSign.
7. Individual users of the Internet recognize that the ICANN Board is exercising prudence in requiring periodic reviews of its structures and operations. We appreciate the ongoing review of domain name portability issues that is proceeding within the GNSO, acknowledging that changes in policy should be made as needed based on community experience.
We therefore take issue with the language in the proposed .com agreement that places a three-year limitation on the possibility of modifying the proposed procedure that governs the introduction of new registry services. This is short-sighted and ill considered. Accordingly, we ask the ICANN Board to set aside the three year limitation on procedure-modification specified in the new .com agreement.
8 Individual Internet users understand that the new .com agreement triples ICANN's per-domain fee which has the effect of tripling ICANN's revenue. We are deeply troubled by the ongoing exclusion of individual users from ICANN's Budget Advisory Group, and by the lack of checks-and-balances which would serve to restrain abuses attendant with the uncontrolled exercise of ICANN's power of the purse. The very people who will face the burden of increased expenditure on domainnames are the individual registrants and internet users who seem to have had such a marginalised part in these contract negotiations. In the sense that increases in prices of domain names impact on the user community, it seems to us that they deserve much more representation, including their own constituency within the GNSO. There appears to have been wholly inadequate consultation with the very people who will be effected most by Verisign's
unrestricted right to raise prices year on year. It would have been preferable, in a bidding process, to place much more emphasis on those applicants who planned to *reduce* prices, not *raise* them.
We accordingly ask the ICANN Board to condition approval of per-domain fees on the unanimous consent of its constituent bodies which shall include a constituency for individual users.
9. We believe that it is proper for the courts to determine whether VeriSign's attempts to introduce Internationalized Domain Names, Consolidate, Waiting List Service and Sitefinder were breaches of the current .com agreement. We believe that ICANN has an obligation to manage a key supplier in the interest of the community they serve by continuing on the path to judicial resolution of the issues. While we understand that significant ICANN funds, staff and community resources have been devoted to the ICANN-VeriSign litigation, we approve of such expenditures. We accordingly ask the ICANN Board not to settle with VeriSign, to establish a litigation fund specific to the lawsuit (even at the expense of many other significant ICANN priorities), and to allow the court system to arrive at its own final determination.
10. The Internet's individual users are not third-party beneficiaries to any contract between ICANN and VeriSign; as such, we rely on ICANN to serve as a trustee for the broader community. We believe that a responsible trustee would recognize that the proposed incremental price increases, when not coupled with either demonstrated need or enhanced registry service offerings, constitute a disservice to the community at large.
We have recently taken note of a better process for the introduction of price increases within the .us namespace that might serve as a guide to the ICANN Board, and we accordingly ask the ICANN Board to develop a policy to govern registry price increase considerations that would be tied to service enhancements. The proposed price increases in the .us namespace have been accompanied by the promise of new scheduled registry services which make the proposed price increases a palatable proposition; .us prices increases ($0.50) are accompanied by:
a. Development of services for certain public resource second level domains (engagement of business partners to build enhanced uses for these names by Dec. 1,2005, and launch of first second level domain and related services by May 15, 2006).
b. Development of a .us-specific directory search engine (partnership with an established provider of directory services and search engine services by Jan. 15, 2006, and launch of searching capability by June 15, 2006).
c. Development of a secure platform for e-government initiatives that would allow citizens to communicate and to interact with the U.S. government in a direct and safe forum (continued discussions with the Internet Engineering and Planning Group and the DNSSEC Deployment Group, with initiation of next DNSSEC trial by March 15, 2006, and targeted launch of platform, by September 15, 2006).
At a time when many continue to question ICANN's legitimacy, we would regard it as folly for ICANN to act in opposition to the will of the broader user community by sanctioning unwarranted price increases - this would certainly not be in ICANN's best interest, and would only result in ever-increasing acrimony. We ask the ICANN Board examine the root cause of the severe disconnect between the position of its negotiating team and the position of the balance of the Internet community -- clearly there is something seriously amiss within the context of ICANN decision-making processes.
19 November, 2005
Danny Younger Richard Henderson Joop Teernstra Abel Wisman Andrew Moulden chris mcelroy Chris Willoughby Chuck Crawford Darryl (Dassa) Lynch Dinesh Nair Domingo Barón Don Brown Dora Gerber Eric Dierker Forrester D. Rupp James Khan - Sonoma California USA Jay Levine Joanna Lane John Noerrer Karl-Josef Ziegler Ken W Sinclair Marco Toledo de Assis Bastos Marko Kovacic Max Wagener Miles Nordin NARUSE, Yui Othmar Krapf Oussama MISKIN Paustinus Siburian Rodrigo Severo Ronald Tiefenthäler Roozbeh Pournader s.maniam Samuel Sotillo Sanjeev Goyal Sotiris Sotiropoulos Thomas Wiesinger Tony Farrow
these are only the signatories of the first 3 days