the roving_reporter



[The roving_reporter shuffles on into autumn, mostly tracking mud and fallen leaves all over ICANN's already soiled reputation. Cheers, T]

Past issues: UDRP? JDRP (1999-11-16); Viral Regulation (1999-11-24); ICANN Journal 1 (2000-09-10); ICANN Journal 2: Kicking ICANN Around (2000-10-15); ICANN Journal 3: Whoiswho? (2000-11-10)

The current issue is here.

> roving_reporter t byfield [email]

Sun Dec 3 00:19:11 EST 2000

Notes on the .ca redelegation

ICANN, acting in its capacity as the "IANA function" (see the IETF-ICANN MoU for details), has published the "IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .ca Top-Level Domain." The report provides a capsule history of the events leading up to the redelegation of .ca from the old-fangled University of British Columbia to the new-fangled Canadian Internet Registry Authority.

Two curious things about the report:

First, it flatly states that there were "approximately 120,000 names registered under the .ca ccTLD as of 30 November 2000" -- about 50,000 more than the 71,002 ICANN claimed on 10 May 2000 in its "Calculation of Fiscal Year 1999-2000 ccTLD Contributions (Invoiced)." Had ICANN invoiced the .ca ccTLD registry for the higher number, the bill would have gone from $23,156 to roughly $40,000.

Second, the report is billed so prominently as the work of IANA that one suspects the ICANN staffers have been learning from Las Vegas. But why, then, is the provocative "Discussion Draft of Letter to Governments Regarding ccTLD Managers" -- which deals with ccTLD delegation -- billed not as IANA's work but as ICANN's? Some sources have suggested that the purpose of the letter was to "get the ccTLDs' attention," and that ICANN never had any intention of actually sending it. ICANN's name is mud, but if only for historical reasons IANA's isn't -- so why sully IANA's name with such a provocation when ICANN's will do just fine?

The report quotes the Canadian Government's "Reform of the Domain Name System: Current Developments & Statement of Principles," which sets forth a list of priorities for CIRA as an equitably accountably governance structure. By and large, these priorities -- and note their order well -- put ICANN to shame:

  • conducting CIRA's activities in an open and transparent manner that ensures wide public access to all relevant information;
  • following fair and sound business practices;
  • ensuring an appropriate balance of representation, accountability and diversity on the Board of Directors for all categories of stakeholders;
  • applying for domain names being as quick and easy as applying for domain names in other top level domains, and priced competitively;
  • reducing conflicts between persons granted domain names and other rights holders, including trade-marks or business names; and
  • a system that facilitates and encourages entry for new players including registrars.

Compare this to ICANN's at best checkered record of suppressing correspondence (e.g., the October 1999 SBA letter, the 1 March APTLD letter); of claiming the ccTLD invoices as an account receivable (see Notes to the Audited Financial Report for FY Ending 30 June 2000); of ICANN's zealous efforts to hobble the MAL at every step; [they get a golden_roving_reporter for overseeing improvements in the registration process]; of maximizing conflict between domain-name holders and "intellectual property" claimants; and promoting as a first priority the consolidation of power in the hands of industry heavies.

For a brief overview of some issues surrounding CIRA, see David Akin's most recent article in the National Post.

Fri Dec 1 16:48:26 EST 2000

ccTLDs quietly rattle pens, not swords

In a message to the "Domain-Policy" mailing list (archives here) "!Dr. Joe Baptista," a devout if controversial observer of all things DNeSque, notes that over the last weeks ccTLDs seem to be shying away from using DNS support services provided by the US military. In the ensuing discussion, Baptista wrote:

one example today was dot.HN which dropped SPARKY.ARL.MIL. as one of their ns. Alot of the cctlds have military servers as their dns - or should i say they did. The trend i've noticed is away from using military servers as dns.

Baptista provides a useful pointer to a deja.com archive of the comp.protocols.tcp-ip.domains newsgroup (or, alternatively, of alt.fan.joe-baptista), where weekly (as opposed to daily) sync reports are archived.

Tue Nov 28 01:27:39 EST 2000

NTIA flexes for NSI on .US

About NSI getting .US without so much as a fare-thee-well... The deadline for public comment on the disposition of the .us ccTLD was 2 October, extended from 6 October). Network Solutions's Roger Cochetti sent NSI's comment to the NTIA's Karen Rose, asking, "Please consider the contents of this letter as if you had received it prior to October 2, 2000." She said Sure, d00d -- and on 20 November, VeriSign Global Registry Services (that's polite for NSI) sent out its announcement that VGRS "will assume direct administration of the .US domain as of Tuesday, November 28, 2000." (Cochetti didn't answer a roving_request to date his letter.)

Left languishing was the Benton Foundation's excellent proposal to take over administration of .us "for the benefits of all US citizens, especially those on the wrong side of the Digital Divide."

Tue Nov 28 01:26:38 EST 2000

Miscellanies

Boooo! Gartner Group VP-plus Audrey Apfel Doesn't Get it, argues that corps should continue trying to brute-force their points in the namespace into nebulas... Beeee! What with all the excitement at MDR2K, no one noticed that SIDN, the .nl ccTLD NIC, opened the floodgates (as it were) by allowing the unwashed Dutch masses to register SLDs. Not to be outdone, Belgian NIC opened the .be ccTLD to everyone... Is there an echo in here? The FTC echoed the warning about "pre-registration" which ICANN attributed to the Names Council, instructing rubes to "stay... on top of the news about top level domain names at the ICANN website." (We think they misspelled roving_reporter.) Oh, and BTW, now that ICANN has selected the new TLDs, where's the announcement that the NC's warning has been superseded? Why, it's slouching toward Bethlehem, PA, where can be found the HQ of Afilias-borg DomainBank -- which echoed the warning too: "It has come to our attention that some companies are offering pre-registration services bla bla bla not sanctioned bla bla bla in violation of ICANN rules and regulations bla bla bla should be avoided." If you have any questions about this policy -- like, say, where it came from -- you should contact everyone's roving_regular Names Council chair Ken "It's not a conflict of interest, it's a creative tension" Stubbs, who (but of course!) is listed as a contact for DomainBank. DomainBank is the only one of the nineteen Afilias registrars to make hay about the "warning"... Inter@ctive Week quotes ICANN "Interim" Maximum Leader Mike Roberts as saying, "When I first took this job, I was told...that we would not get this [i.e., new TLDs] done." Which makes sense, seeing as he was only supposed to be there for three months. Two years later, they succeeded... The ccTLD challenge to ICANN gets surprising play in the media (CNet, USAToday, Seattle Times)... (Addendum: and BBC Online.)

Mon Nov 27 17:35:14 EST 2000

Anatomy of a silence

I've written an article for Telepolis about the ridiculous discussions through which ICANN approved the final list of new TLDs, with speculations about why the media seems not to care.

Sun Nov 26 10:37:23 EST 2000

YA lawsuit

On 10 November, ICANN was sued yet again, by a company claiming to have an agreement with Belize to market the .bz ccTLD; the suit sought, in part, to prevent ICANN from approving any gTLD resembling .bz (.biz, .ebiz). On 13 November, the court threw the case out. The press release announcing the latter fact concluded, "ICANN applauds this decision preserving the integrity of the ongoing consensus-based process for moving toward the establishment of new TLDs." (How exactly 12 people, a third of them unelected boardsquatters, taking higgledy-piggledy "straw polls" on the basis of largely embargoed reports drawn up by opaquely appointed staff, consultants, and cronies is "consensus-based" escapes us, but we digress...)

Not a fortnight goes by and ICANN may get slapped with another lawsuit, this time in Australia. The merits of this case are anyone's guess, but it does seem as though ICANN, which has specialized in sowing legal winds, is reaping ever-more litigious whirlwinds. And, regardless of whether ICANN wins or loses, its counsel Jones, Day, Reavis, and Pogue will benefit. Not for nothing do some critics dismiss ICANN as JDRP's marketing division.

Addendum: Eric Scheid notes that the merits of this prospective case are "highly suspect" since it originates with Len Lindon, who according to this page is a/k/a "Citizen Limbo." The roving_reporter would like to thank Eric and -- not "but," and -- stands by his oblique wording.

Sun Nov 26 10:34:24 EST 2000

Floridiana, part 2

Phil Agre is a hero. For the last few weeks, he's been working like a one-man Google (or DMOZ Open Directory, more accurately), sifting, sorting, analyzing, and synthesizing reports and discussions about the Florida election. roving_readers can see the results -- which are stunning -- in the archives of his "Red Rock Eater" mailing list. Some of his conclusions aren't very pretty:

"Spontaneous manifestations of anger" that far-right political parties organize to shut down democratic elections by means of telephone banks, broadcast appeals, and inflammatory disinformation have a special name. That name begins with "f", and it certainly represents a change in tone for our country.

The roving_reporter would be hard pressed to accuse anyone else of bombast, especially when he wakes up to find accounts like this in his local paper:

Jeanette Wright, a Republican from Palm Beach County said these were dangerous times.

"Our country is at stake," said Ms. Wright, who retired to Palm Beach from Syracuse. "The lives of my children and grandchildren are at stake. We don't like to resort to these tactics," she said of the protest.

God, she said, is on their side.

Well, naturally: if G?d is omnipresent, s/he's on everyone's side.

Thu Nov 23 13:13:17 EST 2000

Safevote raises its profile a notch

Crypto maven Ed Gerck has published a short op-ed in the Sacramento Bee discussing a public test of his company Safevote's electronic election system.

Two weeks ago Safevote Inc., under contract with the California secretary of state's office, conducted an official Internet test in Martinez's main election office in Contra Costa County. Three hundred and seven voters from all walks of life and age groups, including elderly people who had never before used computers, cast ballots with no fuss in a shadow presidential election. The test was designed to study the feasibility of precinct-based Internet balloting, which would allow i-voters to fill out their electronic ballot from any precinct in their county, not just the one close to home. Eventually, one could also vote from home or from the office, as desired by 94 percent of the i-voters polled in the Martinez test. These factors may increase voter participation.

Gerck's description is general and positive in the way one might expect from a nontechnical account -- or from a snake-oil salesman. Fortunately, Safevote actively solicited network attacks prior to the test:

Safevote included privacy and security tests in Martinez with a public attack challenge over a five-day period. Time-saving hints were provided to attackers, who could have tried to vote, delete votes, open ballots, disturb voting or even promote denial-of-service attacks -- there was no limit. However, no one succeeded and the attackers agreed that they could not even begin to attack the "stealth" and moving target technology used.

A more detailed report on the Contra Costa shadow election is here.

Wed Nov 22 21:54:24 EST 2000

Roving_retrospection

The roving_reporter takes a moment to acknowledge a few errors, Give Thanks, etc.

Predictions: We were 66.6% wrong on our predictions for new TLDs.

NSI didn't even bother to propose the .banc TLD it briefly made noises about, and discussions (such as they were) at the ICANN's MDR2K meeting suggested that its was prudent not to do so: awarding a new TLD to NSI wouldn't have gone over very well. The roving_reporter, OTOH, was less prudent. In the balance, we should have recognized that the profits to be made from TLDs amenable to economies of scale far outweigh the measly returns such a heavily restricted TLD would ever see, to say nothing of the complexities NSI (or even a consortium of registrars) would have faced in dealing with the multi-ton gorillas of banking regulatory structures. In that regard, the proposal for .fin by the Association Monegasque des Banques was a trifle naive -- especially coming as it did only weeks after Monaco took a sound thrashing over money-laundering allegations

On the subject of an .enum TLD, NSI's announcement with Telcordia to host an "open enum trial" proved to be ill-advised; as did the three .tel proposals submitted to ICANN (by Pulver, Peek, and Marschel, Number.tel, and Telnic); as did the roving_reporter's prediction that ICANN was even near a position from which approving such a TLD would garner anything other than criminal charges, let alone support from organizations such as the ITU. Lots of bright minds and heavy hitters have been hard at work on IP telephony standards (see, for example, RFC 2915), as the ITU made abundantly clear in a letter to ICANN:

The issues surrounding the intersection between telephone numbering and the DNS are very complex and currently under discussion between experts in the IETF and ITU as well as with governments responsible for numbering plans. As I am sure you are aware, the E.164 international public telecommunication numbering plan is a politically significant numbering resource with direct implications of national sovereignty. It is subject to a multitude of national approaches, regulatory provisions, and, in some cases, multilateral treaty provisions. Considering this, governments should be given the opportunity to fully reflect upon how their particular numbering resource responsibilities relate to DNS-based telephony resources.

In this regard, the ITU is working with the IETF to progress a careful exploration of these complicated issues in the context of its joint work concerning the ENUM protocol. As there are still considerable areas of coordination work needed at this time, until there is an opportunity to further explore the issues within the context of joint work underway and with national governments; it is the view of ITU that it would be premature for ICANN to grant any E.164-related TLD application as this may jeopardize these cooperative activities or prejudice future DNS IP Telephony addressing requirements. [emphasis added, links omitted]

For a brief overview of the issues involved in ENUM, see Gordon Cook's precis of a Cook Report article on the subject.

On the subject of the .eu TLD, the roving_reporter erred only (albeit naively) in assuming that it would be subjected to ICANN's gTLD process. The very idea that ICANN would have subjected some Eurocrat (Chris Wilkinson, say) to, as NTK put it, "the Gong Show spectacle of dozens of sweaty suits having 90 seconds to justify their sorry existence"! Meanwhile, . eu's progress on a quasi-ccTLD track proceeds apace.

(N.B. that NTK's claim that "any ICANNspiracy theories evaporated in the face of the truth, which was as arbitrary and bizarre as anyone could have hoped" is half-truth: see, e.g., the coordinated drubbing of the combined Sarnoff/JVTeam ["Neulevel"] proposal by Roberts, Touton, and Sims [RealFnord @ 02:55, 05.29-05:34, 05:50, 05:52].)

Analyses: The roving_reporter bungled anticipatory criticisms of the MAL election process by assuming that ICANN would run the election itself. ICANN had posted a "Call for Proposals for Online Voting System" on 16 June. OTOH, if you believe election.com, the part of the election that broke was ICANN's.

This list of dodgy predictions and corrections is far from exhausting.

Thanks: to the members of the "BWG+" mailing list, to numerous anonymous sources, to roving_readers whose feedback has been helpful (notably Gary Osbourne), and, last but not least, to Mike Roberts and Louis Touton for responding to queries amidst our criticism -- more than the roving_reporter would likely have managed (though y'all could learn a trick or two, too -- say, about owning up to your errors).

Tue Nov 21 22:43:44 EST 2000

On thin ice, internationally

A vigilant roving_reader points out that the ccTLDs' bludgeoning of ICANN in the 14 November IANA - ccTLD meeting isn't entirely lost: both Peter Dengate Thrush and Pete de Blanc spoke at the tail end of the 15 November Public Forum (available in RealFnord here [@ 10:37:30]).

Peter Dengate Thrush's remarks:

We've given you also a copy of a statement that we issued yesterday which was read out in response to a presentation by the ICANN staff to a public meeting yesterday. I think we'd like to do two things, and the first is to say that we [the ccTLD constituency] did not regard that presentation by the staff as fulfilling the Board's direction to the staff to consult with the CCs.

The important item that I want to take from that statement is in relation to finances. You all have a copy of it [the statement]. Now consider this in relation to the, uh, loans and donations that the CCs have been making and the invoices that the staff have issued. The statement makes it perfectly plain that ccTLDs accept no legal basis for the entering of these invoices. What that leads to, we think, [is] a problem for ICANN and its accounts. The APTLD, the Asia-Pacific association, drew this to the staff's attention, that we prepared a detailed letter, after the Seoul meeting before Cairo, that's dated the 1st of March. That letter is unanswered and does not appear on any of your websites. APTLD has prepared a further letter, dated the 13th of November, which you will be receiving tomorrow, which repeats the position that no Asia-Pacific country is going to pay any money to ICANN on any of those invoices until our issues are established, the principal one being of course the contractual or other relationship we have with ICANN. We are prepared to make donations on an individual country basis -- so there is no legal basis, no understanding between us, for the issuing of these invoices. Now, the difficulty that that gives ICANN is reflected in the auditor's statement, and I've asked the staff to have that prepared. I wonder if they could call up [to the projection screen] the paragraph from the auditor's statement in relation to the annual accounts, and I can read it out for those who can't see it. The auditors said of the ICANN annual accounts: "We were unable to obtain sufficient verifiable evidence supporting certain country code top-level domain accounts receivable totaling $1.35 million."

It's important to appreciate that you had listed in your accounts an apparent account receivable of $1.35 million for which we think there is no basis. My concern as a lawyer is that you are unable to sustain your [unanswered?] position. You all know that it's not possible simply to create an asset by issuing an invoice. That's something the board, and in particular the incoming board, needs to get sorted out.

The second thing is the paragraph 6 in the Memorandum of Understanding that has extended the relationship between ICANN and the Department of Commerce -- and I've asked again if the staff could pull that paragraph up. That's the paragraph which makes it essential, one of the essential items for the purposes of ICANN, to come to a relationship with the ccTLDs.

We've been negotiating and preparing for two years with ICANN, and we now think there are probably three options:

First is simply a root server contract to maintain the IANA database and the service that was provided for free before the incorporation of ICANN, and for which we would probably be prepared to pay annually the $35,000 or $50,000 that it takes some one person to maintain that database. [Too?], there's a big gap between that fee of $35,000 to $50,000 and the $1.35 million that ICANN is expecting.

The second option is to join with ICANN on some basis and make a different sort of contribution, [establishing?] a new policy body.

And the third, and least attractive one for us, is to look elsewhere for root service.

We've decided at the meeting here in Los Angeles that we need to form a working group to establish a possible way of moving forward with the second option. We're going to [address?] an alternative relationship with ICANN, and at this stage the most favorable alternative. And at this stage the most favorable alternative -- and this is simply an early-warning notice for the board -- seems to be a ccTLD Support Organization matching the DNSO, the ASO, and the PSO may be the most appropriate alternative. Thanks.

To this, Chairman of the Board Esther Dyson responded, "Thank you. Mike [Roberts] do you have any...?" Sadly, the Berkman cinematographers missed his response: at once burying his face in his hand, shaking his head, and testily waving her off.

In a sucker-punch followup, Pete de Blanc stepped up to the mike and said:

Just as a brief followup on a little more positive note on that -- Peter de Blanc, chair of the AdCom [the ccTLD constituency's Administrative Committee]. All of that notwithstanding, we have achieved a consensus, almost -- certainly unanimous of those [ccTLDs] here and, again, with more inputs from email [from ccTLD reps not attending]... Except for a couple of points, we've achieved a consensus that ccTLDs are willing in fact to have a contract with ICANN guaranteeing a fixed payment on an annual basis, with the amount of that fixed payment to be reviewed every two or three years; and that, also, we have consensus on best practices, and on our general desire to work with ICANN in a way where the real or perceived benefit of having two hundred-plus country codes lending credibility, international credibility to ICANN in terms of its organization and its relationship with the US Department of Commerce. We are seriously interested in doing that, we have a seriously active organization now, and we don't want to use the nuclear arsenal [i.e., establish an independent root]. We would like to work within the process, be part of the process, have the representation, and make ICANN solid -- and if that takes $2 million, that's fine too.

The ccTLDs seemed to be particularly incensed with ICANN's repeated claim that the source of the friction -- and of the ccTLDs' nonpayment of ICANN's unilaterally assessed invoices -- is the ccTLDs' inability to come to a consensus on a fee structure. In the 14 November IANA - ccTLD meeting, Dengate Thrush chided ICANN for misrepresenting the ccTLDs's "loans and donations" as partial payments of ICANN's invoices. Hence de Blanc's insistence that the ccTLDs had come to consensus on many points. The implication was unavoidable: if ICANN loses credibility with the ccTLDs, they will establish a second root, and ICANN will lose credibility with the US government.

Tue Nov 21 01:31:02 EST 2000

MDR2K...just the low points

roving_readers can read about the banal and bourgie TLDs ICANN approved elsewhere; here's a first (and maybe last) stab at documenting some of the more egregious aspects of the November 2000 LA "ICANNdex."

Straw consensus

Three boardmembers (Triana, Capdeboscq, Conrades) were truant during ICANN's "historic" decision, with no explanation forthcoming from ICANN. Small wonder: the three absences, in conjunction with the four recusals (Blokzijl, Abril i Abril, Davidson, Crew) left only 12 out of 19 boardmembers voting on the new TLDs. ICANN's bylaws state that any action "that substantially affect[s] the operation of the Internet or third parties require[s] a majority of sitting Board members" (IV.1.iii.3b) -- that is, ten votes. Hence Chief Parliamentary Officer Andrew McLaughlin's intervention during the vote on Afilias's proposal (which fell short with only 8 votes) that the board was really only taking a "straw poll," not establishing consensus (RealFnord @ 2:56). You got that right: Afilias's .info TLD was passed in contravention of ICANN's bylaws, with only 8 out of 19 boardmembers supporting it.

Recusals and not, part 2

Three of the four recused boardmembers ignored Vint Cerf's suggestion that they join the audience during discussion of the proposed TLDs (Cerf specifically exempted Amadeu Abril i Abril due to his weak vision).

On the day before the final vote, allegedly recused Boardmember Abril i Abril went out of his way to torpedo the ICFTU's .union proposal:

I have personally some reservations about the restricted TLD concept. It is great -- it [permits there are problems from many parts?] but it creates lots of problems in other senses. For one thing, we have to decide what the hell "relevant community" means -- and this is a kind of political assessment that's well beyond ICANN's capacities [unintelligible] willingness. I would say something here because, well, this is one of my jobs in ICANN. There are a lot of things that are [going on underneath?], I got lots of calls and mail, and then I don't see that in the public forum. Many people have expressed to me strong reservations about the International Conspiration [sic] of Free Trade Unions [in London?] because this historically was the, how you say that, the arm of the gun of a certain view of the world, and in continental Europe and in Latin America there was some astonishment, even if I think it was more historical than present, in my personal opinion... [ emphasis added]

Toward the end of his presentation for .xxx/.kids, ICM Registry rep Derek Newman noted that "the gentleman to your right, Esther" -- the sort-of-recused Robert Blokzijl -- "seemed to nod in disagreement, and I'm curious as to what his viewpoint and question is." Dyson stammered back: "He's...he's recused." The Lanzmannesque lingering camera shot on Blokzijl was one of the few intriguing moments captured by the Berkman cinematographers (@1:54).

Near miss

A last-minute change of venue prevented the Berkman staff from documenting the stunning IANA - ccTLD meeting in which a parade of luminaries -- notably ISOC NZ's Peter Dengate Thrush, the Virgin Island NIC's Pete de Blanc, and NomiNet's Willie Black -- read ICANN the riot act.

ExecSum: ICANN's established pattern of posting crucial materials at the last-minute, its bogus attempt to invoice the ccTLDs to the tune of $1.35 million (see ICANN's "Audited Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ending 30 June 2000 [Notes to Financial Statements]," 2[c]), and its provocative and destabilizing "Discussion Draft of Letter to Governments Regarding ccTLD Managers", led the ccTLD registry constituency to set forth three options for the ccTLDs' relationship to ICANN:

  1. a fourth Supporting Organization within ICANN
  2. a quasi-independent body similar to the GAC
  3. an independent organization

Their decision depends in large part on whether ICANN persists in its plan to ask national governments whether they are "satisfied" with their current ccTLD delegation. If ICANN does, Pete de Blanc warned, the ccTLDs may "go nuclear" -- that is, establish a second root.

If any roving_readers know of any audio or video of this session, please let me know.

Misc, always misc...

Andrew "the Jackal" McLaughlin dismisses Sunday 12 November Membership At Large self-organization meeting as an effort "to hijack a process for political ends" (RealFnord @ 37:10)... ASO (Astroturf Supporting organization) boardmember Jonathan Cohen reveals intense interest in anything past "sunrise" by nodding off^W^W lobbying heavily for ".zzz" during the Wednesday afternoon TLD dog-and-pony show... Afilio-Names Council Chairmodel and roving_regular Ken Stubbs wears his conflict-of-interestophilia in your face, flaks for iDomains proposal (@ 24:20)... .Nom Consortium presenter slags ICANN's "highly flawed process" to heavy applause (@ 1:08:40); The Dyson Strikes Back, responding, "I'm really sorry we gave you the chance to speak and you did not take very good advantage of it" (@ 1:11). Still unsatisfied, Dearly Departing Dyson snipes, "I don't want to be part of the conspiracy to shorten the public comment period" (@ 2:20) -- evidently forgetting that she presided for months over an asymptotic schedule that ended up costing applicants $277.78/second... Paul Garrin admits "quite honestly I haven't counted how many" gTLDs his Name.Space proposed (@ 42:47), that it was "difficult" to raise $50K (@ 50:05); to Garrin's admirable defense of free speech, the Doyenne titters, "Off the top of my head, the IP [Intellectual Property] constituency did not select you as one of their choices" (@ 47:40)... Careful study of body language reveals Dyson doesn't much fancy the litigious, as she put it, "Image... Online... Design..." (@ 29:55)...

Clarification: A regular roving_source to whom we are deeply indebted points out that Cohen is a DNSO boardmember, not, as the above remarks seemed to suggest, an ASO boardmember.

Mon Nov 20 22:02:46 EST 2000

NSI nabs .US

From: US Domain Help 
To: jamie@arpa.com
Subject: United States Domain Registry - Important New Information
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 19:27:23 -0500 (EST)

To all administrative and technical contacts:

As you may already know, since 1993 the Information Sciences Institute
of the University of Southern California has administered the .US domain
under a subcontract with Network Solutions, Inc. through its cooperative
agreement with the U.S. Government.  USC has chosen not to renew its
subcontract, and therefore VeriSign Global Registry Services, a division
of Network Solutions, Inc., will assume direct administration of the .US
domain as of Tuesday, November 28, 2000.

Please note that no changes will occur to syntax, and the standards
established by RFC 1480 located at http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1480.txt
will continue to apply. VeriSign Global Registry Services will forward
its revised standard interim service agreement to you via email shortly
for your review.  We will also post the agreement on our web site at
http://www.nic.us.

Should you have any questions, you may email them to
usdomhelp@verisign-grs.com.

Best regards,

United States Domain Registry
VeriSign Global Registry Services
www.verisign-grs.com
usdomhelp@verisign-grs.com

Fri Nov 10 20:36:43 EST 2000

Replacing boardsquatters, and a UDRP analysis

Michael Froomkin has followed up on the lightning bolt he hurled at ICANN's boardsquatters with a clap of thunder in the form of a practical proposal for temporarily filling the hypothetically empty seats.

Suppose the ICANN Board Squatters resign, then what?  It's a very fair question, especially as ICANN in its various public statements has misleadingly framed the question as a false choice between the Board Squatters and empty chairs. The answer, I think, is to have elections as soon as reasonably possible after a short period in which voters are given a second chance to navigate the ICANN registration gauntlet. Since even with the best will in the world that will take some time, in the interim we have no choice but to follow the procedures in the ICANN by-laws, and have the ICANN Board appoint four replacements. Those replacements would serve only until replaced by elected Board Members.  Admittedly, there are some difficult questions about how the Board would select the temporary directors, but these are surmountable. The best interim solution would be to have the five elected at-large directors propose four names for the full Board's approval.

Milton Mueller has published a quantitative study of the outcomes of ICANN's UDRP, "Rough Justice: An Analysis of ICANNN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy" (html here, PDF here). The press release summarizes Mueller's main conclusion thus:

While the guidelines developed by [ICANN] are "robust and fair," both the interpretation of the guidelines and a clause that allows trademark holders to shop around for the most favorable arbitrators has resulted in a system that is biased against Internet domain name registrants....

Fri Nov 10 20:21:34 EST 2000

Recusals and not

By now, roving_readers have come to know and love the intrepid Names Council Chair Ken Stubbs, who's recent adventures we have documented in this space (here and here). Perhaps Ken's most endearing quality is that he seems never to have met a conflict of interest he didn't like. Good news: he's back! iDomains, whose .biz / .ebiz. / .ecom proposal just so happens to be among the lucky few proposals ICANN's "evaluation team concluded...merited further review," got five new equity investors of 5% or more -- one of them by the name of Kenyon T. Stubbs. The "Notice of Maternal [sic] Change of Circumstances Regarding Ownership" was posted by ICANN just before midnight on 7 November, barely two days before ICANN posted the results of its review of the proposals, "Report on TLD Applications."

Ken could of course have followed the fine example of the four boardmembers (Abril i Abril, Blokzijl, Crew, Davidson) who recused themselves from involvement in decisions on new TLDs. Well, maybe not... They did so, curiously, en masse, on 1 November -- just one day before the application period ended, that is to say, up to three weeks after the relevant proposals were submitted (Abril i Abril, Afilias ".info/.site/.web" [12 Oct] and CORE ".nom" [19 Oct]; Blokzijl, Telnic ".tel" [11 Oct]; Crew, JVTeam ".biz" [15 Oct] and JVTeam ".per" [11 Oct]; Davidson, Group One ".one" [11 oct]). ICANN assures that they recused themselves "prior to their consideration of any application"; in other words, they spent months contributing to proposals while crafting ICANN's new TLD process.

Addendum: Speaking of recusals, the roving_reporter wonders whether the two legal advisers ICANN hired to review the TLD proposals, JDRPers John Funk and Paul Goldean, recused themselves from the NeuStar .dot/etc. and Commercial Connect .mall/etc. proposals. NeuStar initially offered to pay ICANN's legal fees in the event of litigation over a TLD, and Commercial Connect retained as JDRP for "intellectual property and international legal issues" and, in its answers to ICANN's review questions, stated that it would "in fact indemnify ICANN for claims arising from legal challenges that may incur in regards to our right to operate such registry."

Correction:Amadeu Abril i Abril recused himself on 2 October. Thanks to Judith Oppenheimer for klewing me in, and apologies to Amadeu Abril i Abril for the incorrect statement.

Fri Nov 10 20:20:33 EST 2000

The View from Germany...

...can make things look awfully small and indistinct on other side of the Atlantic, it seems. On 12 October, The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a surreal op-ed about Andy Mueller-Maguhn and ICANN by Sandra Kegel, which opens thus:

Lady Liberty is not amused. No country is hotter on the heels of its net dissidents than the United States, tracing them even to the remotest Hawaiian garages. And now a German hacker, of all people, has been voted King of Europe.

As a freshly elected ICANN director, Andy Müller-Maguhn is the (virtual) voice of the old world in the wide world of the Internet. For the United States, his election is a worst-case scenario. "Hackers Hijacking ICANN Elections?" grumbled the oracular Wired Magazine in the firm belief that a group of German hackers on the ICANN board will make their worst nightmares come true.

It goes downhill from there, misidentifying ICANN's president as David Clark and attributing a babelmanglification of the IETF credo ("We believe in broad consensus and constant improvements in software") to this chimerical ICANN officer.

It's certainly odd that a prestigious paper would publish Kegel's mythologized ramblings about ICANN, but the fact that it did suggests that ICANN might do very well to consider how its activities are received beyond the American tech set.

Clarification: Thanks to Volker Leib, who notes that the babelmanglification of the IETF credo derives not from Kegel's mostly accurate translation into German ("Wir lehnen Könige, Präsidenten und Wahlen ab, wir glauben an den breiten Konsens und an die sich verbessernde Software") but, rather, from the FAZ's re-translation into English of her German rendition.



The above material is Copyright © 2000 by t. byfield.

The r_r began as a semi-collaborative nym on the <nettime> list, where it worked well; but the pseudonym precluded comments, and there was more to report than was good for the list, so now it -- or a mutation of it -- has resurfaced on TBTF. [ top]

Updated 2000-12-03