2015-05-21

Show Me The Money! ICANN Infighting Over New gTLD Auction Proceeds

"It's all about the money"--
Tim Berners-Lee: "....when a decision is taken about a possible new top-level domain, ICANN's job is to work out, in a transparent and accountable manner, whether it is really in the best interest of the world as a whole, not just of those launching the new domain. It also means that ICANN's use of the funds should be spent in a beneficent way...." (emphasis added)
New gTLD Auction Proceeds | ICANN New gTLDs"Auctions are the mechanism of last resort to resolve string contention within the New gTLD Program... Auction proceeds will be reserved and earmarked until the Board determines a plan for the appropriate use of the funds through consultation with the community. Auction proceeds are net of any Auction costs..." 

ICANN holds total new gTLD Auction net proceeds in excess of $58 million dollars (US), as of March 27, 2015.

GNSO is the Generic Names Supporting Organization which started work on its own plan for "use of the auction funds" without bothering to ask the ICANN Board of Directors, or anyone else for that matter. Many of the new gTLD registry operators, who have largely captured the GNSO in many of its policy-making sub-groups, would like to grab the auction proceeds for their own purposes--principally for marketing their new gTLD domain names (which reportedly are "failing to work as expected on the Internet," "break stuff," and have had disappointing registration numbers). However, ICANN Board Chairman Steve Crocker has made it clear that the ICANN Board will have final say--

From: Steve Crocker, ICANN Board Chairman (pdf)
Sent: 15 April 2015 23:19
To: Jonathan Robinson, Chair, GNSO Council
Subject: A Cross-Community Working Group (CCWG) to develop a plan for the use of new gTLD auction proceeds

Jonathan,
"... on the [GNSO] initiative to create a CCWG to develop inputs on the use of the auction funds. The Board has explicitly committed to a full consultation process. Input from the CCWG will
be quite welcome, but so will inputs from other sources. The Board has not chartered any
group to make decisions about the auction funds, and we plan to proceed very deliberately.
We will proceed very shortly with a call for inputs on general ideas and concepts, not specific
projects. We make a point of reaching outside the usual ICANN SO and AC structures to
include the rest of the Internet community. We will, of course, be glad to mention the CCWG
effort as one of the ways for people to be involved. I hope this is consistent with your understanding and expectations." (emphasis added)

In other words, the ICANN Board will decide what happens to the new gTLD auction proceeds after consulting the global multistakeholder community. The GNSO or new gTLD domain name industry attempt to control the decision-making process and outcome through its own GNSO-initiated CCWG apparently has been blocked, for now, by ICANN Board Chairman Steve Crocker.

more info:
Transcription ICANN Singapore Possible CWG on new gTLD Auction Saturday 07 February 2015 (pdf)
and
http://gnso.icann.org/en/meetings/projects-list.pdf


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