2015-08-12

ICANN, Public Interest, New gTLDs Registry Operator Code of Conduct

ICANN essentially "caved" to new gTLDs lobbyists (a/k/a "ICANN stakeholders") and failed to protect the public interest, including, but not limited to, domain name registrants, in its "New gTLD Registry Operator Code of Conduct" which is found in "Specification 9" of the Base Registry Agreement (Specification 9 is at pages 80-81)--relevant  portions below:

SPECIFICATION 9
REGISTRY OPERATOR CODE OF CONDUCT

1. In connection with the operation of the registry for the TLD, Registry Operator will not, and will not allow any parent, subsidiary, Affiliate, subcontractor or other related entity, to the extent such party is engaged in the provision of Registry Services with respect to the TLD (each, a “Registry Related Party”), to: 
a. directly or indirectly show any preference or provide any special consideration to any registrar with respect to operational access to registry systems and related registry services, unless comparable opportunities to qualify for such preferences or considerations are made available to all registrars on substantially similar terms and subject to substantially similar conditions;

b. register domain names in its own right, except for names registered through an ICANN accredited registrar; provided, however, that Registry Operator may (a) reserve names from registration pursuant to Section 2.6 of the Agreement and (b) may withhold from registration or allocate to Registry Operator up to one hundred (100) names pursuant to Section 3.2 of Specification 5;

c. register names in the TLD or sub-domains of the TLD based upon proprietary access to information about searches or resolution requests by consumers for domain names not yet registered (commonly known as, “front-running”); or
d. allow any Affiliated registrar to disclose Personal Data about registrants to Registry Operator or any Registry Related Party, except as reasonably necessary for the management and operations of the TLD, unless all unrelated third parties (including other registry operators) are given equivalent access to such user data on substantially similar terms and subject to substantially similar conditions.
2. If Registry Operator or a Registry Related Party also operates as a provider of registrar or registrar-reseller services, Registry Operator will, or will cause such Registry Related Party to, ensure that such services are offered through a legal entity separate from Registry Operator, and maintain separate books of accounts with respect to its registrar or registrar-reseller operations. 
(source: http://newgtlds.icann.org/sites/default/files/agreements/agreement-approved-09jan14-en.pdfparagraphs 3-6, pp.80-81, contain nothing else of substance to registrants)

And what is the purported purpose of ICANN's Registry Operator Code of Conduct?

Code of Conduct FAQ [PDF, 456 KB]:
A3: The purpose of the Registry Operator Code of Conduct is to protect a TLD’s registrants.
A15: If a Registry Operator receives an exemption to the Code of Conduct, it is not contractually obligated to comply with the covenants in Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Specification 9 of the Registry Agreement. 

This must be some kind of "joke" if ICANN thinks new gTLD domain name registrants are "protected" by this "Code of Conduct"--no wonder ICANN's Global Domains Division, its President Akram Atallah, its General Counsel John Jeffrey, and its Contract Compliance Officer Allen Grogan, were all stumped and befuddled when confronted with claims of the IPC and ICANN's Business Constituency about abusive practices by an ICANN new gTLD Registry operator-- or what Akram Atallah refers to as an "ICANN customer." ICANN wrote to the FTC (US) and OCA (Canada) asking for help because ICANN forgot to put any teeth into its Code of Conduct! To date nothing has been done--so much for registrant protection!

The ICANN Global Domains Division must be the most inept, incompetent and/or dysfunctional part of ICANN. Akram Atallah is a crony of outgoing ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and had no experience in the domain name industry before he was appointed ICANN's "President" (yes, ICANN decided to have 2 Presidents!) coincident with the creation of the "Global Domains Division" by empire builder Fadi Chehade--i.e., Akram got Fadi hired as ICANN CEO and President, and in turn, Fadi appointed his lifelong friend and crony Akram to the newly created "President" Global Domains Division which pays a total comp package (including benefits) approaching one million dollars (USD) per year.

The rampant conflicts of interest at play in the new gTLDs program within ICANN are well known, all of which are symptomatic of ICANN's problematic organizational culture. Fixing "organizational culture" is really hard, and impossible when the two top officers are part of the problem. As Peter Thiel once said, "You'd have to fire everybody and start over."

For Domain Name Registrants, ICANN is useless--better to just file a complaint directly with the Federal Trade Comission (FTC).

See also on Domain Mondo: ICANN, Domain Registry Operators, Monopoly, Antitrust, FTC Statement

ref: https://www.icann.org/news/blog/new-gtld-registry-operator-code-of-conduct


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