2015-03-31

US Gov GAO Requests Meeting With ICANN CCWG-Accountability Chairs

UPDATE (March 31, 2015): "... the GAO is currently engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, including members of this group. The list of questions provided is a generic one, and it is our understanding that, as far as we are concerned, the main expectation is to discuss about our process. Our key intent in this engagement will be focused on explaining our process, from the basic principles of the multistakeholder, open and transparent approach of the CCWG to the various steps we are taking to come up with WS1 proposals. Should the discussion come to contents, we will obviously stay within the grounds of tentative conclusions, as currently available to the public through, for instance, our co-chair statement. Taking note of some of the comments received, we will ask the GAO whether they would rather hear our update shortly or delay by a few weeks until our public comment is out..." -- Mathieu Weill, CCWG Co-Chair (emphasis added)

As disclosed Monday, March 30th, by ICANN's CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs, the US Government Accountability Office [GAO] has requested a teleconference with the co-chairs of the CCWG (tentative date currently discussed is next week, 7 or 8 April). Included was the requesting email and attachment below from the GAO (emphasis added):

Subject : April 1, 2, or 3 Meeting Request CCWG-Accountability Chairs
Date : Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:45:11

Good day, Mr. Rickert, Mr. Sanchez Ambia, and Mr. Weill:

You may recall meeting my colleagues, Derrick Collins, Alwynne Wilbur, and Kate Perl at the ICANN meeting in Singapore in February. At any rate, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been asked by the Chairs of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its
Communications and Technology Subcommittee to review the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) proposed transition of key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. We are meeting with knowledgeable people and organizations to gather information for our work.

We would like to meet with you via teleconference to discuss the proposed transition from the perspective of the Accountability working group. We have provided a list of questions, below, to give you a better idea of the topics we want to discuss with you, and I’ll provide a teleconference line after confirming your availability (please “reply all” so that others can know of your availability). In addition to the discussion, we would also welcome written responses.

Would you be available for a one-hour time slot during one of the following blocks?
* Wednesday, April 1st : 10:00 – 11:00 EST
* Thursday, April 2nd : 11:00 – 12:00 EST
* Friday, April 3rd : 10:00 – 11:00 EST

We would also like to meet with Steve DelBianco and Cheryl Langdon-Orr to discuss their work with the Stress Test Work Party. Please let me know if you’d like to be part of that meeting, too.
Thank you, 

John
John Healey, Senior Analyst
Physical Infrastructure Team
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street NW, Washington DC, 20548


List of QuestionsGAO Engagement on the Internet Domain Name System - Discussion Guide - Background on GAO’s Engagement

GAO has been asked by the Chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology Subcommittee to review the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) planned transition of its oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the global multistakeholder community. We are meeting with key people and organizations to gather input on
· the process used to develop a transition proposal and how the process considers risks associated with the transition as identified by stakeholders and
· The extent to which NTIA’s core requirements for the transition provide an effective framework to evaluate the transition proposal.

Topics for Discussion
1. What is your experience related to the IANA functions and NTIA’s role?
2. How would you describe NTIA’s current role with regard to the IANA functions (e.g., stewardship, administrative/clerical, backstop, etc)?
3. If you consider the implications of transitioning NTIA’s role to a global multistakeholder community, what are the potential risks, if any, that come to mind?
a. What risks can you identify if the transition does occur (i.e., such as any technical, operational, or accountability risks that are currently mitigated by NTIA’s contract with ICANN)?
b. What are the potential risks if the transition does not occur?
c. Are you aware of the list of contingencies being considered by the cross-community working group on enhancing ICANN accountability (CCWG-Accountability)? If so, to what extent do you think this is a comprehensive list? Which risks, if any, are present regardless of NTIA’s oversight role?

4. Who, specifically, of the multi-stakeholder community might be most impacted by a transition of NTIA’s role? Are these potentially-impacted stakeholders sufficiently represented by the discussion and efforts to develop a transition proposal?
a. [If stakeholder is from one of the multi-stakeholder constituency groups in ICANN] What is the process for raising concerns that arise from the perspective of your constituency to the multi-stakeholder community and to what extent do you think this process is effective in ensuring that all issues are considered in policy development and decision making?

5. What are the most important issues for the transition proposal to address? Do you have a view on what structure or approach could most effectively address these issues? 

6. What factors should be considered when evaluating transition proposals? To what extent do NTIA’s core requirements address potential risks? NTIA will require that the proposal:
a. supports and enhances the multistakeholder model of Internet governance,
b. maintains the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet domain name system (DNS),
c. meets the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services;
d. maintains the openness of the Internet, and,
e. does not replace NTIA’s oversight role with a government-led or intergovernmental organization solution.

The CCWG-Accountability discussion thread has been very active subsequent to the disclosure of the GAO request above--including this (emphasis added):

Colleagues
With due respect to all, I think you are overreacting and over thinking the GAO request quite a bit. Greg is precisely right that this is an invitation to a conversation – not something we can manage the scope of.  Either we say “no” or we say “yes” and if we say “yes” they will ask whatever they want to ask.  I should add that GAO is transparent – so the way they induce acceptance is their practice of noting on the public record who declined to speak with them in whole or in part.  That image: “We requested the opportunity to speak with the co-Chairs of the CCWG, but they declined our request ….” Is about the worst thing I could imagine for public confidence in our work.

More importantly, as Carlos correctly pointed out, though these are relatively modest staffers, their report when issued will have significant influence with Congress.  Now it may be that we don’t care about that – but assuming we do it is incumbent upon us to put our best foot forward.  If, hypothetically, the report found critical flaws in our work and reported same that would, even if completely incorrect, be very disruptive.  Conversely, if it lauds our work as thoughtful etc., it would be of great benefit to our efforts.  To the extent the report errs, if it does so because we did not engage we would have nobody but ourselves to blame.

So the bottom line is that, I think, we should say “yes” with some enthusiasm.  We have work product of which we are justifiably proud and if we can’t say that to the GAO, I would wonder why. To be sure, the co-chairs should not bind the CCWG and should make clear they do not speak “on behalf of” the group – but they can and should be authorized to tout our work as useful and an essential step to satisfying the NTIA (and, derivatively, Congress) that the transition will occur without a loss of accountability.

That having been said, I do think that the Co-Chairs might reasonably ask for an extra week or two – so that the meeting would occur after our proposal is released to the public for comment, as we anticipate will happen in mid-late April.  Then the Co-Chairs will have substance to talk about.  This is also something GAO will understand as they are often all about good process.  Bear in mind, however, that the GAO has deadlines of its own.  I believe I was told (though I can’t recall by whom) that the House Committee has demanded this report no later than June 30 …. -- Paul Rosenzweig


2015-03-30

IANA CWG-Stewardship Reverses Course, Chooses 'Internal Model'

Less than two months after NTIA and ICANN "pressured" stakeholders at ICANN 52 in Singapore, to reject an "external model" draft proposal,  the "Cross Community Working Group (CWG) to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions" (commonly referred to as CWG-stewardship) has reversed course and is now pursuing an "internal model" for the IANA Stewardship Transition which has clearly been the "model" preferred by the U.S. Department of Commerce (NTIA) and ICANN since the NTIA announcement in March, 2014.

CWG-Stewardship Chairs' Statement | Summary of Istanbul Face-to-Face Meeting--Lise Fuhr & Jonathan Robinson, CWG-Stewardship Co-Chairs:

"The Cross Community Working Group on Naming Related Functions (CWG or CWG-Stewardship) held a face-to-face meeting in Istanbul on 26-27 March 2015. The CWG-Stewardship meeting followed the CCWG-Accountability meeting held on 23-24 March in the same venue. On the last day of the meeting, the Chairs concluded that this was a very effective and constructive week for the CWG. For the CWG-Stewardship, the meeting specifically illustrated the success of the revised working methods, in place since ICANN52 in Singapore in February and whereby; the CWG uses small, expertise-based subgroups, known as Design Teams, to focus on developing the many operational aspects of the proposal. Following the retention of independent legal counsel (Sidley Austin LLP) by the CWG, the commitment to have comprehensive legal input and associated consultation with the group regarding the post-transition arrangements, was also fulfilled in Istanbul... The CWG-Stewardship converged around a plan to have legal counsel focus on further evolving the detail and variants of an 'internal model'...."

"FOCUSING ON CRITICAL PATH AND WAY FORWARD
The next milestone for the CWG-Stewardship is the publication of its 2nd draft proposal for public comment. The original opening date was planned for early April, but the date has now shifted back to 20 April 2015, giving the CWG-Stewardship additional time to finalize Design Team work. Key dates include:
  • 20 April – 20 May: Public Comment (30 days) on the Draft Proposal
  • 8 June: Delivery of the Final CWG Proposal to the Chartering Organizations
  • 25 June: Target to deliver approved Final CWG Proposal to IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG)
"The CWG-Stewardship revised its timeline, cognizant of the constraints relating to the broader ICG and IANA Stewardship Transition timelines and recognizing the requirements of the SO/AC chartering organizations to have final sign-off on the proposal, including utilizing the ICANN53 meeting in June 2015...." (emphasis added) Read the full statement here.

In addition, it is now clear that most of the heavy work and burden of the IANA stewardship transition has now shifted to the group known as CCWG-accountability--even the CWG-Stewardship Co-Chairs seem to acknowledge that in their statement--
"The [CWG-Stewardship] Chairs recognize that continued and close engagement with the CCWG-Accountability is essential to the elaboration of a complete proposal, since aspects of the CWG proposal will be conditional on the output of the CCWG-Accountability. Giving the CCWG-Accountability the input they have requested a key next step, as will be keeping the CCWG apprised of the evolution of key aspects of the proposal which are linked to their work." (source: CWG Chairs statement, emphasis added)

Domain Name Registry Operator Neustar After Losing FCC Vote

Neustar is the registry operator for .US, .CO, .BIZ, .NYC top-level domains, and provides services for other TLDs. Its main business had been operating the Numbering Portability Administration Contract (NPAC), from which Neustar derived 49% of its revenue in 2014.
 Neustar - FCC votes for Ericsson, $150M buyback launched | Seeking Alpha: "As was widely expected, the FCC has voted to begin negotiations with Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) Telcordia unit regarding a major local phone number-porting contract [NPAC], after relying on Neustar (NYSE:NSR) to provide the service for 18 years. Neustar has responded to the news by once more blasting the FCC's selection process, and affirming its guidance for 1H15.To soften the blow, the telecom data service provider has launched a $150M buyback that lasts until March 25, 2016. It's good for repurchasing 12% of shares at current levels. As of Dec. 31, Neustar had $329M in cash to pay for buybacks with, and $792M in debt." (March 26, 2015)
Fallout after losing FCC contract vote? From Seeking Alpha's John Zhang--
  • Market is underestimating impact of loss of NPAC contract.
  • Neustar's Balance Sheet at great risk.
  • Neustar's Non-NPAC business growing 
  • Potential buyout after FCC vote.
more info: Webcast Neustar, Inc. Investor Conference Call 03/26/15 (Replay)


2015-03-29

Spectre, The Next James Bond 007 Film, Trailer, Website, Social Media


Spectre - James Bond 007 | official teaser trailer #1 (2015) Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz - (Published on March 27, 2015)

The next James Bond film, "Spectre," opens in theaters globally, on November 6, 2015 - The first teaser trailer for the 24th James Bond adventure SPECTRE above - A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Spectre follows Skyfall (both directed by Sam Mendes). Skyfall (2012), has now made more than $1 billion internationally and is the most successful film yet in the 50-year franchise. Spectre, like Skyfall, stars Daniel Craig (for the third time) as the iconic British super-spy. It is interesting to observe and note the use of the domain name and various social media channels used to promote and market this major movie release.

website: 007.com  -- Note also the Google search results for spectre -- Looking for an EMD, an exact match domain for the word spectre? No EMD needed for the word "spectre," not even in the .COM, although I am sure the current registrant and user of spectre.com is enjoying a boost in direct navigation type-in traffic, at least for a while, but at the price of being pushed down in the SERP for the word "spectre." Obviously the Google Bot already knows (months before the film's release) that most users searching for "spectre" are looking for info about the movie. There's an upside and downside to owning a "keyword domain"--which should be a warning to all new gTLD proponents and potential registrants. When you are James Bond (jamesbond.com redirects to 007.com) and "own" 007.com, who needs "defensive trademark registrations" in other extensions, particularly ICANN's skanky new gTLDs? It's a waste of time and money, and you really don't want to dilute or taint your brand.

Other channels being used for the James Bond 007 film Spectre:

facebook.com/JamesBond007

twitter.com/007

plus.google.com/+007

youtube.com/user/jamesbond007

instagram.com/007

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(2015_film)

There's also an interesting intellectual property backstory to the James Bond franchise--here's one piece of the story.


2015-03-28

Innovation, Change, Disruption, Google (video)


Video above uploaded on August 2, 2007: Presentation by then Google CIO Douglas Merrill on Innovation at Google (Merrill is now Co-Founder and CEO of ZestFinance.com).

For a more recent view of Innovation at Google: Watch How Google X Employees Deal With Failure | Fast Company | Business + Innovation (video at link).

On the other hand-- How Google Skewed Search Results - WSJ"... While the FTC staff recommended not filing an antitrust case against Google for its search engine business, it uncovered evidence that Google promoted its own search results and demoted those of its rivals. Google "adopted a strategy of demoting or refusing to display, links to certain vertical websites in highly commercial categories."... FTC staff concluded that Google's conduct harmed consumers and competitors. "Staff concludes that Google's conduct has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation…"

and this-- Google users CAN sue internet giant in British courts over its tracking of their browsing | Daily Mail Online: "Group claims Google bypassed security to track their online browsing - Action taken over the way Google tracked users of Apple Safari's internet browser - Appeal court ruling means Google users have the right to sue internet giant -nThe ruling was a victory for 'Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking'..."

Here are two nuggets of wisdom on change, disruption, and Google--

"... the more you’re invested in the way you’re doing things, the more vulnerable you become. Disruption is easier with digital tools. Therefore, you must disrupt yourself. But it’s hard for the rich and comfortable to do this...." (source: infra)

"Google made search work. Create comprehension from chaos, make the world understandable and usable for a huge swath of people and you’ll get rich. But you won’t stay rich. In mobile search is secondary, it’s all about the app. But what is most interesting about Google is it got a pass. Utilizing its mantra of “Don’t be evil” to market itself as a new kind of company (that only lasted until earnings faltered), Google’s history is about the public and press giving it a chance when it does not deserve one. Sure, Google gave us Gmail, a slightly better Hotmail, but it makes no money on YouTube, Google Plus is an invasive disaster and Google Glass was a sideshow that got a ton of publicity while WhatsApp and Snapchat got all the glory. Just because someone is good at one thing, do not assume they’re good at everything. Furthermore, just because someone is rich, that doesn’t make them smart and indomitable."Lefsetz Letter


2015-03-27

The Past Has Gone, Why A GoDaddy IPO Is Like ICANN, Another Relic

Sure ICANN is a monopoly--but of what? Generic Top-Level Domain-making? ICANN is getting its own IPO of sorts--only it's called an IST--the IANA Stewardship Transition.  Uncle Sam wants to unload ICANN so ICANN's multistakeholders, like GoDaddy's new stockholders, will be left holding the bag. ICANN, like GoDaddy, has a business model built on the past, that is increasingly no longer relevant. The GoDaddy hedge fund owners just want to get some return on their investment before it's all gone and too late--

There is one great thing about GoDaddy: Their brand equity and recognition in the market is arguably one of the highest in the technology industry. But the incredibly complex legal structure is orchestrated to benefit the current shareholders and not the new buyers. (source Seeking Alpha infra)

The GoDaddy IPO and ICANN and its new gTLDs--all built on the greater fool theory--

Why We PASS On GoDaddy IPO - GoDaddy (Pending:GDDY) | Seeking Alpha: "...The web hosting market is a low margin business, GoDaddy is not the only company that has posted operating losses - Web.com and Endurance International Group have posted years of losses. GoDaddy still thinks that their outdated strategy of flashy ads to generate domain registrations will take them out of the red. For example, their localized and targeted domain naming strategy of adding [new gTLDs] ".guru" or ".nyc" (among others) is targeting the businesses and individuals who are having difficulty finding new domain names or cannot afford the premium prices for the 270 million registered .com's, .org's, and .biz domains. What GoDaddy does not realize is that business is transforming into mobile and social media, where websites are an ancillary tool and not a core necessity. In today's market, for the bulk of GoDaddy's market (small local businesses), a well-built Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) flash page will drive more sales and attention than any website. Additionally, the competition is ramping up their efforts to take away market share...."(emphasis added, read more at link above)

What would YOU pay for a low-margin commoditized business that hasn't made a profit in years? LOL! I thought so.

UPDATE: 2 additional articles of interest--GoDaddy: The pig in the IPO parade | PandoDaily and Ten red flags on the GoDaddy IPO | PandoDaily

Caveat Emptor!  Note Disclaimer at the bottom of this web page.


FTC Rules Operators of Jerk.com Deceived Consumers, Violated FTC Act

From the March 25th press release--FTC Rules Jerk, LLC and John Fanning Deceived Consumers, Violated FTC Act | Federal Trade Commission:

"The Federal Trade Commission has granted summary decision against the operators of Jerk.com, a website that billed itself as “the anti-social network,” for deceiving users about the source of content on the website. The Commission found that the operators – Jerk, LLC (“Jerk”) and John Fanning – misled consumers by claiming that content on the website was posted by other users. Instead, most of the content came from Facebook profiles mined by the operators.

"The Commission also found that the company and Fanning misrepresented the benefits of a paid membership which, for $30, purportedly allowed consumers to update information in their Jerk.com profiles. In fact, consumers who paid for the membership were unable to correct information about them on the site, and did not receive anything of value for their “membership.”

"The final order and an accompanying opinion resulted from an administrative complaint the FTC staff filed in 2014 against Jerk and Fanning. The summary decision was requested by FTC staff trying the case.

"The order requires the company and Fanning to delete all personal and customer information collected during the operation of the now-defunct website within 30 days, and prohibits them from selling or disclosing any of that information. The order also prohibits them from misrepresenting the source of any content on a website, including personal information, and from misrepresenting the benefits of joining any service.

"The Commission vote to issue the opinion granting summary decision and the final order was 5-0.

"The company or Fanning may file a petition for review of the Commission Opinion and Final Order with a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within 60 days after service of the Final Order."

"The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad."  (source: FTC)


2015-03-26

Surveillance Reform Legislation, Letter to the US Congress

On March 25th, The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, along with civil society groups and trade associations, sent a letter to Congress that underscores the essential elements of any surveillance reform legislation.

March 25, 2015

Dear House and Senate Leadership,

We the undersigned represent a wide range of privacy and human rights advocates, technology companies, and trade associations that hold an equally wide range of positions on the issue of surveillance reform. Many of us have differing views on exactly what reforms must be included in any bill reauthorizing USA PATRIOT Act Section 215, which currently serves as the legal basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata and is set to expire on June 1, 2015. That said, our broad, diverse, and bipartisan coalition believes that the status quo is untenable and that it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform.

Together, we agree that the following elements are essential to any legislative or Administration effort to reform our nation’s surveillance laws:

There must be a clear, strong, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA PATRIOT Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and the Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices. Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.

The bill must contain transparency and accountability mechanisms for both government and company reporting, as well as an appropriate declassification regime for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions.

We believe addressing the above must be a part of any reform package, though there are other reforms that our groups and companies would welcome, and in some cases, believe are essential to any legislation. We also urge Congress to avoid adding new mandates that are controversial and could derail reform efforts.

It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities. Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability. We strongly encourage both the White House and Members of Congress to support the above reforms and oppose any efforts to enact any legislation that does not address them.

Thank you. -- view the original version of the letter with the full list of signatories.

To add your name to show support: https://takeaction.withgoogle.com/page/content/reform-letter




Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Does Not Need an Operating System (video)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discusses Google's Android operating system and apps with Bloomberg's Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Studio 1.0."  Facebook (along with many others in Silicon Valley) has also made it very clear it does not need ICANN's new gTLDs!

The F8 Facebook Developer Conference continues through March 26th--more info here: F8 Facebook Developer Conference, March 25-26 Schedule

Catch up on Facebook announcements here: https://developers.facebook.com/blog/

Zuckerberg Wants to Move Fast and Help Everyone Make Money | WIRED"... Facebook’s web of products and services now reaches 1.4 billion people around the globe, many of whom tap into the social network through its connection to Instagram, Whatsapp and Oculus. Zuckerberg notes that many of these newer services are growing their multi-hundred million user bases faster than the original social networking site. That’s part of what has made the past year so profitable for Facebook. The company’s revenues jumped nearly 60 percent to $12.5 billion last year. To continue this supercharged growth, developers will be crucial...."

2015-03-25

ICANN CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs March 25 Statement, Video

Video above published on March 25, 2015: Thomas Rickert, Co-chair of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN's Accountability details the journey the accountability process has taken from the ICANN 52 meeting in Singapore to the successful two-day in Istanbul.

The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs, Thomas Rickert, León Sánchez and Mathieu Weill, issued the following statement at Istanbul, on March 25, 2015 (emphasis added):

"Members and participants of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) met in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 March 2015. The meeting was attended in-person by 42 members and participants. A number of participants and observers joined the meeting remotely using the virtual meeting room. Three Advisors also participated.

"Guided by the four basic building blocks identified at ICANN 52 in Singapore, the group further discussed and refined accountability mechanisms that need to be either implemented or, at least, committed to before the transition of the IANA stewardship can take place.

"The meeting made progress on three main areas:
  • Enhancing ICANN's Mission and Core Values;
  • Strengthening the existing independent review process;
  • Mechanisms for community empowerment.
"Specifically, the group discussed changes that should be made to the Mission and Core Values inICANN's Bylaws. For example, the group discussed how key provisions of the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) could be reflected into the Bylaws.

"Additionally, the group worked on strengthening the existing independent review process suggesting improvements to its accessibility and affordability, and discussed process design including establishment of a standing panel with binding outcomes and panel composition (diversity etc.). The IRP panel decisions would be guided by ICANN's Mission and Core Values. With regards to mechanisms for community empowerment, the group identified powers and associated mechanisms including the ability to:
  • recall the ICANN Board of Directors;
  • approve or prevent changes to the ICANN Bylaws, Mission and Core Values;
  • reject Board decisions on Strategic Plan and budget, where the Board has failed to appropriately consider community input.
"The CCWG-Accountability supported the concept of a Fundamental Bylaw that would provide additional robustness to key provisions. The Fundamental Bylaw would apply to:
  • the mission;
  • the independent review process;
  • the power to veto Bylaw changes;
  • new community powers such as recall of the Board and the right of the community to veto certain Board actions.
"Changes to the Fundamental Bylaws would require high standards for approval by the community.

"The notion of an empowered community involved discussion of community representation, i.e. who constitutes the community. The CCWG-Accountability is also aware that to wield these new powers, the community, however it is constituted, must itself meet high standards of accountability. ICANN's accountability would also be enhanced by ensuring its operations and processes are more globally inclusive.

"The group has engaged two law firms to provide independent legal advice and confirm feasibility of the suggested frameworks. The firms are Adler & Colvin and Sidley & Austin.

Adler & Colvin will be the primary source of advice on corporate governance law and California not-for-profit law. Sidley & Austin will be addressing international law and jurisdiction issues and any additional topic, as deemed appropriate.]

"As work progresses, all recommendations will be subject to the stress tests against contingencies already identified. The stress test methodology has been successfully tested against the draft accountability mechanisms.

"The CCWG-Accountability is confident that their proposed mechanisms will satisfy the needs of the CWG-Stewardship [Cross Community Working Group (CWG) to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions] as they look to stronger accountability protections. The CCWG-Accountability and CWG-Stewardship Co-Chairs met to update and fully brief each other on the progress made so far. They outlined key areas of accountability that the CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs considered are most relevant for the current and ongoing work of the CWG-Stewardship. The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs will brief the CWG-Stewardship in the opening part of their face-to-face meeting on Thursday, 26 March.

Next Steps:

"The CCWG-Accountability will continue refining its recommendations. The community is expected to provide feedback during a public comment period to be held before ICANN 53, Buenos Aires meeting. The results of the public comment period will inform further deliberations during that meeting. The group is developing an engagement plan to ensure its proposals are widely known and understood, and to encourage comprehensive response to proposals during the public comment period. The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs recognize the outstanding volunteer work that has produced these substantive proposals in a very short period of time. The community's effort has been exceptional.

"About the CCWG-Accountability--The CCWG-Accountability was established to ensure that ICANN's accountability and transparency commitments to the global Internet community are maintained and enhanced in the absence of the historical relationship with the U.S. Government.

"The group has divided its work into two work streams (WS):
WS1 is focused on identifying mechanisms enhancing ICANN accountability that must be in place or committed to within the timeframe of the IANA Stewardship Transition;
WS2 is focused on addressing accountability topics for which a timeline for developing solutions and full implementation may extend beyond the IANA Stewardship Transition.

"The CCWG-Accountability consists of 177 people, organized as 26 members, appointed by and accountable to chartering organizations, 151 participants, who participate as individuals, and 46 mailing list observers. The group also includes one ICANN Board liaison, one ICANN staff representative, and one former ATRT member who serves as a liaison. In addition, there are 4 ICG members who participate in the CCWG-Accountability, including two who serve as liaisons between the two groups. Seven Advisors have also been appointed to contribute research and advice, and to bring perspectives on global best practices to enrich the CCWG-Accountability discussion. The CCWG-Accountability is an open group: anyone interested in the work of the CCWG-Accountability, can join as a participant or observers. Participants or observers may be from a chartering organization, from a stakeholder group or organization not represented in the CCWG-Accountability or currently active within ICANN, or self-appointed. For more information on the CCWG-Accountability or to view meeting archives and draft documents, please refer to their dedicated wiki." (source: ICANN)


F8 Facebook Developer Conference, March 25-26 Schedule

Facebook's F8 Developer Conference 2015 takes place March 25-26, and is also streaming online from Fort Mason Center, San Francisco--

Facebook: "We welcome you and other leading developers from around the world to F8. Whether you're with us in San Francisco or watching the stream on March 25 and 26, you'll get the latest on our tools for developers. You'll also have access to new product demos and thought-provoking discussions to help you plan for your next build and beyond." 

UPDATE: All of the F8 talks will be made available on VOD shortly after they have finished.

F8 Facebook Developer Conference Schedule: All times shown are PDT (US)

Wednesday, March 25
10:00 Opening Keynote - view the stream at f8.facebooklive.com
11:00 Lunch
12:00
Implement Facebook Login Securely
Building for the Next Billion
The Latest and Greatest from Parse
How News Feed Works
1:00
What's New with Facebook Video
Build Products With Privacy in Mind
Get the Most Out of Login and Graph API 2.x for Your App
Lessons From Creative Labs
2:00
How Facebook Grows
Social Plugins: Driving Growth Through Rich Social Experiences
Conquer Hard Security Decisions Early
Smarter Decisions with App Insights
3:00
Facebook on iOS: Inside the "Big Blue App"
News Publishing on Facebook
Generating Revenue With Ads Powered by Facebook
Messenger: Reinventing Everyday Communication
4:00 Break
4:30 Conversation With WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger
5:30 End of Day Celebration

Thursday, March 26
10:00 Keynote: Innovation at Facebook
10:30 Keynote: Why Virtual Reality Will Matter to You
11:00 Lunch
12:00
Bringing Instagram's Community and Creativity to Your Site
Bringing Modern Web Techniques to Mobile
Great Experiences with App Links and Mobile App Architecture
Implementing and Understanding App Events
1:00
Building for Commerce
Getting Started With Parse
Evolving Facebook for Android: Engineering for an Ever-Changing Mobile World
Grow Your App Organically
Best Practices for Monetizing with Ads
2:00 Break
2:30
Designing a Great Onboarding Experience
The Next Level: Building Complex Apps on Parse
Move Fast: Ensuring Mobile Performance Without Breaking Things
Mobile Games Panel: Cracking the Code on Discovery & Retention
Growing Your Business With Facebook Ads
3:30
Running at Scale on Parse
Designing Social Experiences That Work
Grow Your App With Mobile App Ads
Lifting the Curtain: the Data Infrastructure Behind Facebook Apps
Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Game Discovery and Engagement
4:30
Big Code: Developer Infrastructure at Facebook's Scale
Advertising 101 for Games
Creating Apps and Businesses on Facebook Ads API
How Mobile-Focused Startups Are Building Their Businesses on Parse
Designing for Keeps: How to Build a Loyal Customer Base


2015-03-24

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade's View of the IANA Transition is Shortsighted and Naive

"I think if we get rid of that contract [IANA contract] we will be free of the pressures"
                    -- ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehade, February 10, 2015 (infra)
I’m Just Now Realizing How Stupid We Are: "I've learned that short-term thinking is at the root of most of our problems, whether it's in business, politics, investing, or work" - Morgan Housel

The first quote above, in sum, is the narrative that ICANN's Fadi Chehade is selling, and apparently, naively believes. Domain Mondo has a few words of advice for Fadi Chehade and ICANN--be careful what you ask for--you apparently have no idea of the pressures you may be under once the IANA contract with the US government is gone. Domain Mondo predicts that within a few years after the transition is complete, ICANN and Fadi Chehadé (if he's still around) will look back fondly at the time when ICANN was under the immunity and protection of the US government, as a relatively stress-free time. Governments (totalitarian and otherwise), as well as well-resourced vested interests who are already powerful stakeholders within ICANN (and to whom Fadi, even now, readily panders) and other special interests, will then begin to really pressure ICANN in ways that apparently neither ICANN, Fadi Chehade (nor NTIA's Larry Strickling), have even begun to imagine nor contemplate. That is the principal reason this transition is a perilous time for the future of the Internet and the global Internet community, and also why CCWG-Accountability and CWG-Stewardship should not "hurry up and just hand everything over to ICANN." No, they should take as much time as they really need. They may have only this one chance "to get it right."

So, not only did NTIA and ICANN bungle the IANA transition process at the beginning (and afterwards), but they, apparently, are operating under naive assumptions of "what it will be like" once the IANA functions contract between ICANN and the US Department of Commerce is gone. Read the full portion of that part of the transcript for yourself--

ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehade (February 10, 2015):

“…. we made a very, very careful analysis that if we do not finish the work Ira [Magaziner] started that we're giving those governments who would like to come and put far more pressure on us, we're giving them farther to do that. They're very, very, including the Germans, including the French, including governments ... I am not speaking about China, Russia, and the countries that everybody lists. I am speaking about friends who are saying this regime has to go because if it doesn't, it's harder for us to stand up for the system. We wanted this [NTIA/US government IANA contract with ICANN] to go so people have less pressure on ICANN. Right now the political pressure comes from the fact, "You are a US agency." [foreign language] which is France's top newspaper, this is there Wall Street Journal, New York Times, whatever you call it, had a front page article linking ICANN to the NSA. Front page article, full analysis including [inaudible], one of ours who comes to our meetings write an article linking us directly to the NSA. It's crazy. It's just nuts. The environment is nuts. This is all because every time I go meet them they say, "You are under contract from the US government, you are a US agency. Let's end this line and let's take control as a community. Let's make sure the board stays under the control of the community through better accountability measures. This will put us in a better environment. Today we are politically charged because of this contract. I hope, frankly, I flip this, Jeff. I think if we get rid of that contract we will be free of the pressures I'm feeling now all of the time. "You're an American agent,"I was told walking into a European office of minister. "You guys are American agents." We're not American agents, we are a community of people, this is how we make decisions. You go through all of that and it comes back down to the silly contract with Vernita Harris. It's nothing. You and I know that contract is nothing. That's not how the American government works with us. It's simply a button that Vernita pushes, but it's causing us a lot of the pressure we're feeling now. Let's get rid of it. Let's get rid of these pressures and let's look these people in the eye, frankly as we did with the Chinese. The Chinese, we got them down to the point where we said, "This is all it is and you can scream all you want or you can work with us on the single [Internet] root." They did come to London and you know the rest of this. Finally the Chinese are not saying, "Who is ICANN?" At every international meeting. Every international meeting that's happening now, China is supporting the ICANN model of a single [Internet] root. That's a big advance. Why did they do it? Because the transition is coming. If the transition doesn't happen, a lot of these games we make to get people to keep the internet united. I went with Jack Ma to see the premier of China. Jack told the premier, he said, "I did a promotion on the internet on November 11th, it was. $9 billion of sales Mr. Premier, because the internet has a single root and I was able to reach customers in over 100 countries on the same day. Keep it open." I think we need to keep these governments tied to our model. The best way to do that is to remove this card they keep playing on us that we are an American agent...." (emphasis added)

Domain Mondo agrees that, yes, "the transition is coming"--but what is coming afterwards may be very different than what ICANN and Fadi Chehade naively believe today.

UPDATE: Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling? - The Washington Post: "Whoever controls the DNS – whether it’s the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or anyone else – will, as we put it in the paper, “inevitably be subject to intense pressure, from many directions, public and private,” to leverage its control over Internet technical infrastructure at one level of the protocol stack – the DNS – to enforce rules about message content at a higher level of the stack."--David Post, May 4, 2015

Caveat Emptor!


2015-03-23

GAC Contribution to the CCWG on ICANN Accountability f2f Meeting

Government Advisory CommitteeGAC contribution to the CCWG accountability f2f meeting in Istanbul, 23-24 March 2015--emphasis added--

ICANN should operate in accordance with a set of basic principles, providing inter alia for:

o A concise description of its limited mandate and a clear commitment to operate within it.

o Preserving and enhancing the operational stability, reliability, security, and global interoperability of the Internet.

o A guarantee of its multistakeholder nature, as a not-for-profit organisation with stakeholder communities worldwide, including with representation from developed and developing countries, contributing to a transparent, bottom-up policy development processes, duly taking into account the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee on public policy issues.

o Principles of checks and balances, strengthened rules on conflicts of interests, good governance and with clearly implementable, transparent, efficient and verifiable accountability mechanisms. Consistent with these principles, ICANN should have policies that are predictable, transparent, necessary and sufficient, and should institute effective compliance monitoring and consistent enforcement mechanisms.

o ICANN should be based on principles of continuous improvement, with regular community-led and independent reviews of its key governance structures and processes

o Obligation to serve the global public interest in the operational stability of the Internet. The concept of public interest should be seen as encompassing the larger interests of the different communities affected by ICANN’s processes and not be limited to the interests and objectives of any particular group or set of stakeholders. In this regard, ICANN should be open, inclusive and with institutional safeguards that prevent capture by any specific sector or community interests.

o Obligation to duly respect principles of international law and human rights, as well as national laws applicable to the matters under consideration. ICANN should commit to sharing information regarding issues within its mandate, as part of a positive dialogue with other international and global organisations working on and with interests in internet governance.

o Facilitating cultural, gender, geographic and linguistic diversity and representation in all of its activities.

• ICANN’s mechanisms for review, reconsideration and redress should be continuously improved, taking into account considerations of timeliness, effectiveness, affordability, neutrality and independence to more effectively meet ICANN’s commitment to accountability.

• Likewise, the GAC is of the view that the CCWG elaborate on the implications for ICANN’s mission and its accountability associated with jurisdictional differences among the actors involved and legal jurisdictional aspects applicable to ICANN.


Is the GoDaddy IPO Still "No Go" Time? (video)

Motivation Bongos by Jean-Claude Van Damme | GoDaddy - Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sept. 5, 2013) – GoDaddy is launching its new brand strategy ... ‘It’s go time’ is a comprehensive company-wide messaging transformation supported by a refined GoDaddy user-experience and reinvigorated product offerings... “This is the radical shift we knew we had to make and it’s more than just marketing,” said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. “A brand is a promise to our customers and a commitment to understand their needs... There is also a distinctively different approach to GoDaddy’s advertising. Two new television commercials feature iconic martial arts guru and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who represents the ‘ass-kicker’ inside every small business owner...."

All jokes aside, Domain Name Registrar GoDaddy has again filed for its IPO (Amendment No. 7 to FORM S-1 with the SEC, March 19, 2015) and it looks like it may still be "no go time"-- for a third time! --

Third Time Is Not A Charm In GoDaddy's IPO Case | Seeking Alpha, March 19, 2015:
  • Web services provider GoDaddy files for IPO for the third time since it was founded. 
  • The PE-controlled [private equity] company offers a complex Up-C structure for its offering and directs most of the proceeds to its principal shareholders.
  • Current growth in the company’s margins seems too little and too late. 
  • GoDaddy is an IPO to avoid." (emphasis added, read more at link above)

see alsoCNN.com - June 24, 2014: "... GoDaddy, the world's largest domain-management company, which has faced financial troubles in recent years. GoDaddy has 57 million domains registered to its service, but the company hasn't generated a profit since 2009 and in the last two years has reported combined losses of $480 million..." 

GoDaddy Sets Price Range for I.P.O. - NYTimes.com - DealBook, March 19, 2015: "GoDaddy, the Internet services provider known for its provocative television commercials, said on Thursday that it planned to sell shares in its initial public offering priced between $17 and $19 a share. At the midpoint of that range, the I.P.O would value the company at $2.72 billion. GoDaddy is planning to sell 22 million Class A shares in the offering. The stock would trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol GDDY. The holders of the Class B shares will have voting control over the company...  Last year, it lost $143.3 million on revenue of $1.4 billion. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are leading the underwriting of the I.P.O."

GoDaddy IPO S-1 Teardown - GoDaddy (Pending:GDDY) | Seeking Alpha, Sept 5, 2014: "This isn't a nice clean IPO. In 2011, GoDaddy did a financing with private equity firms (KKR, Silver Lake and TCV) which drastically concentrated ownership of the company. GoDaddy is leveraged with $1.5B [billion] in debt."

Caveat Emptor! (and see disclaimer at bottom of this web page)


CCWG-Accountability, CWG-Stewardship, Istanbul Face-to-Face Meetings

As announced by ICANNCCWG-Accountability and the CWG-Stewardship will each have face-to-face meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, this week, 23-27 March 2015, in connection with the IANA Stewardship Transition and Enhancing ICANN Accountability processes

Meetings are open to observers through Adobe Connect (see below), and the working sessions will be recorded and transcribed. Note, however, these face-to-face meetings are working meetings for the CCWG-Accountability and CWG-Stewardship, and therefore participation is limited to members and participants.

CCWG-Accountability Schedule:
23 March - 07:00-16:00 UTC (time converter)
24 March - 07:00-16:00 UTC (time converter)

Virtual Meeting Room: https://icann.adobeconnect.com/accountability/
Provisional Agenda: https://community.icann.org/x/pAonAw

CWG-Stewardship Schedule:
26 March - 07:00-16:00 UTC (time converter)
27 March - 07:00-16:00 UTC (time converter)

Virtual Meeting Room: https://icann.adobeconnect.com/cwg-iana
Provisional Agenda: https://community.icann.org/x/1QonAw

For more information:

2015-03-22

IANA Stewardship Transition, Internet Society Webinar and Audio

IANA Stewardship Transition Webinar:

The US Government announced in March, 2014, that it wants to transition its role and responsibilities with regard IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community. The Internet Society (ISOC) organized this webinar on 4 March 2015 about the IANA Stewardship transition.

Participants:
  • Patrik Fältström, Vice Chair, IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group
  • Demi Getschko, Internet Society appointee to IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group
  • Eliot Lear, Member, Internet Architecture Board and author of the Internet Engineering Task Force IANAPLAN document
  • Nurani Nimpuno, Member, Consolidated RIR IANA Stewardship Proposal (CRISP) Team
  • Matthew Shears, Participant, ICANN Cross Community Working Group
  • Theresa Swinehart, ICANN
The webinar was moderated by Internet Society Senior Policy Advisor Konstantinos Komaitis

Soundcloud audio of the webinar:



2015-03-21

Ritholtz Interview: Brad Katsuyama, IEX, High Frequency Trading (audio)



Masters in Business: Brad Katsuyama - This “Masters in Business” podcast features Brad Katsuyama of IEX, probably best known for his role as the lead character in Michael Lewis’s book, “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.”

Interviewed by Barry Ritholtz for Bloomberg View, Katsuyama describes how it became clear that something had changed in the market structure, but no one really knew what it was. He explains how he and his team eventually unraveled how algorithm-driven high frequency trading worked. Also covered are his appearance on “60 Minutes,” and his debate on CNBC with William O’Brien, former chief executive officer of the BATS Global Markets stock exchange.

IEX Group, Inc. domain name: iextrading.com

other links:
bloomberg.com
bloombergview.com
ritholtzwealth.com
ritholtz.com

2015-03-20

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé panders to DNA at ICANN 52 (video)

DNA member breakfast with Fadi Chehadé (2015-02-10): 

The Domain Name Association (thedna.org), Kurt Pritz, and Adrian Kinderis, welcomed ICANN President and CEO Mr. Fadi Chehadé (starts @3:05) to give a talk and answer member questions during the ICANN 52 meeting in Singapore,  February 10, 2015 (video above).

Topics covered: Universal Acceptance; Promotion of New gTLD domain names and ICANN "partnering" with thedna.org; IANA transition; predictability.

This video [full transcript here] gives good insight of a slice of the domain name industry as well as viewpoints of some of the stakeholders present in Singapore at ICANN 52, and a pulse on current issues as noted above--for example: Fadi Chehade made a point of saying that the CWG-Stewardship (IANA transition) is "busy not doing its job" (19:10) and later in the video had an interesting dialogue with Jay Daley, Chief Executive at .nz Registry Services, on the same topic beginning @34:00.

In the video, the ICANN CEO readily admits his ignorance of the domain name industry--no offense to Fadi, but why would ICANN choose anyone as CEO who does not understand the domain name industry? Domain Mondo suggests that the next CEO of ICANN be selected from among the many, very talented people leading ccTLD registry operators throughout the world.

Fadi is also clearly confused about ICANN's role vis-à-vis new gTLD registry operators--regulator or partner? In addition, he starts pandering (@31:00) in suggesting to his audience that ICANN will fund in ICANN's 2016FY Budget (pdf), DNA members' efforts to market or promote their new gTLD domain names [which would be violative of ICANN's Articles/Bylaws as well as California and US federal laws regarding non-profit corporations].

Fadi Chehade's leadership skills have been questioned by many in the past year--for example, his so-called NETmundial Initiative, has been an embarrassment to many within ICANN, particularly after wasting countless hours of his own, and  ICANN staff time, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in ICANN's own funds, on the effort.

For further background:
and

2015-03-19

ICANN New gTLD Domains: Chaos, Confusion, Contentions, FUBAR?

ICANN diagram of the "Contention Set On Hold" for .WEB and .WEBS
ICANN diagram of the "Contention Set On Hold" for .WEB and .WEBS

ICANN New gTLD Contention Set Status: "WEB / WEBS" - 9 applicants - Set Status "On Hold" --
ICANN: "This page reflects the current string contention sets as of the most recent update (14 March 2015) to this page. String contention sets will be updated from time to time to reflect any changes. Please note that the current status of string contention sets could change due to changes to application status as a result of withdrawals, evaluation results, dispute resolution proceedings, contention resolution processes, or the potential impact of ICANN accountability mechanisms. Except for the application statuses "Withdrawn" and "Delegated", application statuses are not final. A change in application status or update to a contention set is intended to inform the applicants and the community of an application's current status. A change or update is not a definite indication that an application may proceed to another phase of the program. For more information including definitions of application statuses see the applicant advisory."

Note the diagram above: 9 applicants x $185,000 each = $1,665,000

ICANN's New gTLD domains program--Chaos, confusion, contentions, FUBAR--a giant cl*sterf*ck--and it is obvious that ICANN forgot about, or just ignored, its own multistakeholder-developed policy, and the whole Policy Development Process including comments made during that process, as well as foundational principles that were to guide the introduction of any and all new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs)--

Final Report - Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains | Generic Names Supporting Organization: "... [principle A] (A): New generic top-level domains must be introduced in an orderly, timely and predictable way. Network operators and ISPs must ensure their customers do not encounter problems in addressing their emails, and in their web searching and access activities, since this can cause customer dissatisfaction and overload help-desk complaints. Hence this principle is a vital component of any addition sequence to the gTLD namespace." (emphasis added)

For follow-up references on how ICANN just ignored all of the above in its dash "to grab the money," see:

Bottom Line: ICANN absolutely blew it in adding new gTLDs (new generic top-level domains) to the DNS. ICANN violated, or just ignored, its own policies and principles (see above). Users, registrants, registrars, registry operators, and registry applicants, as well as the stability and security of the Internet DNS, have all been adversely affected by ICANN's inept implementation of the new gTLDs program. And now the Obama administration, in the form of Lawrence E. Strickling, wants the global multistakeholder community to just turn everything over to ICANN!


2015-03-18

Senate Committee Hearing on FCC, Open Internet Order, 2:30 pm EDT

U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation Hearing: Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, March 18, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT (US) - This Full Committee hearing will take place in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on the Senate Committee Hearing website.

"U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, entitled, “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. As part of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities, the hearing will have a broad scope covering every aspect of the agency, from its Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to major policy issues before the Commission. This will be the Committee’s first public opportunity to directly question the Commission about its controversial Open Internet Order. The Committee is also expected to explore matters related to the modernization of the nation’s communications laws and the reauthorization of the agency, which has not occurred in 25 years." (source: US Senate Committee Hearing website, supra)

Witnesses:
- The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- The Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- The Honorable Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

UPDATE (after House hearing Tuesday): Grading Wheeler’s first day on the Hill — Now he faces the Senate — POLITICO"Tuesday morning was a contentious one for Wheeler as he faced House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and other Republicans on the committee. There was meticulous questioning of Wheeler’s nine meetings with White House officials over the past year, Alex reports, as Republicans tried to paint a too-cozy connection between the agency and the president. Transparency was also in the spotlight, with Chaffetz alleging the FCC has improperly responded to congressional inquiries and FOIA requests. “[Wheeler’s] demeanor set a defiant tone for the next two weeks, which will see him testify four more times before four other GOP-led committees intent on chipping away at his Internet rules,” Alex writes... Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly: “I think he did superbly well. I didn’t think they laid a glove on him. … He was firm without being disrespectful. I think he brushed aside their insinuations like a fly.”"

Blast from the Past: ICANN, New gTLD Domain Names, Conflicts of Interest (video)

Kinderis Says New Web Domain Names Create Opportunities - but for whom?

Published on January 11, 2012: (Bloomberg) -- "Adrian Kinderis, a member of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) advisory council [ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)] and CEO of ARI Registry Services, talks about domain names. ICANN, manager of the Web's address system under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, will start accepting applications for new top-level domains today [January 11, 2012]. The Marina del Rey, California-based group may approve hundreds of new Web address extensions to the right of the "dot," including company and brand names, cities and almost any word in any language. Kinderis speaks from New York with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television's "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg, emphasis added)

No obvious conflict of interest at play here, right? Good Ol' ICANN--LOL!

Of course, at this same time (early 2012), the US Department of Commerce was threatening to pull the IANA contract away from ICANN due to its poor conflicts of interest policy:

Ethics Fight Over Domain Names Intensifies - New York Times March 18, 2012: "The Commerce Department ...warned the organization [ICANN] that it needed to tighten its rules against conflicts of interest or risk losing a central role.... ICANN has come under heightened scrutiny because of an initiative to increase vastly the number and variety of available Internet addresses. Under the plan, which ICANN is putting into effect, hundreds of new “top-level domains” — the letters like “com” that follow the “dot” in addresses — are set to be created. Some business groups say the expansion of domains will cause a rise in trademark violations and cybersquatting, while some governments object to ICANN’s move to create address suffixes like .xxx, for pornography. But the initiative has been cheered by companies that register and maintain Internet addresses. A number of current and former members of the ICANN board have close ties to such registrars or to concerns involved in other areas that stand to benefit from the expansion.“ICANN must place commercial and financial interests in their appropriate context,” said Mr. [Rod] Beckstrom [former ICANN Chairman]... “How can it do this if all top leadership is from the very domain-name industry it is supposed to coordinate independently? “A more subtle but related risk is the tangle of conflicting agendas within the board... the United States government is also dissatisfied with ICANN. The Commerce Department said it had canceled a request for proposals to run the so-called Internet Assigned Numbers Authority because none of the bids met its requirements: “the need for structural separation of policy-making from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local country laws and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community.” Eyebrows were raised last year when Peter Dengate Thrush, former chairman of ICANN and a fan of the domain name expansion, joined a company that invests in domain names." (emphasis added)

And now, 3 years later, what have ICANN's new gTLDs given us (besides a lot of money in ICANN's pocket)?

Cyber-squatting disputes up 300% amid web address explosion - Telegraph: "There has been a 313 percent increase in the number of disputes over the new generation of web addresses [new gTLD domain names] in the last eight months"

This internet address costs $2,500 annually—and it sucks - Quartz  "At the heart of the controversy is what .sucks is for. Critics see it as a “predatory shakedown scheme,” in the memorable words of one American politician."

ICANN must have no shame.

keywords: ICANN, new gTLDs, GNSO, domain names, conflict of interest, public interest, exploit, increased costs, fraud,

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