2016-09-04

News Review: Threats to the Open Internet and ICANN Culpability

Shining A Light: DomainMondo.comDomain Mondo's weekly review of the news and look ahead [pdf]: 

Feature  Threats to the Open Internet: A Random Survey

"... The brilliance of the Web is that you don’t need the digital equivalent of local planning permission to put up a new site. Can you imagine how much innovation would be stifled if we had millions of local councils deciding whether a new web site could be built?"--Eric Meyer, August 4, 2016, The Web at 25 | Oxford Internet Institute | oii.ox.ac.uk

"An Open Internet means consumers can go where they want, when they want. This principle is [also] often referred to as Net Neutrality. It means innovators can develop products and services without asking for permission."--Open Internet | FCC.gov

"I believe that the future of the web is under threat from some governments that may abuse their powers, some businesses that may try to undermine the open market, and from criminal activity."--Tim Berners-Lee | wired.co.uk: 23 August 2014

"The initial investigations following the Nice and Munich attacks pointed towards the different ways in which the Internet was used by terrorists for the organisation of their attacks. The Munich attacker fueled his intentions through the Internet and bought his weapon from the DarkWeb. In Turkey, at the height of the recent attempted coup d’√©tat, President Erdogan communicated to the outside world through a video message. In the aftermath, Turkish authorities limited access to the Internet and social media, and banned WikiLeaks after it released a series of emails concerning Turkish officials."--DigitalWatch newsletter (pdf) no.13: July/August 2016

"This terrorist network is referred to as “NetWar,” where conflict and crime are now being organized through small groups who communicate and coordinate through “internetted” manner and without a specific central command."--Cyber-Security: The Threat of the Internet (pdf)

“It's one of the key elements of the Chinese censorship system, a proactive effort to induce a chilling effect, self-censorship.”--How China Keeps Tibet and Xinjiang Silent | DailyDot.comSee also: China’s internet users are increasingly jumping the Great Firewall—to launch epic trolling campaigns | Quartz | qz.com and Xi’s China: Smothering dissent | FT.com.

"In its eagerness to move every Windows user to Windows 10, Microsoft has ignored two of the keystones of modern computing: user choice and privacy. The company has used tactics that have essentially amounted to tricking users into making the upgrade. That’s particularly troubling when Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of user data to Microsoft servers."--Electronic Frontier Foundation | EFF.org

"WhatsApp’s privacy policy overhaul raises concerns about potential legal challenges. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, said it would file a complaint on Monday with the Federal Trade Commission to stop WhatsApp from sharing users’ data with Facebook. The group filed a similar case in 2014, citing promises that WhatsApp had made to protect individuals’ privacy."--Relaxing Privacy Vow, WhatsApp Will Share Some Data With Facebook | NYTimes.com

ICANN culpability: "With the TMCH, ICANN built a layer of domain name procedures on top of existing trademark registration systems which are not well designed for the purpose for which they are being used, and so those trademark registration systems are being exploited in a way that ICANN has practically defined."--John Berryhill, Attorney, in WorldTrademarkReview.com

More ICANN culpability: “People thought there’d be a need for lots of  generic domains [new gTLDs], but there’s no need for them at all, it’s only good news for bad guys who can get them for free and pretend to be anyone”--Rob Cotton, NCC Group CEO (emphasis added) (read more below).

Even more ICANN culpability: "The primary goal appears to be swift approval of whatever string is proposed by an applicant, rather than conservative evaluation of the security and stability consequences to the global DNS root and its users—not just the applicant’s national or linguistic community—of approving the string as a top-level domain name label. The SSAC finds this to be diametrically opposed to ICANN’s mission to “facilitate the openness, interoperability, resilience, security and stability of the DNS. Recommendation: The SSAC recommends that the ICANN Board not accept the proposed guidelines for the EPSRP, as those guidelines represent a threat to the security and stability of the DNS. The Board should request a review of the EPSRP to determine why its proposed guidelines do not respect the principles of conservativism, inclusion,and stability.”--SSAC comment (pdf); see also Proposed Guidelines for the Second String Similarity Review Process | ICANN.org.
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ICANN, Internet Governance, and Domain Name News:

•  Singing the New gTLD Blues:  The web's domain name revolution has been a missed opportunity | telegraph.co.uk: "... few major websites have adopted the new domain names ... Now, some who invested in the idea are already giving up. NCC Group, a British IT company, said last month it would exit its domain name business, which helped companies manage the transition to new domains, four years after it was set up. “People thought there’d be a need for lots of generic domains, but there’s no need for them at all, it’s only good news for bad guys who can get them for free and pretend to be anyone,” says Rob Cotton, NCC’s chief executive (emphasis added).

•  Gov’t Missed Major Threat to Internet Independence | freebeacon.com: "There is no indication that the agency [NTIA] has conducted legal or policy analysis related to ICANN antitrust issues, according to the documents obtained by Americans for Limited Government. “... The irony is that this negligence could lead ICANN to explore a relationship with the UN or the ITU, which the NTIA says that it strongly opposes and most in the ICANN community agree would be the worst possible outcome because it would create greater opportunity for governments to control Internet content.”"

•  DOJ Responded to Senator Cruz et al letter (pdf) re: proposed extension of Verisign .COM RA:
"We note that the current extension proposal contemplated by ICANN and Verisign does not change the price cap contained in the 2012 .com Registry Agreement, which will remain in effect through November 30, 2018. Nor does the current extension proposal alter the price cap in Amendment 32 of the Cooperative Agreement. Moreover, if NTIA were to approve an extension of the .com Registry Agreement, it would have the right in its sole discretion to extend the term of the Cooperative Agreement with the current price cap in place until 2024 at any time prior to November 30, 2018, the date on which the Cooperative Agreement is currently scheduled to expire. If this occurs, the $7.85 fee cap would be extended another six years to 2024."--US Department of Justice (DOJ) Letter (pdf) of August 31, 2016.
Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) graphic week ending Sept 2, 2016
NASDAQ: VRSN
•  Verisign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), registry operator of .COM and .NET gTLDs, on Friday, September 2, saw its shares close up almost 6% (see chart above) from Thursday's close, on heavy volume of almost 5 million shares as compared to its 50-day average daily volume of about one million shares. Earlier in the week, a hedge fund holding short positions in $VRSN, contacted me specifically to discuss Verisign and ICANN. Verisign is considered a long-term hold by, e.g., Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which is a major Verisign stockholder. The move Friday was attributed in the financial press to the DOJ letter (see above) and a report from Cowen, see Why Verisign (VRSN) Stock Is Soaring Today | TheStreet.com and VeriSign rises after DoJ responds to senators on extension VRSN | TheFly.com and Ted Cruz and his weird relationship with .COM | CNBC.com.

•  Amazon.com, IncAmazon.in is now the 5th most visited site in India, behind only Google.co.in, Google.com, YouTube.com, and Facebook.com.--SeekingAlpha.com

•  Speaking of India, ICANN57 will be held in Hyderabad, India, 3-9 Nov 2016. If you are going, you should be diligent in following the information available on the ICANN website here and here. Also note: Female tourists should not wear skirts in India, says tourism minister | World news | TheGuardian.com"Foreign arrivals issued with welcome kit including safety advice for women, after high-profile assaults ..." See also: 180 million workers have gone on strike in India | Quartz | qz.com.

•  Cuba calls Miami internet freedom conference an act of ‘subversion’ | InCubaToday.com"... the Cuba Internet Freedom conference to be held in Miami Sept. 12-13, which is being organized by the U.S.-funded Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). Cubadebate characterized the event as “the first conference on internet use in Cuba, as part of subversion programs by the U.S. government against the island that have been maintained during the administration of Barack Obama ...”

•  NTIA gave formal notice to ICANN (pdf) of intent to exercise option and extend the IANA functions contract should there be a 'change in circumstance' meaning the IANA transition will proceed and become effective October 1, 2016, barring something unforeseen between now and then.

•  Melbourne IT"... impacted by the sale of its International Domain Name Registration (IDNR) business for AU$7.8 million, but it was offset by its greater product offering due to Melbourne IT's acquisition of Uber Global."--ZDNet.com

•  ICANN now has until September 26, 2016, to respond to the amended complaint of Ruby Glen (Donuts affiliate). See New gTLD WEB Loser, Ruby Glen, Files Amended Complaint vs ICANN.

•  ICANN 2016 Nominating Committee Announces Selections | ICANN.org: ICANN Board of Directors:  Maarten Botterman (Europe);  Cherine Chalaby (Africa);  Khaled Koubaa (Africa); terms begin at the end of ICANN's Annual General Meeting during ICANN57, 3-9 November 2016, in Hyderabad, India.

•  Comments close this coming week at ICANN on:

Tech News:
  1. Tim Cook Says Apple Could Send Cash Back to U.S. Next Year | WSJ.com in the wake of $14.5 billion tax ruling by European Commission. Apple holds about $215 billion in cash and other liquid investments offshore. See also EU Nixes Apple's $AAPL $14.5B+ Tax Avoidance Scheme in Ireland (video) and Lefsetz.com:"I don’t know why everybody keeps pontificating that Apple is a beloved enterprise whose customers will follow it like lemmings no matter where it goes ... the lion’s share of the dough comes from you and me. And we’re starting not to like these people. Cook is bland, Jony Ive has disappeared, and Eddy Cue was lambasted in the “Wall Street Journal” for overreaching" and The Transatlantic Squabble Over Apple's Taxes | Bloomberg.com"... other U.S. companies could soon be hit with retrospective demands for tax running into the billions of dollars." 
  2. The New Apple iPhones event has been confirmed for Wednesday, September 7th at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco at 10 a.m. Pacific. Watch live at apple.com or via twit.tv/live.  See also Buyers May Flock to New Apple iPhones After Samsung Note 7 Recall | fortune.com, on the other hand why wouldn't they just go, e.g., to Moto and get a great Android phone for a lot less $$$?
  3. SpaceX explosion destroyed Facebook's AMOS-6 satellite | BusinessInsider.com.
  4. Alphabet and Google’s very bad no good summer | TheVerge/com: "Is Alphabet flailing or just cleaning house?" See also Google will announce Pixel phones, 4K Chromecast, Google Home, Daydream VR viewer on October 4th | AndroidPolice.com.
  5. Twitch Could Be a $20 Billion Dollar Company Inside Amazon | Backchannel.com: "This year, the number of people who regularly watch online gaming videos will likely exceed half a billion, according to the market research firm Newzoo." See also: "The audience is moving to [video] streaming faster than the money ..."--TheVerge.com
  6. Being a Successful Entrepreneur Isn’t Only About Having the Best Ideas | hbr.og"... without the capacity to execute an idea — to take an idea and turn it into a living, breathing, viable organization — you’re doomed to fail ..." 
  7. G20 summit Sept 4-5, 2016--China’s innovation drive | UniversityWorldNews.com: Beyond the usual G20 summit themes of finance and trade, China has set out the main theme of the G20, “towards an innovated, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world.” Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.“What we advocate is innovation in the broad sense. We call for innovation in science and technology and, beyond that, in development concepts, institutions and mechanisms, business models and a whole range of areas.” More at g20.org and g20.utoronto.ca. See also on Trade: Theresa May tells pro-EU civil servants to get on with the job of delivering Brexit | telegraph.co.uk and France Seeks to End U.S.-EU Trade Talks | WSJ.com, and EU-US free-trade talks have failed, says German minister | IrishTimes.com: Negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have made little progress in recent years. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor, said: “In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it." 
  8. Why can't I get on the Internet with Windows 10? | The Tech Guy | techguylabs.com"... updated to Windows 10 and then couldn't get on the Internet. So she downgraded back to Windows 8 and still can't get on the Internet. Leo says something is messed up. And it's why most people should just use a Chromebook. it's way easier ... really, get a chromebook." See also: Can I use a Chromebook with an Ethernet connection? | techguylabs.com: "... all USB to Ethernet adapters are compatible to Chromebook [BobJGear.com USB to RJ45 adapter under $20]. What about security? Leo says that Chromebooks are more secure than any other computer out there." See also new Acer Chromebook R 13 with a large 13.3-inch touchscreen display and innovative 360-degree hinge design (four versatile usage modes), up to 12 hours of battery life and planned support for Android Apps--Acer.com.

Four most popular posts (# of pageviews Sun-Sat) this past week on DomainMondo.com:
  1. News Review [28Aug]: Fear Campaigns; Dot Registry Challenges ICANN Monopoly
  2. China & Its Internet Are Different, Why U.S. Companies Can't Compete
  3. More Than Half The World’s Population Still Not Using The Internet
  4. EU Nixes Apple's $AAPL $14.5B+ Tax Avoidance Scheme in Ireland (video)

4 Other Reading Recommendations:
  1.  Brexit is actually boosting the UK economy | NYPost.com"Two months ago, the world’s wise men were warning that if UK voters decided to “Brexit” from the European Union, they’d rain down economic crisis. Guess what? Today, Britain is fine — and has even seen a boost from its “Leave” vote." See also: Pound spikes above $1.33 as IMF admits financial market turmoil triggered by shock Brexit vote has subsided"UK manufacturing posts biggest rise in 25 years ..." and British Pound Rockets vs Euro and US Dollar on Blowout Manufacturing PMI as Financial Commentators are Wrong-Footed Again.
  2. Global central bankers, stuck at zero, unite in plea for help from governments | yahoo.com: "... hunting for ways to jolt the economy out of its doldrums, and a fiscal push is a possible tool. In a lunch address by Princeton University economist Christopher Sims, policymakers were told that it may take a massive program, large enough even to shock taxpayers into a different, inflationary view of the future. "Fiscal expansion can replace ineffective monetary policy at the zero lower bound," Sims said. "It requires deficits aimed at, and conditioned on, generating inflation. The deficits must be seen as financed by future inflation, not future taxes or spending cuts.""
  3. The Fundamental Reason Buffett Beats the Market | Bloomberg.comFundamental Analysis Works "... a couple of financial economists have a new paper showing that a very simple, general fundamental analysis technique -- perhaps even more universal than Graham and Dodd’s -- consistently predicts the way that a stock’s price will change during the next two years ..."
  4. 'Freaks on the peaks'--the lonely lives of the last remaining forest fire lookouts: "... an embrace of nature, solitude and disconnectedness ... For some, inhabiting a sanctuary of contemplation far from modernity’s noise is a spiritual experience ..."--TheGuardian.com
-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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