2017-11-26

News Review | ICANN Board Executive Committee, Conflicts of Interest

graphic "News Review" ©2016 DomainMondo.com
Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2017-11-26) with analysis and opinion: Features •  1) ICANN Board Executive Committee, Conflicts of Interest, 2) ICANN news: a. ICANN61 Caravan, b. Public Comment Periods, c. 3 Peas in a Pod - ICANN is a "chummy private club"3) Names, Domains & Trademarks:  a. DOJ Antitrust - ICANN & Verisign $VRSN Next?, b. ccTLD .au, c. GoDaddy $GDDY, d. SteelyDan.com, e. .COM Brand Credibility, f. Worth Reading, g. Good Advice, 4) ICYMI: Internet Freedom, 5) Most Read.

1) Executive Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors, Conflicts of Interest:

Background:
"A boardroom dispute over ethics has broken out at the organization that maintains the Internet address system after its most important supporter, the United States government, reproached the group for governance standards said to fall short of “requirements requested by the global community.” The Commerce Department said this month that while it was temporarily extending a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] to manage the allocation of computers’ Internet protocol addresses ... it warned the organization that it needed to tighten its rules against conflicts of interest or risk losing a central role ... “ICANN must place commercial and financial interests in their appropriate context,” said Mr. [Rod] Beckstrom, who is scheduled to step down from his post [ICANN President & CEO] in July. “How can it do this if all top leadership is from the very domain-name industry it is supposed to coordinate independently? ..."--The New York Times March 18, 2012, under the title "Ethics Fight Over [new gTLDs] Domain Names Intensifies" (emphasis added).
"If one wanted to capture ICANN on a single issue, or a group of interrelated issues, the most practical tactic might be bribery" -- John C. Coffee Jr., Columbia University Professor of Law, IANA Transition advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce (NTIA). See News Review [24Jul]: IANA Transition & ICANN Corruption, Capture, and Control.
photo graphic: Executive Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors (source: ICANN.org)
Executive Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors (source: ICANN.org)
ICANN Board Executive Committee "(A) To the extent permitted by law, the Committee shall exercise all the powers of the Board during the interval periods between regular Board meetings when the Board is unavailable or unable to meet. (B) The Committee shall not have the authority to adopt, amend or repeal any provision of the Bylaws or take any other action which has been reserved for action by the full Board pursuant to the Bylaws, a resolution of the Board or which the Committee is otherwise prohibited by law to take."--Executive Committee Charter | As approved by the Board of Directors on 2 November 2017.

Membership and Leadership of ICANN Board Committees | ICANN.org: "Executive CommitteeCherine Chalaby (Executive Committee Chair)[also ICANN Board Chair]; Becky BurrChris Disspain [ICANN Board Vice Chair]; Göran Marby [ICANN President & CEO]."
Becky Burr, a former U.S. government lawyer, is employed by privately-held Neustar, a domain name registry operator and backend registry services provider for hundreds of new gTLDs. Neustar also owns another backend registry services provider, which Burr failed to disclose in her SOI (see below), ARI Registry Services, which reportedly was involved in the secret conflict of interest which caused the resignation of Kurt Pritz, ICANN's Chief Strategy Officer "best known as the architect of ICANN's new gTLD program" in 2012. A complete list of the new gTLDs and new gTLD applicants for which Neustar or ARI Registry Services is the designated backend registry services provider is not readily available on the ICANN website, but ntldstats.com provides some information (via its listings) for delegated new gTLDs: Neustar (223 new gTLDs) and ARI Registry Services (58 new gTLDs). 
Burr's SOI (Statement of Interest)(June 2017):
"J. Beckwith Burr: Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Neustar, Inc., which contract [sic] with ICANN to operates [sic] .Biz and .Neustar, and which provides back-end registry services for numerous other gTLDs under contract with ICANN."

[Editor's note: Burr not only failed to disclose Neustar's connection with ARI Registry Services, but also failed to mention pending new gTLD applicants for which either Neustar or ARI Registry Services may be providing services, now or in the future.]
Chris Disspain is the former CEO of .au Domain Administration Ltd. (auDA), which terminated his contract in 2016. A question relating to Disspain while at auDA may be involved in this Freedom of Information request, but that request, unfortunately, was refused by the Australian government. I say "unfortunately" because allegations relating to ccTLD .au, its administration and management, have been a continuing saga, and may have no basis in fact or nothing to do with Disspain as auDA CEO (see item at 3)b. below). On the other hand, it's possible some of allegations may be both relevant (to Disspain as auDA CEO) and true.
Disspain's SOI (June 2017):
"Chris Disspain: Until March 2016, was Director and CEO of .au Domain Administration Limited, the .au ccTLD manager; .au has sponsorship agreement with ICANN under which .au pays ICANN a yearly amount based on the amount of names under management. .au Domain Administration Limited licenses AusRegistry Pty Ltd to run the registry for the second level names in .au. Under the Registry License agreement, AusRegistry pays fees to .au Domain Administration Limited; companies affiliated with AusRegistry are affiliated with new gTLD applications and registry operators." (emphasis added)

[Editor's Note: AusRegistry is also owned by Neustar (acquired with ARI Registry Services and other subsidiaries of Bombora Technologies Pty Ltd. in July 2015), which Disspain failed to note in his SOI. Disspain's LinkedIn profile also states he is Chairman of the Board of WGP Global (Oct 2014 – Present) and CEO of DNS Capital Ltd (2017), neither of which are disclosed in his SOI.]

Marby's and Chalaby's SOIs state only: "Nothing identified."

[Editor's note: "Nothing identified" is a very inadequate SOI response by any Director of a nonprofit public benefit corporation such as ICANNaccountable to the global internet community, not just to ICANN's jurisdictional authorities, the U.S. government and State of California. "Nothing identified" is a purely subjective response, and gives stakeholders and other third parties, no information upon which they might alert the Director, ICANN organization, or ICANN community, of a possible conflict (of which the Director may not even be aware, e.g., in connection with a large enterprise). To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, at a minimum, all ICANN Director SOIs should state the present, recent, and prospective relationships or positions (if known), of each Director with any non-ICANN entity (see, for example, Steve Crocker's SOI), with more specificity as to any interest or connection to any entity that does, or may do, business with ICANN or any of its contracted parties, or any of their subcontractors or suppliers, including consulting or professional services. As a sidenote, I am alarmed by ICANN Director George Sadowsky's SOI disclosure: "also in discussions with registry operator(s) for potential independent contractor relationship, but nothing yet in place." Without knowing more, it's possible one or more registry operators may be trying to improperly influence an ICANN director by promising a future "independent contractor relationship"--see Professor Coffee's comment (first above) about capture of ICANN through bribery. It wasn't that long ago that the entire new gTLDs program was forever tainted, not only by an unethical ICANN Board of Directors (see first link above), or the resignation of ICANN CSO Kurt Pritz due to a secret conflict of interest as noted above, but also by the controversial resignation of ICANN Board Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush after a key vote on the new gTLDs program, followed by employment of that former Chairman by a new gTLDs applicant's parent company. The ICANN Board's Code of Conduct and Conflicts of Interest Policy (more info here) are in need of review and amendments.]
Interestingly, Burr and Disspain have not gone through the due diligence screening process (background checks) that the ICANN Nominating Committee (NomCom) utilizes for ICANN Board membership, but apparently both have recently volunteered to do so. 
[Editor's note: review of the above gives one an understanding of how ICANN--the Board, organization, and "ICANN community"--could have been so grossly negligent as to outsource "technical feasibility" testing of all new gTLDs [see RA §1.2 Technical Feasibility of String] to the new gTLDs' hucksters, i.e., the new gTLDs applicants, knowing (since at least 2003) that most new gTLDs would "fail to work as expected on the internetwhich was again recently confirmed (pdf). Anyone ever seen a new gTLD applicant's report on the technical feasibility of any of their new gTLDs? Most, if not all, of the hucksters didn't bother, "it's all about the money." No wonder some have called ICANN's new gTLDs program a global "consumer fraud" upon both registrants and end users, about which ICANN has done nothing to warn or educate consumers or otherwise make consumers "aware" of all the defects of new gTLDs--no one at ICANN wants to talk about this kind of "awareness program." "It's all about the money."  See also on Domain Mondo:
Hopefully the lax standards of ICANN and its Board of Directors, identified above and elsewhere, will be corrected before long.  Until then, members of the global internet community may rightfully ask, "When will ICANN be run like a nonprofit public benefit corporation accountable to the global internet community, instead of just a 'chummy private club' licensed by the State of California?" ]

"Those that cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

2) ICANN news
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
a. ICANN's 'Chummy Private Club' Caravan to ICANN61--CCWG-Accountability-WS2 Travel Funding for ICANN 61--If  ICANN didn't pay people to show up (including travel expenses, hotel, $60 per diem, $400 stipend), how many would bother to come? The people being paid to show up over and over again, are a small group of 'ICANN insiders' who (to paraphrase the words of former ICANN Board Chair Esther Dysonpretend to represent the global internet community. The "gravy train" reports are published here. (Note: ICANN60 reports unavailable.)

b. Public Comment Periods Closing in December 2017 | ICANN.org: at 23:59 UTC on the respective dates indicated below (subject to change):

c) 3 Peas in a Pod
Uniregistry's 3000% Frank Schilling, with his pals ICANN GDD President Akram Atallah and ICANN GDD VP Cyrus Namazi at ICANN60. ICANN is a "chummy private club."
 
3) Names, Domains & Trademarks
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
a. Antitrust Enforcement: First AT&T, ICANN and Verisign $VRSN Next? 
"ICANN is just a scam and the entire industry is based on monopolistic fraud with DC payoffs."--Mike Mann, domain names registrant and domainer, March 30, 2017.
President Trump's new head of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, brings the Trump administration's first major antitrust enforcement action: AT&T, U.S. Prepare to Battle in Court Over Time Warner Merger | Bloomberg.com Nov 20, 2017: "The legal challenge ... [deals] a blow to a tie-up that appeared to be sailing toward approval as recently as a month ago. That was before Delrahim was appointed to his post. “This merger would greatly harm American consumers,” he [Delrahim] said Monday. “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.”

[Editor's note: Maybe Delrahim can do something about monopolists ICANN and gTLD registry operators, which are shamelessly price-gouging consumers (registrants) in the United States and worldwide. For background, see this and this. See also: News Review | Global Public Interest: Why ICANN Will Always Be A #FAIL.]

b. ccTLD .au: Review of Australia’s .au domain management | Department of Communications and the Arts | gov.au"seeking feedback on the management of the .au domain to ensure it remains fit for purpose in serving the needs of Australians online."  Consultation Period: Nov 16, 2017 16:00 AEDT to Dec 18, 2017 17:00 AEDT. Review of Australia’s .au domain management - Discussion paper for Review of Australia’s .au domain management published 16th Nov 2017: Download PDF (393.02 KB). More info at the first link above, and at Lexology.com.

c. GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY): Goldman Sachs has added GoDaddy to its hedge fund VIP list. Shares of the top five companies on that list--Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Google, and Microsoft--have outperformed the S&P 500 by 770 basis points this year--SeekingAlpha.com.

d. SteelyDan.com: Donald Fagen has sued Walter Becker's estate, alleging the Becker estate is improperly asserting control over the Steely Dan name, specifically, the band's website [domain: steelydan.com], which the estate currently operates, and that Becker's estate has not "relinquished or shared control of that domain name with Fagen" and "absent an injunction… will continue to misappropriate Steely Dan's website and otherwise inappropriately use the Steely Dan name.""--RollingStone.com.

e. How to make your brand look credible for overseas customers | startups.co.uk: 1. Get a .COM domain name. [Editor's note: the default TLD for business in the U.S., and globally, is .COM (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future despite all the misinformation coming from inept ICANN and its new gTLDs' "partners.") More info here.]

f. Worth Reading: The Big Issues in the Domain Industry - Part 2 | whizzbangsblog.com.

g. Good Advice: Only buy what (domains) you need | OnlineDomain.com.

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 
graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
• Only 23% of the World Has a Free and Open Internet | Nextgov.com. [Editor's Note: soon to be far less than 23%--see next item below.]

• U.S.: Ajit Pai and the FCC want it to be legal for Comcast to block BitTorrent | TheVerge.com"Pai says his rules will “significantly reduce the likelihood” ISPs like Comcast will engage in behaviors that harm consumers. Not prevent, mind you, but reduce the chances. Such trust in market forces to work in a broadband market where 51 percent of Americans only have one choice of broadband provider! And if there is harmful behavior? Well, it won’t be so bad because at least we didn’t impose regulatory costs on Comcast and Verizon." [Editor's note: sounds like FCC Chair Ajit Pai is reading from the same playbook as inept ICANN. The sh*t hits the fan on December 14--Orwellian agenda item: "Restoring Internet Freedom."]

Pakistan: Study: Internet Freedom Worsens in Pakistan | VOAnews.com"Pakistan among the top four countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Syria, where people have been murdered in each of the last three years for writing about sensitive subjects online."

• China: Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) Rejects Censorship Critics, Says Internet Must Be 'Orderly'--VOAnews.com.

U.S.: Defense Department Spied On Social Media, Left All Its Collected Data Exposed To Anyone | Techdirt.com: "I know that the US government still has this "collect it all" mentality, but as we've discussed over and over again, adding more hay to the haystack doesn't make it easier to find the needles."

5) The Four Most Read Posts (# of pageviews Sun-Sat) this past week on DomainMondo.com: 
graphic "Domain Mondo" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
1. News Review | Incompetent Lawyers, Domain Names & ICANN's UDRP

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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