ICANN, New gTLD Domain Name Renewal Fees, Price Gouging

Domain Name Registrants beware: ICANN has let the new gTLD Registries run wild. For example, a new gTLD domain name Registry can essentially charge whatever it wants for domain name renewal fees. Isn't it interesting that none of the media nor ICANN nor Registrars have told you that! Fortunately for now, for domain name registrants, regular domain names like .com domain names still have renewal fees limited by the US Department of Commerce when it approved the last Verisign contract (registry for .com). However no one knows* what will happen after November 30, 2018, when the current Verisign contract ends, if the US gives up all oversight. If ICANN's track record with the new gTLD domain names is any indication, come late 2018, even .com domain name renewal fees may be subject to price gouging by the Registry and Registrars.

ICANN, under the influence of its insiders and special interests, made sure that the new gTLD domain names were not like .com domain names, when it came to renewal fees, or other Registry restrictions. Currently, known new gTLD domain name renewal fees run as high as $30,000 per year per domain name. That is not a typo, yes, $30,000 (US$). This is, apparently, what ICANN considers "innovation" and "enhancing competition and consumer choice."

ICANN is nowhere ready to be let loose and allowed to run around unsupervised. Proof of that is in ICANN's disastrous roll-out of the new gTLD domain names program. Unfortunately, this is not the only disaster ICANN has created or allowed. This is what happens when you have an immature organization dominated by insiders and special interests. Remember, ICANN purposefully excluded users and domain name registrants from representation in ICANN (unlike registrars and registries and affiliates which are overrepresented). Do not believe ICANN when it talks about multistakeholderism. That is just another word ICANN uses for letting the foxes guard the hen house.

Caveat Emptor!

*IANA Functions and Related Root Zone Management Transition Questions and Answers | NTIA: "Q. Are the legacy top level domains associated with U.S. Government (e.g., .mil., .gov, .edu) part of this transition? A. No, the operation of and responsibility for the three remaining legacy top level domains associated with the U.S. Government specifically .mil, .gov, and .edu are not impacted by this transition as they are not part of the IANA and related root zone management functions." -- no mention of what happens to other legacy top level domains like .com, .net and .org which have been protected from price-gouging only by action of the US Government  -- ICANN: Important Corrections To Inaccuracies and Misconceptions Regarding U.S. Announcement: "As we know under the the last Verisign contract it was the US Department of Commerce that stepped up at the last moment to stop the 4 out of 6 year rate increases of 7%."


NETmundial 2014, ICANN Party Time!

Despite all the hype, NETmundial 2014 was a disappointment. The non-binding final text you can find here (pdf). But for ICANN, its insiders, staff, and lobbyists, it was just another expensive junket and excuse to party and waste money: "....The internet organisations, while they claim otherwise, are flush with cash. And ICANN is the plumpest cash cushion of them all, sitting on tens of millions of dollars. While drinking my 23 real beer, I was interrupted by what sounded like a loud and unnecessary PA system in the restaurant below. Sure enough, there was ICANN chairman Steve Crocker bellowing into a microphone. The organisation had bought out so much of the restaurant that it allowed ICANN to install its own sound system so its chairman could be heard over the noise of other people eating and talking to their friends and family. The cost would have been enormous, the value tiny. But when you have millions of dollars... Now there are those who can afford to fly around the world and stay in luxury hotels - and there are internet companies who depend on the status quo. And then there are the others, most of whom end up being funded by the very organisations they are supposed to keep in check. Committee members (lots of committees), fellowships, applicants. They get their flights, hotel rooms and food paid for. Even a daily stipend, payable in cash. But if you're not on the gravy train, well... You can come of course, but expect the bills to mount up. And don't expect special treatment. We don't know you. You could be anyone. When people leave the well-funded, er, internet network, you don't see them. They pop up a year or two later, after they have found a new position within the accepted hierarchy and the bills are covered. You can follow events online of course. Read the transcripts, watch the video. Welcome to the multi-spectator-model...." -- Kieren McCarthy, The Register

Of course if you are on the ICANN gravy train, there's always the next junket to look forward to -- ICANN 50 in London in June!


ICANN's new gTLD domain names: Innovation OR Hokum by Hucksters?

Domain Shane: "I’m going to have to admit it. Many of the articles on the domaining feed are down right unreadable. We all pump. We get paid to pump. But due to the sheer number of new gTLDs coming out there is a much bigger need for pumping. The competitiveness had [sic] also turned things ugly as readers and customers are getting tired of the articles and even the registries and their approaches. It’s even worse in the domain conference world...."

WANTED: Fiction writers to come up with riveting copy and narratives for launch of ICANN's new gTLDs (generic top-level domain names).

Frank Schilling explains ICANN's new gTLDs in the video above--beware story-tellers with products for sale--ICANN's new gTLDs: we are only limited by our imaginations! (Plus $185,000 up front to ICANN plus renewal fees.) "Narrative makes for a compelling story. It appeals to us emotionally. It often falls apart when scrutinized" (source infra).

"Late last year, we had a wholesaler from a major exchange-traded-fund firm visit our office. At the time, the chatter was all about the planned Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. initial public offering. It was going to be, in his words, “huge, disruptive, incredibly powerful"... Never mind that IPO returns are on average mediocre or worse ...This guy had a great story to tell, and to the uninitiated, it was enthralling. The story, as it turns out, was and is completely and utterly wrong. The narrative, as is so often the case, failed. But not its appeal to our deep lizard brains...In politics, when your narrative fails, the other guy wins. With investing, following narratives leads to lost capital..." -- Barry Ritholtz, The Alibaba Story-Telling Failure - Bloomberg View

Domain name buyers: Caveat Emptor!


Turkey, an ICANN hub, may leave the internet

No comment so far from Fadi Chehade et al, but I wonder--if Turkey leaves the internet, will ICANN leave Turkey (Istanbul is one of ICANN's three headquarters--called "tri-quarters" as explained by Fadi Chehade, ICANN CEO, at the first link above).

Turkey mulls leaving World Wide Web, minister says - Trend.Az: ". . . ."Instead of www, a ttt system can be formed. Turkey and other countries can establish their own domains. Such a move would detach the Internet systems from each other. This is a controversial issue," Elvan said. . . . Elvan's statement needs clarification, experts say, as it has not been previously known that any country, even China with its powerful censorship tool "Great Firewall", has left or plans to leave the main backbone of the Internet, which may lead to the establishment of "national intranets." The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit organization that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system, did not reply to Hurriyet Daily News' query seeking comment on April 19. "We have reached a consensus to 'neutralize' malicious content that is the object of court decisions by pixelating," Elvan had said in a written statement on April 17. YouTube remains blocked in Turkey since March 27 despite a court order."


Useless Domain Names, Hostile Domain Names

Do you know of any hostile or useless domain names?

Farsight Security/Services/NOD: "Many domain names are useless or hostile, and most useless or hostile domains are young (or new.) By "useless or hostile" we mean simply that many domains exist only to facilitate crime or spam, and are only useful to the criminals or spammers who register them, and perhaps their registrar or registry." (read more at link above)



Surely you know who ICANN is, but not familiar with the term FUBAR? It's all explained here. Not only ICANN, but also apparently its new gTLDs progam is FUBAR too --

EU buys more time for .wine talks after surprise GAC objection | DomainIncite - Domain Name News & Opinion: "... This apparent oversight, coupled with the controversy this week about rights protection mechanisms for intergovernmental organizations, makes me wonder whether ICANN’s legal department might need a refresher course on the ICANN bylaws. Or maybe, more likely, the bylaws are just such a bloody mess that even the smartest guys in the room can’t keep track of them any more."


Dot guru, new gTLD, ICANN hokum

I listened to the misinformation and lies from ICANN and the hucksters and sycophants about how the new gTLDs would help websites with SEO and Search (even though Matt Cutts of Google made clear that was a big fat LIE -- just as EMD no longer helps due to Panda/Penguin). So having heard the ICANN et al hokum, I tested the MOST successful new gTLD with a google search on "Guru" --

guru - Google Search: Oops! Nothing -- nada -- no dot guru websites -- nothing but dot com websites on the first page of the Google SERP! LOL! I guess we should say Dot Guru is the least failing among all the new gTLDs, all of which are a big fat #FAIL.


ICANN, new gTLDs, Huge Profits, Corporations

First question #NETmundial2014 better ask: Who controls the Internet? Answer: Corporations through ICANN --

Lawfare › Who Controls the Internet Address Book? ICANN, NTIA and IANA"When ICANN recently opened up new gTLDs it reaped a huge profit. If you accept the maxim that “he who has the gold makes the rules” the transition to ICANN control may actually be about a transition to corporate control through ICANN." (read more at the link above)


Google, SEO, links, site penalty

The entire Google site penalty policy needs some reform -- Danny Sullivan makes some good suggestions:

How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google: (Danny Sullivan) "... As a suggestion to all parties, I’d say: Google: Enough with the penalties and get into a model where if you don’t like a link, you don’t count it rather than issuing penalties. SEOs & Publishers: Forget how you can build links, which is just too dangerous now. Think how you can build audience — and if links come as part of that, it’s side-benefit." (read more at the link above)


Internet Freedom Repressed in Turkey, ICANN Hub

I wrote about this previously, but ICANN still appears to be, by its silence, supporting repressive governments who oppose internet freedom -- in ICANN's case it chose to locate 1 of its 3 tri-quarters (that is what ICANN calls its 3 headquarters) in Turkey (the other two are in Singapore and LA) --

Censorship in Turkey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia"Turkey ranked 138 in the Reporters Without Borders' 2010 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. In 2011-2012 Turkey ranked 148 out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without Borders list. Within the framework of negotiations with the European Union, the EU has requested that Turkey issue various legal reforms in order to improve freedom of expression and press. On 20 March, 2014, Twitter was banned throughout Turkey and a week later on March 27, YouTube was also banned."

Google Online Security Blog: Google’s Public DNS intercepted in Turkey: "Posted by Steven Carstensen, Software Engineer Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:45 PM   We have received several credible reports and confirmed with our own research that Google’s Domain Name System (DNS) service has been intercepted by most Turkish ISPs (Internet Service Providers)...."

You think ICANN cares about internet freedom? Better think again.


ICANN Website Security Certificate Expired!

screenshot of security warning about ICANN website
Screenshot of warning in Google Chrome browser for ICANN website

Try to visit ICANN's website lately? If you tried to go to the link provided in the ICANN daily email below on April 10, 2014, the above is what you get -- so much for ICANN's security of the internet!

from ICANN's newsletter--(link below leads to warning above in Google Chrome browser  on April 10, 2014)
Letter from Stephen D. Crocker to Heather Dryden 
Wednesday, April 09 2014 05:43 PM
4 April 2014 Sender's Title: Chair Sender's Affiliation: ICANN Board of Directors Issue: Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Advice - .WINE and .VIN File: crocker-to-dryden-04apr14-en [PDF, 1328kB]


ICANN, IANA, Fadi’s railroad just got derailed

After the NTIA IANA transition announcement, ICANN thought it could grab all of the power for itself, and continue as before, unaccountable, all-powerful --

Fadi’s railroad: Are the I* organizations getting on board? | IGP Blog: "The solution is plain to seestructural separation of domain name policy making and root zone implementation. We have been hammering home the idea since the release of our proposal March 3. Structural separation should be a key principle of the transition. One way to bring it about would be to structurally separate IANA functions from ICANN, as suggested in IGP’s proposal. Another alternative might be to structurally separate the GNSO from ICANN. In other words, leave the IANA functions with ICANN, but pull out the GNSO and make it a separate organization with its own management and board. That may sound radical, but it was actually the original plan of Jon Postel and the early ICANN years. Indeed, one of the proponents of the I* statement, ARIN Director John Curran, was a strong advocate of this “separate DNSO” model, for reasons that parallel our advocacy of structural separation." (read more at the link above)

Yes, the solution is plain to see, separate IANA from ICANN.


ICANN, failure to be responsive, how an organization self-destructs

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a California nonprofit organization formed on September 30,1998, that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system, under authority granted to it by the United States government. But the US government failed to exercise any real oversight of ICANN from the beginning, and ICANN was not accountable to anyone but its own insular board of directors. Now that the US role in internet governance is soon coming to an end, what will happen to ICANN? ICANN was never responsive to anyone other than its own insiders and special interests, ICANN failed to listen to objections over .xxx and the mindless expansion of generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) -- read the report to the US Congress discussed at the link below which you can read here (pdf) --

expVC | expvc.com | domain name news: CRS Report To Congress On Internet Governance: ".... ICANN's actions in regard to the .xxx top-level domain and gTLD expansion led governments to argue for increased governmental influence on ICANN in light of ICANN's failure to be responsive to the concerns that were raised in regard to both initiatives...."

ICANN was warned. But when you have the US government giving you cover and immunity, it is very easy to be unaccountable, and unresponsive.


ICANN Multistakeholder Governance Model Flawed

ICANN Multistakeholderism -- sound good? Better look beneath the surface -- rotten from the botttom up and top down --

Multistakeholder governance model - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: ".... Criticism of multistakeholderism comes from Paul R. Lehto, J.D., who fears that in multistakeholderism, those who would be lobbyists become legislators, and nobody else has a vote. Lehto states that "In a democracy, it is a scandal when lobbyists have so much influence that they write the drafts of laws. But in multistakeholder situations they take that scandal to a whole new level: those who would be lobbyists in a democracy (corporations, experts, civil society) become the legislators themselves, and dispense with all public elections and not only write the laws but pass them, enforce them, and in some cases even set up courts of arbitration that are usually conditioned on waiving the right to go to the court system set up by democracies. A vote is just a minimum requirement of justice. Without a vote, law is just force inflicted by the wealthy and powerful. Multistakeholderism is a coup d’etat against democracy by those who would merely be lobbyists in a democratic system...." (read more at link above)

The Multistakeholder Model, Neo-liberalism and Global (Internet) Governance | Gurstein's Community Informatics: " . . . So what exactly is the “multistakeholder model”?. . . Clearly the major Internet corporations, the US government and their allies in the technical and civil society communities are quite enthusiastic . . . . What I think is clear though is that the MS [multistakeholder] model which is being presented, is in fact the transformation of the neo-liberal economic model which has resulted in such devastation and human tragedy throughout the world into a new form of “post-democratic” governance. (This connection between the a neo-liberal economic model and multistakeholder governance is presented most clearly in a document published by the Aspen Institute with numerous Internet luminary co-authors and collaborators–”Toward A Single Global Digital Economy“. The paper argues for, outlines and celebrates the dominance of the Internet economy by the US, US corporations and selected OECD allies and provides a plan of action for the implementation of the MS model as the supportive governance structure.... In a multistakeholder governance regime of course, Internet giants such as Google or Amazon will presumably be equal partners/stakeholders in the determination of matters of Internet regulation, taxation, and the possible allocation/reallocation of overall benefits i.e. those matters which are of direct financial concern to themselves and their shareholders/owners. And these determinations will be taking place in policy contexts where there are no obvious champions/stakeholders representing the broad global public interest...."

Still excited about the multistakeholder model? Let's just forget about the public interest -- sounds like same old ICANN! 


What happens when ICANN is taken over by multi-stakeholders who do not believe in internet freedom?

What happens when ICANN is taken over by "multi-stakeholders" who do not believe in internet freedom? Nobody, least of all ICANN, is saying --

A Programmer's Perspective on the IANA Transition: "... Let's consider worst-case scenarios and develop mechanisms that would resolve those scenarios in a way that's at least as effective as the admittedly crude mechanism we have today — where the US government ensures a stable root if the IANA contractor can't, and where the threat of losing the IANA contract keeps ICANN accountable [at least in theory] to its global stakeholders and the public interest....

What happens if ICANN cancels the Affirmation of Commitments, which it can do with just 120 days notice? Or if ICANN fails to implement recommendations of an Affirmation review?

What happens if ICANN deliberately escapes legal presence in a nation where users, registrants, and contract parties need to seek legal remedies?

What happens if ICANN becomes financially insolvent?

What happens if ICANN approves a specific change to the root that could threaten its stability and security?

What happens if governments advise ICANN to remove TLDs from the root in order to suppress dissent and free expression? ...." (read more at the link above)


Wine, Vin, New gTLDs, more ICANN dysfunction, chaos, and confusion

Just read this sad tale about bad public policy, ICANN's new gTLDs, and the dysfunction, chaos, and confusion rampant at ICANN -- 

Letter from Linda Corugedo Steneberg to ICANN Board of Directors | ICANN: pdf of complete letter is here - excerpt:

" . . . the GAC was not aware until 26 March of this decision or its mistaken rationale. Had it been the case, the GAC could have corrected any misunderstandings and thus pre-empted the NGPC's resolution. The action that was approved by the NGPC on 22 March and communicated on 25 March is allegedly based on GAC consensus, whereas in reality a significant number of GAC members were in consensus not to allow the .WINE and .VIN applications to proceed through evaluation until sufficient additional safeguards were in place. There have been a series of process violations and procedural errors in arriving at this resolution. The Rationale specifically mis-states the GAC´s view, mixing a lack of GAC consensus on what safeguards should be in place with a quote from a letter which was sent to the ICANN Board without it being circulated to the GAC members prior to it being sent. Moreover a follow up letter from the European Commission which provides clarification on the above matter was not taken into account by the NGPC in its Rationale. As such, the European Union and its Member States, Norway and Switzerland request, in the interest of the bottom-up multistakeholder model and due respect to decision-making rules and ICANN By-laws, that the NGPC reconsiders its decision and takes into account the true opinion of the majority of the GAC members...."

Sounds like just more typical ICANN: inept, incompetent, dysfunctional.


IANA transition, ICANN is the problem NOT the US government

ICANN Reader: IANA Transition Away from U.S. Draws Widespread Concern | Bloomberg BNA"There's a saying in football: "Three things can happen when you pass the football, and two of them are bad." On March 14, the U.S. government -- ahead in the Internet governance game by all accounts -- decided to throw a pass. The receiver of this pass is as-yet unknown, as is formation and the particular play to be executed. In fact, nobody knows who is going to be drawing up this pass play, though I've heard it will likely be somebody with an unproven record. This I think accounts for most of the unease I've encountered in a lot of online commentary about the IANA transition. What we are talking about here is a leap into the unknown."(read more at the link above)

My suggestion for what is being called the IANA transition (the U.S. government abdicating its oversight role):

1. Separate IANA from ICANN.
2. Three trustees (see below) should oversee and govern IANA on behalf of the entire global internet community.
3. IANA should be funded by assessments paid by each ICANN-approved registry operator directly to IANA. Failure to pay would result in that registry's domain(s) being removed from the root (upon due notice to the registry operator and ICANN, and in the event of registry operator default, ICANN having the option to revoke the authority of the registry operator, and transfer the domain(s) to another registry operator which would then pay the delinquent assessments.)

Most have it wrong on internet governance reform. Everyone is focused on the US government announcement. Wrong focus. Neither the U.S. government, nor any government(s), should be directly governing or overseeing IANA and its functions. Neither should ICANN. IANA has technical functions that should be kept separate from ICANN and ICANN's administrative and policy-making functions. IANA's functions have been handled competently by the technical community and Verisign (which performs a technical function, at no cost, for the benefit of the global internet community under its contract authority). Both the U.S. government and ICANN should step aside from IANA. Oversight of IANA can be accomplished by having three trustees exercise the stewardship oversight presently provided by the US Department of Commerce and ICANN. I would suggest that those three trustees be selected, 1 each, by 3 separate entities--each trustee having to take an oath affirming a declaration of principles for operation of IANA and the global internet, including continuous stability, security, and internet freedom. The trustees would be selected, 1 trustee each, by 3 non-governmental sources--I suggest these: The Internet Society, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (both of which are existing competent global multistakeholder organizations that have demonstrated integrity in protecting the public interest when it comes to the internet and its users), and the third trustee to be selected by the ICANN-approved registry operators collectively. Bylaws to be adopted by IANA would provide for selection of successor organization(s), if necessary, should either the Internet Society or the World Wide Web Consortium be unable to fulfill their respective roles of selecting an IANA trustee.

Going forward, it is important to not only remove the U.S. government, but also ICANN--in fact, it is just as important that ICANN and IANA be separated, and their respective roles be distinct.

It is truly ICANN that is the elephant in the living room, not the U.S. government. The U.S. government has indicated it is willing to give up its stewardship of the internet to responsible, non-governmental successor(s). ICANN is a much bigger problem, and not just concerning IANA. ICANN needs to either be reformed, or replaced. ICANN has made a lot of mistakes and is not operating in the public interest --

U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet - The Washington Post: “...This is a purely political bone that the U.S. is throwing,” said Garth Bruen, a security fellow at the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that combats online crime. “ICANN has made a lot of mistakes, and ICANN has not really been a good steward.” Business groups and some others have long complained that ICANN’s decision-making was dominated by the interests of the industry that sells domain names and whose fees provide the vast majority of ICANN’s revenue. The U.S. government contract was a modest check against such abuses, critics said. “It’s inconceivable that ICANN can be accountable to the whole world. That’s the equivalent of being accountable to no one,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing major Internet commerce businesses...."

So what to do with ICANN? That's the bigger problem, and one that needs to be solved sooner rather than later, before ICANN irreparably damages the internet domain name ecosystem by its own inept, incompetent, conflicted, and poor stewardship. But first, let's keep the global internet technically operating in a sound manner -- that is IANA's function, which it has been performing well. Once we have separated IANA and its functions from ICANN and the U.S. government, will be the time to discuss how ICANN's administrative and policy-making functions can best be performed, and whether to just replace ICANN with a new international, multi-stakeholder organization that is competent, ethical, responsible, and responsive, to the entire global internet community and the public interest, not just a few insiders and special interests.

John Poole
April 4, 2014


ICANN #FAIL, New domain names, trademark problems

New domain names, same old trademark problems - CNET (read story at that link -- 2 comments there follow) --comments:

1) johnthecrowd -- "ICANN is NOT "trying to make things easier with a new trademark clearinghouse" -- ICANN is trying to run a "protection racket" and approved the new gTLD program over the legitimate and reasonable objections of many governments, trademark holders, consumer groups and business organizations. ICANN is collecting millions in fees while subverting the entire domain name system. ICANN is NOT operating in the public interest and should be replaced with a responsible and responsive multi-stakeholder international organization."

2) deecee Mar 26, 2014 -- @johnthecrowd  Bravo, that's exactly the issue.



With US protection, ICANN has had irresponsible, unaccountable power, but that will soon end

What happens to ICANN when Uncle Sugar is no longer around to provide protection and cover for the California non-profit corporation, formed at the instance of the US government and for which the US tailored the ICANN contract so there would be no competition? ICANN has been, in effect, an instrumentality of the US government, a sham corporation, formed to oversee the domain name and numbering system. The US government has never exercised much, if any, oversight over ICANN activities. As such, ICANN has been cloaked with a kind of immunity, above and beyond true accountability of any government, consumers, users, business interests, free to do as it pleased.

That time is soon coming to an end. Even if ICANN survives, it will not be long before ICANN will wish Uncle Sugar was still around to give it protection, cover, and legitimacy. Multi-stakeholders can be awfully demanding, threatening, and even destructive, if they do not get their way!


Domain Names: Brandable or Keywords?

As noted in the article link below and 2011 video above, Google's Matt Cutts says there are two routes when choosing a domain name: one that is brandable, e.g., “twitter.com” OR one that is keywordy, e.g., “short-message-service.com” --

Is it important to have keywords in a domain name? | Codesign: "As Cleveland, Ohio-based designers and brand identity consultants our advice on effective domain names is unchanged:
  • Be brandable and unique
  • Keep it short and memorable
  • Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce
  • Avoid clumsy dashes
  • And, if possible, stick to .com if for no other reason than familiarity." (read more at the link above)
And of course, for keyword domain names there is also the Exact Match Domain Penalty that Google introduced in 2012:

Google: EMD Update | Search Engine Land: "The EMD Update — for “Exact Match Domain” — is a filter Google launched in September 2012 to prevent poor quality sites from ranking well simply because they had words that match search terms in their domain names....."

Good luck domaining!

Domain Mondo archive