News Review: Post-transition ICANN Yells For Help From U.S. Government

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"I think if we get rid of that [IANA] contract we [ICANN] will be free of the pressures."--Fadi ChehadĂ©, ICANN President and CEO February 10, 2015.

Feature •  Less than thirty days after the IANA stewardship transition was complete effective October 1, 2016, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a California corporation otherwise known as ICANN, found itself threatened by an African Telecommunications Union (ATU) proposal on behalf of several countries to the ITU's World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) regarding the use of geographic terms for top level domains. The ATU proposal (copy embedded below) to amend World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly Resolution 47 (pdf) cites the pending new gTLD .AFRICA litigation:
"These challenges to delegating a regional geographic Top Level Domain raises important principle concerns for the Africa region and others over the issue of jurisdiction, who should control the delegation of critical regional geographic names like dot Africa, the role of governments and intergovernmental organizations in the ICANN multi-stakeholder model and the effectiveness and reliability of government protection mechanisms for ccTLDs and geographic names related to their distinct regions. As the court case in the United States of America continues to deliberate, African stakeholders who have not been consulted, despite being materially affected and prejudiced, are powerless to enforce their needs to implement this critical initiative as judges in California courts continue to delay the process."--ATU proposal, infra. p. 5 (emphasis added)
ATU proposal (pdf) embedded below (or download directly from ITU.int here):

In reaction to the above, the ICANN cross-community working group on internet governance (CCWG-IG) has been in a tizzy this week on its public mailing list with reports from Nigel Hickson, ICANN Vice-President of IGO (International Governmental Organizations) Engagement, who noted "ICANN, itself, cannot speak (we have no locus as are not a sector member); but clearly we are hopeful that several governments will. There is indeed hardly any room for compromise, as you rightly point out," and later reporting on Thursday, the U.S. government had come to the rescue:
"Just to report to colleagues that the proposal referenced was discussed (initially) in Committee 4 (WG) this afternoon.  After a thorough discussion it was decided that further discussion was required on both the African Group proposal and the US proposal to suppress RES 47.  As such an informal meeting will be held tomorrow. As such the usefulness of a statement* is not diminished.  It is likely that discussions on this issue will go into early next week." (emphasis added).--ICANN VP Nigel Hickson, supra.
The *statement Hickson referred to above is a response  (pdf) to the African proposal prepared by the CCWG-IG.

Complicating matters is a pending (ICANN57) motion before ICANN's main policy-making body, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), to withdraw as one of the three Chartering Organizations (GNSO, ALAC and ccNSO) of the CCWG-IG, which provoked this lengthy response from a long-time ICANN participant and CCWG-IG member:
"I don't understand the GNSO resolution, as it was not circulated to the CCWG-IG first, to ask for input or information. That is quite disappointing, and I will accept some of the responsibility that I missed it, as a BC rep to the CCWG-IG. I was away for both family and then other business and missed some of the work of the GNSO policy council. I think this is quite strange that the GNSO policy Council did not first invite a discussion with the CCWG-IG and I have recently asked the two BC councilors to raise that as a possibility, before there is a vote. Frankly, I am also surprised. Who is opposed to the work of the CCWG-IG? Is it the contracted parties [registry operators and registrars], and if so, is that because we did not do a good job of informing them about the risks to ICANN from the challenges to IG overall? Is it because we let everyone think that IANA transition was the only threat to ICANN? Was it because we were talking to ourselves [maybe] about IG and ICANN, and we forgot to do "internal awareness". Was it because some of the last CEO's endeavors and funded projects that even some of us objected to, caused concerns and that colored what we are really here to do?  And that that "color" led to an assumption that there is no need for, or support for ICANN engagement in IG Ecosystem, or that the views of the community are not needed? I am at many of the IG events. I see business, technical community, GAC countries and CS/NGOs. I do not see the contracted parties with 3 exceptions. I do see ccTLDs. Perhaps the new players in the contracted party house are not aware that if we miss this opportunity to continue to support ICANN's role, they can follow the path of the ISPs and others who have to be licensed, or approved for operation on a country by country basis. That would wake them up, and they would then begin to value the benefit of ICANN's continued engagement so that they can continue to operate with permission, rather than national regulation, which affects the ccTLDs in many countries. So, really, I do not understand this resolution and I cannot find it a useful approach. I hope that you and others will suggest that it be postponed, and that an informed discussion with the CCWG-IG be a first priority." (emphasis added)
The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) is meeting at Hammamet, Tunisia, 25 October - 3 November 2016. The ICANN57 meeting in Hyderabad, India, starts Thursday, November 3, and runs through Wednesday, November 9. For more information see: ICANN57 | DomainMondo.com and ICANN57, Hyderabad, India, Meeting Preview.

UPDATE 31 Oct 2016 from ICANN VP for UN Engagement, Veni Markovski: "Resolution 47 was not changed, because there was no consensus on the two proposals - by the African Union to change it to include gTLD, and by the USA to suppress it. That means it will remain for gathering experience from member states on ccTLD policies."

Other internet domain news:

•  Internet Governance: Is the Internet Really Free of US Control? | Economic and Political Weekly | epw.in"... dominant global political (US government) and business (transnational corporations) interests ... use contrivances like exaggerated claims about how the current transition of root signing powers from the US to ICANN means that the internet is finally free of US control to cover their designs and exercise of illegitimate powers. It is important that governments, intellectuals, and the public of developing countries do not fall prey to such misleading claims and take steps to ensure that the global internet is governed in an equitable and just manner. It is for developing countries’ leaders like India to come up with alternative governance forms and proposals, and build global support for them."  See also News Review: Post-Transition ICANN & The Global Public Interest (2 Oct 2016)

 New gTLDs .INC, .LLC and .LLP correspondence from dot Registry counsel to ICANN: 21 October 2016 Letter from Arif H. Ali to ICANN Board (pdf) published by ICANN 27 October 2016, which states in part:
"... In particular, since the Dot Registry Declaration: 
  • Dot Registry has written repeatedly to the ICANN Board and the only letter that has been published on ICANN’s website is the one dated August 6, 2016. ICANN has failed to respond to Dot Registry’s letters. (we enclose Dot Registry’s prior correspondence as Appendix A to this letter);
  • Dot Registry has filed two DIDP Requests to which ICANN has not responded yet and which have not been published to date on ICANN’s DIDP website. (See Appendix A); 
  • On August 8, 2016, the Honorable Jeffrey W. Bullock, Delaware Secretary of State, wrote to ICANN about the Dot Registry Declaration and has not received a response to date. (See Appendix A); 
  •  The BGC met on October 18, 2016 in relation to Dot Registry and nothing has been published about the outcome of that meeting; 
"It is for this reason that accountability and transparency violations continue to arise of ICANN’s failures to acknowledge, respond, or publish documents as required under Articles 3 and 4 of the new Bylaws ..." (emphasis added)
 ICANN is now also failing to timely publish litigation documents on its website. In the new gTLD .WEB case Ruby Glen, LLC v. ICANN, Case 2:16-cv-05505-PA-AS, United States District Court for the Central District of California at Los Angeles, ICANN has not published documents filed by both Plaintiff Ruby Glen and Defendant ICANN on October 26th: 1) Plaintiff's Motion for Discovery; and 2) Defendant ICANN's Motion to Dismiss. ICANN's Motion to Dismiss has been noticed for a hearing on November 28, 2016, 1:30 p.m. (PT), 312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom 15, Los Angeles, California 90012​.

•  ICANN Board of Directors has failed to timely respond to Helsinki [ICANN56] GAC advice (pdf) published 30 June 2016. On October 28, 2016, ICANN Board Chairman Steve Crocker wrote (pdf) to Thomas Schneider, GAC Chair, and advised him the ICANN Board of Directors "has yet to finalize consideration of the Helsinki GAC Advice. We intend to discuss the advice in Hyderabad [ICANN57] and hope to provide a response shortly after the conclusion of the meeting."

•  Brands unleash scathing review of one of ICANN's new gTLDs (new generic top-level domain), .FEEDBACK, seek investigation against registry: "A collective of brands filed a public interest commitment dispute resolution procedure [PICDRP] complaint [pdf] with ICANN"--Blog | WorldTrademarkReview.com.

•  Cuba.com domain name for sale for $4.5 million--MiamiHerald.com

•  More new gTLD .GAY correspondence12 Oct 2016 Letter to the ICANN Board (pdf) [published by ICANN on 18 October 2016] new gTLD application for .GAY:
"...The application process for .gay has now gone from the extreme to the ridiculous. Despite losing three objections, two complete community priority evaluations (CPE), and failed attempts to overturn two BGC recommendations to reject dotGay’s Reconsideration Requests, dotGay’s tactics have reached new heights with its recent letter to the ICANN Board and accompanying 62 page “expert report” from a law school professor. We urge the ICANN Board to summarily reject this latest unsolicited letter and the report as irrelevant and outside the application and appeal processes as set forth in the Applicant Guidebook (AGB) ..."--United TLD Holdco Ltd, (trading as Rightside Registry), Top Level Domain Holdings, Ltd., Top Level Design, LLC (applicants for .GAY)

•  Bad gTLD Domain Name Servers? Research Revealed on Authoritative Servers at the Second Level | ICANN.org"The research starts with going through all of the zone files for all the generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs); the result is 186 million domain names and 3.5 million name servers serving those names. One of the first things we found is that one tenth of the "glue records" in the zone files are possibly bad because they are not associated with names in the zone file itself."

•  Root Stability Study Draft Report Available for Public Comment | ICANN.org: "The study’s authors advise that the rate of new gTLD delegations remain gradual." See also: Did ICANN Just Break the Internet? No, But It Could Have, and May Yet | DomainMondo.com.

•  Human Rights Push in ICANN "off the rails" says InternetGovernance.org"... Domain name policies can subject domain name registrants to surveillance, rob people of the right to use generic words as domains, restrict the use of domains as forms of expression, and make domains more expensive than they need to be. That is what we need to be focusing on ..."

•  ICANN Public Comment Periods Closing in November:
  1. Latin American and Caribbean DNS Marketplace Study: Close Date 1 Nov 2016 23:59 UTC
  2. Middle East and Adjoining Countries 2016-2019 Strategy: Close Date 17 Nov 2016 23:59 UTC
  3. Proposed Amendment to .XXX Registry Agreement to Transition to New Fee Structure and to Adopt Additional Safeguards | ICANN.org: Close Date 24 Nov 2016 23:59 UTC.

•  Q3 2016 Results: Registry services providers Neustar (NYSE: NSR) and Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) each reported their Q3 2016 results this past week, more information: Q3 2016 Results, LIVE Webcasts Oct 27 $GOOG $NSR $VRSN $AMZN. Market reaction to the reports can be seen in this week's charts for both stocks:

During the Thursday Q3 earnings' webcast, Neustar confirmed it was still on track to separate into two publicly traded companies, and Verisign in its 10-Q stated as of September 30, 2016, it has paid $145.0 million for the future assignment to Verisign of contractual rights to new gTLD .WEB pending approval from ICANN. Upon assignment of the contractual rights, Verisign said it would record the total investment as an indefinite-lived intangible asset. In addition, Verisign said at the end of September (Q3) the domain name base in .com and .net was 144.1 million consisting of 128.4 million .com registrations and 15.8 million .net registrations, an increase of 6.6% year-over-year and a net increase of 0.9 million domain name registrations from the end of the second quarter. In addition, Verisign reaffirmed its previous guidance on Q4 registrations:
" Also, as discussed the last three quarters, we still expect the fourth quarter of 2016 to be somewhat unique ... as the volume of domain name registrations up for renewal in the quarter will have a larger-than-normal percentage of first-time renewing registrations as a result of the strong performance during Q3 and Q4 of 2015. While it is difficult to assess what the renewal characteristics of these registrations will be, due to the large upcoming Q4 2016 expiring base we still expect fourth-quarter deletions to be elevated with many of these deletions occurring towards the end of the fourth quarter. Based on these and other factors, we expect the full-year 2016 domain name base growth range of between 1% and 2% despite a net decrease to the domain name base of between 1.5 million and 2.8 million registrations in the fourth quarter."--James Bidzos, Verisign President & CEO
Note that the first month of the fourth quarter (October) is now nearly over, and Verisign is still experiencing net growth in both .COM and .NET registrations.

•   Q3 2016 financial results coverage this coming week on DomainMondo.com:
  • Alibaba Group $BABA Nov 2 at 7:30 am ET
  • Facebook $FB Nov 2 at 5:00 pm ET
  • GoDaddy $GDDY Nov 2 at 5:00 pm ET

•  Most popular posts (# of pageviews Sun-Sat) this past week on DomainMondo.com:

•  A Look Back: Sep 21.2011: Are the new Top Level Domains really any use to travel brands? | Tnooz.com : "Domain names just aren’t as important as they were. When we do use them is www.travel.globalgateway.ba actually any more intuitive than www.ba.com/travel/globalgateway? … except BA won’t even be allowed to have a .ba domain as two-letter .brands are not allowed … Wouldn’t ICANN be better off putting their weight behind clearing up cybersquatting than pushing on with making the domain space even more expensive and complex?" (emphasis added)

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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