News Review | GDPR & WHOIS EPDP Initial Report Comments Due Dec 21

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Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2018-12-16 with analysis and opinion: Features •  1) GDPR & ICANN WHOIS Data: EPDP Initial Report Comments Due Dec 21, 2) Other ICANN news: ICANN's Lyin' CEO? and more3) Names, Domains & Trademarks: Tesla.com Redux, 4) ICYMI Internet Domain News, 5) Most Read & Next Week.

1) GDPR & ICANN WHOIS Data: EPDP Initial Report Comments Due Dec 21
EPDP meetings Tuesday Dec 18 and Thursday Dec 20 starting 14:00 UTC (9am EST). Observers use Adobe Connect, or audio cast (browser or app).

See also GNSO Council EPDP page and updates. Links to all EPDP meetings' transcripts and recordings are on the GNSO calendar. Other EPDP links: wiki, mail list, action items, Temp Spec, EPDP Charter (pdf), Data Elements Workbooks (pdf), EPDP Initial Report (pdf).

All comments to the EPDP Initial Report are due by Dec 21, 2018, 23:59. UTC:
"... If you want to see the privacy rights of domain name registrants respected, you need to weigh in. And if you don’t weigh in, you can be sure that Facebook, the MPAA, the trademark interests, cybersecurity firms who monetize Whois data, and other anti-privacy rights interests will be out in force ..."--InternetGovernance.org
Editor's note: I have finished my comment to the EPDP Initial Report (comment embed and link below). Here's the essence of my comment to simplify, clarify, minimize WHOIS Registrant's Data Fields (Data Elements) to be GDPR-compliant:
See the "old way" WHOIS raw data here: https://www.whois.com/whois/facebook.com. The "new way" minimizes over 30 data elements (data fields) to just 8 necessary data fields for a WHOIS in compliance with GDPR. It would be hard for an honest registrant to fail to accurately fill in the registrant's data fields in this revised WHOIS.

Another excerpt from my comment:
"What James Bladel (GoDaddy, RrSG) told the EPDP working group more than once, including Aug 7, 2018 (transcript), is VERY IMPORTANT: "We’re talking about collection of data for the purposes of publication in an RDS system or an online directory and that is, again, not something that we [registrars] need in order to serve our customer, our registrant customers ... we have our own internal communications with those customers" [e.g., additional contact information, banking and credit card info, etc.] This is the time to cleanup the WHOIS registrant data fields, simplify, clarify, and minimize, in compliance with GDPR and other data privacy laws." 
I also agree with the GNSO's Contracted Parties House (Registrars and gTLD Registry Operators):
"The initial report does not present for review any concrete policy. Instead it is a discordant document filled with tentative suggestions and polarised arguments."
The EPDP's Google Form for submitting comments was a poor method for commenting on this Initial Report, specifically limiting how much "comment" one could submit: "Your response is too large. Try shortening some answers" (see message in "red" below).

My comment is here (pdf) embed below beginning with page 4 of the Google form:

Aids to complete a Comment to the ICANN EPDP Initial Report:
  • Two Decades of WHOIS (a/k/a RDS) Reform Failure at ICANN: Letter dated 14 Nov 2018 (pdf) from GNSO Council Chair Keith Drazek and Vice Chairs Pam Little and Rafik Dammak, to ICANN Board of Directors, published by ICANN 26 Nov 2018, re: Termination of the Next-Generation Registration Directory Services (RDS) Policy Development Process Working Group. ICANN Board of Directors response (pdf).
Note also:
11 Dec 2018 Letter from Göran Marby to Dave Jevans and Jerry Upton re: Joint APWG/M3AAWG GDPR and WHOIS User Survey Results marby-to-jevans-upton-11dec18-en.pdf [128 KB] excerpt:
"... at this time, the ICANN Board does not intend to issue another Temporary Specification or amend the current one absent a compelling legal reason, consistent with ICANN’s current contracts with registries and registrars, for it to do so; for example, to maintain the security or stability of registry services, registrar services, or the Domain Name System ..."

11 Dec 2018 Letter from ICANN GDD VP Cyrus Namazi to Intellectual Property Constituency re:  Privacy and Proxy Service Provider Accreditation Policy Implementation namazi-to-ipc-11dec18-en.pdf [128 KB].

11 Dec 2018 Letter from ICANN CEO Göran Marby to Graeme Bunton and Donna Austin
re: 3rd Party Access to Data Models marby-to-bunton-austin-11dec18-en.pdf [127 KB]

SAC 101v2 | SSAC Advisory Regarding Access to Domain NameRegistration Data version 2
12 Dec 2018 sac-101-v2-en.pdf [324 KB] and SAC 101v2 | SSAC Advisory Regarding Access to Domain NameRegistration Data version 2 | Addendum 12 Dec 2018 sac-101-v2-addendum-en.pdf [66.9 KB]

ICANN org's Technical Study Group on Access to Non-Public Registration Data - background info - the TSG-Access-RD mail list. See also DomainIncite.com.

2) Other ICANN News
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
a. ICANN's Lyin' CEO?
7 December 2018 Letter from HE Jacqualine Mendoza to ICANN Board (pdf) published by ICANN 12 December 2018. Mendoza is Secretary General | Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO). Letter is re: new gTLD Applications for .AMAZON. Letter embed below:

b.  More ICANN news:
  •  ICANN Holiday Break: ICANN offices (and GNSO staff support services) will close at the end of business on Friday, 21 December 2018, and reopen Wednesday, 2 January 2019.
  • 12 Dec 2018 Letter from ALAC's Maureen Hilyard to ICANN Board Chair Cherine Chalaby re Enabling Inclusive, Informed and Meaningful Participation at ICANN--hilyard-to-chalaby-12dec18-en.pdf (pdf). 
  • Another Example of the Unknown, Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest by members of the ICANN Board of Directorsin this case Ram Mohan (Afilias) who was on the ICANN Board for 10 years (as SSAC liaison):

3) Names, Domains & Trademarks
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Tesla.com Redux:
See also: Musk Gets Tesla.com Domain Name After Waiting a Decade | bloomberg.com 19 Feb 2016.

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 
graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
a. Internet censorship in Turkey--jjourno.com.tr: Since 2014, many websites and social media platforms have been periodically censored by Turkish authorities. Wikipedia has been completely blocked by the Turkish government since April 2017. See also Things Were Supposed to Be Different in Hungary--slate.com.

b. Soros vs Facebook: George Soros, the hedge-fund billionaire, gave money to one of the ten organizations that support Freedom from Facebook (domain: freedomfromfb.com, an activist group that wants to see the company broken up by spinning off its various business units--foxnews.com.

c. Young Arabs now get their news first on social media, not television. A recent survey revealed almost two-thirds (63%) of young Arabs report looking first to Facebook and Twitter for news. Three years ago, that was just a quarter.--zdnet.com.

5) Most Read Posts this past week on DomainMondo.com: 
graphic "Domain Mondo" ©2017 DomainMondo.com

Next week on News Review: Greed is Good? ICANN's Big 'Money Grab' 

-- John Poole, Editor  Domain Mondo 

feedback & comments via twitter @DomainMondo



Tech Review | Semiconductor Chip Wars: China vs U.S. (video)

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Tech Review (TR 2018-12-15)--Domain Mondo's weekly review of tech investing news: Features • 1) Semiconductor Chip Wars: China vs U.S., 2) Why Netflix $NFLX Is Struggling In India, 3) Investing: The Week, Investing Notes: The Macroview, 4) ICYMI Tech News: Apple $AAPL, ParkJockey, Qualcomm $QCOM, Amazon AWS Robomaker, $TME IPO, Huawei CFO.

1) Semiconductor Chip Wars: China vs U.S. 

The Economist.com video above published Dec 11, 2018: The trade war between China and the U.S. is not just about traditional products like steel and cars. A battle for dominance is under way in semiconductor chips, as the two superpowers fight to control this vital industry.

2) Why Netflix $NFLX Is Struggling In India

Netflix has 137 million subscribers and a majority of them are international. But the streaming giant is still struggling to break into India, the world's second-largest internet market. CNBC's Alex Sherman explains why.

Netflix is currently valued much higher than other media companies. Despite a share pullback in recent months from more than $400 to about $285, Netflix has a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of more than 100 and an enterprise value-to-EBITDA ratio of about 70. For comparison, Disney has a P/E ratio of about 14 and an EV-to-EBITDA ratio of about 11. Viacom's valuation ratios are both around 7.

This gaudy valuation is largely predicated on its international growth forecast. Breaking into India is critical for the company to double or triple its subscribers over the next 10 to 15 years, as many analysts have estimated. But Netflix hasn't had an easy time spreading through India since it launched there in 2016. Faced with competition from local players and Amazon Prime Video, Netflix is facing an uncertain future in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. CNBC.com video above published Dec 11, 2018.

3) Investing
graphic: "INVESTING"  ©2017 DomainMondo.com
The Week: NASDAQ Composite -0.8 | S&P 500 Index -1.3 | DJIA -1.2.

Slowing growth in China, growing disarray concerning UK, Brexit, & the EU.

Investing Notes: The Macroview
“It is quite possible there will be a global recession”--Jeffrey Gundlach, Dec 11, 2018.  The U.S. is stronger than the rest of the world, according to Gundlach, with real growth at 3.0%. U.S. leading economic indicators (LEIs) remain strong, and are not close to turning negative, which would signal a recession. But global LEIs are much weaker, Gundlach said, and approaching zero. As central banks tightened their monetary policies, equity returns have been hit. 75% to 80% of global markets are in a “death cross” pattern, where 50-day moving average has fallen below the 200-day moving average. Europe is “absolutely horrible” in terms of economic growth, according to Gundlach. More here.

Top 10 Risks For 2019 include Eurozone crisis 2.0.

4) ICYMI Tech News:
graphic: "ICYMI Tech News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
  • Apple $AAPL plans to build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, adding thousands of jobs, and also setting up new large offices in Seattle, San Diego and the Los Angeles area.--Axios.com.
  • SoftBank Group reportedly has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Miami parking tech startup ParkJockey (parkjockey.com) making it Miami's most valuable startup with a valuation now above $1 billion.
  • China-based music streaming Tencent Music Entertainment Group raised close to $1.1 billion in its U.S. initial public offering (IPO) after pricing its $TME shares at the bottom of its targeted range.
  • Canada frees China's Huawei CFO on bail.
  • Russiagate Hyperbole: Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed this week that the “full extent” of so-called Russian meddling activity that took place on the platform during all of 2016 was $4,700 spent on some digital advertisements.

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo  

feedback & comments via twitter @DomainMondo



Diane Von Fürstenberg, Founder & Chairman, DVF (video)

Diane Von Fürstenberg, Founder & Chairman, DVF

Stanford Graduate School of Business video above published Nov 12, 2018: “People say I made the dress. Yes, I made the dress, but really, the dress made me. Thanks to this dress, I became more confident. I was sharing my confidence, I was selling my confidence,” Diane Von Fürstenberg, founder of fashion line DVF (domain: dvf.com), told students at this View From The Top event. Her iconic wrap dress became the look for working women in the 1970’s and continues to make a statement.

Born in Brussels and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Von Fürstenberg believes in “never being the victim.” Today, Von Fürstenberg supports and awards women entrepreneurs around the world. “When you are successful, two things happen,” she told the audience. “One is that you can pay your bills and the second is that you have a voice. And once that happens, it’s a gift and a privilege to use your voice for those who don’t have a voice.” Von Fürstenberg was interviewed by Tadia James, Stanford GSB MBA ’19.

feedback & comments via twitter @DomainMondo



Robert Kraft on Creating a New England Patriots' Championship Culture

Robert Kraft: Creating a Championship Culture

Robert Kraft discusses how he built the New England Patriots (domain: patriots.com) into one of the best teams in NFL history and why culture has been the key to its success. Goldman Sachs video above published Nov 20, 2018.

On building a championship team: “I never make a change unless I know I have something better to replace it with…. I have friends who don’t operate that way….  Continuity means you’re going to go through rough times and rough patches, but being patient to get people of good character and integrity is worth it.”

On making critical decisions: “The best decisions I made in my life, I made on my instinct…. Just when something feels right to you. Even if other people can’t understand it and it feels the right thing for you, you go with it – and leverage it and stay with it. Don’t be afraid to take this big risk as long as your instinct is there. Then if you do and it doesn’t work out, keep coming back like the tide.”

feedback & comments via twitter @DomainMondo



Google CEO Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee Dec 11 Video

Transparency & Accountability:
Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices

House Judiciary Committee Hearing Dec 11, 2018--hearing begins @29:14 in the video replay above--main witness: Mr. Sundar Pichai, CEO Google; witness's prepared statement (pdf) embed below.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. EST: U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” to examine potential bias and the need for greater transparency regarding the filtering practices of tech giant Google.


source: statista.com

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UK Brexit Agreement Vote Dead? Now A Hard Brexit or Capitulation to EU?

May and Juncker clash over Brexit deal

Channel 4 News video above published Dec 14, 2018--it has come to this--following another failed summit the current debate in the United Kingdom is whether to leave the European Union with no deal. European leaders told Theresa May that a renegotiation was not possible. Frustrations boiled over during a "robust" exchange between Theresa May and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, after he had complained that her demands were "nebulous and imprecise."

No Relief for UK Prime Minister re Brexit at EU Summit

France 24 LIVE above (in English).
"We will meet on Thursday and Friday [Dec 13-14] for the last European Council this year. Given the seriousness of the situation in the UK, let me start with Brexit. The intention is that we will listen to the UK Prime Minister's assessment, and later, we will meet at 27 to discuss the matter and adopt relevant conclusions. As time is running out, we will also discuss the state of preparations for a no-deal scenario."--Invitation letter by European Council President Donald Tusk to European Council members ahead of their meetings on 13 and 14 December 2018.
Living in a "state of denial"--
"I don't expect an immediate breakthrough," says 'Lame Duck' UK PM Theresa May (video)
Editor's note: "Sometimes it's better to stay at home than go to the party and make a fool of yourself ..."
Reminder: Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman (hardly a 'Brexiteer') on the Bank of England's 'scare tactics'--
".... What’s puzzling about the scenarios shown in [the Bank of England's {BoE)] Figure 1 is that they show these disruptions going on for multiple years, with barely any abatement. Really? Britain is an advanced country with high administrative capacity — the kind of country that history shows can cope well with huge natural disasters, and even wars. Would it really have that much trouble hiring customs inspectors and installing computers to recover from an 8 or 10 percent drop in GDP?
"And even in the short run, I wonder why Britain couldn’t follow the old prescription, “When all else fails, lower your standards.” If laxer enforcement, special treatment for trusted shippers, whatever, could clear the bottlenecks at the ports, wouldn’t that be worth it, despite the potential for fraud, as a temporary measure?
"That said, it’s truly amazing that Britain finds itself in this position. If the downsides are anywhere close to what the BoE asserts, given the risk — which we’ve known for a long time was substantial — of a hard Brexit, it was an act of utter folly not to have put in backup capacity at the borders. We can’t possibly be talking about all that much money, and the Brexit vote was more than two years ago. What has the UK government been doing?
"All in all, it’s quite a spectacle. Whether you’re pro-Brexit or anti, you should be horrified and outraged at how the issue has been handled."--Paul Krugman in the NewYorkTimes.com 30 Nov 2018.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 #ComeWhatMay --vote outcome:
UK PM Theresa May survives "confidence vote" (video) by members of her Conservative Party--
Fury as UK Prime Minister Theresa May delays Brexit vote

Channel 4 News video above published Dec 10, 2018: caught between defeat and a hard place, UK PM Theresa May has called off the vote on her Brexit deal and will, despite EU refusals, bid to renegotiate the issue which is tearing her party apart - the Northern Ireland backstop.

Scant British Public Support for Theresa May's draft Brexit Agreement:
source: statista.com
Time had been ticking towards D-day on 11 December 2018, for UK Prime Minister Theresa May when the House of Commons was to deliver its verdict on her Brexit deal, which is worded in one very long sentence for the House of Commons debate and vote:
"That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title 'Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community' and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title 'Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom'."

  • More on the debate leading up to the vote, and how the voting was to take place, here.
Background: What people in the UK think are the biggest issues facing the EU:
source: statista.com

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Hotel Industry Beware Disruptors Google and Airbnb (video)

Disrupting the Disruptors

L2inc.com video above published Dec 6, 2018: Hotels should fear Google (google.com) and Airbnb (airbnb.com) the way retailers fear Amazon (amazon.com) says Scott Galloway.

Transcript (auto-generated)
00:00 a loser the hotel industry today we're
00:04  gonna look at one of my favorite
00:06  industries no joke I love hotels I
00:08  traveled to hotels not to cities and
00:11  some would describe me as
00:12  high-maintenance I don't think that's
00:14  true my needs are pretty simple all I
00:15  want is a quiet corner suite on the
00:17  second floor two fire exits triple wash
00:19  hypoallergenic sheets no connecting
00:22  doors with prayer rugs facing the
00:24  nearest Chipotle of course a view of the
00:25  sunset over the Sistine Chapel seven boxes
00:28  of starch saran wrap and a babysitter
00:30  from my therapy monkey here we go loser
00:34  Marriott the world's biggest hotel
00:37  company revealed last week hackers stole
00:39  personal data from over 500 million
00:43  that's right 500 million guests Marriott
00:45  has half a billion guests making it one
00:48  of the largest hacks of a corporation
00:51  following Yahoo's premier hack in 2013
00:54  the news hit Marriott stock heart though
00:57  analysts say it shouldn't impact
00:58  financials for the long-term Marriott
01:01  announced it was their Starwood guest
01:03  reservation database that was hacked and
01:06  that hackers had access since 2014 the
01:10  hotel giant acquired Starwood back in
01:12  2016 one of the key selling points of
01:15  Starwood to Marriott our technology and
01:18  our brands oops this is what's called an
01:21  indemnity reserve account when you
01:23  acquire a company and force them to take
01:25  a certain percentage sometimes between
01:26  10 and 18 percent of the consideration
01:29  put it aside in case goes down
01:32  that's a function of things that weren't
01:34  disclosed before the acquisition there's
01:36  going to be a lot of discussion about
01:37  that indemnity account over the next few
01:40  weeks at Marriott so what else could
01:42  keep hoteliers up at night
01:44  simple Airbnb which in my opinion is the
01:47  most valuable private company in the
01:48  world right now
01:49  we just don't know it yet it's grown
01:51  from being an elephant in the room to a
01:53  clear and present danger
01:55  Airbnb site gets over 40 million monthly
01:57  unique visitors more than hotel Giants
01:59  Marriott and Hilton combined and the app
02:02  is the fourth most popular travel app on
02:04  iTunes trailing only Uber Lyft and Yelp
02:08  leaving hotel apps in the dust this year
02:12  Airbnb has launched two a dish
02:14  channel offensive moves to fortify their
02:15  moat one Airbnb Plus which tags their
02:19  best properties and adds hotel like
02:21  amenities and check-ins putting luxury
02:23  hotels squarely in their crosshairs and
02:26  to Airbnb experiences which has over
02:29  5,000 activities that can be booked on
02:31  the app and the new feature is a good
02:33  move from both a usage and search
02:35  perspective Gartner L2 Research found
02:38  that 50% of Airbnb x' unbranded search
02:41  traffic comes from things to do in New
02:43  York City or things to do in Los Angeles
02:45  or whatever city you're traveling to the
02:48  visibility enables Airbnb to compete for
02:50  traffic usually owned by TripAdvisor and
02:52  news media like CNN Traveler and
02:54  Thrillist don't we love it the disruptor
02:56  is not only disrupting traditional
02:58  industry but disrupting the disruptors
03:00  specifically TripAdvisor Airbnb is
03:02  currently valued at thirty 1 billion
03:04  dollars second only to Uber and is
03:07  expected to pursue an IPO in 2019 look
03:10  for Airbnb to be worth more than uber
03:12  why you and I could start a ride hailing
03:15  app with 30 million dollars creating
03:17  supply and demand in one city however
03:19  Airbnb takes advantage of an
03:21  unbelievable mode and that is they have
03:23  global demand we could not start an
03:25  apartment or an outsourced hotel app
03:28  with local supply because we would need
03:31  to create global demand is the majority
03:33  of the people coming into the city are
03:34  from somewhere else the other threats of
03:36  hotels Google Hotels should fear the
03:39  search engine the way retailers fear
03:41  Amazon their first Advantage search
03:43  ownership after years of serving up text
03:46  ads where Hotel searches Google is now
03:48  leveraging search results to drive
03:49  traffic to their own booking experience
03:52  where they again profit from Google
03:55  hotel ads Gartner L2 Research found
03:57  that the Google hotels tool appears 99%
04:01  of the time for search terms including
04:02  Best Hotel in Chicago and luxury hotel
04:05  in Paris in sum Google and all the
04:07  other tech monopolies have a very simple
04:09  playbook hey we can help you hey we are
04:12  you hey we're here to kill you
04:14  Google's second advantage data Google
04:16  sits on massive amounts of user data
04:18  enabling it to pump out free tools that
04:21  help travelers take advantage of travel
04:23  deals this will continue to draw users
04:24  to their platform over online travel
04:27  agencies
04:28  search platforms and hotel brand sites
04:30  hotels beware Google and Airbnb the
04:34  Genghis Khan of your industry look for
04:36  the hotel industry to shed value to
04:39  search engines and to Airbnb we are on
04:42  the precipice of war against a hotel
04:44  industry ...

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News Review | Verisign $VRSN & New gTLD .WEB, Afilias vs ICANN

graphic "News Review" ©2016 DomainMondo.com
Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2018-12-09 with analysis and opinion: Features • 1) Verisign $VRSN & New gTLD .WEB, Afilias vs ICANN, 2) ICANN news: a. EPDP Meetings & EPDP Initial Reportb. .INT and .ARPA, 3) Names, Domains & TMs: Verisign's Q3 2018 DNIB, 4) ICYMI Internet Domain News, 5) Most Read.

1) Verisign $VRSN & New gTLD .WEB, Afilias vs ICANN
What ICANN disregarded and ignored in developing and implementing its new gTLDs program:
"... These designated authorities are trustees for the delegated [top-level] domain, and have a duty to serve the community. The designated manager is the trustee of the top-level domain for ... the global Internet community. Concerns about "rights" and "ownership" of domains are inappropriate. It is appropriate to be concerned about "responsibilities" and "service" to the community .... Significantly interested parties in the domain should agree that the designated manager is the appropriate party ... it is also appropriate for interested parties to have some voice in selecting the designated manager ..."--Jon Postel, March, 1994, RFC 1591.
"... The [U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust] Division makes two specific recommendations. First ICANN’s general approach to new gTLDs should be revised to give greater consideration to consumer [registrant] interests … Second, the RFP process and proposed registry agreement should include provisions that would enable ICANN to constrain new registry operators from exercising market power. In particular, ICANN should establish competitive mechanisms for authorizing new gTLDs and renewals of gTLD registry agreements whereby prospective gTLD operators would compete for gTLDs by proposing registry terms – including maximum fee schedules – that would provide consumer [registrant] benefits."--U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, Dec 3, 2008
"[W]hen a decision is taken about a possible new top-level domain, ICANN's job is to work out, in a transparent and accountable manner, whether it is really in the best interest of the world as a whole, not just of those launching the new domain."--Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Net Mundial Conference, April, 2014, in São Paulo, Brazil.
Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited vs ICANN, IRP re .WEB 
Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited (.WEB)

Editor's note and analysis: the critical next step is the IRP emergency panelist's decision on Afilias's interim relief request (see below). If the request for interim relief is denied, ICANN could proceed to delegate .WEB and approve its transfer to Verisign within just a few weeks. Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, the Afilias request is not a "slam dunk" and could be denied, in which case I would expect ICANN to move swiftly to delegate .WEB, and approve the transfer to Verisign. I understand Verisign is prepared to launch and aggressively market new gTLD .WEB worldwide (a/k/a "awareness campaign"), and I expect there to be some "premium pricing" which would only increase Verisign's margins (profits). There's a play here for domain investors, and for $VRSN investors, and .WEB  might yet be the "top domain story of 2019."

Once .WEB is delegated and launched, ICANN stands to gain immediate financial rewards in the form of .WEB registration and renewal fees, registry fees, and the net auction proceeds of USD $132,099,501.00 (ICANN has already appropriated for itself, inappropirately some say, a share of other new gTLD auction proceeds in order to replenish its "reserve fund" which was depleted in the course of the IANA Transition, including for payments totaling about $15 million for outside counsel legal fees).

ICANN has apparently conducted its own analysis of the claims made by Afilias, and found them without merit. ICANN may also have been influenced by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division's closing of its investigation of Verisign and .WEB without action, as well as a similar factual situation in the private auction of new gTLD .BLOG to which no one objected, including Afilias. From the standpoint of domain name registrants as well as the entire global internet community, it would be better to have Verisign managing .WEB than Afilias. Verisign is a publicly traded company subject to close scrutiny by various regulatory agencies. Afilias is a privately-held entity with much less accountability and scrutiny.

The hearing on Afilias Request for Interim Measures of Protection is 14 January 2019, 11:00 AM EST:

27 November 2018:
26 November 2018:
  • Witness Statement of John L. Kane* Editor's note: this is a rather humorous (in retrospect), first person account of how it 'all went down' for the bidders for new gTLD .WEB, excerpts (emphasis added): 
"... 16. .... 1. I estimated that the market value for .WEB at auction would be somewhere around USD 70-75 million. 
"2. It did not appear that many of the contention set applicants were willing to pay anything close to that amount at auction for .WEB. At that level, a losing applicant in a private auction would stand to earn more than USD 10 million on their USD 185,000 investment. Most applicants were willing to take that profit. This was, in part, driven by the marketing costs for .WEB, which were projected to be considerable. Given Afilias’ good relationships with leading registrars, we held a considerable advantage over the other members of the contention set, who would need to spend more than we would on marketing. 
"3. It appeared that our primary competition for .WEB would be from three other applicants: Web.com Group, Inc.; Ruby Glen, LLC; and DotWeb Inc. 
"4. Because Afilias valued .WEB based on its long-term competitive prospects, our valuation was materially different from most of the other .WEB applicants.
"For these reasons, we were confident that no other member of the .WEB contention set would outbid Afilias at auction."
". . . . 23 ... My contact at the private auction house told me that they had received signed applications for everyone except for NDC [Nu Dot Co LLC]. My contact further stated that they had tried to contact NDC about the outstanding agreement without success.
"24. On 1 June 2016, I sent a text to Rasco about the outstanding agreement. Rasco replied that NDC’s Board had instructed him to not participate in the June private auction, but to proceed to the July ICANN auction.
"25. NDC’s position made no sense to me ..."  [Editor's note: honestly, someone should make a movie about all of this, a comedy or drama, the Miami angle (Nu Dot Co's principals) makes it all come "alive."]
"... 25. Based on Afilias’ longstanding strategic goal to obtain .WEB to compete against VeriSign, Afilias was prepared to outbid all of the other applicants at the private auction. In preparation for the auction, Afilias had acquired sufficient financing to bid more than three times the record bid of an ICANN Auction at the time.
"26. Given the incentives inherent in a private auction, as opposed to an ICANN Auction, NDC was potentially sacrificing millions of dollars by insisting on an ICANN Auction. Its decision to withdraw from the private auction therefore made little sense to me, especially as I considered it highly unlikely that NDC had a war chest of the size that would allow it to bid higher than what we could bid ..."
  • Witness Statement of Jonathan M. Robinson* Editor's note: Robinson is Chairman of Afilias, a former GNSO Council Chair (2012-2015), and the only two-time recipient (2014, 2016) of ICANN's "Leadership Award." Both Robinson and Mohan were in positions to prevent and correct aspects of ICANN's ill-conceived new gTLDs program, about which they now complain. Why didn't they? In my opinion, greed and self-interest.  They thought Afilias had a "lock" on getting .WEB by outbidding everyone else. Excerpts from Robinson's statement (emphasis added):
"21. ... VeriSign continues to dominate registrations of generic domain names. Consumers still flock to .COM, which continues to grow despite the introduction of new gTLDs and the increasing lack of attractive short .COM domain names. .NET, the second largest gTLD and also controlled by VeriSign, is only 11% of .COM' s size. Collectively, .COM and .NET account for more than 78% of all generic domain name registrations. 
"... 23. ... These facts have not changed over the years. VeriSign's .COM and .NET registries are the company's "cash cow," and it has been evident to the market and the Internet community for many years that VeriSign's strategy has been to aggressively protect its .COM and .NET business by selling off other business and going to great lengths to ensure that the renewals of its .COM and .NET registry agreements with ICANN are not in any way compromised."
" ... 25. .WEB is largely considered to be the only new gTLD that can possibly compete with .COM .. WEB has the capability to compete with both .COM and .NET for new registrations, which will, over time, I believe, erode VeriSign' s market position.
"26. VeriSign's current market position is largely the product of the network effects surrounding .COM. ..."
"... 39. In my view, NDC and VeriSign conspired to subvert the rules, policies, and principles that underlie ICANN's New gTLD Program .... 43. To-date, however, ICANN has done nothing to address these violations. Instead, ICANN is proceeding toward the delegation of . WEB to NDC-and therefore to VeriSign-as though none of this history and none of these events had ever taken place ...."   
  • Basis for Redactions  [Editor's note: all of the above* make for interesting reading in spite of some redactions]
Background: New gTLD .WEB: Afilias vs ICANN, Verisign $VRSN & Nu Dot Co?

Editor's final note: Privately held Afilias, is the world's second largest registry operator. Afilias was founded in October 2000, by a group of 19 major domain name registrars, with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. According to IrishTimes.com, Afilias "was the first known company to relocate to the US on the back of 'favourable' tax changes introduced by US President Donald Trump last December [2017]." Headquarters are now in Horsham, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

This IRP filed by Afilias could be just the first in a series of legal maneuvers, including the possibility of one or more private antitrust actions under U.S. law, which are not barred nor affected by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division' closing its investigation of Verisign and .WEB, without action as disclosed by Verisign in January, 2018Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited, an Irish legal entity, could also resort to EU Competition law or authorities. The outcome of the hearing on January 14, 2019, could be interesting.

See also: Cooperative Engagement And Independent Review Processses Status Update (pdf) 4 Dec 2018.

2) ICANN News
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
EPDP meetings Tuesday Dec 11 and Thursday Dec 13 starting 14:00 UTC (9am EST). Observers use Adobe Connect, or audio cast (browser or app).

Thursday Dec 13: Adobe Replay, MP3 (audio), Chat transcript (pdf). Notes and action items. Meeting transcript (pdf).

Tuesday Dec 11: Adobe replayMP3 (audio), and Chat transcript (pdf). Notes and action items. Meeting transcipt (pdf).

See also GNSO Council EPDP page and updates. Links to all EPDP meetings' transcripts and recordings are on the GNSO calendar. Other EPDP links: wiki, mail list, action items, Temp Spec, EPDP Charter (pdf), Data Elements Workbooks (pdf).

Editor's note:
I have not yet finished my comment to the EPDP Initial Report for reasons I will explain in next week's News Review. Anyone may submit their own comment by December 21, 2018.

See also:

b. 50% of .INT Domain Name Registrants Surveyed Dissatisfied with ICANN-IANA-PTI (registry operator for the legacy gTLD .INT):
ICANN IANA Services Customer Feedback Survey (pdf), excerpt above from p. 48 (of 57). 
Editor's note: .int and .arpa are two legacy top-level domains (TLDs) administered by ICANN and/or its affiliate PTI, (.arpa is technically "managed" by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) (see RFC 3172) which is "a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) whose parent organization is the Internet Society (ISOC). 
It is way past time for ICANN and/or its affiliate PTI, to completely divest themselves from both TLDs .int and .arpa, both of which pre-date ICANN. IAB, IETF, or ISOC are more than capable of managing and administering the TLD .arpa. The ITU (itu.int) or other designate of the UN, or its Secretary-General, is more than capable of managing and administering the TLD .int  which is reserved for use by intergovernmental organizations that meet the requirements found in RFC 1591. "In brief, the .int domain is used for registering organizations established by international treaties between or among national governments. Only one registration is allowed for each organization. There is no fee for registering an .int domain name."--iana.org.
Similarly, ICANN should also be required to divest itself from management of the "L" root servers, which could be capably managed either by an affiliate (IETF, IAB, etc.) of the Internet Society (which is funded by .ORG operations), or the ITU or another affiliate of the UN (or UN Secretary-General).

3) Names, Domains & Trademarks
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Verisign $VRSN released the latest issue of its Domain Name Industry Brief (pdf), on Dec 6, 2018, which shows that the third quarter of 2018 (Q3 2018) closed with approximately 342.4 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs), an increase of  approximately 2.6 million domain name registrations, or 0.8%, compared to the second quarter of 2018. Domain name registrations have grown by approximately 11.7 million, or 3.5%, year over year. Summary:
  • World's Ten Largest TLDs (total registrations worldwide) led by market dominant .COM (3 other gTLDs in the top ten: #5 .NET, #7 .ORG, and #10 .INFO. China has the largest ccTLD, .CN, which comes in at #2 in the top ten.  
  • Total country-code TLD (ccTLD) domain name registrations were approximately 149.7 million at the end of the second quarter of 2018, an increase of approximately 3.5 million domain name registrations, or 2.4%, compared to the first quarter of 2018. ccTLDs increased by approximately 5.5 million domain name registrations, or 3.8%, year over year, which is greater than the growth rate in gTLDs. Why? Editor's note: ICANN has terribly mismanaged gTLDs.
  • .COM grew to 137.6 million domain name registrations (or 44% of all TLD registrations) from 135.6 million at the end of Q2 2018
  • .NET was flat at 14.1 million registrations at the end of Q3, the same as it was at the end of Q2 (Editor's note.NET has been in annual decline since 2016, due to predatory fees and pricing imposed by ICANN and Verisign). 
  • Total new gTLDs' domain name registrations are no longer in decline according to the report, but total only 23.4 million as of the end of the third quarter of 2018, or 6.8% of all domain name registrations. However, just 10 new gTLDs comprise over half of all new gTLDs' domain name registrations, indicating most new gTLDs are failing, badly. Editor's note: That's what happens when you flood the market with unwanted, unneeded TLDs which "fail to work as expected on the internet," and "break stuff", and are inherently plagued with ICANN's intentional design for unpredictable, predatory pricing in all new gTLDs. "Greed Is Good" is the real motto of ICANN (with apologies to Gordon Gekko). My advice: stay away from most of ICANN's new gTLDs, they are 'toxic' for registrants.

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 
graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
a. Internet Users: Brazil has more internet users than Germany and the UK combined. The numbers: 149 million versus 79 million/63 million. Indonesia has 143 million internet users, more than twice those in France (60 million).--datatrekresearch.com.

b. Building a More Resilient Internet--the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security have developed a road map (pdf), that charts a path forward, setting out steps to stop the cyber threat to our internet infrastructure. It outlines a plan for coordination among government, civil society, technologists, academics, and industry sectors to develop a comprehensive strategy for fighting these threats.

c. Australia first western country to pass a law forcing encryption backdoors--tomshardware.co.uk.

5) Most Read Post this past week on DomainMondo.com: 
graphic "Domain Mondo" ©2017 DomainMondo.com

-- John Poole, Editor  Domain Mondo 

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