News Review | ICANN's GDPR Train Wreck, A Day Late And A Dollar Short

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Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2018-04-01) with analysis and opinion: Features •  1) ICANN's GDPR Train Wreck, A Day Late And A Dollar Short, 2) Other ICANN news: a. New gTLD .WEB: ICANN & Afilias, b. New gTLD .AFRICA Litigation Update, c. ICANN Senior VP Sally Costerton's Secret Contract3) Names, Domains & Trademarks: a. Verisign $VRSN, b. GoDaddy $GDDY, c. .EU & Brexit4) ICYMI, 5) Most Read.

ICANN's GDPR Train Wreck UPDATE April 4, 2018:
a) ICANN's Next-Generation gTLD Registration Directory Services to Replace WHOIS Working Group SUSPENDS All Working Group Meetings until further notice:
[gnso-rds-pdp-wg] WG Meeting Suspension | icann.org"The RDS PDP WG leadership team has decided to suspend WG meetings until further notice while we await guidance from the [ICANN] Board regarding how this WG will be affected by the GDPR compliance efforts."
b) The world's second-largest TLD (Top-Level Domain) registry operator, Afilias, has reportedly given notice to its registrars that effective May 25, 2018, it will no longer show WHOIS registrant contact data on millions of domain names.

Original Post:
1) ICANN's GDPR Train Wreck, A Day Late And A Dollar Short
graphic: ICANN's GDPR Train Wreck ©2018 DomainMondo.com
EU GDPR & ICANN WHOIS--ICANN a day late and a dollar short, now in full panic, pleading for help from the European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs)--ICANN Correspondence | ICANN.org 26 Mar 2018: 29 letters sent by Goran Marby, ICANN President & CEO, to European authorities requesting "Guidance: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Impact on the Domain Name System and WHOIS"--excerpts:
"We request you to help ICANN and the domain name registries and registrars to maintain the global WHOIS in its current form, through either clarification of the GDPR, a moratorium on enforcement or other relevant actions, until a revised WHOIS policy that balances these critical public interest perspectives may be developed and implemented." [p.2] (emphasis added)
"Guidance from DPAs on ICANN’s plan of action as presented in the Cookbook, and in particular, the areas where there are competing views, is critical as soon as possible, but particularly during the next few weeks. We understand from comments from some DPAs that there is an opportunity for DPAs to continue to provide support to companies along the path to compliance beyond the GDPR effective date if the company has an established plan of action. In addition to the information in the Cookbook, we stand ready to provide any additional information about our plan of action (e.g. timelines, milestones, etc.) that you may need to facilitate your consideration of our requests."[p.5]
One of the 29 letters (which all appear to be alike)--embedded below:

Hope Is Not A Strategy:
Data Protection/Privacy Issues Update: Discussion with Article 29 Working Party | ICANN.org 29 Mar 2018, Goran Maby: "...We heard clearly from the representatives that they understood the issues relating to the ICANN/WHOIS space and are evaluating how to provide advice from the Article 29 Working Party ... we anticipate that ICANN and the WHOIS system will be on the upcoming Article 29 plenary's agenda for 10-11 April 2018. ... We look forward to receiving advice following the plenary, which we may rely on to complete the [ICANN] model [pdf], and are hopeful that we will also be provided with a moratorium on enforcement that would allow sufficient time to implement the model and build the appropriate accreditation system ..." [emphasis and links added].
Editor's note: It is now abundantly clear that ICANN's overpaid and incompetent management team completely bungled GDPR preparations. ICANN has had two years to get ready for the GDPR effective date of May 25, 2018, but did not even start serious preparatory work beyond "discussions," until late in 2017, and by that time had already driven the ICANN train "off the track" as duly noted by Professor Milton Mueller.
ICANN's "contracted parties" (registrars and registry operators) weighed in 26 Mar 2018 on ICANN's Timeline for ICANN-Proposed Compliance Models--ICANN.org: gdpr-comments-contracted-parties-cph-timeline-icann-proposed-compliance-models-26mar18-en.pdf [46.6 KB]--refusing to be the fall guys for ICANN's ineptitude, excerpt below (full embed follows):

Meanwhile trademark interests have been beside themselves, submitting multiple proposals for "accreditation" to gain access to WHOIS data after May 25, 2018, see: Sound the alarm bells: WHOIS blackout “likely” following GDPR enforcement date in May | WorldTrademarkReview.com:
"... Substantial gaps in ICANN’s legal rationale for proposed interim model ... contracted parties and third-party WHOIS users, including brand owners, both levied criticisms against ICANN’s ‘cookbook’ intended to provide its legal rationale for the elements of its proposed interim GDPR compliance model. Contracted parties’ primary criticism is that the cookbook contains too many gaps, failing to give registries and registrars sufficient comfort that the interim model is justifiable in the eyes of European data protection authorities (DPAs) ..."
And Article 19 (domain: article19.org), a British human rights organization with a focus on the defense and promotion of freedom of expression has entered the fray:

Editor's note: This "train wreck" brought to you by ICANN, is just beginning, follow updates at ICANN.org, and meanwhile, send in the clowns:
"I think if we get rid of that [IANA] contract we will be free of the pressures."--ICANN President and CEO Fadi ChehadeFebruary 10, 2015.
Dawn of a New Internet Era | ICANN.org: "... we welcome your participation in this next era of the Internet ..."--Akram Atallah, ICANN Global Domains Division President.
Why I Love the International Office Strategy | ICANN.org"I think this strategy will take ICANN to the next level. We are stable and mature. We have global standards and processes in place."--Goran Marby, ICANN President and CEO, 13 Mar 2018. 

Judy Collins - Send In The Clowns - Album: Judith (1975) (domain: judycollins.com)

2) Other ICANN news
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
a. New gTLD .WEB: Afilias vs ICANN, Verisign $VRSN & Nu Dot Co? UPDATE: See the March 24, 2018, response from ICANN to Afilias's request for documents at the link above.

b. New gTLD .AFRICA Litigation Update:  
  • April 17, 2018 at 08:30 am in Department 53 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Oral Argument
  • August 14, 2018 at 08:30 am in Department 53 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Final Status Conference (PHASE II)
  • August 22, 2018 at 09:30 am in Department 53 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Trial (PHASE II: ON REMAINING ISSUES).
See also DotConnectAfrica Trust v. ICANN (Trial Court Proceeding) | ICANN.org:

c. ICANN Senior VP Sally Costerton's Secret Contract: 23 March 2018 Letter from ICANN Chief Financial Officer Xavier Calvez to John Poole [Published 27 March 2018] re ICANN FY16 IRS Form 990. [Editor's note: I will have more to say on this after ICANN responds to the pending Complaint against ICANN, ICANN CEO Goran Marby and ICANN CFO Xavier Calvez (pdf)].

For more background information, see on DomainMondo.com: News Review | ICANN Pays Senior VP Sally Costerton Secret Contract $$$ Oct 15, 2017.

3) Names, Domains & Trademarks
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
a. Verisign, Inc. (verisign.com): Wall Street analysts are sour on telecoms and utilities, and 33% say sell VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN). See those recommendations here.

b. GoDaddy Inc. (godaddy.com): Goldman Sachs initiated coverage in March on domain name registrar GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY) with a Buy rating and $81 price target. Analyst Mark Grant favors GoDaddy over peers due to brand strength, scale, cash flow generation, and financial flexibility. See also GoDaddy migrates to Amazon Web Services in multiyear partnership | SeekingAlpha.com: As part of the deal, AWS will sell some GoDaddy products like Managed WordPress and GoCentral for domain and website management. GoDaddy will not migrate the 75 million domain names it manages to AWS. For more information see GoDaddy 2018 Investor Day presentation (pdf).

c.  .EU & Brexit Headlines This Week:
The EU notice (pdf): "... the following persons are eligible to register .eu domain names: (i) undertakings having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EU; (ii) organisations established within the EU (without prejudice to the application of national law); and (iii) natural persons resident within the EU ..." See Article 4 Obligations of the Registry.

Reality check: (1) Registering .EU Domain Names Article | networksolutions.com--a 3rd party (e.g., in Dublin, Ireland) can serve as "registrant of record"; (2) the United Kingdom (UK) doesn't leave the European Union (EU) until March 29, 2019. The EU and UK are still negotiating several issues including how EU members and the UK can continue to have access to each other's markets (free trade), as well as continue to have an open border between Ireland (a member of the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK).

Editor's note: likely impact of EU notice: (1) a drop in .EU registrations (currently 3,815,055); (2) an increase in .UK registrations (currently 10,457,0140). The ccTLDs .UK (United Kingdom), .DE (Germany) and .NL (Netherlands) have always been more popular than .EU. But the EU notice reminded everyone once again of the arrogant EU bureaucracy in Brussels which was a factor in the "Leave" victory on 23 June 2016.

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 
graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
  • Misleading headline: Google defeats lawsuit claiming YouTube censors conservatives | Reuters.com,  Prager University v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 17-06064. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted Plaintiff leave to amend its complaint, but also dismissed various claims of the Plaintiff, holding that Google and YouTube are not “state actors” subject to the First Amendment by creating a “public forum” for speech, further stating, “Defendants are private entities who created their own video-sharing social media website and make decisions about whether and how to regulate content that has been uploaded on that website.”

5) Most read posts this past week on DomainMondo.com: 
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-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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