News Review | Fadi, Akram & Donuts, ICANN Conflicts of Interest

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Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2018-10-14 with analysis and opinion: Features • 1) a. ICANN News: Fadi Chehade, Akram Atallah & Donuts--Conflicts of Interest at ICANN--Who Me? b. GDPR & ICANN WHOIS Data EPDP, c. ICANN63 starts Saturday, 2) Q3 2018 Earnings Season: Verisign $VRSN & GoDaddy $GDDY3) ICYMI Internet Domain News, 4) Most Read.

EPDP Team F2F Saturday Meeting Oct 20, 2018 (1 of 4 at ICANN63) 8:30 CEST - 18:30 CEST

1) ICANN News
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
a. Fadi Chehade, Akram Atallah & Donuts--Conflicts of Interest at ICANN--Who Me?
Fadi Chehade (L) and Akram Atallah (R) at ICANN44 (source: icannphotos)
a. Donuts Press Release, October 9, 2018 – "Donuts Inc., the global leader in high-quality, new top-level Internet domains [new gTLDs], today announced that Akram J. Atallah [ICANN Global Domains Division President] will assume the role of chief executive officer [CEO], effective November 12, 2018 ..."

Clueless Goran Marby, ICANN President & CEO 9 Oct 2018:
"I want to extend my warmest wishes to Akram Atallah, President, Global Domains Division, who has decided to leave ICANN org for another opportunity after eight years, effective immediately ... I have asked Cyrus Namazi [crony of Akram Atallah], VP, DNS Industry Engagement, Global Domains Division, to serve as interim department head for the Global Domains Division, to help ensure a smooth transition ..."
Editor's note: as I previously noted--
source: abry.com/investment/donuts/ 10 Oct 2018
September 9, 2018--Editor's Analysis and Opinion:
"... The largest new gTLDs registry operator (more than 200 new gTLDs), Donuts Inc., announced Sep 5, 2018, that it had entered into an agreement "to be acquired by Abry Partners," a private equity firm in which former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade is now a partner. Terms and timing of the agreement were not disclosed, but Abry's investment is reportedly only for a majority stake in privately held Donuts, and does not provide any additional cash for the company, instead, it provides a way for original investors in Donuts to exit.
While still ICANN CEO, Chehade announced in May, 2015, he would leave ICANN in March 2016, long before his contract ended on June 30, 2017, and did not disclose his reasons for serving as ICANN CEO for only 3½ years, instead of his full term. In August, 2015, he announced that after leaving ICANN he would be a "Senior Advisor on Digital Strategy" at Boston-based Abry Partners, adding, "I expect to add other roles to my portfolio and will update you all as appropriate." Later in December 2015, Chehade announced from Wuzhen, China, that he would serve, after he left ICANN, as Co-Chair [other Co-Chair Jack Ma] of an advisory committee to the government of China's World Internet Conference (WIC), described by Professor Milton Mueller as "like almost everything in China, the WIC is unabashedly state-driven ... a vehicle for the Chinese [Communist] Party-state’s policy agenda ..." 
As ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehade's pet project was the NetMundial Initiative [Co-Chaired by Chehade and Jack Ma], which "crashed and burned" when ICANN and the World Economic Forum stopped funding it in 2016. In February, 2015, at a DNA meeting during ICANN52, Chehade stated, "I need to understand it [the domain name industry] more and spend more time in it, no question."
While at ICANN, Chehade was known for hiring and promoting his cronies to management positions within ICANN. Chehade promoted, in June, 2013, his childhood friend and former co-worker, Akram Atallah, to the then second-highest paid position at ICANN, President of the Global Domains Division (GDD), which is now [was] the highest paid position at ICANN at  $745,615.00 per the most recently available IRS 990 (pdf), p.56 of 81.
Perhaps it was for some or all of these reasons, that Abry Partners decided to venture into an industry where it has no experience--the domain name industry--despite what Abry says on its website, abry.com: "Abry invests in private equity, preferred stock and debt securities within our sectors of expertise ..."
October 2, 2016"Fadi Chehadé quit as ICANN CEO 3½ years into a 5 year contract, but unfortunately, he left behind his legacy of cronyism at the organization [ICANN]:
"... Chehade and COO Akram Atallah – who are old friends – brought in more and more of their own people ... Not all of them were best suited or qualified, but real frustration developed when jobs were filled without the job even being posted internally. Nora Abusitta-Ouri, a former classmate of Chehade’s, became vice president of public responsibility programs. Former neighbor Susanna Bennett became Chief Operating Officer. Former co-worker Chris Gift became vice president of online community services. Former co-worker Allen Grogan became chief contracting counsel and then when that job finished, chief contract compliance officer. Neighbor of Atallah, Elizabeth Hoover became HR manager. Former co-worker Cyrus Namazi became vice president of industry engagement. Old friend Ashwin Rangan became chief innovation and information officer. The wife of a former co-worker, Maguy Serad, became vice president of contractual compliance. Another former neighbor, Christine Willett, became vice president of gTLD operations. In all, only one member of the C-suite hired since Chehade came on board has not been a friend or former co-worker ..."--IoNmag.asia Jun 25, 2015.
“Given how quickly these two individuals sped through the revolving door [at ICANN], one can’t help but wonder if thinking about their next career move influenced their policy [implementation] decisions,’’ said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.--Washington Post, August 20, 2011.
ICANN was admonished by NTIA in 2012, to little avail obviously--and ICANN's sordid history includes episodes involving an ICANN Board Chairman, and ICANN's Chief Strategy Officer "architect of the new gTLDs program." Now a former ICANN President & CEO and his crony President of the Global Domains Division add another chapter.

All of that "confidential" privileged and proprietary information ICANN required new gTLD applicants and their principals to submit to ICANN's Global Domains Division (GDD), is now (or soon will be) also known by their largest new gTLDs' competitor Donuts (240 new gTLDs) by virtue of the former GDD President being Donuts CEO--talk about an unfair competitive advantage!  ICANN runs such a slipshod operation that every new gTLD applicant should always assume all information they ever submit to ICANN, will also be known by at least one of their competitors in the future.

As I noted in my recent comment (pdf) to ICANN on the new gTLDs program, ICANN's founding Chair, Esther Dyson, warned the U.S. government and global internet community against both the IANA transition and the new gTLDs program, saying in 2011 about the proposed new gTLDs program:
We are not running out of domains. This is a “way for registries and registrars to make money.”--source.
Little did we know that among the people who would personally be enriching themselves the most from ICANN’s corrupt new gTLDs program and policy (developed solely for the benefit of “contracted parties,” i.e., registry operators and registrars, not registrants), would be the two most senior officers at ICANN, who guided and were in charge of the full implementation of the program!

In addition to the multiple Fadi-Akram-Donuts conflicts of interest at ICANN now, and in the future,  Donuts and ICANN are currently in litigation against each other, and Akram Atallah is a material witness in that case, as well as one other pending case, and possible future litigation. The very same day as Akram's appointment as Donuts CEO (and resignation as President of ICANN's Global Domains Division) was announced, the appeal of Ruby Glen (Donuts affiliate) vs ICANN was being argued before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit:

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Oral Argument video: Ruby Glen, LLC v. ICANN

Oct 9, 2018, 16-56890 Ruby Glen, LLC v. ICANN oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Ruby Glen, LLC appeals the district court's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) dismissal of its diversity (jurisdiction) action against Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), seeking to temporarily enjoin ICANN from conducting the new gTLD .WEB auction [see District Court Order 2:16-cv-05505-PA-AS (pdf), and the Appellate Briefs].

Listen to the oral arguments of counsel for Ruby Glen (Donuts) and ICANN. At one point (starting at 21:19), counsel for ICANN concedes that Donuts (Ruby Glen) has a further right to file an IRP (Independent Review Process) whenever .WEB is no longer "on hold" status at ICANN, which sets up the interesting possibility that Donuts (Ruby Glen) could further attack the .WEB auction, as may also Afilias, either of which if successful in disqualifying Nu Dot Co (Verisign), could result in a new .WEB auction in which Donuts (Ruby Glen), now financed by Abry Partners' unknown investors a/k/a 'limited partners' (Chinese?), outbids Afilias for new gTLD .WEB.

UPDATE: The Ninth Circuit issued its "Not for Publication" decision (pdf) Oct 15, 2018, affirming the District Court's dismissal of Ruby Glen's (Donuts) First Amended Complaint, stating, inter alia: 
"... Ruby Glen is not without recourse—it can challenge ICANN’s actions through the Independent Review Process [IRP] .... Because Ruby Glen may pursue its claims through the Independent Review Process, the covenant not to sue is not “so one-sided as to shock the conscience.” See Walnut Producers of Cal. v. Diamond Foods, Inc., 187 Cal. App. 4th 634, 647–48 (2010) ..." (emphasis added)
Related: ICANN Board Liasons' Letter (pdf) re: ICANN New gTLDs' Filthy Lucre (new gTLD auction proceeds).

ICANN EPDP Meetings this coming week:
Non-members of the EPDP working group can follow the Oct 16 meeting via Adobe Connect, or audio cast via browser or application. The EPDP meeting on Oct 20 can be followed remotely by clinking the link on the meeting's ICANN63 pageLinks to all EPDP meetings' transcripts and recordings are on the GNSO calendar. Other EPDP links: wikimail listaction itemsTemp SpecEPDP Charter (pdf), Data Elements Workbooks (pdf), GNSO Council's updatesEPDP page.

Highlights of the EPDP Meetings Oct 9-11:
EPDP meeting to discuss retaining independent legal counsel Oct 10--chat transcript:
Stephanie Perrin (NCSG): we are not doing training, we are doing legal drafting. Let us not have any illusions about that. Who goes into a legal drafting exercise without an advising counsel? ...
Farzaneh Badii (NCSG): how much did they [ICANN] spend for the lawsuit against EPAG? Ayden Férdeline (NCSG): exactly Farzi ... perhaps we just weren't given an adequate budget ... Farzaneh Badii (NCSG): nope we were not. Stephanie Perrin (NCSG): So this is arguably the biggest policy argument in the history of ICANN, and we are pinching pennies? ... Berry Cobb (ICANN staff): From a budget perspective, we in effect have at most $168K without afffecting other line items such as funds set aside for F2F.

Thursday Oct 11 transcript (pdf), pp. 37-38:
Stephanie Perrin (NCSG): "... I’d just like to note that we had a discussion last night about why we need legal counsel independent, neutral legal counsel who is familiar with data protection law to be on this call to stop this going in circles. In my view this is a good example. We continue to conflate the legitimate interests of third parties, that would be BC interests, to combat trademark abuse, law enforcement interests, cybercrime interests to combat, you know, malware and other kinds of DNS abuse. We continue to conflate those interests with the purpose of the collection, use and disclosure of the information, which is a primary relationship between the individual or entity getting a domain name and the delegated party that provides the ability to the Internet with that domain name. Right? That’s the primary purpose of registering a domain name. All these other interests are interests, they are not purposes. ICANN was instructed to pay attention to all of these other interests but that does not make them purposes in a relationship. So really to suggest that we are not going to facilitate the legitimate interests is unfair. We are working on how to facilitate those legitimate interests. But that is an instrument. The purpose of ICANN is not to set up Whois; it is to permit the registration of domain names. And while the purpose of ICANN in the context of GDPR has been stated as being continuing the Whois to the maximum extent possible, that is not a shared belief; that is a position taken by ICANN Legal and the Board ...".

More info on the EPDP meetings Oct 9-11 in last week's News Review.

Note also: 8 Oct 2018 Letter from Theresa Swinehart to Manal Ismail (pdf) re: ICANN Unified Access Model Status Update to Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

c. ICANN63 Barcelona 20-25 October 2018
ICANN63 starts Saturday, October 20, 2018, with a full schedule (all times local Barcelona CEST UTC+2)--ICANN63 info here and here--more on ICANN63 in next week's News Review.

 NCSG Letter to ICANN Board of Directors and ICANN CEO
17 Oct 2018 Letter (pdf) from NCSG (Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group), Dr. Farzaneh Badiei, and Dr. Stephanie Perrin to ICANN Board of Directors re: "ICANN org violates data protection laws and principles to advance the interests of certain parts of the community"  [Domain Name Registrants Data Protection (GDPR)].

Pre-ICANN63 Policy Report (pdf)
d. GNSO Policy Briefing ICANN63 Edition (pdf)
 GNSO Policy Briefing ICANN63 Edition

e. GNSO Council Chair Candidates' Statements: Keith Drazek (pdf); Rafik Dammak (pdf).

f. 10 Oct 2018 Letter from GAC Chair Manal Ismail (pdf) to ICANN Board Chair Cherine Chalaby and ICANN CEO--Government Advisory Committee (GAC) Request for additional Secretariat Support: "it has become clear that in 2019 there will be a period of time during which the GAC will be without the resources to support a number of the functions currently being provided."

g. Emoji & Domains: 3 Oct 2018 Letter from ICANN CTO David Conrad to GNSO Council [published 8 Oct 2018 by ICANN org]:
"Thank you for your correspondence of 26 July 2018 concerning the GNSO's understanding of SSAC095 about emoji in domain names. We agree that no further action on this matter is needed at this time."
SSAC095 (pdf) recommendations re: emoji (highlighting added):
 SSAC095 recommendations (highlighting added)

3) Names, Domains & Trademarks
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Q3 2018 Earnings Season:

Verisign $VRSN webcast Oct 25, 2018 at 4:30 PM EDT
GoDaddy $GDDY webcast Nov 6, 2018, 5:00 PM ESTEditor's note: Citi upgraded GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY) from Neutral to Buy with a $86 price target, with Citi analyst Mark May citing $GDDY’s recent market correction, characterizing the company as a “nicely profitable, high FCF generative business with highly recurring subscription-based revenue, a stable competitive landscape, and a strong management team with a track record of execution.” Forecasts put revenue growth up 15% in Q3, 14% in Q4, and 11% in 2019.  Sources: Bloomberg First Word and SeekingAlpha.com Oct. 11, 2018.

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 

graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
Reasserting cyber sovereignty: how states are taking back control by Evgeny Morozov--TheGuardian.com--The digital debate is now about trade and security – and every major nation is insisting on its technological sovereignty.

Net Neutrality: ISPs Suing California Over Net Neutrality Law--broadcastingcable.com. See also fedsoc.org: A Reader on Net Neutrality and Restoring Internet Freedom.

China: China’s Internet guidelines a ‘serious violation of people’s freedoms’--adhrrf.org

Nepal: Freedom of Expression on the Internet in Nepal | Internet Society Nepal (pdf). See also  Nepal bans porn websites to curb sexual violence--over 24,000 pornography websites blocked but activists say the real problem is the lack of justice for women--aljazeera.com.

Laos: Overcoming a government crackdown on social media in Laos--aljazeera.com.

Africa: After Troubles In Myanmar, Facebook Charges Ahead In Africa--wired.com.

US: US State Department needs a makeover for the digital age--TheHill.com.

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

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