News Review: 1) ICANN EPDP Draft Initial Report, 2) Verisign & .COM

graphic "News Review" ©2016 DomainMondo.com
Domain Mondo's weekly internet domain news review (NR 2018-11-04 with analysis and opinion: Features • 1) ICANN WHOIS & GDPR: EPDP Draft Initial Report,  2) NTIA & Verisign Extend Cooperative Agreement on .COM, and more  3) Other ICANN news,  4) ICYMI: a. China 'Hijacking' the West's Internet Backbone, b. ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018, c. EU Link Tax, d. DMCA Exemptions,  5) Most Read.

Updates: EPDP Meeting Thursday Nov 8 (wiki page, agenda, docs) at 14:00UTC (9am EST). See EPDP mail list for additional items, particularly this (from Milton Mueller) and this (from Lindsay Hamilton-Reid). Adobe Connect recording, chat transcript (pdf) embed below, Meeting transcript (pdf), meeting notes & action items here.

EPDP Meeting Tuesday Nov 6 (wiki page, agenda, docs) at 14:00 UTC (9am EST). MP3Adobe Connect recording, meeting transcript (pdf), and chat transcript (pdf) embed below. Additional discussion items on the mail list starting with "Proposed Agenda and items for input - EPDP Team Meeting #23" from Marika Konings Nov 5, 2018, here, including (but not limited to) the EPDP Chair's entry here.

Original post:
1) ICANN WHOIS & GDPR: EPDP Draft Initial Report
The EPDP Draft Initial Report (pdf) is still a "work in progress" and there will be many revisions before it is published for public comment. The initial draft (pdf link above) was prepared by ICANN staff and first shown to the EPDP working group on Thursday, Nov 1, 2018, at the EPDP meeting:
"... And then we want to share with you the first version – the proposed draft initial first version of the initial report that been working on, you know, up until – not too many minutes ago, and so while we haven't distributed yet we’ll take you through it and we’ll put a link to a wiki page so you can download if you want ..."--EPDP Chair Kurt Pritz, transcript (pdf), p. 2.
Later in that Thursday (Nov 1) EPDP meeting, ICANN staff member Marika Konings led the EPDP working group through the draft initial report (transcript, pp. 30-38) excerpt:
"... What we’ve done in the report, and I’ll slowly start walking you through it, as said, you know, executive summary has some of the background elements already there but the biggest part and the meat of course of the report will be the proposed response to the charter questions and the preliminary recommendations which will need to be updated ..." (Ibid., p. 31) (emphasis added)
Comments from EPDP members at the Nov. 1st meeting [chat transcript (pdf)]:
Thomas Rickert (ISPCP): "So we will publish the [initial] report without legal vetting and we will only have 1 public comment period? That sounds like quite a brave plan."
Milton Mueller (NCSG): "After working on the Purposes for several months as "lettered" elements (A, B,. C, etc.) in the report the purposes are numbered. Will this cause confusion in the EPDP group? Should we retain the letters?" Marika Konings: "@Milton - one reason was to move from letters to numbers was that it might be confusing for the broader community to see letters with a clear gap / letters missing."Milton Mueller (NCSG): "Hmmm, you could designate deleted purposes as deleted. e.g., H - deleted." Thomas Rickert (ISPCP): "I would even offer brief rationales as to what happened to the missing letters, why they were deleted." Stephanie Perrin (NCSG): "Agree with Thomas, we need to discuss what is not there as much as what is there."
EPDP Meetings this coming week: Tuesday Nov 6 and Thursday Nov 8. New starting times this week: 14:00 UTC (9am EST). Observers: 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).

How far behind is the EPDP working group in getting out the Initial Report? The August version of the EPDP timeline shows an initial report should have already been produced and published for public comment. The most recent revised timeline (as of Nov 1, 2018):

Further information on last week's EPDP meetings on last week's News ReviewAlso note:
 Understanding RDAP (Registration Data Access Protocoland the Role it can Play in RDDS (Registration Data Directory Services) Policy ICANN63 presentation Oct 22, 2018 (pdf) excerpts:
p.12: "With RDAP, a Registry can point the end-user to the Registrar’s RDAP in order to obtain authoritative information maintained by the Registrar." [Editor's note: no need for data transfer to registry operator?]; pp. 13, 15 below.

 geoTLD GDPR survey results (pdf) excerpt: "How does your WHOIS look like today?"

2) Names, Domains & Trademarks: NTIA, Verisign & .COM
graphic "Names, Domains & Trademarks" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
a. NTIA Statement on Amendment 35 to the Cooperative Agreement with Verisign, November 01, 2018 (emphasis and link added):
NTIA and Verisign have agreed to extend and modify the Cooperative Agreement. These modifications are in line with policy priorities of the Trump Administration. The changes create a new commitment to content neutrality in the Domain Name System (DNS), provide market-based pricing flexibility, and reduce the regulatory burden on Verisign.
Amendment 35 [pdf] confirms that Verisign will operate the .com registry in a content neutral manner with a commitment to participate in ICANN processes. To that end, NTIA looks forward to working with Verisign and other ICANN stakeholders in the coming year on trusted notifier programs to provide transparency and accountability in the .com top level domain.
The amendment repeals Obama-era price controls and provides Verisign the pricing flexibility to change its .com Registry Agreement with ICANN to increase wholesale .com prices. Specifically, the flexibility permits Verisign to pursue with ICANN an up to 7 percent increase in the prices for .com domain names, in each of the last four years of the six-year term of the .com Registry Agreement. The changes also affirm that Verisign may not vertically integrate or operate as a registrar in the .com top level domain.
Editor's noteThere's a lot to like, dislike, and be concerned about, in Amendment 35.  My own position has been clear, see my submission to NTIA July 17, 2018 (pdf), particularly at p. 12 and exhibits starting on p. 13). Bottom-line: I am thankful NTIA extended the Cooperative Agreement. There is a long history in .COM, and RFC 1591 by Jon Postel is the "holy scripture" in defining this global public resource,  this top-level domain (TLD) .COM. A secondary authoritative resource in understanding .COM is the George W. Bush Administration's U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division letter of December 3, 2008 (see pp. 13-20, of my submission to NTIA, supra).

I expected some price increase, and while this increase is generous to Verisign, it is also obvious Verisign wanted even more, and Verisign would have already gotten more from ICANN.

There's also a lot of "noise" in the domaining blogosphere since the announcement (see, e.g., here, here and here. I suggest complaining registrants consider using the 2-year window (from now until Oct 26, 2020) to determine their core long-term .COM domain holdings and renew those domains for 10 years to avoid price increases which will likely begin in late 2020 (2020 could be a banner year for .COM revenue for registrars and Verisign with registrants renewing for multiple years ahead of the price increases).

Investors in Verisign $VRSN reacted favorably to the news--Verisign shares closed Friday, Nov 2, 2018, at $165.02 UP +$24.22, +17.20%, a $2.92 Billion Increase in Market Capitalization:
With ICANN now allowing Verisign to increase .NET prices by 10% per year, compounded, and no price controls whatever on new gTLDs, .COM registrants probably couldn't have hoped for a better outcome to the NTIA-Verisign Cooperative Agreement Amendment 35. The Obama administration essentially "sold out" .COM registrants by agreeing to the IANA transition (effective October 1, 2016), without any provisions for extending price controls on .COM after Nov 30, 2018. See U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's letter of August 12, 2016 (pdf).

There were also many other factors beyond just .COM pricing at play in the negotiations between Verisign and NTIA, including pressure upon NTIA from special interest groups, particularly intellectual property lobbyists.

Amendment 35 allows Verisign to increase the wholesale price of .COM from $7.85 starting Oct 26, 2020--effective date of Amendment 35 is Oct 26, 2018--up to 7% per year, which could produce a wholesale price of $10.29 the final year of the initial (six-year) extended term ending in 2024, if my calculator is right:
Most, if not all, .COM registrants (including domain investors) can live with that, and thrive. You might even want to diversify your investment portfolio by adding some Verisign shares. What the future holds after Nov 30, 2024, we really don't know. We don't even know if ICANN will still be around by then, note this language from Amendment 35:

b.  Gab.com
Andrew Torba, CEO Gab.com: "Gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist ... In the midst of this Gab has been no-platformed by essential internet infrastructure providers at every level. We are the most censored, smeared, and no-platformed startup in history, which means we are a threat to the media and to the Silicon Valley Oligarchy. Gab isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter what the sophist talking heads say on TV. It doesn’t matter what verified nobodies say on Twitter. We have plenty of options, resources, and support. We will exercise every possible avenue to keep Gab online and defend free speech and individual liberty for all people. You have all just made Gab a nationally recognized brand as the home of free speech online at a time when Silicon Valley is stifling political speech they disagree with to interfere in a US election ...." [more at Gab.com link above].

See alsoCorporate Speech Police Are Not the Answer to Online Hate--EFF.org and "First it was Milo and Alex Jones, now platforms are being de-platformed"--Columbia Journalism Review | cjr.org.

c. Why New Entrepreneurs in India go online despite offline being such a huge market in India?  Setting up a website including buying a good domain name, hosting and other essentials only costs a few thousand rupees.--indianweb2.com.

d.  New gTLD .AMAZON "moves forward but work remains before ‘.amazon’ becomes a reality"--worldtrademarkreview.com.

e. Google's new gTLD .new shortcuts 
Docs: doc.new, docs.new, document.new; Forms: form.new, forms.new; Sheets: sheet.new, sheets.new, spreadsheet.new; Sites: site.new, sites.new, website.new; Slides: slides.new, deck.new, presentation.new.

f. GoDaddy $GDDY Q3 2018 Earnings LIVE Webcast, Nov. 6, 5pm ET.

g. Tucows Inc. (NASDAQ: TCX, TSX: TC), domain name registrar and technology company, will report its third quarter 2018 financial results via news release on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 5:05 p.m. ET, and concurrently also post management’s pre-recorded remarks discussing the quarter and outlook for the Company at http://www.tucows.com/investors/financials.

3) Other ICANN News
graphic "ICANN | Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers"
a. NTIA Administrator David Redl sent a letter (pdf) dated Oct 26, 2018, to ICANN Board of Directors Chair Cherine Chalaby raising concerns about an accountability deficit at ICANN, stating:
"[r]ecent ICANN senior staff departures have highlighted that ICANN lacks post-employment restrictions," and recommending an immediate review as well as "cooling off periods" as a potential solution "to ensure that conflicts of interest or appearances of unethical behavior are minimized." (emphasis added)
Editor's note: for more information and background see also:
  • This "revelation" about Fadi Chehade:
b. New gTLD .PHARMACY: a global public resource operated in the global public interest?

ICANN.org"12 July 2018: ICANN Sends Notice of Breach to Registry (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (pharmacy)) Data and Documents Under Review by ICANN; Cure Period Extended Until 1 October 2018; Data and Documents Under Review by ICANN; Breaches Cured 3 October 2018."

c. ICANN's dotBrand Extortion Racket (pdf)--Promoters' ICANN63 presentation (pdf).

4) ICYMI Internet Domain News 
graphic "ICYMI Internet Domain News" ©2017 DomainMondo.com
• China has been 'hijacking the vital internet backbone of western countries' for intelligence gathering after it signed the Obama-Xi cyber pact in late 2015, according to researchers from the US Naval War College and Tel Aviv University. The report says Chinese state-owned China Telecom has been one of the internet's most determined BGP hijackers. Editor's note: Download the report hereSee also China’s Internet Of Things (IoT) A Global Cybersecurity Threat?

 PP-18, ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018, Dubai, UAE (continues thru Nov 16).
"I am pleased that Doreen Bogdan Martin, an NTIA alum, has been elected as the Director of the ITU Development Sector. Doreen is immensely qualified and the United States looks forward to working with her and continuing in our role on the ITU Council to support the global expansion of communications technologies. Significantly, she is the first woman to hold one of the ITU’s five elected positions, and her leadership will give the United States a voice in ITU leadership for the first time in three decades."--Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator David Redl.

 EU: The EU's Link Tax Will Kill Open Access and Creative Commons News--EFF.org.

 US: New Exemptions to DMCA Section 1201 Are Welcome, But Don’t Go Far Enough--EFF.org.

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