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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    Verisign/NSI There Was an 'Option C' - Are You Surprised?
    posted by michael on Sunday April 01 2001, @03:37PM

    After telling everyone that it was a take it or leave it deal, there is no option C, so take it and be happy, well, guess what? It wasn't true.

    ICANN and VeriSign have posted changes to the VeriSign deal. It's too soon for me to have a view as to the substance of these changes, but I can tell you my opinion about people who swear up and down we can't even talk about what changes we might like to have in contracts they negotiated in secret, demand we engage in a crabbed discussion, then take the few changes that people are stubborn enough to mention anyway, call those a "consensus," negotiate in secret to have them accepted (you can bet letters this long weren't drafted overnight), then spring the changes on us less then 24 hours before they vote.

    No, it's not an April Fool joke - the joke was on us all along.

    Details inside.

    The changes that ICANN and VeriSign said were impossible are set in three setpiece letters. Letter One is dated March 31, 2001, from ICANN CEO M. Stuart Lynn to VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos.

    Letter Two, dated today, is a reply accepting most points in principle, so long as some are also applied to VeriSign's competitors. Letter Three, also dated today, is a polite receipt of the second letter.

    I expect ICANN will spin this as proof that "ICANN listens" and it's really a bottom up consensus body. Lost in this spin will be the fact that ICANN took every step it could possibly take to prevent people outside ICANN and Verisign from having a chance to figure out what they thought of this deal, or to approach the various policy issues in an orderly or rational manner. And that without some concessions, ratifying it would have been suicide now that Congress is paying attention.

    My first take, then, is just this: The US Congress's involvement in ICANN matters is healthy. It provides a stick - the only stick to date - for getting ICANN to pay attention to its critics. It's a pity that Congress listens most and best to corporate lobbyists, including in this case some of VeriSign's competitors. But it's better than the nothing we had a year ago.

    [To respond, or start a new comment thread, click the "Send Your Comment" button in the yellow box to the right.]

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  • Letter One
  • Letter Two,
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    There Was an 'Option C' - Are You Surprised? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 5 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: There Was an 'Option C' - Are You Surprised?
    by joppenheimer on Sunday April 01 2001, @05:55PM (#474)
    User #5 Info | http://JudithOppenheimer.com
    I attended Melbourne via remote, and witnessed first Stratton Sclavos' incredibly over-the-top sales pitch, then the rigid and condescending inflexibility displayed by VeriSign and ICANN. You could choose "Option A" or "Option B". That's it.

    An associate writes, "So it looks as though the proposed agreement, together with the April Fool's amendments, will be approved. And of course, the real fools are those who thought the choice was Option A or Option B and failed to submit proposed revisions."

    I think that's too harsh, and misdirected.

    Check the scribes notes - cryptic and abbreviated, yet the point comes across - http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/icann/melbourne/archive/scribe-icann-031301-bod.html.

    Vint Cerf was asked over and over if there wasn't the opportunity for an Option C. People wanted to know if their proposed modifications would be accepted for consideration.

    Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, coached his children resolutely, "Practically, we cannot assume that there is any option to modify "B." Time constraint for adopting A binds us also." ... "Keep in mind the May 10 deadline. Changes would require DoC and Verisign's agreement also. Not impossible, but impractical at the moment." ... and finally, a stern "the current decision is between A and B."

    So when did that position, this "current decision between A and B" only, change? There was no email notification, no ICANN website notice -- no "open and transparent" process.

    I agree that Congressional involvement goes a long way, but as long as ICANN Staff is enabled to blindside, blindfold and hogtie its own committees, working groups and constituents, the outcome makes for good press, but no progress.

    ICANN wants Congress to look at the new revisions as adequate enough political gamesmanship to warrant its approval.

    Hopefully Congress will stick to its recently loaded guns. If not it will only have taught ICANN new rules to play the same old game.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: There Was an 'Option C' - Are You Surprised?
    by dpf (dpf@ihug.co.nz) on Sunday April 01 2001, @06:41PM (#475)
    User #2770 Info | http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/
    The real issue here is not whether Option C is better than Option B (it is IMO) or Option A (too early to decide) but that the ICANN Board is being asked to approve an agreement which it has had less than 24 hours to consider.

    I beleive Verisign should agree to a 30 or 60 day extension to the May deadline to allow consideration of these new changes. Yes Verisign said they would not agree to an extension previously but they also said that no further
    changes would be considered.

    Many of us did not bother suggesting improvements because it was said in no uncertain terms none at all would be considered. If stakeholders had known
    the "non negotiable" agreements were negotiable then quite a different set of feedback may have been provided.

    There is now no opportunity for the Names Council or any constituency to give meaningful input to the Board as to whether this latest set of changes
    partially or wholely meets their concerns.

    The real win - win here will be for ICANN to ask Verisign to agree to a time extension to consider this latest proposal.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re: There Was an 'Option C' - Are You Surprised?
    by larry on Monday April 02 2001, @02:38AM (#477)
    User #2751 Info
    Correct. The PUBLIC message was "A" or "B". But the message floating around the registrar constituency, (apparently passed on by someone at ICANN and/or Verisign to registrars in attendance at Melbourne was) "this thing is going to fly, give us a short list and we may consider some changes." Many registrars (some who had just been granted the new TLD's and some who are still gunning for new TLD's) were not going to fight ICANN very hard on this whole issue. Understand why? (Unless you want to consider what they did do: "uh, we object, Hmm. By the way, if you must approve please consider these changes.." .)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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