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

    Membership Issues At-large organizing follies
    posted by jon on Thursday June 06 2002, @06:04AM

    The Lynn reorganization frenzy, you'll have noticed, has pushed a lot of other ICANN-related work items onto the back burner. Does anyone remember, say, the New TLD Evaluation Task Force? Or the UDRP Task Force? (Whatever happened, come to think of it, to the reconsideration request filed by the RIRs more than two years ago protesting the wording of the ICANN-USG contract for the IANA function -- wording that was carried over into the following year's contract?) With all this not going on, you'll all be relieved to know that At-Large coordinating efforts are continuing -- sort of.

    ALSC issued an email about a week ago announcing that it was closing its doors, but that a new At-Large Organizing Clearinghouse had risen, phoenix-like, from its ashes. The ALOC, in turn, has signed up a variety of organizations as community-based "at-large structures"; they include icannatlarge.com, the Bulgaria, Madagascar, Finland and Argentina ISOC chapters, the Confederation of European Computer User Associations, Sistemas Técnicos de Enseñanza Consultores, LatinoamerICANN, InSITeS, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and the Computer & Internet Caucus of the California Democratic Party.

    The $64 question, though, is what all of these good people are supposed to do. Putting the question in the words of the Accra Board resolution, what is their "appropriate role . . . in ICANN's coordinating and management structures"? ALOC provides the answer: Their role is to reach out to and educate individual Internet users; to aggregate views, identify priorities, and solicit opinions; and to "work with other ICANN stakeholders to address issues and develop positions on Internet policy issues." Once the various at-large structures develop those positions, they presumably will be free to make them known to the Board and the rest of the actual ICANN policymaking structure. They will not, on the other hand, have a part in that structure.

    No surprise there.

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    At-large organizing follies | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 12 comments | Search Discussion
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    ICANN Achievements
    by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Thursday June 06 2002, @11:20AM (#6897)
    User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
    I would say that there have been some genuine ICANN achievements, in the sense of their making the situation, in some respects, better than it was before, though not nearly as good as it could be. Each achievement, however, is accompanied by some "Yeah-But's" to the effect that the improvement isn't necessarily all that great after all.

    1) They ended the NetSol / Verisign monopoly. Prior to ICANN, that one company had a tight grip on both the registrar and registry markets, excepting only country codes and a few tightly restrictive domains like .mil and .int. All registrations of .com, .net, .org, and .edu had to go through them, and they acted the part of a monopoly by giving extremely poor customer service. Now the registrar market is highly competitive, and domain registration is much cheaper and more convenient than it was before. The registry market has opened up to some extent, too; new TLDs have different registries, .org is about to be spun off, .net might eventually be as well, and .edu already is under different management.

    YEAH-BUT: The "new registries" are pretty much all run by a handful of insiders liked by ICANN management. The monopoly has been converted to an oligopoly, not a true open market. Registrars are more of a free market, but many of them are fly-by-night operators taking advantage of loopholes in the rules to grab good names (in startup periods of new TLDs and expiring names of old TLDs) for themselves and favored clients rather than being fair to normal customers. ICANN oversight seems confined to enforcing things like the UDRP favored by intellectual property interests rather than reining in registrar/registry abuses that harm domain registrants themselves.

    2) The introduction of the UDRP was a great improvement over the Network Solutions cover-our-asses policy that preceded it, whereby domains would be put on hold on the flimsiest pretexts, with no opportunity on the part of the domain holder to defend themselves, but still not much help for trademark owners either -- common law trademarks were unrecognized, and domains just got put on hold so nobody could use them rather than getting transferred away from even the most blatant cybersquatter. The UDRP created a system where both sides of a dispute could be heard in a process quicker and cheaper than the real court system.

    YEAH-BUT: The UDRP might be decent if actually followed as written, but as actually administered it has resulted in a number of highly unfair decisions, with no appeal process.

    3) New TLDs have finally been added to the root, breaking a decade-long impasse.

    YEAH-BUT: Only a small trickle of new TLDs were added, as a "proof of concept", and the timetable for evaluating this proof means that it will be years before any more new TLDs get added, if ever. Also, the many botch-ups in the startup procedures will be used by critics to further block or delay any more TLD introductions. The new TLDs went to favored insiders, in general, rather than to anybody with the technical and marketing capability to actually make them succeed. The result was quite a few technical screwups, combined with an almost complete lack of serious promotion of the new TLDs. People will cite this as proving that no more new TLDs are ever needed.

    Anybody care to add to this list?
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
    Re: How Speculators Can Help Themselves, And ICANN
    by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Thursday June 06 2002, @11:25AM (#6898)
    User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
    I'm all for educating people as to the uses of domain names -- that's what my site is for. However, the sort of education given by speculators might not be the best -- it would tend to be biased in favor of getting people to want to buy the domains being speculated in. A good rounded education in domains would include educating people about domain structure and the use of subdomains, showing them that they don't necessarily need to register, or buy from a speculator, a new domain for every gimmick they want to implement -- perhaps a logical subdomain of a name they already own would do the trick, without enriching any registrar, registry, or speculator. Also, a domain education would teach all of the TLDs and their meanings, which might lessen the desire on the part of site operators to get a ".com" name for everything (enriching the speculators who hold them) when, depending on the type of organization, a (less-speculated-in) .org or other TLD name might make more sense.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    What ICANN Did Right
    by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Thursday June 06 2002, @04:37PM (#6913)
    User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
    I think the way that ICANN dealt with the Y2K threat to the DNS was its finest hour. Would that we could have more such technical work on serious technical issues.

    That said, I'm having trouble coming up with a second item; competition among regisistrars was done by DoC. To the extent the VRSN monopoly was broken, that's DoC too. The new TLD introduction process will keep scholars writinig case studies on What Not To Do for decades. The UDRP was poorly done at a technical level, whatever you think of the merits.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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