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

    The Big Picture Competition vs. Stability
    posted by tbyfield on Tuesday June 18 2002, @12:15PM

    rfassett writes "M. Stuart Lynn is going to retire as President of ICANN at the end of his term next March for stated reasons of "health" and a "24/7 work schedule". It is an understatement to say that Mr. Lynn has indeed had his work cut out for him. The most recent report issued by the NTEPPTF got me thinking about what the back-and-forth line questioning last week might have been like had the Congressional Committee considered questioning Mr. Lynn about "Internet stability". My guess is that this would have been another tough assignment for Mr. Lynn in absence of any documented definition of how ICANN defines "Internet stability" or how this definition (unknown outside of ICANN or even within?) impacts its decision-making processes. Perhaps such an exchange would have gone something like this:"

    Senator Wyden: Mr. Lynn, I sincerely appreciate your opinion that ICANN should look to the White Paper in developing its mission of reform.

    Mr Lynn: Yes sir, ICANN believes the White Paper to be the correct document in shaping the future of ICANN as a private sector entity in coordinating DNS for the global community.

    Senator Wyden: I think we agree on this point. A few moments ago, you stated that one of ICANN's accomplishments over the past few years has been "competition" where none existed prior.

    Mr Lynn: Yes, that is correct.

    Senator Wyden: Well, that is a very noteworthy accomplishment seeing as how the White Paper cites competition in DNS as a private sector goal to be achieved while maintaining stability as a foremost concern of the Internet community. ICANN is to be commended for this achievement.

    Mr. Lynn: Thank you Senator. Considering ICANN started with little funding, staff, and other resources, it is one example where ICANN has been able to achieve its goals consistent with the objectives of the White Paper. It is something to build upon.

    Senator Wyden: So, you can testify here today that with the limited and controlled approach to expansion deemed necessary - as was testified by your colleagues at prior hearings before Congress - that, as a result of this, you feel confident that the Internet has remained stable while competition has also been achieved.

    Mr Lynn: Well, as I have stated previous, I was not part of ICANN when the first round expansion process was decided upon. My term began after this. Also, I do plan to retire at the expiration of my term. I hope the Committee understands that I have no particular agenda except one that I hope is considered as objective.

    Senator Wyden: Yes, this is understood by the Committee and very appreciated. As President of ICANN, you can say here today, before this committee, that the Internet has remained stable as a result of a limited and controlled approach to competition.

    Mr. Lynn: Senator, we have a top team, an expert team, working on this very point. It is called the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force, or NTEPPTF for short. I am the Chairperson of this Task Force.

    Senator Wyden: I see. As Chairperson of this Task Force, you are saying that the Internet root server system has remained stable with the addition of new TLD's and competition.

    Mr. Lynn: Yes, the Task Force is working on this very point.

    Senator Wyden: Mr. Lynn, and I do apologize if I do not quite understand. But, do you mean "Yes" stabilty has been adequately maintained or "Yes" you can not say for sure of this right now.

    Mr. Lynn: Well, there are different kinds of stability that the Board, representing the community, must consider in its evaluation. This is a very detailed and involved evaluation process that could require upwards of 2 years to fully determine.

    Senator Wyden: Are you suggesting it could be 2 years before we know the Internet has remained stable as a result of competition? (chorus of mild laughter in the room)

    Mr. Lynn: No, no.....but yes to a degree. The process of evaluation is going to be an ongoing process including extracting of data and the monitoring of certain reporting compliance on the part of each new registry. So, yes this is a process encompassing a period of years and not weeks or months. The NTEPPTF is formulating just how best to accomplish the effects upon the root server system as well as issues such as registration, with the latter mostly as this relates to concerns of the Intellectual Property community and potential market place confusion that might exist. The Task Force has and will continue to request and seek constructive input from all across the community.

    Senator Wyden: Understood. Would it be fair to say today that the creation of competition - in a limited and controlled environment and the approach chosen by ICANN to balance concerns relative to stability - has been accomplished?

    Mr. Lynn: There has not been, to my own knowledge, any noticeable adverse effects to the root server system as a result of adding new TLD's but, if I may quickly add, this is not to say that further study by qualified experts is not required for an absolute determination and that this will require an undeterminable amount of time and resources. The NTEPPTF will be recommending to the staff and Board in the near future how best to accomplish this.

    Senator Wyden: Ok, I think I understand that. Is it fair to say that until the Internet root server system is declared to be in stable condition by ICANN that competition as this relates to adding new TLD's has not yet successfully been accomplished by ICANN for the mere reason that unknown variables still remain?

    Mr. Lynn: I think this would be a very narrow interpretation, dependent upon many factors. There is always the chance of unforeseen developments that may arise unexpectedly.

    Senator Wyden: Let me ask this. Is it your opinion and the opinion of ICANN that the Internet root server system is as stable today as it was prior to the introduction of new TLD's?

    Mr. Lynn: Again, there are different kinds of stability we must measure in evaluating the new TLD's and the addition of any future TLD's. I think it is reasonable by inherent definition to say that the root server system has been subjected to measures considered taxing vs. prior to and that further study by qualified experts is required.

    Senator Wyden: Thank you Mr. Lynn. I think the Committee has the general picture.

    As one might determine from this spoof, Mr. Lynn does not always have any easy job of it. Of course, if ICANN were to just state, in an open and transparant manner, its clear and concise definition of "Internet stability" as this relates to 1) the White Paper 2) Its mission and 3) Introducing new competition then Mr. Lynn's job might become just a tad easier. It also might go a long way to defining - concisely - what ICANN believes its role to be in determining policy, including that with ccTLD operators and other stakeholder parties it seeks agreements with. It is a reasonable expectation that such stakeholders would want such a definition prior to entering into any agreement since it is ICANN's primary responsibility and thus the most important consideration in any particular decision that it makes. A recent example of this has been the .org redelegation process where the Board went against the Name Council's recommendation seemingly for reasons of stability.

    Continued absence of such a clear and concise definition - displayed in an open and transparant manner - will continue to lead to accusations of "mission creep", "boardsquatting", "favoratism", and "capture" that have hounded ICANN, taken up countless hours of resources, and continued mistrust in ICANN's decision-making processes (i.e. alterior motives). Such a definition can even be made consistent with Mr. Sims recent argument that not every decision need be made in a stadium. Just put one out there as this relates to the White Paper, ICANN's mission, and new competition...that would be a decent starting point. It might start something like this:

    "The ICANN Board defines Internet stability, consistent with stated objectives as a private sector body in coordinating functions of the DNS and in regards to agreements it has and may enter into in the future, as follows............."

    It may occur, and is in fact likely, that various people or parties will not agree with what this definition is but this would lead to a healthy debate towards consensus rather than just nothing and in its place continued accusation and mistrust from the community. A consensus definition of Internet stability just might bring to the table the parties that ICANN so elusively seeks and make Mr. Lynn's job far easier with less hours required.

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    Competition vs. Stability | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 3 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: Competition vs. Stability
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday June 18 2002, @06:39PM (#7257)
    User #2810 Info
    One learns from the recently posted ICANN Draft of Final Report of the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force that the NTEPPTF is not the group that will do the actual analysis on the new TLDs, regarding stability or anything else, it is only the group analyzing what should and should not (and, by reading the report, can and cannot) be analyzed. This means that those who will do the actual analysis haven't even been chosen, let alone begun their analysis.

    That in turn probably means that the most optimistic projection for another round of TLDs being approved, as was done at Marina del Rey in November 2000 (preliminary report here), and entered into the root might be somewhere along the lines of late 2005. I joked at the time of MdR2k that ICANN might get around to another round of TLDs in 2010 and even the pessimists scoffed at me, and now it appears I may have been at least halfways correct. But what can one expect when even the Minutes of MdR2k have still not been posted more than 18 months later. One presumes they also have not been passed by the BoD, as the bylaws state:


    Section 1. GENERAL

    The Corporation and its subordinate entities shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness.


    (a) All minutes of meetings of the Board, Supporting Organizations (and any councils thereof) and Committees shall be approved promptly by the originating body.[...]
    (c) No later than the day after the date on which they are formally approved by the Board, the minutes shall be made publicly available on the Web Site...

    It seems to me than any organization (let alone one ostensibly forged to work at internet speed) that takes promptly to mean greater than 18 months should be considered dangerously unstable. -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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