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

    ICANN Staff and Structure Why the Twomey Rumor Is Bad News
    posted by michael on Sunday March 09 2003, @12:05PM

    The Washington Post reports that Paul Twomey is the leading pick to become the new ICANN CEO. There are several reasons why the Twomey rumor is bad news. But none of them is because he's a former government official: Knee-jerk reactions that a former government official shouldn't run ICANN are in my opinion misplaced. There's nothing disqualifying about government service, and it could even be an advantage to the extent it sensitized a person to the importance of outreach, diplomacy, and the need to consider the interests of end-users (the public). Similarly, I for one will take a pass on attempting to find some automatic guilt by association in Twomey's partnership with ICANN originator Ira Magaziner -- the revolving door isn't inevitably harmful, it just often works out that way. The facts of the case matter--and that's where the problem is.

    No, the reasons to be concerned about the Twomey nomination are that his actions to date have been in furtherance of an ICANN that is big, secretive, and given to insider abuse. All the things that make ICANN ugly. This appointment would seem calculated to entrench some of the worst things about ICANN, just when some boldness is needed to turn things around.

    • Twomey believes in state power over the DNS. He was the chief architect of an expansive GAC. (Recall that in the new 'reformed' ICANN, GAC is the big winner in the power stakes.)
    • Twomey is, so far as I know, the original advocate of (or at least spokesperson for) an unprecedented and unsupported theory that governments own part of the DNS as a matter of international law. Expect him to be favorably inclined towards initiatives from WIPO and others who would like to use ICANN (or something like it) to re-make international law and policy, rather than being a technical coordinating body. Yes, mission creep, not laser-like focus.
    • Perhaps worst of all, Twomey is a comfortable part of the insider clique that manipulates ICANN's rules for its own benefit.
    Overall, this doesn't seem like the sort of appointment well-calculated to solve ICANN's most severe problems, but rather a sign that the Board wants more, much, more of the same.

    The most worrying thing about Paul Twomey is his (somewhat silent) complicity in ICANN's ignoring its own rules. The Australian government whose representative he was on the GAC was happy to have ICANN violate its own rules to rely on GAC's statements about ccTLDs to shift control of .au to the Australian government over the objections of internet pioneer Robert Elz. The new masters of .au then rewarded ICANN by becoming the first ccTLD to sign its onerous "obey and pay" contract. This appointment suggests one of three things: (1) either ICANN doesn't understand ccTLD concerns, or (2) ICANN understands what the dissident ccTLDs want and it intends to flatten them, or (3) ICANN is so mesmerized by the threat of the ITU taking part of its turf that everything else pales in comparison.

    The way that GAC functioned under Twomey's leadership itself worrying. The GAC Principles issued under his watch have been adopted by ICANN as an amendment to the ccTLD delegation rules in the RFCs, without any attempt to seek a community consensus of affected stakeholders. In short, a railroad job. Expect closer and still secret coordination with the GAC now that 'reform' has promoted it from a supposedly advisory body to one with a direct and officially recognized action channel to the Board.

    There's something else that doesn't look so good. Back when ICANN was saying it was financially strapped, ICANN (in a supposedly open and transparent but actually secret and closed to the public meeting of the Executive Committee) voted to expend money that was used to pay Twomey to act as the GAC chairman: As part of ICANN's machinations to head off ITU involvement in GAC, ICANN paid $75,000 to the Australian government to cover "secretariat and chair functions" at GAC meetings after Australia announced it would no longer fund the GAC. (An account of this payment can be found here. Note that the ITU had offered to provide these services for free.) Although to my knowledge no public accounting has ever been made of how this money was expended (open and transparent, remember), one has to ask how much of it went to pay for Twomey's services as Chair, either directly or via Argo Pacific, the consulting company he founded with Ira Magaziner. Perhaps this only covered actual expenses (although one wonders how many first class tickets that meant). Certainly, if covered anything else, it violates the spirit (but due to the role of intervening parties, perhaps not the letter) of the ICANN By-Laws in force at the time. These stated in Article 7, section 7 that

    Committee members shall receive no compensation for their services as a member of a committee. The Board may, however, authorize the reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses incurred by committee members, including Directors, performing their duties as committee members.
    So, did any of ICANN's $75,000 get paid to Argo Pacific? If so did any of that inure to Dr. Twomey either as salary or as profit share as a corporate principal? I hope not. That one even has to ask shows how opaque GAC's workings are -- a state of affairs that GAC Chair Paul Twomey presided over contentedly.

    Last, perhaps least, but somehow telling nonetheless, Twomey filed a transparently bogus .BIZ Intellectual Property Claim Conflict in an attempt to acquire "privacy.biz".

    As can be seen from the message quoted below, Dr. Twomey claimed an intellectual property right to "privacy.biz" on the basis of his alleged common law trademark in the word "privacy". The claim was bogus for two reasons. First, the word is used in its generic sense, and hence is not trademarkable. Second, the actual use on which this claim for "privacy" was based was of "Privacy Solutions" (or, maybe, "Privacy Solutions Asia Pacific"), itself a weak descriptive mark, and in any case very different from "privacy".

    DAVID SORKIN	2000168851
    privacy.biz	531147
    According to our records you have applied for the above listed .BIZ
    domain name.  The purpose of this E-mail is to formally notify you that
    the domain name for which you applied matches one or more Intellectual
    Property (IP) Claims that were received by the .BIZ Registry.  In other
    words, one or more intellectual property owners believe that they have
    intellectual property rights in the domain name for which you have
    applied.  You should be aware that if you choose to continue the
    application process, your domain name registration may be challenged
    under several Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
    (ICANN)-approved dispute resolution mechanisms, including the Start-up
    Trademark Opposition Policy (STOP)
    http://www.neulevel.BIZ/countdown/stop.html and the Uniform Dispute
    Resolution Policy (UDRP) http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp.htm.  
    USERID: 5665529 
    Password: edie@na9
    Listed below is the following IP Claim information:
    a.	The Intellectual Property Claimant's contact details;
    b.	Exact trademark or service mark ("trademark") in which the IP
    Claimant is basing its claim.    NOTE:   If the Exact Trademark contains
    any non-alphanumeric characters, other than a hyphen, the exact
    trademark may be displayed below with the non-alphanumeric characters
    removed.  For example, if the exact trademark is NeuLevel, Inc., then it
    is possible that only "neulevelinc" (without the "comma", "space" or
    "period") will be displayed; 
    c.	The .BIZ Claim String and its associated identification number;
    d.	A description of the goods and/or services alleged to be used in
    connection with the trademark;
    e.	The date in which the trademark or service mark was either first
    used in connection with the associated goods and/or services or
    alternatively in which an "intent to use" trademark application was
    f.	The country where the goods and/or services were alleged to have
    been first used;
    g.	Whether the trademark is "Registered" or has been "Applied For"
    in any national trademark office or whether the IP Clamant is alleging
    IP rights to the trademark based on common law or usage rights;  
    h.	If the trademark has either been "Applied For" or "Registered",
    the date in which the application was filed or the date the registration
    was issued; 
    i.	If the trademark has either been "Applied For" or "Registered",
    or if the IP Claimant voluntarily provided such information, the
    International Class in which the goods and/or services are alleged to be
    Note:  	NeuLevel, Inc., the Registry Operator for .BIZ, has collected
    this information directly from the IP Claimant(s) through its IP Claim
    Service or through an ICANN-Accredited Registrar.  Such information is
    provided to you by NeuLevel for information purposes only, that is, to
    assist you in deciding whether or not to proceed with the .BIZ domain
    name application process.  NeuLevel is providing this information "AS
    IS" and has not validated or verified any of the data below.  Therefore,
    it cannot  guarantee its accuracy or completeness.  After reviewing the
    information below, you may wish to consult with your intellectual
    property attorney or advisor on whether or not to proceed with the
    registration process.  
    The following are the details of each IP Claim for privacy.biz.
    1a.  Intellectual Property Claimant's Contact Information
    	Privacy Solutions Asia Pacific Pty Ltd
    	43 Philip Street
    1b.  Trademark or Service Mark:  Privacy
    1c.  IP Claim String and Identification Number:  privacy.biz   12543
    1d.  Description of Goods and/or Services:  Privacy Solutions Asia
    Pacific provides consulting and technology services to assist in
    enhancing technology systems so they become compliant with privacy
    requirements.  It has a particular focus on the health and financial
    services sectors, and offers leading edge technology to large
    consumer-oriented organizations.
    1e.  Alleged Date of First Use:  2001-05-01 00:00:00.
    1f.  Country of First Use:  AUS.
    1g.  Trademark Status:  COMMON    
    1h.  Date "Registered" or "Applied For":  2001-05-01 00:00:00
    1i.  International Class:   Not Applicable
    For more information on this intellectual property claim, please
    Dr  Paul Twomey
    Managing Director
    Privacy Solutions Asia Pacific Pty Ltd
    43 Philip Street
    Sydney, NSW 2000
    +61 2 9236 7374
    + 61 2 9337 4517
    USERID: 5665529 
    Password: edie@na9
    As a service to the international Internet community and businesses
    around the world, NeuLevel, Inc., the Registry Operator for .BIZ, is
    providing this notification to you in English and in the preferred
    language that you specified if other than English. NeuLevel is providing
    this foreign translation service "AS IS" and has not validated or
    verified the accuracy or completeness of such translation.  Therefore,
    in the event of any dispute arising out of this notification, the
    "English" version shall control.
    Registry for .BIZ
    Fortunately, this claim was opposed, and Dr. Twomey didn't proceed to a STOP claim. So it was nothing more than the sort of sleazy try-on that many firms attempted in the 'sunrise' (or, if you prefer, IP claim service) process, in which the well-heeled hoped they could intimidate a hapless registrant...which had the back luck to run into David Sorkin, a well-informed law professor.

    A small matter, perhaps, but one that illustrates something important about the man who would run ICANN.

    * * *

    ICANN's new 'reformed' rules formalize all the worst things about the organization. GAC has direct influence. The Board need not seek or heed consensus but can just make rules more or less unaccountably. The electoral process is not inherently rigged but lends itself easily to self-perpetuation and dominance of the current rump that controls the Board. And there's no sign yet that the current Board has any intention of resisting the temptation this creates, although in all fairness the concrete isn't quite set yet.

    A reformed ICANN might work out adequately, or even well, if run by people of goodwill who were able to understand with and sympathize with the criticisms and fears of those who think ICANN is not only out of control but feels good about it. That would take not just diplomacy, not just staff changes (and ideally shrinkage, not even more growth), but firm actions designed to ensure that ICANN's mission becomes more focused, and that its ambitions become better aligned with its limited skills.

    Whoever the new ICANN CEO turns out to be -- something the Board will decide in its usual open, transparent totally secretive manner -- that person will have the lead role in determining whether ICANN lives or dies, and in what form. The Twomey record suggests that if he is the choice, we're in for pretty more of the same of what we've been getting in the Roberts and Lynn regimes. There's always a chance for a pleasant surprise...but not much evidence on which to base one's hopes for it.

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  • Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Why the Twomey Rumor Is Bad News | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 1 comments | Search Discussion
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    Twomey Rumour
    by SteveDyer on Sunday March 09 2003, @10:55PM (#11294)
    User #3714 Info
    Paul Twomey is a highly competent, non-US politician. He knows the Internet, listens, and is very bright. Sounds like a good man for the job to me.

    He has done well for the Oz Government but you should not asssume that he would run ICANN with the same mindset.

    ICANN needs a Twomey if it is to survive, and what survives will be very different from what we see today.


    Steve Dyer
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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