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    gTLDs hoping to enter the legacy root NewTLDs : The Long and Winding Road
    posted by michael on Friday October 24 2003, @06:03AM

    Richard_Henderson writes "ICANN's expansion of the namespace, and introduction of newTLDs, has been criticised by some as arbitrary and by others as amateurish. With worldwide calls for many more top level domains - to break the supply bottleneck and give people more choice - ICANN have justified their slow expansion of names by claiming a testbed 'proof of concept' was needed first. The roll-out of new names must be subject to a careful Evaluation Process, they said. However, ICANN's approach to this Evaluation has been amateurish and lacking in openness at several key points.

    The following summarizes a fuller study of the New TLDs Evaluation Process, which includes a detailed critique of ICANN's actions.

    Five Areas of Concern:

    I should like to highlight at least five areas of serious concern, about the way ICANN has handled the Evaluation process.

    Firstly, they allowed an inordinate period of time to elapse between the launch of newTLDs in July 2001 and the start of a partial evaluation in May 2003. With the world waiting, they put everything 'on hold' for two years before the Evaluation even commenced.

    Secondly, they failed - and have still failed - to publish the Registry Evaluation Reports which were regarded as vital by ICANN's own task force. ICANN has been repeatedly asked to produce these reports but have failed to do so, making informed participation impossible.

    Thirdly, their appointment of Sebastien Bachollet to lead the Evaluation was carried out with no advertisement of the post, no invitation for rival applicants for this $300,000 contract, and no public announcement of his selection.

    Fourthly, there has been no public interface to allow informed participation with Mr. Bachollet, and no opportunity to work to an agenda and engage in dialogue with him.

    Fifthly, the Evaluation was supposed to be guided by a TEAC (TLDs Evaluation Advisory Committee) but there is no evidence of this TEAC on the ICANN website, no posts from it, no mailing list, no announcement of members or even of its existence - and yet the Board promised it would oversee the (invisible) Evaluation and publish quarterly reports.

    The Evaluation Report itself is due for release this month (October). If it appears (it was originally due a year earlier) it will have been written without any public process during its period of compilation, and without any public access to the key Registry data. The New TLDs Evaluation Process has become an almost invisible private exercise, and yet it concerns a world resource and its development, and the process should be open to all.

    I therefore pose 26 questions for ICANN to answer:"

    "Statement A: Stuart Lynn agreed to the NTEPPTF recommendation that bids should be solicited for a contract for an Evaluation Team.
    Question 1: Was this contract open to others, was it advertised, and were bids sought from professionals outside ICANN's own community?

    Question 2: Were there any other bidders, and if not, why not? Should this key post have been publicly advertised?

    Question 3: Who actually assessed Sebastien Bachollet's bid, and made the decision to hire him? Did the Board formally approve Sebastien's contract?

    Question 4: Where on the ICANN website was Sebastien's appointment announced?

    Statement B: Up to $350,000 was allocated for the Evaluation, including the Monitoring Project. The Action Plan said that bidders offering to provide this service were to state how they would address the key critical questions, at funding levels of $250,000, $300,000, and $350,000.
    Question 5: Did Sebastien Bachollet submit this statement, and detail what ICANN would get for its money at different funding levels, in a formal application process?

    Question 6: Out of the $2million dollars raised from the 44 newTLD applicants, how much has ICANN decided to budget to finance the 'Evaluation Project' under Sebastien Bachollet?

    Statement C: The Action Plan designated $50,000 to launch a monitoring program, and on 18th October 2002, Stuart Lynn said ICANN "is in the process of recruiting" onto the staff a NewgTLD Planning and Evaluation Co-ordinator.
    Question 7: Has this appointment been made and who is it?

    Question 8: Will the co-ordinator answer the questions I am raising, and the ones I posed 500 days ago to Dan Halloran concerning the NewTLD launch period?

    Question 9: Was that $50,000 as well as, or part of, the $350,000 budgeted "for the Evaluation, including the Monitoring Project"? Was the $50,000 a kick-start prior to the $350,000 expressed in Lynn's Action Plan?

    Statement D: The Plan, which the Board agreed must be implemented, states that it will follow the methodologies specified in the NTEPPTF report, which the Board also adopted. These include the publication of the Registry Evaluation Reports, mandatorily required under Appendix U of the ICANN-Registry Agreements. I have repeatedly asked for these central documents to be made available so that people can participate in an informed manner, and a year ago ICANN said "We are now addressing this issue" (Amsterdam Meeting Topic on NewTLD Action Plan). They are still being withheld, 18 months after they should have been available.
    Question 10: Why have these reports not been put on the ICANN website, 18 months after they were available?

    Question 11: Why, a year after ICANN said "We are now addressing this issue", are they still not up on the website?

    Question 12: Why, when I asked this fair and reasonable question to Paul Twomey 5 months ago, has he not even acknowledged my letter? Does he consider this responsive?

    Statement E: Stuart Lynn was instructed by the Board to set up a TEAC (TLD Evaluation Advisory Committee) to oversee the soliciting of bids for the Evaluation contract, to guide the Evaluation Project, and it was (in line with the NTEPPTF Report) to publish reports: "The TEAC should be required to provide quarterly reports containing findings to date."
    Question 13: When was the TEAC formally set up, was it announced online, is there a mailing list, and who are its members?

    Question 14: Why is there no trace of the TEAC on the ICANN website, and where are its quarterly reports?

    Question 15: How is the public or any constituency meant to interact with the TEAC if there is no information about it?

    Statement F: Very serious concerns arose over the abuse of process, and the failure of agreements, during the Sunrise and Landrush phases of the .info and .biz launches. The NTEPPTF agreed that these problems needed addressing and singled them out for mention. These concerns were raised - with specific questions - to Dan Halloran (in his capacity as ICANN-Registrar liaison executive) in the Spring of 2002 (and several times subsequently). Over 500 days later he has never even acknowledged the mail. The Evaluation Process must address these problems, or they may be repeated again in the future.
    Question 16: If the Evaluation Process needs to analyse the problems that arose at Sunrise and Landrush - and the NTEPPTF report says it does - will individuals like myself be able to participate in the evaluation, ask and answer questions with Sebastien Bachollet, and raise the issues which ICANN itself has refused to answer?

    Question 17: How can people interact with Sebastien while he is formulating his opinions and compiling his report, if he offers no agenda and if there is no interface to do so?

    Question 18: Was it professional for Dan Halloran to ignore (over 500 days) questions of sincere concern, which impact on past and future TLDs and the conduct of registrars in relation to ICANN's agreements?

    Question 19: Will Dan Halloran, or the NewTLD Planning and Evaluation Co-ordinator, now answer my questions?

    Question 20: How detailed will Sebastien's investigation be? (For example will it draw on the mass of data and evidence which has accumulated on the ICANN NewTLD Forums and the ICANNWatch website, concerning abuse of process and registrar fraud, Sunrise and Landrush problems etc.)

    Statement G: There is no interface with the work of Sebastien Bachollet, the Evaluation Project, or the TEAC. Nor is there any published detail of Sebastien Bachollet's agenda, his working process, or opportunities to participate and interact with him, during the period when he is formulating his ideas, drawing his conclusions, or compiling his report.
    Question 21: Why is there no published detail of his appointment, his work or his agenda? Why has the Process been made so inaccessible and invisible to public scrutiny, support and involvement?

    Question 22: He is meant to be working with the TEAC. Is there a mailing list? Are they working with documents which the rest of us can see, and offer input to?

    Question 23: The 12 critical questions may well merit input from all constituencies and the general public, whose contributions might usefully inform Sebastien's conclusions and recommendations. How can we all work together on the NewTLD Evaluation Process if most people are locked out of it?

    Statement H: The Internet is now a multi-billion pound enterprise, essential throughout the world for commerce, for health, for education, for communities. It has huge social and economic implications.
    Question 24: Is it realistic that the governance of an enterprise on this scale should be financially so constrained, that its processes are delayed and scaled down, because of lack of adequate staff and funding? Isn't it time for USG or other governments to upgrade this small Californian quango, and open up its management and methods?

    Question 25: Does the handling of the New TLDs Evaluation Process demonstrate a small amateurish set up, which seems incapable of operating professionally on the world stage, and safeguarding this vital world resource? Given the scale and proportions of the Internet, couldn't they have done better and sought out more than one candidate to evaluate their product, and shouldn't they have been subjected to an independent process run from outside their own committees and separate from their own staff?

    Question 26: Given the sum of $2million raised from the 44 applications for the previous TLDs, could the public have expected better value for money, better written agreements, and better results?

    And Finally:

    With just eight days of Sebastien's contract to run (the deadline set for his report) I have not been able to find a single mention of his work anywhere on ICANN's website.
    I am concerned that all we might get is an "in-house" process which lacks sufficient detail and objectivity.

    Hard questions need to be asked and these have been evaded by ICANN all the way down the line.

    It is usually not ICANN but independent participants who ask the honest and awkward questions. What guarantee do we have that this "in-house" process will encourage a truly objective Evaluation, which remains independent of ICANN interference? And learns lessons for next time?

    What have we learned about Sunrise, about Landrush, about abuse of process, about implementation and enforcement of agreements, about registrars who game the system to warehouse names for themselves, about proposed marketing budgets which evaporate into thin air?

    What I think we're likely to get is a Lite-version, which pays mere lip service to the "Proof of Concept", because it will suit ICANN to exhume as few skeletons as possible.

    What will be best for ICANN is a cheap, quick, lightweight, in-house report, which gives the appearance of an investigation, but is got out of the way as quietly as possible...

    ...as quietly, as Sebastien was appointed...

    Initially, the Evaluation Process seemed like a good pretext for delaying further TLDs. But in the end, it simply became an embarrassment, and ICANN has hidden it away and kept public participation to a minimum. They will invite comments, then they will move on.

    The long and winding road, New TLDs just over the next horizon, one day, one day perhaps we'll have them!

    Read the full Article or visit The Internet Challenge."

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      Related Links  
    · Dr. Paul Twomey
    · ICANNWatch.org
    · Daniel E. Halloran
    · ICANN
    · full Article
    · The Internet Challenge
    · Richard_Henderson
    · fuller study of the New TLDs Evaluation Process
    · More gTLDs hoping to enter the legacy root stories
    · Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    NewTLDs : The Long and Winding Road | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 51 comments | Search Discussion
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    Spot on
    by fnord (reversethis-{moc.oohay} {ta} {k2yorg}) on Friday October 24 2003, @02:37PM (#12519)
    User #2810 Info
    Everything you say is correct Richard, and well said. But I can't help feeling a little sad that you are knocking yourself out to do this when nothing will come of it (as nothing has to date).

    ICANN's new [icannwatch.org] lease on life (which has received surprisingly scant coverage, negative or otherwise) means that they are now even more empowered to stonewall, mislead, and generally act in the abominable fashion we have all come to know and hate. Job One of their new mandate is to:

    ...implement an objective process for selecting new Top Level Domains...
    Now they can stretch that out for another three years and at the end of that time come forward with a process. Not new TLDs, mind you, just a process.

    The call for new TLDs was also a prime reason for the creation of ICANN in the first place. They could not have made more of a mess of that if they had tried (and some suspect that that is exactly what they did). I submit that it is time to look past ICANN, and past the USG which has likewise bungled its self-appointed role of overseer. Even Americans opposed to the ICANN hegemony seem to hold little sway with their government, and I must admit I have seen little evidence that many of them tried very hard, though perhaps I am being unfair.

    You, I, and others being foreigners are given even shorter shrift. As the saying goes: thing globally, act locally. I urge you to get in touch with your own government, explain your concerns, educate them on the finer nuances if need be. I am attempting to do so here in Canada and it isn't as hard as it might sound. There is a natural aversion to the USG having sole control of the internet's off switch. Additionally at least our two ccTLDs (and many of the other large ones) have not bought into the ICANN groupthink, nor have the RIRs. They know, probably better than we do, what a crooked outfit ICANN is, and sooner or later much of the rest of the world may just let ICANN and the USG take their ball and go home. -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Quantitative Methods of TLD Evaluation
    by BenEdelman on Friday October 24 2003, @08:16PM (#12521)
    User #3219 Info | http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/edelman
    Without attempting to speak to the important and serious concerns Richard offers, I want to mention three additional areas of possible evaluation, namely quantitative evaluation for which the Internet itself provides all necessary data, that I would think the evaluation process would want to consider:
    1. Usage of the new TLDs. All else equal, I think most folks would agree that a TLD is of greater value to the world -- and we want more of this sort in the future -- if it includes more domain names that actually are put to active use, e.g. to provide web content (though, to be sure, there are other ways to use a domain name!).
    2. Enforcement of registration restrictions. All else equal, I think most folks would agree that it's better for a TLD to enforce the rules it has drafted than to let those rules lie fallow, unenforced. (Of course, all might not be equal; if enforcement were particularly difficult or costly, it might not make sense after all. But then we'd want to consider possible efforts at enforcement that are easier or cheaper)
    3. Sunrise policies' effect on protecting key domain names. All else equal, a sunrise policy that successfully assigns key famous names to the registrants of the corresponding trademarks is probably preferable to one that fails to do so. With a sensible sample of domains (say, the .COMs used by Fortune 1000 companies), it's easy enough to check who got the corresponding .BIZs and .INFOs -- whether these companies got them, or cybersquatters got them, or consumer groups, or something else.

    In the past, I've tried to answer some of these questions, e.g. with Survey of Usage of the .BIZ TLD [harvard.edu] and similar research as to .NAME [harvard.edu]. Making the connections to the specific areas of research suggested above -- 1) I've prepared an analysis of usage rates of .BIZ domains [harvard.edu], 2) a listing of noncomplying .NAME domains [harvard.edu], 3) a framework for tracking disposition of famous names [harvard.edu] (to be sure, so far applied to open ccTLDs rather than new gTLDs).

    I haven't thought much recently about extending these projects -- to do a comprehensive comparison of web usage rates across the new gTLDs, for example -- though the methodology is clear and the analysis tools already in place. Anyone interested in the results?

    Ben Edelman [harvard.edu]
    Berkman Center for Internet & Society [harvard.edu]
    Harvard Law School [harvard.edu]

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Where's the $300K
    by jberryhill on Sunday October 26 2003, @05:02PM (#12534)
    User #3013 Info

    So, what did he do with the money?
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    ICANN Board postponing further sTLDs
    by Richard_Henderson on Tuesday October 28 2003, @03:36AM (#12559)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/

    The ICANN Board, in a move which reverses Stuart Lynn's proposal for at least 3 more sponsored TLDs, announced its view that any further TLDs should be postponed indefinitely, on the grounds that they should focus on Evaluation, and on the grounds that they were understaffed.

    This is astonishing. Read their Oct 20 comments here:

    http://www.icann.org/minutes/prelim-report-13oct03 .htm [icann.org]

    "Mr. Twomey reviewed for the Board... considerations raised by the community and Board members on the creation of new sTLDs and new TLDs generally. ...and what timeline for the consideration of new sTLDs, and eventually new generic TLDs was feasible and responsible in light of work to be done."

    "A suggestion was that gTLD specific issues be set aside until these issues could be reviewed and examined in detail, expert analysis could be undertaken and community input received. Further, it was noted that the nature of TLD relationships with ICANN was a structure under much debate at present, and deserved a better understanding of the goals of the parties prior to expanding the number of these relationships."

    "Board members remarked on the significant staffing constraints for ICANN at present, and the foreseen lack of an ability for ICANN to both oversee a round of new sTLD applications, and also invest significant resources and time in gathering and analyzing data on gTLD issues."

    "The board debated the wisdom in moving ahead with the creation of new TLDs at this time, in light of the need to shortly commence a full scale review of policy in this area. A brief debate ensued among Board members as to the appropriate set of issues that should be included in a review and development of policy relating to the creation of new TLDs."

    "Board members voiced concerns that many of the TLDs created during the 2000 round were still struggling with myriad acceptance and distribution issues, and that these issues should be carefully examined and addressed to the extent possible prior to considering the creation of new TLDs on a large-scale basis."

    "Discussion ensued among the Board members; in particular, board members focused on the short time frame set forth in the new MoU for the development of strategy and policy in this area, and concerns that any action on sTLDs at present would detract from that effort"

    "In summarizing the views expressed on the topic, Mr. Cerf noted the discussion among the Board did not seem supportive of moving forward with a limited round of new sTLDs at this time."

    So it seems that the world must wait, and not a single further TLD will proceed, because ICANN is not up to the job of evaluating and launching further TLDs.

    Everything has to be delayed because ICANN has not (after all this time) carried out its Evaluation Process, and does not have staff to do the work.

    We are talking about a worldwide resource generating billions of pounds and vital for a huge range of social, health and educational resources.

    Why is the development of this resource being delayed by a handful of people working from a few offices in a manner which is demonstrably amateur?

    Why is the development of this resource being delayed by ICANN's admitted shortcomings?

    Or are these delays further evidence of a deliberate strategy?

    Richard Henderson

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Bachollet Report Postponed
    by Richard_Henderson on Tuesday October 28 2003, @07:14AM (#12562)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/

    Although Sebastien Bachollet's report was scheduled for release this month (3 days left), he has announced to the Registrars today that the draft report will not now be published until the middle or end of January.

    Further time will be needed before a final report is submitted.

    His Evaluation team consists of Summit Strategies Intl. (Miriam Sapiro); Solucom (Michel Briche); with Sebastien Bachollet supervising.

    Linked to the news that the ICANN Board believes the next TLDs should be postponed for resourcing reasons, this delay in the Evaluation Process simply adds to the case presented for inertia.

    The key question now is: how detailed will the report be? Will it be so 'high-level' that the detail will be glossed over? Will people be able to submit statements to Sebastien in a due process? Will there be an interface?

    At the Registrars' meeting today, Paul Twomey also stressed the importance he attaches to staffing - "these things should not be rushed," he said. "International searches are important".

    Did he apply this scrutiny to the selection of the Evaluation team? Who else submitted applications for the contract?

    Although Paul Twomey spoke quite incisively, and impressed me with his sharpness and presentation, he came across as a man under considerable pressure - faced with inadequate resources (and particularly staffing resources) to handle the urgent tasks which ICANN faces.

    Consequently he talked about prioritising. It seems as if the Board does not regard the expansion of TLDs a first priority.

    The postponement of TLDs... the domination of the market by Verisign... the surprise announcement that .name seems to be changing itself from a restricted domain to "another .com" selling generic domains and abandoning its limitation to personal names (obviously for financial reasons)...

    This all smacks of an unravelling situation. I'm convinced that much of the problem boils down to ICANN's finances - whatever the reason, the world is being kept waiting for NewTLDs because ICANN can't keep up.

    Richard Henderson

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    New TLD Evaluation
    by JeffD on Thursday October 30 2003, @08:55AM (#12574)
    User #3702 Info

    As always, I have to applaud and admire your stamina in refusing to allow this topic to die without resolution.

    The implementation of the new TLD's in 2001 - and particularly the Sunrise policies that were made an integral part of the process - should not be allowed to escape detailed scrutiny due to the mass abuse of the process and other reasons clearly identified in your message - issues that ICANN seems determined to ignore.

    Re. Ben Edleman's comments, I have already carried out a quantitive analysis of the effectiveness of the release of the .info TLD under Sunrise conditions. It was published on this forum and is also available at http://www.infous.com/ICANNAfilias/AnalysisSunrise Reg.asp.

    This analysis - conducted in April 2003 of 14,092 Sunrise registrations based on a claim to a US trademark - concluded that the Sunrise process had significantly hindered the use of the new TLD addresses to create new Internet content by new Internet registrants. It found that only 4 of these registrations had led to new Internet content being provided. Only one of these was for a purpose associated with the trademark on which the registration was based. No-one has taken issue with the data or conclusions.

    It is, therefore, little wonder that ICANN has declined to produce the evaluation reports that were required by its own agreements to be completed and published. I personally doubt that they were ever produced - otherwise ICANN would have a very hard time explaining their failure to publish them. I think it is much more likely that they connived with the various registries that they should not be produced - and hoped that delay and avoidance would eventually lead to the issue being forgotten. The current lame attempt to conduct a much scaled-back evaluation - citing lack of funds - should not be allowed to avoid this issue being fully evaluated as originally agreed.

    As this issue is fundamental to my Federal lawsuit against them, I have requested that Afilais provide their evaluation reports to me as part of the process of discovery. Although this request was made several months ago, Afilias has, so far, not provided any of the requested information. In early August they advised me that they would only provide information if I agreed to a confidentiality agreement which they were preparing to send to me. I have still not received it nor any substantive response to further requests for documents. If there are any attorneys out there who have experience of discovery being limited by confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements and wish to assist, I would be happy to hear from them.

    Keep up the good work, Richard. That YesNIC still exists as an ICANN and Afilias accredited registrar is ample evidence that both ICANN and Afilias have a LONG way to go to demonstrate accountability for the legitimacy and honesty of the processes under their control.

    And, in case anyone is wondering, I am not done with legal action against ICANN and the DoC...

    Jeff Davies
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Appendix U Registry Reports Finally Published!!!
    by Richard_Henderson on Thursday October 30 2003, @04:19PM (#12578)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/

    Hang on - since I last looked, the .info Registry Evaluation Report has been slotted onto the ICANN website, backdated to August 2002 (the date .info apparently submitted it to ICANN).

    .info Appendix U report [icann.org]

    I haven't had time to read it in detail, but it's been over a year coming, so I shall go and have a good malt whisky to celebrate!

    I haven't had time to check if the .biz report has also been put up.

    These reports were defined as essential to the Evaluation Process by the NTEPPTF, and we have waited far too long to get them, but the .info one is certainly there.

    Of course, Afilias live in a parallel universe of spin, and they are unwilling to address the detailed abuse of process which even involved some of their own Directors. To quote their intro:

    "The Sunrise Period and the Landrush Period were very successful and achieved the goals they set out to achieve."


    ... Richard Henderson

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    .aero receive first questions from Sebastien
    by Richard_Henderson on Friday October 31 2003, @06:23AM (#12590)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/

    I understand from conversations in Carthage that .aero received its first questionnaire from Sebastien Bachollet 3 days ago so his New TLDs Evaluation Process is finally underway.

    This is yet another delay of a process which has now been spun out for years. Note the schedule Sebastien himself offered here, promising to be finished by now:

    Sebastien's 4th April Timetable [google.co.uk]

    Bearing in mind that the NTEPPTF submitted its report in summer 2002, and the urgency of carrying out this evaluation, why are registries being approached now, at the end of October 2003, exactly when Sebastien promised his report would be published?

    Richard Henderson

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:"Let's face it, the new TLD "testbed" is dead"
    by fnord (reversethis-{moc.oohay} {ta} {k2yorg}) on Monday October 27 2003, @02:27PM (#12547)
    User #2810 Info
    It certainly is dead, but
    four years after MdR 2000
    is still more than a year away. -g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:Ask Esther where the $500,000 went.
    by cambler (chris@ambler.net) on Monday October 27 2003, @05:50PM (#12552)
    User #36 Info | http://onthenet.ambler.net/
    I told them not to spend it all in one place. But do they listen to me?!

    Ambler On The Net [ambler.net]

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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