"During the 18 October 2004 (closed) ICANN Board of Directors conference call, the Board "approved" a resolution (not posted for public comment 21 days in advance, and without notice in the agenda 7 days in advance that it would be considered, both of which are required by ICANN's bylaws) authorizing negotiation of an agreement with the ".travel" sponsorship applicant(s).
All this was only revealed with the posting of the minutes on 3 March 2005. By that timer the (secret) negotiations were probably already well under way, if not complete, since on 24 March 2005 a notice was posted on ICANN's web site that "ICANN has completed negotiations with the applicants for the .JOBS and .TRAVEL sponsored top-level domains. The .JOBS and .TRAVEL sponsored TLD registry agreements have been posted on the ICANN website and submitted to the ICANN Board for approval."
Only portions of the "proposed (by whom it was or is being proposed is not clear) agreement were actually posted: one of the posted portions incorporates by reference as its "Appendix A" an "agreement"::http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/ travel/proposed-travel-app-a-2apr05.pdf dated 24 February 2004 between the applicant to ICANN (Tralliance Corp.) and the Travel Partnership Corporation (TTPC), which describes itself as the "sponsor" of ".travel".
There are particular questions about who is really behind the application, and who will really control ".travel", because of the revelation on 17 November 2004, just after the initial (secret) October 2004 ICANN Board vote to authorize (secret) negotiations with Tralliance, that on 25 February 2003 Tralliance Corp. had (secretly) concluded an agreement for its sale to theGlobe.com/Voiceglo, contingent on ICANN approval of its application for ".travel".
In addition to the lateness of its disclosure, the TTPC-Tralliance agreement raises many more question than it answers.
In particular, it describes the TTPC as "successor to the International Air Transportation ("IATA") to submit an application to the Internet Corporatiuon for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") to sponsor ".travel" as a new Internet sTLD." Even more significantly, it says that:
IATA as per the memorandum entered into with Tralliance on October 22, 2002, has agreed to relinquish the prosecution of its pending application before ICANN for ".travel" to Tralliance, and thereby transferred to Tralliance the sole responsibility, among others, for (i) overseeing sponsorship of the TLD.
That 22 October 2002 "memorandum" between Tralliance and IATA still has not been made public by ICANN, TTPC, or any of the parties to the agreement. So far as had been known until now, IATA's application remained pending (not having been approved by ICANN, but neither having been rejected nor withdrawn) in parallel with the Tralliance/TPPC application.
Most importantly of all, what exactly was "transferred" by IATA to Tralliance pursuant to this (still secret) memorandum of understanding? ICANN had never officially or publicly granted IATA any rights or responsibility with respect to ".travel". The only responsibility IATA could possibly have transferred to Tralliance would have been the responsibility to act as IATA's proxy for continued pursuit of ICANN approval of ".travel". The only reason I can imagine for this is as a not-very-subtle signal to ICANN that IATA would consider approval by ICANN of the Tralliance/TPPC ".travel" sponsorship application as fulfilling ICANN's secret back-room promise to IATA.
If I have to guess about what is going on, and what has happened in these various meetings and negotiations between ICANN and the ".travel' applicants, that is solely ICANN's fault for having failed to give notice of these meetings or open them to observers to "the maximum extent feasible".
ICANN began its latest meeting yesterday -in Mar del Plata, Argentina -- the same day the Tralliance-TTPC agreement was released, revealing the existence of the still-secret IATA-Tralliance memorandum of understanding. The Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on Friday, 8 April 2005. None of the proposed ".travel' agreement was posted on the ICANN Web site until 24 March 2005, less than 21 days before the Board meeting. And no agenda at all has been posted for the board meeting as of today, less than seven days before it is scheduled.
By defining the current new sTLD application and approval process as part of an ongoing "proof of concept", ICANN has defined it explicitly as part of the process of developing a permanent TLD policy, and has thus made clear that it is subject to the requirement of ICANN's laws that proposed policy decisions be posted for 21 days of public comment before Board actions. And notice of all proposed Board actions must be given in a Board meeting agenda at least seven days in advance, unless ICANN can show that it was not yet known that the topic would be considered, or that it would not have been "practicable" to post the agenda that far in advance.
I still strongly suspect that ICANN nonetheless intends to give its putative "approval" on Friday in Mar del Plata to the Tralliance/TTPC/TheGlobe.com/Voiceglo/IATA application for ".travel", as the fulfillment of a years-old secret promise to IATA, and as the culmination of a years-long secret process of systematic, flagrant, and complete disregard, at every step of the way, for "the maximum extent feasible of openness and transparency" required by its own bylaws and by its contractual commitments to the USA Department of Commerce to formulate policy through a bottom-up consensus development process.
Any such "approval" would be legally null and void, subject to potential legal challenge (if any of those aggrieved, mainly the travelling public, could afford to mount such a challenge) and invalidation, and should properly be disregarded by the Dept. of Commerce (to whom ICANN can only make recommendations for the addition of new TLD's) and used by the DOC as the basis for revocation of its Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN for material breach of contract by ICANN.
If the ".travel" applications aren't rejected outright for fraud, they should be sent back for proper bottom-up consideration by travellers and other stakeholders, so that Tralliance, TTPC, TheGlobe.com/Voiceglo, and IATA, and the relationships and agreements between all of them, can be subjected to public comment and scrutiny, to see if any consensus emerges as to whether any of them should be delegated authority over ".travel".
But given the momentum of IATA & Co.'s ".travel" juggernaut, I'm not holding my breath for any of that to happen."