ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
Date: Tuesday March 19 2002, @07:31AM
Topic: New gTLDs

Richard_Henderson writes "It was revealed in an e-mail from ICANN today that they were proposing to close down the New TLD Forum, their most popular Public Forum (which has received over 7000 contributions in recent months). This, in a week when Stuart Lynn branded it "a joke" and initiated action to free the Board from democratic accountability to the online community.

[Editor's note: this was submitted a couple of days ago, and I held it thinking that surely the poster had to be the victim of a hoax. I emailed several people at ICANN asking them to confirm or deny the planned closure. No one replied. And now all of a sudden the Forum has a big red notice saying "closed". That will teach me. -mf]"

The New TLD Forum has brought to light much information on the chaos and fraud surrounding the roll-out of the .info and .biz names. Now members of the forum are fighting back, arguing that the TLD roll-out is far from finished and demanding a voice for the internet public and the ordinary consumer.

The New TLD agreements have been advertised as ICANN's "proof of concept"... well, the "proof of concept" is far from proven, in fact it remains a shambles.

The public forum has followed the working out of the TLD agreements and commented on them, providing a vital analysis from the standpoint of the consumer and the internet public.

Early on it challenged the assumption that a trademark name (held by hundreds of different companies) could be rightly assigned to one entity at what ICANN called "Sunrise".

Before Sunrise even took place, it predicted that the system would be abused and warned the so-called professionals.

It questioned the right of ICANN to hijack a TLD like .biz from a company that was already making its living from it.

As the first Sunrise frauds came to light, it blew the whistle on domain-squatters like Govinda Leopold, the Afilias board member who obtained fake Sunrise names through the use of phoney Trademark numbers.

It predicted the scale of the fraud would be in the region of 20% - a claim strongly refuted by Michael Palage but which later turned out to be absolutely correct.

It was vindicated by the resignation of Afilias Director Robert Connelly, who called the .info Sunrise an "abomination".

It offered through the Domebase solution an equitable and commonsense solution to the Sunrise fiasco, but was ignored by ICANN and Afilias.

It brought to light deliberate falsification of Trademark data by Registars, and extracted admissions from executives like Lars Hindsley.

It revealed the way in which companies like Speednames (represented on the Afilias board) and Domainbank (run by Afilias CEO Lubsen) had profited by a total exceeding $500,000 to abuse Afilias's own Sunrise system, by submitting facially ineligible Trademark data.

It published the hundreds of names falsely registered by ICANN accredited registrars, and asked why ICANN was prepared to support these companies, and accommodate their fraud without sanction.

It called on Vint Cerf and Stuart Lynn to enter into dialogue and just talk about some of these very serious concerns.

It showed the world the "scam" of the same names being sold first for the Landrush, then at Sunrise, and now being sold yet again for a third time at Landrush 2.

It worked co-operatively and asked questions which it was fair and reasonable to ask.

And the New TLD Agreements STILL require a forum as long as the "proof of concept" has not reached its chaotic conclusion. Because the key issues for discussion are not the paperwork, but how these agreements work out in practice and impact upon consumers.

In short, with over 10000 key .info generics still unaccounted for and locked up; and even more key .biz names lost in a void after legal action; it has to be said that the real roll-out has hardly even begun.

This same week, the ICANN board under Stuart Lynn's discredited leadership has initiated steps to remove the democratically accountable elements of the Board. Even senior congressmen have had enough of ICANN's opaque dealings.

And to cap it all, Stuart Lynn has marginalised the Public Forum as "a joke".

It's absolutely simple : forums of this kind (which has had over 7000 contributions in its short life) are a tiny window through which some light of truth may shine.

In a free and democratic society it is right that consumers should be protected; that consumers should ask fair questions; and that executives who claim the right to administer a worldwide resource (for all humanity) should be answerable and accountable in an open and honest process.

To say that ICANN has failed in this duty is a huge understatement. It has known (and been made aware) of successive frauds. It has been party to contracts which facilitated these frauds. And it has presided over the fraudulent activities of its protege registrars which it continues to accredit and promote - without sanction or public criticism.

This new TLD forum is not over, because the internet community will not be sidelined by a quango which grows self-perpetuating and drifts further and further from the consumers it purports to serve.

Vint Cerf had a not insignificant reputation in the past. Much indeed has been owed to him in times gone by. But he has kept silent. He has evaded this group. By association with ICANN, he has presided over processes which ran away from public comment. Processes which surrendered the consumer interest of small businesses and the internet community in favour of big business and the Trademark lobby.

He has sided with those who were prepared to accommodate a culture of corruption. He has presided over the defrauding of Landrush customers who lost in the region of $3,000,000. He has presided over the fraudulent actions and the imbecilic ineptitude of the Afilias Board and executive. He has smiled benignly at the corrupt Registrars and when proven corrupt, he has continued to accredit them and promote them in the name of ICANN.

Where is the consumer in all this?

Where is the protection for ordinary people?

That is, primarily, what the ICANN public forum has all been about.

ICANN's defence has repeatedly been that this has all been a "proof of concept". But the losses sustained as a result of fraud, as a result of Registry and Registrar abuse, as a result of non-existent safeguards - these were not a "proof of concept" : these were real people losing real money, losing real time, losing real ideals and plans for their future.

The members of the public forum wish to continue to monitor the implementation of the New TLD agreements.

No open, honest and transparent organisation could deny that it has an important role to fulfil, and any half-decent organisation would value the input, dialogue and co-operation that this forum can offer.

It is not yet appropriate to close this forum. It would be more appropriate for ICANN to question the continuing mandate of its own executive.

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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday March 19 2002, @09:11AM (#5399)
User #2810 Info
As far as ICANN scandals go, I put this one well down the list. ICANN is now in the process of evaluating the new TLDs (in fact it is overdue in that task, like just about everything else). I fail to see why those wishing to post can't just move over to this more appropriate forum that has been up for some time.

M. Stuart Lynn, while discussing the NTEPPTF at Accra, said that 42 comments had been received, of which 2 were on-topic. Sadly, the signal to noise ratio of the just closed forum wasn't much better. Certainly, much good information has come out of there, I said so myself here on ICANNWatch 7 months ago, but it's time to move on, or over.

Or off ICANN entirely, seeing as they never respond (and probably don't read) their own forums, that also could be looked at as a solution, and would disable ICANN from pulling the plug, at least by that method. I'm assuming that amongst the many posters to that forum who are speculators (who generate most of the noise), there must be someone with a domain that could be put to use. -g

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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by tlr (reversethis-{gro.tsixe-ton-seod} {ta} {relsseor}) on Wednesday March 20 2002, @02:26AM (#5419)
User #34 Info | http://log.does-not-exist.org/
I have to admit that I find myself in agreement with Stuart on considering the current public forum system a "joke". It is. And we all know that there are better forms of public discussion than unmoderated and unstructured web forums. ICANNwatch is just one example.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Wednesday March 20 2002, @02:30AM (#5420)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
I don't agree very often with ICANN leadership, but I have to agree that, for the most part, the ICANN forums are a joke. While some meaningful information did come to light there, it's mostly a wasteland of whining, bellyaching, repetitive tirades, and (worst of all in terms of lowering the signal-to-noise ratio) huge numbers of one-liner "me-too" postings from people who seem to think it's a chat room rather than a commentary forum. Whoever got the "brilliant" idea that they could write their message entirely in the subject line and end it with "EOM" should be taken out and shot. That's resulted in the visible messages on the forum screen consisting largely of that sort of useless garbage and causing meaningful messages to be lost in the noise.

ICANNWatch seems to have a higher proportion of meaningful messages, with the exception of a brief period a few months ago when the mindless chatterers seemed to be trying to take it over.
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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Wednesday March 20 2002, @04:41PM (#5449)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
1

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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Thursday March 21 2002, @01:27AM (#5457)
User #2810 Info
You shot yourself in the foot by registering those names. -g
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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Thursday March 21 2002, @05:28AM (#5467)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
If these are intended to be noncommercial sites for commentary and information, why use .com addresses? Wouldn't .info or .org be more appropriate?
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Credibility and Bad Faith
by WIPOorgUK on Thursday March 21 2002, @09:03AM (#5480)
User #3146 Info | http://wipo.org.uk/
I would say those gentlemen were acting in Bad Faith and lack any credibility - because they are not doing their job properly.

As well as being incompetent, they have shown contempt and arrogance towards the Internet community.

Richard is not using domains for speculative or squatting purposes - he has fair use - for free speech issues.

Just like WIPO.org.uk is to UN WIPO.

Are you the same Anonymous Coward that did not answer my questions - because he was to frightened to tell the truth?

I have no problem with people being anonymous - but at least get yourself a handle pal.
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Re: ICANN Closes Most Popular Comment Forum
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Saturday March 23 2002, @04:27AM (#5514)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
every dot-info registration means one less dot-com renewal.

I don't see how that's true. Even registrants who changed their site addresses directly from .com to .info probably mostly won't let their old .com addresses expire because of the predators who register expiring domains and put up porn sites. Other .info registrations are for sites that were formerly .org, .us, or other non-.com domains, or for sites that didn't have any domain at all before. Thus, the new TLD grew the market instead of shrinking it.
These companies also benefit greatly by speculative registartions, fueled by the trade in "aftermarket" domain names. This market would have collapsed if new TLD were to have succeeded,

Another dubious statement; I'd think that the success of a new TLD would increase the degree of speculation in new TLDs, rather than decreasing it.
It has been a year since pre-registration has been open for these domains and the only serious website so far is the one by the American Handball Association, and who would want to set up in a TLD that has been so marred by scandal, anyway?

How about the New York MTA whose mta.info site is advertised to all commuters passing through Grand Central Station? That seems pretty high-profile to me. The scandals regarding new TLDs have been pretty much confined to a few websites and message boards; the general public doesn't know or care about them.
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  • This article comes from ICANNWatch
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