Conflict of interest on .org? The problem of multiple Blokzijls
Date: Tuesday May 14 2002, @12:26PM
Topic: Board of Directors

Those of us who were not in Accra had trouble understanding what happened to the DNSO policy statement on .org. We were particularly amazed by how the Board, without any warning or any supporting public record, abandoned the DNSO recommendation to give .org to a non-profit organization, proposing to allow major commercial registries to bid for it.

Now it is possible to understand better what happened. It seems that the major registries are even closer to the Board than we imagined.

One of the companies that has been making it clear that they want to be involved with .org is Neulevel. According to one knowledgeable source, before Accra they were making it known that four people were assigned to the .org bid full time.

According to the transcript, Board member Robert Blokzijl issued the stern warning that “there are not many organizations that have a demonstrated experience in running a registry with 3 million registered names.” This point was then picked up by Pisanty to guide the Board away from a nonprofit requirement. Seeking clear direction, Stuart Lynn asked whether he was being told to make “the foremost requirement” to delegate the .org registry to someone with “demonstrate[d] experience in operating a registry of scale.” The answer was yes. See the transcript on the ICANN site.

Such a criterion basically narrows the field to incumbents Verisign, Neulevel, Afilias, Core, and perhaps DE-NIC and Nominet UK, although Blokzijl also commented that “this is a little bit more than running a country code top-level domain” – a rather odd statement given the scale at which Nominet and DE-NIC operate. And since .org cannot be divested to Verisign, that little turn in the discussion massively enhanced Neulevel’s prospects, making it one of two or three leading candidates.

As it happens, Mr. Blokzijl has a special relationship to Neulevel. His wife, Lynn Hardy Blokzijl, was hired by Neulevel a few months after they were married. She registered for the Marina del Rey meeting as a Neulevel employee.

Maybe this is just a coincidence. It is possible that Mr. Blokzijl's insistence that .org be given to a company with "demonstrated experience" and the Board's subsequent vote to permit commercial applicants was a legitimate concern unrelated to Neulevel's lobbying campaign. It is possible that Neulevel's hiring of Mrs. Blokzijl had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she was married to a Board member.

Even so, given the sharp deviation from unanimously approved DNSO recommendations, the incident raises concerns about what really drives ICANN decisions. Perhaps ICANN’s Conflict of Interest committee should look into this.

Oh, by the way, the committee is chaired by Mr Blokzijl.

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Re: Conflict of interest on .org? The problem of B
by PeterBarron ( on Tuesday May 14 2002, @01:14PM (#6334)
User #3240 Info |
It seems to me that each and every time ICANN makes a change within the scope of a registry (adding new TLDs, rebidding a TLD), the only ones that really get to play are the encumbants.

It's one big old boys club, with everyone on the outside being told to stay out in the cold.

This isn't competition.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Conflict of interest on .org? The problem of m
by fnord ( on Tuesday May 14 2002, @03:43PM (#6337)
User #2810 Info
This is outrageous. It calls for nothing short of Mr Blokzijl's immediate resignation from the Board. It also calls into question the judgement of the rest of the Board. Were they unaware that Mrs. Blokzijl, registered as a NeuLevel representative, was related by marriage to Mr Blokzijl, a Board member? If they were unaware of that they must have been willfully blind. If they were aware of that it is their duty as Directors to deal with the conflict of interest. Instead they chose to acquiesce in this hijack.

This is a clear (but far from the only) case of ICANN's web of corruption. All that is left is for the USG (or a lawsuit by an aggrieved party) to finally kick in the rotted door. -g

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Conflict of interest on .org? The problem of m
by PeterBarron ( on Wednesday May 15 2002, @09:27AM (#6380)
User #3240 Info |
It is also very apparent that Afilias was caught with their pants down when they failed to get .WEB out of ICANN. Their projections were based on .WEB, and the fact that they got .INFO not only blew those projections, but also caused most of their funding to be withdrawn. They're doing anything they can to stay afloat, and failing.

This whole smelly line about how .ORG must be given to a company that has already proven their ability to run a large TLD is merely an excuse to ensure that an established player gets it. At least ICANN is transparent in this one regard.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: NeuStar employees favorite place
by fnord ( on Friday May 17 2002, @09:17PM (#6442)
User #2810 Info
Owch, sounds brutal. And for some good people. Just how bad is it? And wazzup with ".org is in the bag"? -g
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Re: Conflict of interest on .org? The problem of m
by fnord ( on Tuesday May 21 2002, @08:28PM (#6470)
User #2810 Info
SFAIK, Pud has yet to post pictures of the Bat-headed boy in Accra, and we'll know soon enough if there's more NeuLevel layoffs. -g
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