ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again?
Date: Tuesday August 20 2002, @03:25AM
Topic: .org

Faced with eleven competing bids for the valuable .org franchise, ICANN has made a "perliminary" announcement it will give .org to ISOC, the body with the closest ties to members of the ICANN board. April Fool? No, sorry, it's August, so we're all fools -- especially the people who spent money putting in competing proposals. The ISOC proposal nakedly says it will take money from .org registrants to support ISOC, a body that recently pulled an ICANN and disenfranchised its individual, and formerly dues-paying, members. The ISOC board is now controlled by corporations that buy memberships. (Details on ISOC's anti-democratic turn can be found at open-isoc.org, in a paper by Mario Chiari and an essay by Randy Wright [URL fixed, courtesy of fnord's pointer --tbyfield]).

ICANN's decision to favor ISOC will rescue ISOC from a looming financial crisis. It will also reek of a 'done deal' since people have been saying for more than two years that top ICANN honchos wanted to give .org to ISOC to bail it out of its financial hole. ISOC was formerly headed by Vint Cerf, who is now the Chair of ICANN's Board. ICANN's vice-chair, Alejandro Pisanty, is chair of ISOC-Mexico. Other ICANN Board members have ties to ISOC too. [Update (8/20): in fairness I should note the the ISOC appliation was not unique in this, as at least one Board member had ties to another applicant.] Of course by the time we have the stage show with formal 'recusals' it will be too late to matter (ICANN has a history of recusals on votes only, but not debates; ISOC-connected Board members participated in the Board's previous discussion of the .org matter).

There's a staff report, backed by consultants, supporting this latest inisider deal. At first glance, one thing that jumps out is that the staff gave quite low marks for technical merit to the plan designed by Internet pioneers Vixie and Malamud, which to my admittedly inexpert eye looked like a strong contender for the registry. But ICANN's consultants Gartner slammed them: Malamud and Vixie "did not demonstrate experience as either a registry or a registrar." Which leads me to conclude that if ICANN and its advisors had been asked to rate the PC and internet as ideas 20 years ago, we'd be using timeshare slices on Honeywell, Burroughs and IBM mainframes and communicating by telegrams e-mailed to the local post office and then delivered by the local mail carrier.

ICANN wants window-dressing comments on the draft report by August 29, 2002. That's nine days for public comment. ICANN will then re-issue the report, no doubt with the same conclusion, on September 5, 2002, and the ICANN Board will approve it in a private meeting not open to the public in late September.

Early news coverage here.

Early reactions online include Thomas Roessler's post to the NCDNHC's list, .org report is numerically inconsistent, which although not by itself something that would change the outcome, suggests that there's a lot of checking to be done.

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Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by PeterBarron (pebarron@hotmail.com) on Tuesday August 20 2002, @04:26AM (#8581)
User #3240 Info | http://www.icannwatch.org/
I do so hate to say that I told you all so.

++Peter
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday August 20 2002, @05:29AM (#8588)
User #2810 Info
The link to an essay on ISOC by Randy Wright presently points only to icannwatch.org. The hyperlink is empty. I don't know if you meant this by Randy Wright regarding ISOC elections, but it is worth reading anyway. -g
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by RFassett on Tuesday August 20 2002, @06:48AM (#8592)
User #3226 Info | http://www.enum.info
Michael writes:

"Which leads me to conclude that if ICANN and its advisors had been asked to rate the PC and internet as ideas 20 years ago, we'd be using timeshare slices on Honeywell, Burroughs and IBM mainframes and communicating by telegrams e-mailed to the local post office and then delivered by the local mail carrier."

This is a great comment but ICANN is in the "stability" business not the "innovation" business. In this case, it clearly defined - and heavily weighted - technical stability relative to .org as previous experience in operating a TLD registry. The evaluators then drilled down from there.

Whether this was proper "stability criteria" for ICANN to instruct its evaluators is a different subject all together, mostly as this relates to such criteria being a moving target rather than a well documented list of minimum technical specifications (that would largely remove subjectivity).

In this case, the fact .org already existed with a material registration base was used as its "reason of the month" to justify its stability criteria. Again, ICANN avoids setting precedent. For example, if a new player could prove to operate .org based upon a set of technical criteria it adheres to, then why could a new player not operate a brand new TLD registry based upon the very same technical criteria? ICANN wanted no part of this precedent and actually called it a stability risk to .org as justification.

This is the same as saying that ICANN admits it is incapable - or not qualified - to produce the technical specification criteria that would reasonably ensure for the community the ongoing functionality of the .org registry. Instead, it picked "prior experience" that makes sense on the surface but severely limited the viable candidates for re-delegation. This was the best ICANN was able to do as a technical coordination body....I think anyone could have done that.
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Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday August 20 2002, @10:28AM (#8599)
User #2810 Info
Both Bret Fausett here and Thomas Roessler here call additional aspects of the evaluation into question. -g
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Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Wednesday August 21 2002, @05:29AM (#8623)
User #2810 Info
Sotiris Sotiropoulos raises an interesting point on the GA list. How can ISOC be a registry and also be heavily involved with the At Large (at least ICANN's version of it)?

And why does the report give an email address for comments, and not ICANN's own forum? So that the comments aren't open and transparent to all?

Thomas Roessler's blog, link to the left on this page, points to additional press coverage. -g

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: ICANN to Give .org to ISOC: Insiders Win Again
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday August 20 2002, @05:17AM (#8587)
User #2810 Info
SFAIK, Arthur Andersen is not, and has not, been ICANN's accounting firm. That is a rumor that refuses to die. They did serve as consultants for the new TLD application process, which is not the same thing at all. Other than that, I agree with you. -g
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Re: Board Members not involved?
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Tuesday August 20 2002, @07:36PM (#8613)
User #2810 Info
The Board hires the staff, the staff is thus at least theoretically (and even on paper) subservient to the BoD. The staff comes up with an evaluation process, the BoD OK's it. The staff then recommends the evaluation teams. The BoD then OK's them. The evaluation teams then come forward with their recommendations, the staff then interprets those recommendations. The BoD then (though we have yet to see it) OK's it. The BoD and staff are all over this, although not in that order. It is all very well for the BoD to use the staff as an insulator and say, it wasn't our decision, the staff (and evaluators) made us do it. And it is all very well for the staff to say, it wasn't our decision, we're only doing what the evaluation teams called for (which is, frankly, crap), or that we're only doing what our employers told us to do, or at least OK'd.

What this current spin that you're trying shows only too well is that no-one in the ICANN pantheon will accept responsibility for their actions, they will go ahead and act (always to the benefit of a very few players who are already the source of most of ICANN's funds), and when they are challenged on any actions they will point at someone else and claim the devil made them do it. There is no leadership here, no integrity, no accountability (a BoD member has to sue to even see the accounts!), these folks are as worthy of trust as a nest of vipers. When you deal with them remember you might as well shake hands with snakes. -g

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