[NA-Discuss] FW: The European Commission Papers on ICANN

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Wed Sep 7 19:52:08 UTC 2011

Hi folks.

I respect the views of both John and Joly and am somewhat distressed to see
them talking at each other rather than to each other.

The more time I spend in ICANN At-Large, the more I believe it to be
captured in the manner John describes. His cynicism is well-deserved. The
pushback against public-interest concerns such as reduced gTLD fees in
developing countries and reliable WHOIS date is, to say the least,
astonishing. The vitriol launched against Knujon's research and the
subsequent personal attacks against its principals have me absolutely
convinced that the Bruens are onto something, and touching a very raw nerve.
And the funding of registrar outreach events while starving of At-Large ones
speaks for itself.

ICANN's commitment its the vaunted multi-stakeholder model ebbs and flows
depending on the politics of the moment. The fact that the ICANN Board has
rejected or ignored every single initiative of At-Large (save for the Summit
whose policy recommendations were themselves ALL rejected or ignored)
belittles its claim to represent the broader community.

Yes, we've been told, At-Large has made tremendous strides. We're respected.
We elect someone directly to the Board. Bully for us. Yet the public
interest routinely gets trashed in favour of the interests of the domain
industry. (Something as seemingly no-brainer as eliminating domain tasting
was needlessly drawn out.) And now the governments of the world have woken
up to that fact -- thanks to grotesque arrogance of ICANN and its patrons in
earlier policy stages -- such that the resulting (and legitimate) debate is
whether the cure will be worse than the disease. ICANN has separate sets of
openness rules for its contracted parties and everyone else, as At-Large has
found when trying to send representatives to ICANN-organized "technical"
meetings with registrars.

Having said all that, I am still here, not yet having declared my efforts
here a waste of time. But I've come close.

I *like* to think that ICANN, seeing the oncoming threats from governments,
will see "multi-stakeholder" as something else than the "50% domain
industry, 50% everyone else" formula which describes the current GNSO. But
if that happens it will be a massive change of momentum. Even though the
GNSO just came through a major restructuring -- in which the domain industry
had far too much influence -- I expect another one is in the cards if ICANN
doesn't want its industry capture replaced by government capture.

But I also see Joly's points. The namespace needs some new TLDs, if only to
relieve (but not correct) a problem of ICANN's own making -- a wild west
environment in which having as many names as possible out there is more
important than only having names useful to those who are actually looking
for or providing Internet content. A few new TLDs, properly marketed, may
help remove perception of dot-com as the must-go-to place. It might, but it
might just as easily not.

And then there are the many communities who think they can duplicate the
success of dot-cat. Most are in for a nasty surprise, but some will also
survive and maybe even thrive. More depends on the dynamics of the
communities themselves than whether the TLD was well-conceived. But some of
the efforts are so bad they're unintentionally
some are just merely bad, and some are just sad. Every time Tom Lowenhaupt
comes on this list to talk up dot-nyc I practically want to cry for him; the
more he promotes it, the less viable it seems to be. Still, I guess they
have the right to try, but how much pain will the public go through dealing
with both the flood and the subsequent contraction? I'm just glad I'm not
one of the ones funding any of them, and I myself would fight strongly
against using my municipal tax money for, say, dot-toronto.

Yes, the process is massively tilted in favour of the domain industry, and
the interest of Internet content suppliers and consumers is only indirectly
(if ever) considered. The existing domain industry -- registry providers,
consultants, registrars and speculators -- stands to make an awful lot of
money from investors and communities, most of whom are going to endure a
financial evisceration not seen since .... dot-travel. Having said that,
while a few new gTLDs are needed we will get far more than we need -- to the
disgust of information suppliers and consumers but the delight of the domain

John is right that the dam has burst, but Joly is also right that we still
need to put up some levees.

Personally, I am undecided whether governments could be a worse steward of
the name system than the domain industry -- through its proxy, ICANN -- has
been so far. One way or the other, the status quo will change. I can hope
that the ICANN Board sees what's coming, but history has not offered much
optimism. This board can't even manage its own staff.

Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
Em: evan at telly dot org
Sk: evanleibovitch
Tw: el56

On 7 September 2011 13:31, John R. Levine <johnl at iecc.com> wrote:

> > I take it a large proportion of the multistakeholders, the gnso, and the
> > ICANN board,  7 years of process etc, are all as wrong as Milton, are
> > similarly not worth the time.
> Yes, of course they are all wrong.  As I've said before, ICANN is about as
> egregious an example of weak leadership and regulatory capture as can be
> imagined.
> > But to more pertinent questions, do you not agree that, as TLDs
> proliferate
> > 1) while many will be unimportant, that some - like for instance .asia
> which
> > allows trans-regional commercial identity - are going to significantly
> > forward human progress, 2) that "protection racket" schemes will founder
> as
> > the public becomes more sophisticated, major marks move to .brands, and
> the
> > URS becomes a familiar process. 3) that the precise reason that the
> > multistakeholder process was initiated in the first place was to avoid EC
> > style shenanigans of the type Milton describes?
> No, I do not agree with any of those.  That was easy, wasn't it?
> R's,
> John
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