[At-Large] [NA-Discuss] Fwd: Re: Draft letter to House Energy & CommerceCommittee

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Dec 15 13:54:14 UTC 2011

On 14 December 2011 12:20, Garth Bruen at Knujon.com <gbruen at knujon.com>

I'm concerned that this does not specifically reference ALAC's statement on
> the program which is the subject of the hearings.

Hi Garth,

This was a matter of timing. We were not invited to participate (at least
that I am aware of), and only found out at the last moment. That we've been
able to submit something useful to just get their attention is an

I have heard in some circles that these Congressional hearings are just
political grandstanding, and that the official position of the US
government (at least as expressed by Larry Strickling) defends the
multi-stakeholder model and the current process. Supporters of new gTLDs
have interpreted this as support for the ICANN status quo, and that those
parts of the community who did not "get their way" in the program should
just stop whining and let the gTLD goldrush roll on.

I would submit, OTOH, that ALAC (and the public interest in general) was
never really part of the community that pressed for or bought into the new
gTLD program, its early fundamental flaws were deeply set before we were
even allowed to be involved. Our participation, this late in the program's
evolution, can best be characterized as damage mitigation; we have tried,
without major success(*), to influence some of its worst harms.

(*) - On applicant support there was partial success in that there was any
movement at all. But the major issue of fee reduction separate from any
ICANN "fund" -- a cornerstone of the JAS multi-stakeholder recommendation
-- was explicitly rejected by the Board opaquely and without explanation.
On the issue of morality based objections, despite hundreds of community
person-hours invested in the "Rec6" Working group, the situation actually
has worsened. We have also tried to blunt the worst excesses of the
trademark lobby -- while appreciating the end-user benefits of reasonable
name protection -- but have had negligible impact here. On the balance, our
influence has been net-positive but just barely.

The letter might lead with "At-Large did not (was not asked/invited?)
> to testify, and was not referenced by Pritz in the list of constituent
> groups who contribute to ICANN consensus. However, our previous current
> stand on the new gTLD program is/can be found..."

While I certainly agree with the sentiment, we did not have anywhere near
the time needed to craft this properly, and I'm not sure it would have any
effect if the purpose of this is to grandstand without actually changing US
policy. A well worded assertion that "we exist, please call us if you
really want an end-user PoV" was all that was reasonably possible given the
limits at hand.

- Evan

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