[At-Large] Fwd:  Final Issue Report on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures
karl at cavebear.com
Thu Dec 10 09:56:20 UTC 2015
On 12/9/15 11:31 PM, Avri Doria wrote:
> On 09-Dec-15 17:56, Christopher Wilkinson wrote:
>> More generally, TLD policy should protect the Registrant. Apparently that is not part of the new gTLD deal. Or is it?
> To an extent. ...
I very much agree with Avri's positions here.
ICANN was not constructed to be a consumer protection agency. It was
constructed to assure stability - in fact in the beginning the word
"technical" was always pre-pended to "stability". Stability is not
permanency. A DNS TLD is stable if it doesn't wobble within time frames
measured in weeks and months. But "stability" of anything related to
the internet does not extend to terms measured by unbounded numbers of
Now it is true, and remains true, that ICANN denies third party
beneficiary rights to registrants. Thus domain name registrants have no
legal standing to compel TLD operators to meet existing ICANN
established standards of operational quality. That is something that
would be very valuable and would be easy to put into place but which
ICANN has resisted for its entire existence. If anything should be
fixed, it is that.
The question should be: "How much larger do we want ICANN's already
large footprint to become?"
ICANN's regulatory footprint is already large and heavy.
ICANN required TLD applicants to set aside a full three years of
operating costs - that was something I have not seen in any other area
of business, even businesses that involve human health and safety. That
cost was an enormous burden to applicants, and prevented many people and
groups to refrain from even bothering to apply for a TLD. Isn't three
years of funded operations "stable"? Should it be ten years, fifty
years, a century?
And ICANN already requires the new TLD operators to have hired backup
operators on hot standby. That added no small amount of initial cost
and creates a significant operational overhead cost.
Much of what is being proposed strikes me as a revival of centralized
five-year style planning, but this time for the internet. I can't say
that that kind of centralized planning has had a great history of
success. And success is particularly unlikely for something that is so
rapidly changing and evolving as the internet.
I remember back in the early 1970's when we were playing with packet
switched networks that the telephone companies were raising the roofs
claiming that we were playing with fire, that we would destroy the
wonder-of-the-world which was the national and international telephone
network. They were right; we did, eventually. But it was not the
economic disaster that was predicted.
ICANN can not be, and ought not to be, a guarantor of anything more than
the technical quality of upper tier DNS operations. To do more risks
strangling the golden goose of the internet or, more likely, sending the
The example of VW's cheating on emissions was raised as some sort of
analogy to ICANN. I do not see that analogy. In the VW case, express
statements were made to governments and buyers that vehicles would meet
certain emission, power, and mileage numbers. Explicit promises to
buyers were knowingly and intentionally broken - or in the words of the
law, there was a misstatement of material facts upon which people relied
to their detriment - in a word, fraud. In most places fraud is unlawful
and those harmed can bring actions to recover their losses. And when
really bad, fraud can rise to the criminal level and those responsible
No such promises are made by either ICANN nor TLD sellers beyond that
TLD operations will meet certain minimum ICANN established
requirements. And no one has said that those requirements are not being
ICANN's own long term requirement for many TLDs that domain names
registrations be limited to no more than ten years undercuts arguments
that domain name buyers some how believe that acquisition of domain
names is something with permanency similar to a common law fee simple
absolute right in real property. Even the word "registration" rather
than "purchase" tends to suggest impermanence.
I believe that some of the new TLD offerings did make it part of their
business plans to provide very long term guarantees. But if I remember
correctly, those offerings were orders of magnitude more expensive per
year than the more routine TLD offerings. In other words, consumers
have options to purchase long term guarantees by choosing those TLDs
that make such warranties.
If one pushes ICANN to be a consumer protection agency than domain name
prices will be forced to significantly rise. Consider how much it would
cost to acquire an business continuation insurance policy. The actuaries
will crank the numbers in order to maintain 100% continuity for an
indefinite period in the face of even unforeseeable risks and come up
with a whopping dollar number that will strangle DNS innovation or drive
people to do what has always been possible but always been dismissed
because the existing system runs very well: competing DNS systems
outside of the ICANN realm.
But if one looks at an even longer time scale - say ten years - it is
becoming very clear that DNS names - which includes all TLDs - are
slowly submerging to become internal internet machinery and not really
of much interest to users. Things like Facebook and Twitter handles and
URL's (which don't need to contain domain names at all) are becoming the
names and addresses of the internet. In that future *all* TLDs are at
risk of loosing revenue streams.
ICANN is already bloated to the degree that one fears that it is at risk
from just one thin wafer (that's a Monty Python reference). There is not
much that is funny when one begins to compare ICANN's staff size and
budgets to that of the ITU (especially if one plots the growth of those
numbers of each body over time and asks "when will they intersect?")
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