[At-Large] - Price caps - was: The Case for Regulatory Capture at ICANN | Review Signal Blog

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Thu Jun 27 05:27:39 UTC 2019

On 6/26/19 8:13 PM, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
> 1. Many of us (myself included) are effectively trapped into the 
> legacy TLDs. The cost of changing to a new TLD is high, and ICANN's 
> arbitrary ten year limit on registrations, coupled with weak limits on 
> price increases, means that even if we change we would remain 
> unprotected against predatory pricing.
> This goes to the whole ICANN-created concept of domains as a rental 
> good rather than property. There could easily be a regime through 
> which the ownership of the domain, and the contracting of the service 
> to enable it, are two separate transactions.

I proposed this well more than a decade ago:

See https://cavebear.com/eweregistry/

(There's a story about how the name came about, but I'll spare readers 
from it except to mention that it derives from the largely forgotten 
Microsoft Windows "Me".  ;-)

Here's the lead-in text (typos and the technical error about presenting 
a certificate rather than using it for a digital signature are included):

> .EWE offers permanent domain names for a one-time registration 
> fee./ Names in .EWE never expire./
> You pay only for domain services; you do not pay yearly rent.
> .EWE strives to protect your privacy by erasing any information it may 
> have about you once that information is no longer needed to process 
> the registration fee. /.EWE has no WHOIS./
> Names in .EWE are represented by a digital certificate.   The digital 
> certificate is your proof of ownership.
> You present that certificate to the .EWE registry when you update the 
> name servers for your domain name or when requesting any other service 
> from the .EWE registry.
> You may transfer your name simply by transferring the certificate.  
> You may transfer your name to anyone you chose at whatever price and 
> terms agreeable to you and your transferee may.  You may even buy and 
> sell your domain name anonymously on an open market or auction; the 
> .EWE registry considers that to be your business.  Your transferee 
> obtains the same ability as you to further transfer the name.   The 
> .EWE registry offers non-repudiation transfer service to facilitate 
> transfers while preserving anonymity; however this services is optional.
With regard to the remainder of the points:  You argue that high prices 
are good - my wife makes the same argument about air travel.  She argues 
that air fares should be priced so high that it can become pleasant 
again without buying first class or hiring a G5.  Perhaps you (and she) 
are correct - but that does not lead to the conclusion that those who 
are locked-into those services must become slaves to whatever price 
ICANN or the registry feel free to impose.

However, as it stands, ICANN's fiat registry fees for legacy TLDs do 
amount to a tax on the internet.  One can argue whether the 
$Billion-plus/year cost is absorbed by domain name buyers or passed on 
to consumers.  Most likely it is passed on, but in micro-sized doses so 
that nobody really notices.  But either way, it is an economic drag on 
internet activity that accrues to the benefit of the legacy registries 
for no reason other than that ICANN is too lazy, incompetent, or scared 
to look at the matter.

With regard to stakeholderism - I said nothing about representative vs 
direct democracy.  I merely said that the locus of resolving conflicts 
between interests should be vested in each individual human being and 
nowhere else.  Whether those humans express their opinions directly on 
propositions or act through elected representatives does not affect my 
argument that "stakeholderism" is a form of Gerrymandering.

(By-the-way, you argue that most people do not have the skills or time 
to deal with issues that affect them.  To some degree one can't argue 
against that.  However, I just finished watching a debate between US 
presidential candidates - they were clearly working hard to attract the 
votes of individual people.  So I am a bit skeptical of the notion that 
people can not decide what is best for themselves, that democracy can't 
work, that they must [or will] be protected by a paternalist system 
formed by those who have "stake" - usually a significant financial 
interest - in outcomes.  My metric on whether an institution is 
accountable to the people is this: can individual people, if they are 
driven by sufficient mutual interest, gather together act in concert to 
"throw the bums out"?  In ICANN the answer is a resounding "no they 
can't".  Or to put it another way - even if every user of the internet 
(excepting ICANN insiders), including every person affected by the 
internet, were to decide to dissolve ICANN could they do so?  The answer 
is "no".)

I don't care whether ICANN reacts negatively to the word "regulator".  
To that I resort to the old cliche that if it walks like a duck, swims 
like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.  By that method 
ICANN is most definitely a Regulator.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://atlarge-lists.icann.org/pipermail/at-large/attachments/20190626/59e907e4/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the At-Large mailing list