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

John Laprise jlaprise at gmail.com
Thu Jun 27 08:25:13 UTC 2019

I think Evan’s point about individual users deserves emphasis.


Think of the least capable Internet user you know. Are you acting in their interests? (I’m back on an altruism bandwagon)


From: At-Large <at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org> On Behalf Of Karl Auerbach
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2019 12:28 AM
To: Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org>
Cc: LAC-Discuss-en <lac-discuss-en at icann.org>; At-Large Worldwide <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org>
Subject: Re: [At-Large] - Price caps - was: The Case for Regulatory Capture at ICANN | Review Signal Blog


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.


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