13 November, 2010

First Set of Comments on ICANN's New Guidebook

Courtesy of George Kirikos, President, Leap of Faith Financials Services Inc., is the first set of comments submitted on the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook -- (they are quite lengthy, so I have excerpted a few highlights); George writes:

"We continue to believe that ICANN is acting against the public interest, and instead is acting only in the interests of itself and a small number of "insiders" who would directly profit from short-term schemes that threaten the long-term stability of the internet naming system and impose externalities upon third parties (via increased confusion and defensive registration costs).

In short, this is a story about ICANN insiders profiting at the expense of the public interest. To see this, one need only look at the price of a .com registration charged by VeriSign (used to be at $6/yr, and has been soaring since the settlement with ICANN over SiteFinder), and compare that to the wholesale cost of toll-free numbers (under $1.50/yr). Why are toll-free numbers so much less expensive (see the tariff at www.sms800.com)? Perhaps because the regulators for toll-free numbers are doing a far better job at protecting the public and consumers than ICANN.

We have taken great issue with all the redacted documents that ICANN has produced, and the lack of any rigour in the documents that have been published that allegedly support their plans. The voices of the public must take priority over those of the handful of ICANN insiders that hope to make short-term profits at the expense of the stability of the naming system. The public has NOT been clamouring for new TLDs. The past introduction of TLDs has been a failure, and ICANN seeks to compound that failure, repeating mistakes.

Should ICANN continue on this dangerous path, we call upon the NTIA, DOC, DOJ and the GAC to put an end to this plan, in the most direct language possible. They should leave open the option of dismantling ICANN, by ending the IANA contract and taking the functionality in-house again. Ultimately, it is the Department of Commerce that has full control over any new TLDs that enter into the root zone (see the steps in the root zone management process.  I suggest that the DOC exercise its discretion and simply reject all attempts to increase the number of TLDs (besides the ones that do have consensus public support, such as IDN ccTLDs), until such time as a process exists that has the support of all stakeholders. The NTIA/DOC/DOJ has never said that it is imperative that new TLDs be introduced. It's always been "if they are a net benefit" -- we ask that this standard be upheld, and that new TLDs be rejected as they simply are not a net benefit.

There has been a lot of staff turnover at ICANN of late, and this is a clear warning sign of an organization that is in decay and does not have the confidence of the public. Such an organization should not be entrusted with making decisions for the benefit of the public, given its past poor record of decision-making.

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