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NTIA Says Cromnibus Bars IANA Transition During Current Contract Term by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Internet Commerce Association logoThe Congressional Internet Caucus held its 15th annual State of the Net conference today at The Newseum in Washington, DC. This is traditionally a start the new year networking and information update day for the capital’s technology policy set.

Immediately following the lunch break, at a session titled “Internet Functions in Transition: Is the US and the World Ready?”, NTIA head Lawrence Strickling provided the first official Obama Administration reaction to language included in the December 2014 Omnibus Appropriations legislation (dubbed the “Cromnibus”) that forbade the NTIA from spending a single penny on transferring the IANA functions contract during fiscal year 2015 (FY 2015). The last day of FY 2015 is September 30, 2015, which exactly coincides with the final day of the current term of the IANA contract, so compliance with this Congressional exercise of its ‘power of the purse’ would implicitly require some extension of the IANA contract and the current U.S. relationship with ICANN.

In his remarks (full text below), Secretary Strickling extinguished any conjecture that NTIA might seek some loophole to allow the transition to occur during its current term, stating:

The act does restrict NTIA from using appropriated dollars to relinquish our stewardship during fiscal year 2015 with respect to Internet domain name system functions.  We take that seriously.  Accordingly, we will not use appropriated funds to terminate the IANA functions contract with ICANN prior to the contract’s current expiration date of September 30, 2015.  Nor will we use appropriated dollars to amend the cooperative agreement with Verisign to eliminate NTIA’s role in approving changes to the authoritative root zone file prior to September 30.  On these points, there is no ambiguity.

Elaborating, the Secretary also made clear that the legislative language does not, in NTIA’s view, require it to “sit on the sidelines”, and that “the [ICANN] community should proceed as if it has only one chance to get this right”.

Simultaneously, he emphasized that the ICANN community would be provided with the time it required to fashion a comprehensive and workable proposal:

I want to reiterate again that there is no hard and fast deadline for this transition.  September 2015 has been a target date because that is when the base period of our contract with ICANN expires.  But this should not be seen as a deadline. If the community needs more time, we have the ability to extend the IANA functions contract for up to four years.  It is up to the community to determine a timeline that works best for stakeholders as they develop a proposal that meets NTIA’s conditions, but also works.

As a practical matter, NTIA’s public acknowledgement of the unambiguous nature of the appropriations language may not add a moment to the time required for the IANA transition. It was becoming increasingly clear that the parallel transition and accountability work streams are unlikely to produce a final, coordinated consensus proposal, accompanied by implemented accountability measures including required Bylaws changes, to permit a transition by September 30th.

Indeed, Secretary Strickling may have just added to the time requirements by posing a series of questions to the Community Working Group (CWG) on naming-related functions that indicate that NTIA has serious concerns about the path they are taking. After posing those questions he made clear that NTIA expected answers, declaring, “All of these questions require resolution prior to approval of any transition plan”. The CWG has already missed a January 15th target date for delivering a final set of recommendations to the IANA Coordination Group (ICG) and was unlikely to have a final product ready for them until the spring. Providing the “resolution” that NTIA just requested, and making necessary changes to its proposal, could add months to its work.

Bottom line: It now seems inevitable that NTIA will extend the IANA contract term, with the only question being whether it will be a full two year extension or some lesser amount of time. As a full extension would extend the contract into the term of the next President as well as invite international concern over the transition’s prospects, NTIA may well opt for an extension in the range of six months to a year.

 

Here’s the text of Secretary Strickling’s remarks, with passages referenced above highlighted —

www.ntia.doc.gov/speechtestimony/2015/remarks-assistant-secretary-strickling-state-net-conference-1272015

 

January 27, 2015

Remarks by Lawrence E. Strickling Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information State of the Net Conference Washington, DC January 27, 2015

—As prepared for delivery—

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you at this year’s State of the Net Conference.  This conference has grown in importance in its years of existence as more and more people understand the importance of ensuring that the Internet remains a platform for innovation, free speech and economic growth.

As we previewed last January, the year turned out to be an important year for Internet governance, bookended by the NetMundial conference in Brazil in the spring and the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference in Korea in the fall.  Throughout the year, the United States remained a vocal advocate of the bottom-up, consensus-based approach to Internet governance known as the multistakeholder model.  The successful outcomes at NetMundial and the Plenipotentiary demonstrate that more and more nations are joining the United States in showing their support for this model of Internet governance.  They do so not because the multistakeholder model is an end in and of itself, but because it holds the greatest proven potential for promoting both innovation and inclusion.

This year promises to be another critical year for Internet governance, centering in part on efforts to complete the privatization of the Internet domain name system (DNS), currently managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  This process began in 1998, when ICANN took over important technical functions related to the domain name system, known as the IANA functions, under a contract with NTIA.  Last March, NTIA asked ICANN to convene a multistakeholder process to develop a proposal to transition the U.S. stewardship role over the IANA functions to the international community.

We turned to the Internet’s stakeholders to drive this transition because we believe businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups are best equipped to continue to set the future direction of the Internet.  We believe this transition is critical to preserving and enhancing this model going forward.  We are pleased that the community responded enthusiastically to our call to develop a transition plan.  Stakeholders have organized two major work streams to develop the overall plan.  One is focused on the specifics of the IANA functions themselves and the second is addressing questions of the overall accountability of ICANN to the global community of Internet stakeholders.  Both groups are well under way—you will hear first-hand from some of the participants in the panel following my remarks—and are working according to a schedule that would deliver a transition plan to us in the summer.

Today, I would like to answer some of the questions that have arisen in recent weeks about NTIA’s role in the transition and then, to pose some questions of our own for stakeholders to consider as they continue their work to develop the plan.  We do so in good faith and in appreciation of the hard work of the volunteer community engaged in these discussions

At the outset, let me address the impact of last December’s appropriations act on the transition planning process.  From the day of our announcement last March, some, including members of Congress, have raised questions and concerns about the transition.  We welcome their interest and acknowledge the validity of many of these concerns.  We think it is important that questions about the transition be addressed and answered.  We also believe that a robust, open and transparent multistakeholder process is the best vehicle for ensuring that result.  Nothing in the appropriations act affects the activities of industry, civil society and the technical community to develop the transition plan we called for last March.  We expect their work to continue and look forward to its conclusion.

The act does restrict NTIA from using appropriated dollars to relinquish our stewardship during fiscal year 2015 with respect to Internet domain name system functions.  We take that seriously.  Accordingly, we will not use appropriated funds to terminate the IANA functions contract with ICANN prior to the contract’s current expiration date of September 30, 2015.  Nor will we use appropriated dollars to amend the cooperative agreement with Verisign to eliminate NTIA’s role in approving changes to the authoritative root zone file prior to September 30.  On these points, there is no ambiguity.

The legislative language, however, makes it equally clear that Congress did not expect us to sit on the sidelines this year.  The act imposes regular reporting requirements on NTIA to keep Congress apprised of the transition process.  To meet those requirements, NTIA will actively monitor the discussions and activities within the multistakeholder community as it develops the transition plan.  We will participate in meetings and discussions with ICANN, Verisign, other governments and the stakeholder community with respect to the transition.  We will continue to represent the United States at the meetings of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

We will provide informal feedback where appropriate.  We are as aware as anyone that we should not do anything that interferes with an open and participatory multistakeholder process.  We support a process where all ideas are welcome and where participants are able to test fully all transition options.  Nonetheless, the community should proceed as if it has only one chance to get this right.  Everyone has the responsibility to participate as they deem appropriate.  If, by asking questions, we can ensure that the community develops a well-thought-out plan that answers all reasonable concerns, we will do so.

I have been asked on numerous occasions: “What is the United States looking for in a plan?”  I have consistently answered that we are looking for a plan that preserves ICANN as a multistakeholder organization outside of government control which the community develops through an open and transparent multistakeholder process and that has the broad support of stakeholders.  No stakeholder or set of stakeholders has a veto over this process whether it be governments, industry or civil society.  However, they all need to have a voice, including ICANN leaders, who are stakeholders and community representatives, in helping to inform a proposal that has broad support.

Let me repeat, the proposal must support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, in that it should be developed by the multistakeholder community and have broad community support.  More specifically, we will not accept a transition proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or intergovernmental organization solution.

In addition, the proposal must maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the domain name system.  The proposal must meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services.  And finally, it must maintain the openness of the Internet.

Now that we are more than ten months past our announcement, it is important to take stock of where this transition process stands.  As I mentioned earlier, there are two parallel work streams proceeding at the moment.  These work streams are directly linked, and we have repeatedly said that both tracks must be addressed before any transition takes place.

In the first track, the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG), representing more than a dozen Internet stakeholder communities, issued a call for proposals last fall for each of the three primary IANA functions – protocol parameters, numbering, and domain names – to be developed by the communities and parties most directly affected by each of the primary functions.

Two of the three groups have already finished their draft proposals. The Internet Engineering Task Force, which is shepherding the protocol parameter proposal, finalized and submitted its plan to the ICG on January 6.  The five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), which worked collaboratively in developing the numbering proposal, announced their final plan on January 15. An ICANN Cross Community Working Group (CWG) on the naming related functions released a draft proposal on December 1 and is continuing to work through the comments received in response.

We have taken a look at the December 1 proposal and the ensuing comments and discussion it has engendered.  As the CWG on the naming-related functions continues its work to finalize its draft proposal, NTIA would like to offer the following questions for the stakeholders to consider:

  • The draft proposes the creation of three or four new entities to be involved in the naming related processes.  Could the creation of any new entity interfere with the security and stability of the DNS during and after the transition?  Given that the community will need to develop, implement and test new structures and processes prior to a final transition, can it get all this done in a timeframe consistent with the expectations of all stakeholders?
  • Does the proposal ensure a predictable and reliable process for customers of root zone management services?  Under the current system, registry operators can be confident of the timing of review and implementation of routine root zone updates.  If a new committee takes up what is currently a routine procedural check, how will the community protect against processing delays and the potential for politicization of the system?
  • In response to the December 1 draft, other suggestions have emerged.  Are all the options and proposals being adequately considered in a manner that is fair and transparent? 
  • How does the proposal avoid re-creating existing concerns in a new form or creating new concerns?  If the concern is the accountability of the existing system, does creating new committees and structures simply create a new set of accountability questions? The second process is addressing how to enhance ICANN’s accountability to the global Internet community in the absence of the contractual relationship with NTIA.  Stakeholders are working through the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Cross Community Working Group (CCWG – Accountability).  Early reports indicate the CCWG is making significant progress on an agreement on the definition of the problem, a list of “stress tests”, and the specific short term issues that need to be addressed prior to the transition.  As we have consistently stated, it is critical that this group conduct “stress testing” of proposed solutions to safeguard against future contingencies such as attempts to influence or take over ICANN – be it the Board, staff or any stakeholder group–that are not currently possible given its contract with NTIA.  We also encourage this group to address questions such as how to remove or replace board members should stakeholders lose confidence in them and how to incorporate and improve current accountability tools like the reviews called for by the Affirmation of Commitments.I want to reiterate again that there is no hard and fast deadline for this transition.  September 2015 has been a target date because that is when the base period of our contract with ICANN expires.  But this should not be seen as a deadline. If the community needs more time, we have the ability to extend the IANA functions contract for up to four years.  It is up to the community to determine a timeline that works best for stakeholders as they develop a proposal that meets NTIA’s conditions, but also works. On a final note, as you can see, NTIA has a busy Internet policy agenda, both on the international front and domestically.  This is challenging and exciting work.  To help us deal with this work load, we have just posted openings for several positions in our Office of International Affairs and Office of Policy Analysis and Development. I encourage you to spread the word.  We are looking for bright, energetic folks who are eager to tackle cutting-edge Internet policy issues.

 

  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration 1401 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20230
  • So with that, we can get on to the panel.  Thank you for listening.
  • There is a lot for stakeholders to consider.  But I am confident that the community will get this right and will come out stronger at the end of the process. We all have a stake in this transition and in ensuring the Internet remains an open, dynamic platform for economic and social progress.
  • As both groups continue their work, it is important that the draft proposals are tested and validated. This will give confidence that any process, procedure or structure proposed actually works.  It also will help facilitate NTIA’s review of the final transition proposal.  Finally, the plan must be comprehensive and complete.  The proposal needs to address all the functions included in the IANA contract, including management of the .int top-level domain name.
  • All of these questions require resolution prior to approval of any transition plan.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from:
www.internetcommerce.org/ntia-on-cromnibus

 

Jurisdictional Limits of in rem Proceedings Against Domain Names by Michael Xun Liu, University of Michigan Law School

Abstract: In 1999, Congress passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) to combat “cybersquatters” who profited by registering domain names that were confusingly similar to established trademarks. Under the ACPA, trademark owners have a specific cause of action against domain name registrants accused of cybersquatting. Moreover, the law gives U.S. courts in rem jurisdiction over trademark infringing domain names registered to parties that are not subject to personal jurisdiction.

Over the past decade, proceeding in rem against domain names has proven to be an effective strategy for trademark owners. While many companies have used the ACPA against cybersquatters, others have relied on the in rem provision to secure domain names registered to foreign companies that happen to use a similar mark for their goods or services. From a policy perspective, this latter practice is troubling because it allows district courts to determine whether foreign companies can use their marks as domain names, even if these companies lack minimum contacts with the court’s forum. To prevent such overreach, courts should limit the ACPA’s in rem jurisdiction to domain names that were registered in a bad faith attempt to profit from another’s trademark.

This article can be downloaded in full from:
repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol20/iss2/5/

U.S. Commerce Secretary Pledges to Protect a Free and Open Internet

[news release] Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, addressing attendees at the opening ceremony of ICANN’s 51st public meeting in Los Angeles, declared unwavering support for the United States government’s decision to transfer stewardship of the IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community and not to any one single organization.”Let me be clear about this. The United States will not allow the global Internet to be co-opted by any person, entity or nation seeking to substitute their parochial world view for the collective wisdom of this community,” said Pritzker.More than 2,300 members of the global multistakeholder community have come together in Los Angeles, California, for ICANN’s 51st public meeting to discuss the future of the organization.”If we don’t strive to improve our governance and accountability at all times, and especially this time, we will not gain and maintain the confidence of the world,” said Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN. “ICANN’s leadership, the ICANN board and the ICANN community are committed to the best possible governance and accountability mechanisms there are.”ICANN Board Chair Dr. Stephen Crocker spoke about ICANN’s priorities, saying, “Throughout the organization we are sincerely concerned about transparency, about accountability, and we work assiduously trying to improve.”The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group (ICG) will be meeting during the week to continue their discussion on how the NTIA will go about transitioning its stewardship of the IANA functions to the Internet community.”We have to get this transition right,” said Pritzker. “Make no mistake: I stand by ICANN. I am all in when it comes to the global debate over Internet governance. And we will preserve and protect a free and open Internet.”Those attending ICANN51 or participating remotely are highly encouraged to join and watch the ICG’s meeting. Details for doing so can be found at http://la51.icann.org/en/schedule/fri-icg.ICANN also announced the winner of the 2014 Leadership Award – Jonathan Robinson, Chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). The Leadership Award recognizes ICANN community members who demonstrate leadership in protecting and promoting the multistakeholder model.The GNSO recommends changes to existing policy and develops new policy for generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). To learn more about the GNSO, go to http://gnso.icann.org/en/.

ICANN 51 Focus: Making ICANN Directly Accountable to the Broader Internet Community by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Internet Commerce Association logoICANN 51 taking place in Los Angeles this week may not have its customary evening Gala, but it opened with rousing remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in the first-ever ICANN appearance of the head of the Cabinet agency from which it was born and which has exercised continuous oversight of its key IANA functions.

The themes of the growing importance of Internet Governance and the U.S. government’s steadfast commitment to defense of the multistakeholder model, as well as the connection between maintenance of an open Internet and fostering free speech and economic growth, were key elements of Secretary Pritzker’s address:

“We come together at a time when Internet governance is as important as ever. The fact is that we must do everything we can to protect and preserve this revolutionary platform that is the essential connector of people, economies, and communities across the planet…Facilitated initially by U.S. government investment through DARPA, the Internet as we now know it was built off of one inventive leap on top of another — And through the amazing genius ranging from Vint Cerf to Bob Kahn to Steve Crocker to Tim Berners Lee to Marc Andreessen to so many others. Their work has given us the most dynamic communications and connective platform that the world has ever seen…We live in an era when all an entrepreneur needs to start, build, and promote a business is a mobile device and a Wi-Fi connection. Put simply, the Internet is a fundamental gateway to new growth for developing nations and continued prosperity for developed nations. The Internet is also a vital platform for free expression and the exchange of ideas.  And that is why I stand before you today to make this fundamental promise: the United States will protect and preserve a free, vibrant and open Internet…we are at a critical moment for ICANN and the important work you do. This means that how we govern and use the Internet is of global importance. This means that consensus decisions related to the Internet domain name system made today in Los Angeles can shape lives and livelihoods in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere not just today but long into the future. All of us are stakeholders in a strong and vibrant, global Internet. The Internet has thrived precisely because citizens around the world have a voice in how the Internet is governed. That is why we — the United States government — support multistakeholder processes. This is our bedrock principle for Internet governance. Let me be clear about this. The United States will not allow the global Internet to be coopted by any person, entity, or nation seeking to substitute their parochial worldview for the collective wisdom of this community – you, the community of stakeholders represented so well here today. As such, that is why six months ago NTIA announced the decision to transition its stewardship role over the Internet Domain Name System to the global multistakeholder communities…We all know that multistakeholder governance, and institutions like ICANN, are under intense and unprecedented pressure and scrutiny. Yet we are confident that the multistakeholder model offers the greatest assurance that the Internet will continue to thrive. And we must work together to ensure that the Internet remains an engine for economic growth, innovation, and free expression. We must continue to work hard to sustain multistakeholder governance, because it has enemies who want to reduce Internet governance to a meeting of governmental technocrats promoting narrow national interests. We must make clear this approach is the best tool to secure the openness and the vibrancy of the Internet. We must ensure that ICANN can build on its efforts to strengthen the multistakeholder process and can become directly accountable to the customers of the IANA functions and to the broader Internet community. Next week, at the International Telecommunication Union Conference in Korea, we will see proposals to put governments in charge of Internet governance. You can rest assured that the United States will oppose these efforts at every turn. We know that those interested in government control tend to be countries that censor content and stifle the free flow of information. We will be clear that these steps are contrary to our belief in the value of free speech – whether on the Internet, in society, in the public sphere – both here at home and abroad. We will remind all players – in each instance – that the multistakeholder model will preserve and protect a strong and resilient Internet. In closing, the world is watching ICANN, and some are waiting for us to fail. But we cannot – and must not – let that happen. We have to get this transition right.” (Emphasis added)

Secretary Pritzker’s words provide an appropriate framework for the important work ahead as the ICANN community grapples with creating the right processes to guide the IANA functions transition and the creation of enhanced ICANN accountability measures. So far the atmosphere at this meeting is the least confrontational and most cooperative of any recent ICANN gathering. That is in large part due to ICANN’s October 10th announcement that it is retreating from the August 14th staff-produced proposal for the accountability process and instead will step back and let the community shape it. As stated in its announcement:

“Following the community requested 21-day second round of comments, ICANN received 17 comments. Based on the input received from these comments, staff believes that the strong community comments in the second round of comments support integrating the originally proposed structure (CCG/Coordination Group) into establishing a Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) that incorporates some key elements that have arisen in the dialogues. Additionally, given the input over the course of the dialogue on this process, it’s suggested that the CCWG has two work steams, one focused on accountability in view of ICANN’s changing historical relationship with the USG, and the second, on the broader accountability issues the community would like to bring to the forefront.”

Drilling down into that “suggestion that the accountability process have two work streams, the document provides this additional perspective:

“To ensure that over time there’s a mechanism to ensure coverage of all areas, including topics outside of the immediate scope of the process, a suggestion is that the CCWG establish two work streams or subgroups: one focused on the scope of the work on enhancing ICANN accountability in light of the changing relationship with the USG within the time frame of the transition (Work Stream 1); and a second focused on addressing topics on accountability outside the scope of Work Stream 1, which are longer term (and may include, for example, recommendations from the recent ATRT2 addressing current accountability mechanisms such as the Ombudsman, the Reconsideration process and the Independent Review process) (Work Stream 2). This could be reflected in the CCWG’s Charter.”

Again, this is merely a suggestion and it will be ICANN’s stakeholders who will determine whether establishing two separate work streams is advisable and, if so, what the proper dividing line is between accountability measures directly related to the IANA functions versus those of a more general and overarching nature.

Another key aspect of the revised accountability process is the discretion permitted the Board to accept or reject proposed enhanced accountability measures and whether such decisions will be made subject to a clearly articulated standard. In this regard the announcement states only that the Board is considering the issue and will make its thoughts available at some point:

“Role of the Board

There were several comments relating to the role of the Board, in particular regarding the acceptance of recommendations from the process. This topic was also addressed in the 18 September 2014 letter [PDF, 500 KB] responding to the SO/AC/SG/C Leadership letter of 4 September. This is a matter for the Board to address, and the Board is considering how it can provide assurance to all stakeholders that it will seriously consider and respect the recommendations arising out of the review. More information on that issue will be forthcoming.”

Given the uncertainty about this and other key elements of the revision, the three constituency groups that filed a Reconsideration Request challenging the August 14th staff proposal have decided, for the moment, to leave it in place and consider the question of its withdrawal at the end of ICANN 51.

The timing of the interrelated reports and recommendations on the IANA transition and enhanced accountability will also be discussed this week. Producing well-considered and credible documents may well be incompatible with completing the transition by the September 2015 termination of the first phase of the current IANA contract, necessitating a two-year extension – although that would not imply that the process would need an additional 24 months. The Community Working Group (CWG) on the IANA transition will be meeting later today in LA, and is wrestling with a demand by the IANA Coordination Group (ICG) that it publish a draft transition proposal for public comment by mid-November so that a final community plan can be submitted to the ICG by mid-January. Based on my own working group experience it seems absurd to think that any of them could produce a draft suitable for public comment in less than thirty days, yet that dubious deadline has been driven by working backwards from September 2015, acknowledging that any proposal meeting that deadline must reach NTIA by next June and factoring in the minimum time requirements for the intervening steps. Given the clear statements by Assistant Secretary Strickling, Chairman Crocker, and others acknowledging that the transition and enhanced accountability are intimately interrelated, and the community’s clear statement that the IANA transition should not proceed before an acceptable accountability plan is developed and reaches a requisite stage of implementation, placing undue time pressure on the IANA CWG seems both unnecessary as well as unwisely incompatible with getting the end product right. Any “delays” tied to reasoned and deliberative consideration may well be decried by a handful of GAC member nations who are not fully committed to the multistakeholder model – but some of them were already voicing views over the weekend that the IANA transition is insufficient and that the next matter to be considered must be terminating ICANN’s status as a California non-profit corporation. Trying to appease them is a fool’s errand and at some point they must be told that enough is enough.

As important as the IANA transition and accountability are, they are hardly the only important issues to be addressed this week. In a Sunday meeting with the GNSO Council CEO Fadi Chehade conceded that 2016 revenue projections were “very high” due to lackluster registrations in new gTLDs — and that consequently ICANN had cut its 2016 budget by $10 million, that further reductions were possible, and that an absolute cap on expenses of annual CPI increases up to a maximum limit of five percent would be imposed for the next four years.

Addressing the World Economic Forum’s NETmundial Initiative, in which ICANN had played a large formative role, Chehade stated that it “will continue to bubble forward”, that Brazil’s CGI.BR was becoming more involved, but that he would be throttling back his involvement with extraneous Internet Governance and other non-core issues to no more than twenty percent of his time in order to refocus on core ICANN management responsibilities.

Finally, in regard to the ever-important issue of contractual compliance enforcement, ICANN has just announced the appointment of its first-ever Chief Contract Compliance Officer whose duties will include “exploring ways that ICANN can work with others to help safeguard registrants and the global Internet community in ways that may go beyond pure contractual enforcement” and to whom a newly created position of Consumer Safeguards Director will report.

ICANN 51 will be grappling with major issues and challenges this week. It’s noteworthy and very welcome that it will be doing so in what feels like a substantially improved atmosphere of cooperation rather than the confrontation and consternation that has permeated and come close to poisoning recent meetings. The goal for everyone gathered here in the City of Angels should be to disappoint those who are hoping for ICANN’s failure and to take concrete and well-considered steps to make ICANN a better model for the virtues of multistakeholder Internet Governance.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from:
www.internetcommerce.org/icann-51-begins/

Neustar to Launch usTLD Stakeholder Council

DotUS Neustar logo[news release] On February 28, 2014, the United States Department of Commerce awarded Neustar a contract to continue managing .US, the United States Country-Code Top Level Domain (“usTLD”).

In its plan to manage the usTLD, Neustar proposed to create a stakeholder council (“usTLD Stakeholder Council”) to ensure that the usTLD remains a trusted space for all Americans and to facilitate stakeholder input into usTLD policies.

Proposed responsibilities of the usTLD Stakeholder Council include recommending policies and improvements, ensuring that the needs registrants are reflected, enhancing the user experience and utility, and discussing emerging DNS issues.

Neustar looks forward to broadening stakeholder participation in policy development for the usTLD. We are eager to work with stakeholders including registrants, civil society, business owners, law enforcement, and more to ensure that the management of the usTLD continues to evolve and reflect the needs of the usTLD community.

In this spirit, Neustar has issued a call for Expressions of Interest (“EoI”) for prospective participants in the usTLD Stakeholder Council. Concurrently, Neustar has issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”), seeking community input regarding the usTLD Stakeholder Council’s proposed composition, guiding principles and policies, operating procedures, and deliverables. Responses to both the call for EoIs and the NOI should be sent to stakeholdercouncil@neustar.us. All EoIs and responses to the NOI are due by July 10, 2014.

This Neustar announcement was sourced from:
www.neustar.us/neustar-to-launch-ustld-stakeholder-council/

Neustar Announces usTLD Rapid Suspension Commencing 1 July

DotUS Neustar logo[news release] On July 1, Neustar will become one of the first ccTLDs to implement the usTLD Rapid Suspension Procedure (“usRS”). Although this new mechanism has been introduced with the new generic top-level domains approved by ICANN, it is not widespread within the ccTLD community.

The usRS will provide intellectual property rights holders a faster, more cost-effective mechanism to resolve clear-cut cases of trademark infringement within the usTLD than the existing .us Dispute Resolution Policy (“usDRP”).

Under the usRS, the complainant must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The domain name(s) in question are identical or confusingly similar to one of its trademarks,
  • The registrant has no legitimate right or interest in the domain name(s), and
  • The domain name(s) were registered or are being used in bad faith.

If the National Arbitration Forum (“NAF”), the usRS Provider, determines that a complaint meets these criteria and adheres to all rules and procedures in the usRS Policy Rules and the NAF usRS Supplemental Rules, the complainant will prevail. As remedy, the domain name(s) will be suspended for the remaining registration term. The complainant may extend the suspension for an additional year at his or her expense. The original domain name holder may appeal a usRS decision in favor of the complainant. Further details on the usRS rules and procedures can be found in the usRS Policy Rules.

The usRS provides a quick and cost-effective alternative to the usDRP. The costs of filing a usRS range from $375, for complaints involving up to 14 domains, to $500. Additional fees will apply for reexaminations or appeals. NAF will issue usRS decisions no later than five calendar days following the submission of a response or the expiry of the fourteen-day response period. For a full breakdown of the usRS fees and timeline see the NAF usRS Supplemental Rules.

Unlike in usDRP proceedings, usTLD domain names cannot be transferred as a result of a usRS complaint. Trademark holders seeking ownership of an infringing domain name in the usTLD should continue to use the usDRP to resolve their disputes.

As of July 1, 2014, the usRS will cover all domains in the usTLD.

For more information, please review the usRS Policy Rules and the NAF usRS Supplemental Rules.

This Neustar announcement was sourced from:
www.neustar.us/neustar-announces-ustld-rapid-suspension/

Neustar Remains Committed To Providing Reliable, Stable And Efficient .US TLD Service

Dot US logo[news release] Today (5 March), Neustar Inc. announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded the company the contract to continue administering the .US TLD, the official country code domain of the United States. Neustar has successfully administered this critical domain since 2001, when the Department of Commerce first selected the company to build and manage the new domain.

“We are honored that the Department of Commerce has selected Neustar to continue managing America’s domain name that millions of businesses, non-profit organizations and consumers use to manage their online presence,” said Lisa Hook, Neustar President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to continuing to provide exceptional service that is reliable, stable and secure in the increasingly complicated digital environment.”

The .US domain represents Main Street America, helping American small businesses and individuals to create and expand their online presence. Neustar manages this critical domain and oversees the growing network of registrars who sell the .US domain names. The Department of Commerce has re-awarded the contract for three years with two additional one-year extension options.

Since becoming the administrator of the .US TLD, Neustar has created an extensive enforcement program to ensure a safe and secure environment for the .US Internet community. Neustar also launched the “Kickstart America” campaign to raise awareness of the .US domain. In 2013, Neustar initiated the .US National Road Racing Championships through a three-year partnership with USA Track & Field.

In 2014, Neustar plans to launch a new multi-stakeholder council including members representing localities, registrars, small businesses and non-profit organizations as well as entities involved with STEM education and cybersecurity. The .US TLD Stakeholder Council will provide a vibrant, diverse, and independent forum for future development of the .US TLD, working directly with .US TLD stakeholders and helping Neustar to identify public needs and develop policies, programs, and partnerships to address those needs while continuing to enhance America’s address.

About Neustar

Neustar, Inc. is a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information and analytics to the communications services, financial services, retail, and media and advertising sectors. Neustar applies its advanced, secure technologies to help its clients promote and protect their businesses. More information is available at www.neustar.biz.

About .US

The .US Top Level Domain (TLD) is the country code domain name for the United States of America. The .US TLD is managed and operated by Neustar, Inc. (NYSE:NSR), an information services and analytics company, on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce. Neustar operates the .US TLD global registry in the public interest and provides critical infrastructure services. Visit www.about.us for more information on .us, and visit www.neustar.biz for more information on Neustar.

Policy Reviews Underway For .AU and .US

Reviews are underway for both .au, to review dispute resolution policy, and .us, for the policies and requirements for the contract renewal that is due to take place later in 2013.

In .au, auDA has a consultation of the the Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) underway, and for which the comment period has been extended to 28 February. The goal of the auDRP is to provide a cheaper, speedier alternative to litigation for the resolution of disputes between the registrant of a .au domain name and a party with competing rights in the domain name.

The auDRP commenced on 1 August 2002 and there have been 300 proceedings lodged to date. A ten year review of the auDRP is currently underway to ensure that it remains an effective and appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.

An Issues Paper, available here, was released in November 2012 for public comment.

For .us, the NTIA who administers the contract for ccTLD for the United States is seeking input from interested parties on the policies and requirements that should govern the .us TLD.

The current contract expires on 31 August, 2013. The NTIA has advised that given the expiration date of this contract, the NTIA will utilise the comments received in response to their call for comments in the procurement process leading to the award of a new .us TLD contract.

Comments are due by 4 March, 2013.

More information is available from the NTIA website here.

Preditable WCIT Outcome Sees US Lead Objections To ITU’s Internet Governance Changes

It was the most likely outcome. Predictable even. But the US led a walkout of delegates from mostly western countries at the conclusion of the 12 day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai yesterday, saying they were unable to agree to any changes in internet governance.

Changes proposed would have impacted on roles such as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s role in being responsible for the operation and maintenance of a number of key aspects of the domain name system (DNS).

The US delegate to the WCIT announced that the “US must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form.”

We candidly cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance.

In a statement delivered from the floor of the conference, Ambassador Terry Kramer went on to say the US “cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance. These past two weeks, we have of course made good progress and shown a willingness to negotiate on a variety of telecommunications policy issues, such as roaming and settlement rates, but the United States continues to believe that internet policy must be multi-stakeholder driven. Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount. This has not happened here.”

The position was supported by a wide range of mostly western countries, with the US, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Egypt, Canada, Poland, Qatar and Kenya all objecting to the changes and not being in a position of not being able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.

But the changes that will be agreed upon by a range of countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, could mean the internet develops differently in different regions.

On Wednesday night a “non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency’s leadership should ‘continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet,’” reported BBC News.

This was opposed by the US and European governments.

While the treaty is due to be signed at 13:30 GMT on Friday, it was predictable that western countries, led by the US would object to any changes to internet governance as they had been resolute at the outset there were certain changes they would not countenance.

For more information, see the news reports below.

US, UK and Canada refuse to sign UN’s internet treaty
www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20717774

Talks on Internet treaty fail as U.S. bloc won’t sign
in.reuters.com/article/2012/12/14/telecom-treaty-us-idINDEE8BC0FU20121214

U.N. summit implodes as U.S., others spurn Internet treaty
news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57559034-38/u.n-summit-implodes-as-u.s-others-spurn-internet-treaty/

U.S. Intervention at the World Conference on International Telecommunications: statement delivered by Ambassador Terry Kramer from the floor of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) on December 13, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/12/202037.htm

WCIT Split After Split “Vote” On Internet Governance Resolution
www.ip-watch.org/2012/12/13/wcit-split-after-split-vote-on-internet-governance-resolution/

Internet humbles UN telecoms agency
news.dot-nxt.com/2012/12/14/internet-humbles-un-telecoms-a

Why the ITU is the wrong place to set Internet standards
arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/12/why-the-itu-is-the-wrong-place-to-set-internet-standards/

U.S. Snubs U.N. Telecom Treaty With Rest Of West At Dubai Conference [AP]
www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/us-un-telecom-treaty_n_2296442.html

The Masters of the Internet by Timothy Karr, Campaign Director, Free Press and SavetheInternet.com
www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/the-masters-of-the-intern_b_2291855.html

European And US Law Enforcement Agencies Seize 132 Domains Selling Counterfeit Merchandise

European and US law enforcement agencies have taken action against domain names involved in the selling of counterfeit goods, seizing 133 domains, arresting one person in the US and seizing $175,000.The 133 domain names seized are part of Project Cyber Monday, an iteration of Operation In Our Sites, which is coordinated by the US law enforcement bodies.The latest operation targeted websites that duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods as part of the holiday shopping season. The operation was coordinated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington, D.C. for the US and the European Police Office (Europol) in Europe.In addition to seizing domain names with a top-level domain (TLD) controlled by US registries, the IPR Center partnered with Europol to execute coordinated seizures of mostly European-based TLDs such as .be, .eu, .dk, .fr, .ro, and .uk. This effort is titled Project Transatlantic.During this operation, federal US law enforcement officers made undercover purchases of a host of products including professional sports jerseys, DVD sets, cologne, and a variety of clothing, jewellery and luxury goods from online retailers who were suspected of selling counterfeit products. If the copyright holders confirmed that the purchased products were counterfeit or otherwise illegal, seizure orders for the domain names of the websites that sold the goods were obtained from federal magistrate judges.”This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the IPR Center,” says ICE Director John Morton. “That partnership enables us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win.”The IPR Center and Europol received leads from various trademark holders regarding the infringing websites. Those leads were disseminated to ten investigating HSI field offices in Baltimore, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Newark, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Paul, Buffalo, and Ventura (Ca) and to the investigating Europol member countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.”Europol became member of the Intellectual Property Right Coordination Center (IPR Center) this year and I am glad to be able to announce these operational successes. IPR theft is not a harmless or victimless crime. It can cause serious health and safety risks and it undermines our economy,” says Mr Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.The domain names are now in the custody of the respective governments of the participating countries. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of willful copyright infringement.In addition to the domain name seizures, Cyber Monday 3 identified PayPal accounts utilised by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts are currently being targeted for seizure by the investigating HSI field offices.”We couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunity to work closely with HSI to shut down criminals targeting our customers and our brand just as the holiday season takes off,” said Tod Cohen, Government Relations for eBay Inc. “PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and we hope that this is fair warning to criminals that the internet is not a safe place to try and sell fake goods.”Operation In Our Sites (IOS) is a sustained law enforcement initiative by the ICE that began more than two years ago to protect consumers by targeting the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the internet. The 101 domain names by ICE seized under Project Cyber Monday 3 bring the total number of IOS domain names seized to 1,630 since the operation began in June 2010. Since that time, the seizure banner has received more than 110 million individual views.Of the 1,529 previous domain names seized, 684 have now been forfeited to the U.S. government. The federal forfeiture process affords individuals who have an interest in seized domain names a period of time after a “Notice of Seizure” to file a petition with a federal court and additional time after a “Notice of Forfeiture” to contest the forfeiture. If no petitions or claims are filed, the domain names become the property of the U.S. government. Additionally, a public service announcement, launched in April 2011, is linked from the seizure banner on each of the 684 forfeited websites.The banner and video educate the public about the criminal consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and the economic impact that crime has on the U.S. and global economies.U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Western District of New York and the Western District of Texas issued the warrants for the seizures. Significant assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.