Tag Archives: Kieren McCarthy

ICANN Wants Your Input On How To Spend $59 Million In Proceeds From New gTLD Auctions [updated]

ICANN new generic Top Level Domains logoICANN have put out for public comment a discussion paper on how it should spend the money, estimated to be around $58.8 million so far, from ICANN-conducted auctions for contested new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) strings.

The paper calls for broad, open and inclusive public comment and encourages participation from all sectors, regions and levels (or no level) of engagement with the ICANN community.

Since the launch of the new gTLD Programme, the paper notes numerous suggestions have been made, such as during the ICANN public forum sessions at ICANN meetings, on how new gTLD auction proceeds should be spent including; suggestions that the funds should be donated to charitable organisations, support for applicants in future rounds, programs to promote new gTLDs and consumer protection, the creation of an ICANN trust, to returning the money to the applicants from the current round.

However as the request for comments notes, it was not until March 2015 that the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) started discussing a possible process for facilitating the conversation around new gTLD auction proceeds during ICANN52 such as a Cross-Community Working Group (CCSG). The discussion paper aims to capture the information and input on new gTLD Auction Proceeds to date as well as outlining potential questions and issues to be addressed in the subsequent phases of the process, such as outreach, participation and ensuring a focus on framework development, to determine next steps.

Broad, open and inclusive public comment input is sought and participation from all sectors, regions and levels (or no level) of engagement with the ICANN community is encouraged.

Writing in The Register, Kieren McCarthy notes that ICANN is only discussing how to spend the money made from the auctions and not the more than “$150m in ‘excess funds’ that ICANN made from charging just under 2,000 applicants a non-returnable fee of $185,000 per application.”

The paper also has around 20 suggestions of how to spend the proceeds. Only one of which doesn’t have the proposer of the suggestion listed, writes McCarthy. And that suggestion is the not-so-popular NetMundial Initiative to “promote internet development globally by placing money in a trust (possibly overseen by NetMundial Initiative) for internet development efforts.” NetMundial is the brainchild of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade.

[update] According to a report in Domain Incite, the NetMundial idea has come from from Danny Aerts of Swedish ccTLD manager IIS.

NTIA Wants Participation In IANA Transition to Multistakeholder Model

IANA logoA proposal has been released that will see the transition of the US government’s stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s (IANA) through ICANN to a multistakeholder model and the US government is encouraging comments and feedback.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration‘s Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling has asked those interested to give their feedback in a blog posting on the NTIA’s website.

The move is not without controversy with many US Republicans spreading fear of doomsday scenarios whereby countries such as China and Russia would be allowed to take control of the internet.

The proposal also has critics not spreading the doomsday scenarios but taking a more constructive approach such as former staffer and journalist Kieren McCarthy who writes a lengthy article in The Register, and is essential reading for those interested in the transition, that says in part:

“the near-final version is a hodgepodge of ideas and compromises that fails to address a key aspect of Uncle Sam’s role.

“In addition, the plan substitutes a complex set of unworkable process steps in place of the US Department of Commerce’s simple oversight of the internet. And it is reliant on a separate, unfinished process for improving accountability at the organization that will assume de facto control, ICANN.

“Most of the problems in the plan stem from political rather than technical issues, which means its main aspects are likely to remain even after a public comment period.

“In particular, the decision to award ICANN control of the IANA contract through a wholly controlled affiliate remains controversial, and there is some reason to believe that the process was distorted in order to arrive at a pre-decided outcome.”

Currently the role of the IANA is managed by ICANN through a contract with the US government. Discussions have been underway for over a year within the ICANN community and with other interested parties as to how best complete this transition.

According to Reuters, “the transition proposal recommends creating a separate subsidiary, with its own performance evaluation process, to actually operate the technical functions of managing the Internet’s name and address system under a contract with ICANN.”

“Similar to ICANN’s current process, a community could raise the alarm if IANA functions are not performed appropriately, according to Alissa Cooper, a U.S.-based network engineer who chairs the group coordinating the IANA transition.

“Because the proposal roots the accountability responsibility in the various stakeholder communities, that is one of the defences against capture by any single constituency,” Cooper told Reuters. “The proposal does a good job of maintaining the aspects of the current system that have been working well and carrying them forward to the future.”

“Under the proposal, ICANN would remain headquartered in California.

“The proposal suggests that the role played by the U.S. government be replaced by ICANN itself, an oversight committee and a review process involving many interested parties, none of which are governments or inter-governmental organisations.”


The transition is expected to be completed in mid-2016 after current CEO and President Fadi Chehadé, who has been driving the change following the US government announcement that it would happen, steps down.

The post by Strickling is as follows:

Nearly 17 months ago, NTIA kicked off activities to complete the privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) as promised in 1998 by transitioning our stewardship role over  certain technical functions related to the DNS.


We have reached an important milestone in that process as the two working groups tasked with developing proposals related to the transition have released them for final comment.

These technical functions, known as the IANA functions, play an important but limited role in how the DNS and Internet operate. The DNS allows users to identify websites, mail servers, and other Internet destinations using easy-to-understand names (e.g., www.ntia.doc.gov) rather than the numeric network addresses (e.g., necessary to retrieve information on the Internet.

The IANA transition will advance our commitment to ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for global economic growth, innovation and free speech.

Since March 2014, the Internet community – made up of technical experts, businesses and civil society – has spent hundreds of hours devising a transition proposal that aims to meet the principles we outlined, including preserving the openness, security and resiliency of the Internet.

The global Internet community also developed a proposal to enhance the accountability of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which currently performs the IANA functions under a contract with NTIA, in advance of NTIA transitioning its stewardship role.

In recent days both the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) on Enhancing ICANN Accountability have posted their proposals for review and final public comment.  Comments are due September 8, 2015, for the ICG’s proposal and September 12, 2015, for the CCWG’s proposal.

I urge all parties with an interest in the IANA transition to review these proposals and provide feedback to the working groups. This is the best way to make your voice heard and make a difference.  It is particularly important that stakeholders everywhere evaluate whether these plans meet the criteria that we have said must be part of the transition.

I greatly appreciate the time and effort the community has put into developing these proposals. With the participation of as many stakeholders as possible, I am confident that this transition will result in a stronger ICANN and an Internet that will continue to grow and thrive throughout the world.

ISOC, Civil Society Unhappy With NETmundial Initiative – “Not Consistent With Democracy”

In a statement issued last Sunday, the Internet Society (ISOC) has declared it “cannot agree to participate in or endorse the Coordination Council for the NETmundial Initiative”. The initiative was also criticised in a separate statement by the civil society group Just Net Coalition who stated “such initiatives are not consistent with democracy”. The move was described as a “a ‘UN Security Council’ for the internet – which would rule over the online world” by Kieren McCarthy.The NETmundial Initiative ISOC notes is different from the one-time NETmundial meeting that ISOC participated in in April 2014. ISOC endorsed the outcomes of that meeting. “This new and different NETmundial Initiative has been organised by the partnership of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the World Economic Forum (WEF). This announcement has resulted in considerable discussion and concern amongst various stakeholders regarding the purpose, scope, and nature of the proposed activity or organisation.”ISOC is “concerned that the way in which the NETmundial Initiative is being formed does not appear to be consistent with the Internet Society’s longstanding principles, including:

  • Bottom-up orientation
  • Decentralised
  • Open
  • Transparent
  • Accountable
  • Multi-stakeholder.”

The Just Net Coalition is equally critical, saying the “Net Mundial Initiative opens a new chapter in global governance. This is the first time that such a corporate-led venue – although sold as multistakeholder, open, and voluntary, among others – is positioned as being ‘the’ mechanism for global governance in a specific sector. In fact it is being openly and explicitly positioned as a direct replacement for existing UN based governance models, which are routinely the subject of harsh critiques by some of the NMI proponents.””The Just Net Coalition rejects out of hand the transfer of global governance prerogatives to corporate led initiatives such as the NMI, because such initiatives are not consistent with democracy. It additionally has grave concerns at the abandonment of traditional values of democracy and social justice as some civil society organisations are apparently choosing to enthusiastically enter into this unseemly collaboration with global corporate and other elites as represented most clearly by the World Economic Forum and their annual gathering of the 1% in Davos.”For more on the criticisms see the ISOC statement here and the Just Net Coalition statement here. Kieren McCarthy has written in The Register on the ISOC statement here.

Nominet names next CEO

Russell Haworth is to join Nominet as its new Chief Executive Officer.

[To read an interview with Russell Haworth by Kieren McCarthy in The Register, see:

Russell will lead the organisation as it develops its core registry business, explores the potential of new technologies, and delivers on its commitment to ensuring the internet is a force for good.

Commenting on the appointment, Nominet Chair Baroness Fritchie said:  “It’s an exciting time for Nominet as we embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, and we are delighted to have Russell join us. Russell brings an excellent mix of leadership qualities, experience working in complex stakeholder environments and a strong track record in developing a core business while exploring new opportunities. We welcome Russell to Nominet and are looking forward to working with him.”

Russell Haworth said: “Over the last 18 years, Nominet has made a major contribution to the success story that is the internet in the UK.  Looking forward, we have a great opportunity to shape the Nominet of the future. I look forward to working with the team, members, and the wider internet community to do just that.”

Russell was previously Managing Director, Middle East & Africa for Thomson Reuters.

Russell will join Nominet in January 2015.

This Nominet news release was sourced from:

ICANN Security Glitch Revealed TLD Bid Details

The recent glitch in ICANN’s TLD Application System (TAS) could have resulted in applicants being able to see competitors bids. While nobody has come forth to say they saw other bid details, it is also most likely if you had knowledge of competitor’s bids one would stay silent and possibly even use the information for commercial advantage.In a statement from Akram Atallah, ICANN’s chief operating officer, ICANN acknowledged some users may have been able to see other bid details.”As we have reported, ICANN has learned of a technical issue with the TLD application system software, or TAS, that allowed a limited number of users to view some other users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios. We temporarily shut the system down on 12 April 2012 to protect applicant data, and to look into the technical issue and fix it.”The glitch saw ICANN shut down the TAS for some hours Tuesday last and the closing date for applications extended one week until Friday, 20 April.It is possible that had a registered user of the TAS seen details of existing applicants, they could then use this information to encourage organisations, and in particular brand owners, to apply.Speaking to The Guardian, Kieren McCarthy, former ICANN staffer and currently managing the dot-nxt consultancy, said ICANN “might bear some liability if applicants lost out because of the fault: ‘it depends on what people could see. And if a competing applicant changed details at some point through the process. If someone loses their bid – most likely if the same name is applied for under a ‘community’ application and so gets precedence – then the losing party may sue and use discovery to subpoena records relating to what the problem was and whether ICANN was responsible or, worse, knew about it.'”It is also likely ICANN became aware of the problem on 19 March following a user report the organisation acknowledged in a statement.In the statement from Atallah, it also stated that ICANN “believed the issues identified in the initial and subsequent reports had been addressed, [but] on 12 April we confirmed that there was a continuing unresolved issue and we shut down the system.”ICANN “are still aggressively looking into the issue, and we will publish additional information as soon as it can be confirmed.”What happens if competitors of applicants gained information to their benefit, and detriment of organisations already applying, is unsure.

Q. What Unites Esther Dyson And YMCA? A. Opposition To New gTLDs

A representative of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the United States of America (YMCA) and Esther Dyson will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation a full committee hearing on ICANN’s expansion of top level domains today (Thursday).Others who will be appearing include ICANN’s Kurt Pritz, Fiona Alexander from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Dan Jaffe from the Association of National Advertisers and the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.While it is predictable that Jaffe will rant against the introduction of new gTLDs, it is to be hoped the committee will ask why the organisation has only belatedly come to the party in opposing new gTLDs.The proposal for new gTLDs has been around since the mid-2000s and the ANA has even submitted comments on the proposal around 2008. Something Robert Liodice, the organisation’s president and CEO, forgot when writing his ill-informed letter to ICANN’s CEO and president in August 2011. Embarrassingly for the ANA and Liodice, Beckstrom refuted many of the issues noted in their letter and outlined how comments including the ANA’s had been taken into account when formulating new gTLD policy.Esther Dyson is an oddity. She was ICANN’s inaugural chair and has become a vocal opponent of new gTLDs, in an article she wrote for the Project Syndicate in August that new gTLDs do not “actually create any new value.””The value is in people’s heads – in the meanings of the words and the brand associations – not in the expanded namespace. In fact, the new approach carves up the namespace: the value formerly associated with Apple could now be divided into Apple.computers, apple.phone, ipod.apple, and so on.”Dyson believes “this sounds confusing [and] that is because it is.”Possibly, on the face of it, strangest appearance will be from Angela Williams, the General Counsel of the YMCA in the US. Kieren McCarthy on his dotNXT blog has dug a little deeper. McCarthy notes that the reason they are appearing is solely because of the intellectual property lobby.”The YMCA turned up for the first time at an ICANN meeting at the most recent meeting in Dakar just over a month ago,” wrote McCarthy. “Incredibly its representative, Michael Carson, immediately became the person in charge of both communication and membership for the newly formed Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC).””Michael’s sudden elevation is thanks to the NPOC’s chair, Debra Hughes. Debra represents the Red Cross but is viewed by some in the ICANN constituency she represents – the non-commercial stakeholders group – as a Trojan Horse for intellectual property interests.”

Europe Seeks More Influence on Governing Internet

A series of six papers from the European Commission “represent a wholesale effort to put governments in charge of the internet” writes Kieren McCarthy.”They would be put in a position to decide how the internet’s underlying naming structure – the domain name system – expands and evolves.”If the DNS evolves in the right way of course, governments won’t need to do anything, they will let others get on with it. But just in case people decide to do something that isn’t in the public’s interest, then governments will be there to firmly but politely inform them that they are not allowed to do that. Well, that’s the theory anyway.”To read McCarthy’s analysis of the papers and the players and what is going on, check out his posting on his Dot NXT site at news.dot-nxt.com/2011/08/31/ec-papers-analysis.

Kieren McCarthy’s Guide To ICANN San Francisco Issues

ICANN logoFormer ICANN staffer and now consultant Kieren McCarthy has posted a guide to the ICANN San Francisco meeting currently underway. The guide lists the most important issues to be discussed in the meeting that ends this Friday.

The guide discusses issues, and why they are important, such as new gTLDs, the .XXX sponsored Top Level Domain, Accountability and Transparency, domain transfer policies and new GNSO constituencies.

The guide published on his .NXT site also gives added commentary, background and links to relevant resources.

The guide is available at news.dot-nxt.com/2011/03/13/icann-sf-rundown.

Battle for Sex.com Takes a New Turn

The saga of the sex.com domain name has taken another turn. The saga was expertly described by Kieren McCarthy in his book called Sex.com. In the publicity for the book McCarthy asks “how far would you go to get the internet’s most valuable property?”

Well, the answer it seems is that one will go too far as the domain name is being sold in a foreclosure sale. Any new bidder though will need to have a certified cheque for at least $1 million to even take part.

The last time it was sold, it cost the current owner $14 million and now there are around 120,000 people visiting the site each month.

The domain name is being sold by Maltz Auctions on Thursday, March 18th at 11:00 am New York Time. More information is available at maltzauctions.com/auction_detail.php?id=128401

The sex.com saga has been a battle between two men – Gary Kremen and Stephen Cohen who have gone to extraordinary lengths to gain ownership of the domain name.

In his book, McCarthy outlines “the full story behind the battle for Sex.com from its registration way back in May 1994, to its theft a year later by lifelong con-man Stephen Cohen,” according to the book’s website.

“The fight soon hit newspapers and TV screens across the world and sucked in the most powerful company on the Internet, as well as the Supreme Court. Ultimately, it determined the future of how the law sees the buildings blocks of the Internet – domain names – forever. But much more than that, it revealed what men are capable of when all their worldly desires are contained within one possession.”

For more information on Kieren McCarthy’s book on the saga, see: