Tag Archives: Lawrence Strickling

Chehadé Announces Next Move In Life After ICANN As US Govt Extends ICANN IANA Contract

ICANN’s CEO And President Fadi Chehadé has announced that when he departs ICANN he will take up a position in what he describes in a post on the ICANN blog as a “portfolio of activities”, the main one being a Senior Advisor on Digital Strategy for ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm.The role will entail providing guidance to ABRY’s partners and their companies’ leaders on digital strategy. He is hoping this is just one of a number of roles he will undertake when he finishes with ICANN as he notes that he “expect[s] to add other roles to my portfolio and will update you all as appropriate.”But in the meantime he writes that “please be assured that until that time, I will remain focused on all the day to day duties within ICANN as we work toward a successful transition.”The main role Chehadé is working on until his departure is the transitioning of the NTIA’s “stewardship of the IANA functions to the global Internet community and, after countless meetings and revisions, we, as a community, are closer than ever to delivering on that commitment. We are in the final stages of submitting our proposal for the U.S. government, but there is more work to be done and I stand ready to finish the job I started with my friends and colleagues all those months ago.”But this is taking longer than expected. In An Update on the IANA Transition by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling on 17 August, Strickling notes “it has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the U.S. Government and then implement it if it is approved.”The new deadline is 30 September 2016 following consultation with stakeholders and with that in mind, the contract the US government has with ICANN to perform the IANA contract has been extended to this date. Beyond 2016, Strickling notes, the US government has options to extend the contract for up to three additional years if needed.”This one-year extension will provide the community with the time it needs to finish its work. The groups are already far along in planning the IANA transition and are currently taking comments on their IANA transition proposals. As we indicated in a recent Federal Register notice, we encourage all interested stakeholders to engage and weigh in on the proposals.”In preparation for the implementation phase of the IANA stewardship transition, NTIA also asked Verisign and ICANN to submit a proposal detailing how best to remove NTIA’s administrative role associated with root zone management, which the groups working on the transition were not asked to address. We asked Verisign and ICANN to submit a proposal detailing how best to do this in a manner that maintains the security, stability and resiliency of the DNS.”The next months will be critical to our success and they will be challenging, but we are on the brink of something truly remarkable, the triumph of the multistakeholder model. I look forward to continuing my work toward this important goal with the dedicated community members who have worked so tirelessly to preserve one Internet for the world.As for Chehadé, Kieren McCarthy writes that he believes the ICANN CEO was “simply fed up with the job. It is a notoriously difficult one: the CEO is not only in charge of ICANN the corporation, but is also accountable to both the ICANN board – which is frequently criticized for its micromanagement – and the broader ICANN community, which can best be described as a loose conglomeration of warring tribes.””In addition, Chehade has seen a number of personal projects face repeated setbacks. Most notably, he was embarrassed and disappointed when his plan to create a new internet governance body called the NetMundial Initiative was roundly criticized by the internet and business communities.”It’s a similar view to that in espoused by Kevin Murphy in Domain Incite. “I’m drawn down the path of thinking that rather than finding the job of his dreams elsewhere, the dude is just suffering from ICANN burnout.”

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.

Stakeholder Proposals to Come Together at ICANN Meeting in Argentina by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Lawrence E Strickling NTIA imageNext week, hundreds of members of the Internet stakeholder community will attend ICANN’s 53rd meeting in Argentina. As I head to Buenos Aires, one of NTIA’s top priorities continues to be the transition of NTIA’s role related to the Internet Domain Name System. Since we announced the IANA stewardship transition in March 2014, the response of the stakeholder community has been remarkable and inspiring. I thank everyone for their hard work.

The meeting in Buenos Aires will be pivotal, as the community finalizes the components of the transition proposal and determines what remains to be done. The three stakeholder groups planning the transition of the individual IANA functions have made great progress. I congratulate the Cross Community Working Group on Naming Related Functions for finishing its draft proposal and look forward to this work stream reaching closure. The other two stakeholder groups – the Internet Engineering Task Force, which is shepherding the protocol parameter proposal, and the five Regional Internet Registries, which collaborated on the numbering proposal – finished their proposals earlier this year.

Now the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) must combine these proposals into a consolidated transition proposal and then seek public comment on all aspects of the plan. ICG’s role is crucial, because it must build a public record for us on how the three customer group submissions tie together in a manner that ensures NTIA’s criteria are met and institutionalized over the long term.

In addition to the ICG transition proposal, the final submission to NTIA must include a plan to enhance ICANN’s accountability. Given that the draft proposal of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability will be a major focus of the discussions next week in Argentina, I would like to offer the following questions for stakeholders to consider:

  • The draft proposes new or modified community empowerment tools. How can the Working Group on Accountability ensure that the creation of new organizations or tools will not interfere with the security and stability of the DNS during and after the transition? Do new committees and structures create a different set of accountability questions?
  • The draft proposal focuses on a membership model for community empowerment. Have other possible models been thoroughly examined, detailed, and documented?  Has the working group designed stress tests of the various models to address how the multistakeholder model is preserved if individual ICANN Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees opt out?  Similarly, has the working group developed stress tests to address the potential risk of capture and barriers to entry for new participants of the various models? Further, have stress tests been considered to address potential unintended consequences of “operationalizing” groups that to date have been advisory in nature?
  • The draft proposal suggests improvements to the current Independent Review Panel (IRP). The IRP has been criticized for its own lack of accountability. How does the proposal analyze and remedy existing concerns with the IRP?
  • In designing a plan for improved accountability, should the working group consider what exactly is the role of the ICANN Board within the multistakeholder model?  Should the standard for Board action be to confirm that the community has reached consensus, and if so, what accountability mechanisms are needed to ensure the Board operates in accordance with that standard?
  • The proposal is primarily focused on the accountability of the ICANN Board. Has the Working Group also considered if there need to be accountability improvements that would apply to ICANN management and staff or to the various ICANN Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees?

All of these questions require thoughtful consideration prior to the community’s completion of the transition plan. Similar to the ICG, the Working Group on Accountability will need to build a public record and thoroughly document how the NTIA criteria have been met and will be maintained in the future.

As the plans take final shape, I hope the community starts to focus on the matter of implementation of its recommendations. Have the issues of implementation been identified and addressed in the proposal so that the community and ICANN can implement the plan as expeditiously as possible once we have reviewed and accepted it?  This is an important issue right now because after the Buenos Aires meeting, NTIA will need to make a determination on extending its current contract with ICANN, which expires on September 30, 2015. Last month, I asked both the ICG and the Working Group on Accountability for an update on the transition planning, as well as their views on how long it will take to finalize and implement the transition plan if it were approved.  Keeping in mind that the community and ICANN will need to implement all work items identified by the ICG and the Working Group on Accountability as prerequisites for the transition before the contract can end, the community’s input on timing is critical and will strongly influence how NTIA proceeds with the contract extension. I look forward to hearing from everyone in Buenos Aires.

At this key juncture, it is timely to not only take stock of all the work that has occurred, but also what lies ahead. I recognize that some stakeholder groups have finalized their proposals and are anxious to move forward. But NTIA will only review a comprehensive plan that includes all elements, and we must let the multistakeholder process run its full course. In that same spirit, I urge all global stakeholders – community members, ICANN Board members, and ICANN staff  – to work together constructively to complete this final stage of the transition. The commitment by the global community to develop a consensus proposal that meets NTIA’s conditions and improves ICANN’s accountability is a testament to the power of the multistakeholder model.

This post was sourced from the NTIA website here.

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 —



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.


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  • 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:


US Govt Wants New Trademark Protections at .Com and a Default Judgment URS by Philip Corwin, Internet Commerce Association

Internet Commerce Association logoOn the eve of ICANN’s 45th public meeting in Toronto — the last such meeting for the next half year until the April 2013 Beijing event — the United States government has urged ICANN to consider adding new trademark protections at .com and other incumbent gTLDs, and to adopt a Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) model that includes a default judgment procedure. These proposals could dramatically alter the balance between complainants and registrants in both UDRP and URS cases involving domains at new and existing gTLDs, and ICA intends to fully engage in the ensuing debate.

These suggestions are contained in an October 4th letter sent by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling to ICANN Board Chairman Steve Crocker (letter available at www.icann.org/en/news/correspondence/strickling-to-crocker-04oct12-en).

In regard to considering new trademark protections beyond those being implemented for the new gTLD program, the letter urges ICANN to “explore additional trademark protections across all TLDs, existing and new, through community dialogues and appropriate policy development processes in the coming year”. (Emphasis added) This call for initiation of a policy development process (PDP) for altering trademark protections at incumbent gTLDs is at direct odds with a mid-December 2011 resolution passed by ICANN’s GNSO Council, made under substantial pressure from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and major brand interests, to defer initiation of any PDP until 18 months after the first new gTLD is delegated to the root. GNSO Resolution 20111215-1 (available at gnso.icann.org/en/resolutions) states:

RESOLVED further, the GNSO Council requests a new Issue Report on the current state of all rights protection mechanisms implemented for both existing and new gTLDs, including but not limited to, the UDRP and URS, should be delivered to the GNSO Council by no later than eighteen (18) months following the delegation of the first new gTLD.

At the time, ICA and many other groups were urging the GNSO Council to initiate a PDP on procedural UDRP reform based on a decade of UDRP experience, and rejected the notion that ICANN and the community lacked the capacity to simultaneously implement the new gTLD program and consider procedural improvements. When the GNSO passed on that option, it was expected that the first new gTLD would be delegated in early 2013 and that the PDP would therefore kick off in mid-2014 – but intervening events have now pushed the schedule back by at least a year.

We see several major issues raised by Secretary’s Strickling’s suggestion:

  • As it seems impossible to envisage changing trademark protections at .com et al without opening up the substance of the UDRP, acquiescing to the suggestion less than a year after its decision to defer UDRP reform would make the GNSO Council appear to be akin to a yo-yo directed by Washington, and would also kick off the discussion without it being informed by the requested Issue Report.
  • Implementing new rights protection measures (RPMs) at new gTLDs, which don’t yet exist and where registrants will obtain domains with clear notice of the new rules, is quite a different exercise than changing the substantive rules for existing gTLDs that are comprised of more than 100 million domains, many of which are highly valued in the secondary market. This debate is likely to feature far more controversy than even the heated discussion that accompanied development of the new gTLD RPMs, and initiating it while those RPMs are still being implemented could result in yet further delay in the launch of new gTLDs.
  • While ICA continues to favor the initiation of a PDP on procedural UDRP reform, we believe that any discussion of substantive UDRP reform should await experience with the performance of the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMC) and URS at new gTLDs. It would be irresponsible to consider imposing these untested RPMs on 100 million-plus incumbent gTLD domains before we have analyzed their real-world performance, especially in regard to their effect on the legitimate rights of domain registrants.

Again, there is plenty to evaluate and decide in any procedural UDRP PDP without debating substantive changes to rights protections. ICA has advocated that the heart of such reform be the development of a standard contract for all UDRP providers that delineates and limits their powers and provides ICANN with effective and flexible enforcement tools, with clear goals such as assuring uniformity and integrity in decision-making and the prevention of forum shopping. The need for such a contractual framework was illustrated again by the recent updating of attorney Zak Muscovitch’s survey of National Arbitration Forum (NAF) panelist selection procedures. The updated August 2012 study (available at dnattorney.com/NAFdomainnamedisputestudy2012.shtml) found that, while NAF claims to have 136 panelists on its trademark experts roster, 70 of whom (about half) were from the United States, in actual practice only seven of these panelists, all from the U.S.,  decided almost half (45.9 percent) of UDRP complaints filed with NAF.

So, clearly, one provision of a standard UDRP provider contract could be that when a provider is accredited by ICANN on the basis of claiming a large number of panelists from a variety of jurisdictions it should be required to actually use those panelists on a random basis — and not direct nearly half of all cases to a favored five percent of those panelists. The Muscovitch study certainly raises further questions about the quality of decisions provided by the number two UDRP provider. Earlier this year ICA requested that ICANN investigate NAF’s UDRP practices (see internetcommerce.org/NAF_UDRP_FAIL) and the response we received to our letter was unsatisfactory and indicated that ICANN takes UDRP provider oversight less seriously than it should. Frankly, we have always found it outrageous that ICANN accredits UDRP arbitration providers to extinguish or transfer valuable domain assets without any written or enforceable standards – trademark owners would never stand for a private entity being given such powers over their assets absent written and credible controls.

We do note that in Secretary Strickling’s letter the NTIA does not take a position for or against any potential trademark protection proposal, and does advocate that “ICANN should continue an open and transparent dialogue between all actors in order to find solutions to these issues”. (Emphasis added) ICA definitely intends to be a clear and consistent voice in that dialogue for the proposition that registrant rights must receive balanced treatment vis-à-vis trademark rights.

As for the letter’s advocacy for a clear linkage between the TMC and URS and to “provide efficient default judgment procedures” in the URS, we have two big concerns —

  • First, while we are open to a linkage between the two new RPMs, a final decision must await a determination of what data will actually be contained in the TMC – exact matches of trademarks, or all sorts of additions and variations as some brand owners are urging?
  • Second, we remain strongly opposed to a default judgment procedure that would automatically suspend a domain when the registrant fails to file a response in the now-truncated time period of 14 days. During this past week’s URS webinar there was substantial pushback from many quarters against adopting this proposal.

URS default judgments would be too much like the IP-based, due process-lacking “domain censorship” that would have been authorized by the SOPA legislation that incited a netizens revolt earlier this year. It is also just too prone to potential abuse, as no human expert would be checking to see if the rights holder complainant actually possessed the rights it claimed, or reviewing the domain name to see if it actually constituted a black-and-white, slam dunk instance of cybersquatting. We have nothing against a URS that is as cost-efficient as possible – but not at the cost of cheapening domain registrants’ rights.

We already expected the upcoming Toronto meeting to feature quite a bit of heated discussion of the final shape of RPMs for new gTLDs. By throwing .com and other incumbent gTLDs into the mix, and pushing the default judgment proposal, the Strickling letter should raise the temperature to an even higher level.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from:

Internet Founders Including Vint Cerf Gather in New York for Consultation on Network’s Future

Internet Society - ISOC - logoSir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, and Lawrence E. Strickling Headline an All-Day Symposium on 14 June

[news release] An extraordinary roster of the men and women who have both founded the Internet and are shaping its future will join in a series of keynote addresses and panel discussions at the first INET New York to be held June 14 at the Wharton Ballroom in Manhattan.

The all-day symposium, organized by the Internet Society, will cover issues central to shaping the Internet’s ongoing evolution — from leading-edge technology, to online pri-vacy, to the future of the user-centric Internet. Participants include representatives from Google, Verizon, Union Square Ventures, Skype, UPS, Columbia University, the Mayor’s Office of New York City, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and many others.

While the event itself is sold out, online remote participation by the public is encouraged, and free, at:

“While technologists developing open standards, and activists and policy makers advo-cating for an open Internet have been crucial the Internet’s development, it is users that ultimately drive the Internet’s continued evolution and its future,” said David Solomonoff, President of the Internet Society New York Chapter. “The INET NY’s theme reflects this defining aspect of the Internet by asking, ‘What kind of Internet do you want?’”

Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, and Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the U.S. Department of Commerce, will deliver the INET New York’s three keynote ad-dresses. Mr. Berners-Lee will speak at 10 a.m., Dr. Cerf at 1:00 p.m., and Mr. Strickling at 3 p.m. Opening remarks will begin at 9:00 a.m. by Sally Wentworth from the Internet Society; David Solomonoff, president of the Internet Society’s New York chapter, and Rachel Sterne, chief digital officer for the City of New York.

“We’re extremely proud to sponsor a gathering of the greatest engineers, businesspeo-ple, and policymakers, who have created and are guiding the development of the Inter-net,” said Sally Wentworth, North American Regional Bureau Director of the Internet Society. “With the many issues facing the Internet and its users, there is no better time for a discussion and review of this caliber.”

INET NY, with the title “What Kind of Internet Do You Want?” will be held at the Sentry Center on the 17th floor at the Wharton Ballroom, located at 730 Third Avenue in mid-town Manhattan, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding at 5:30.

INET NY is sponsored by Google, UPS, New York Internet Company, and presented in partnership with the New York Technology Council. More information is available at:

This ISOC news release was sourced from: