Tag Archives: Milton Mueller

Daily Wrap: Community .GAY Applicants Rejected, Again; Aust Govt Objects to .FOOD and ICANN54 Roundups

DOT GAY LLC gTLD logoThe application for the .gay gTLD by community group Dot Gay LLC has once again been rejected because… they aren’t gay enough. But it appears that commercial groups wanting to operate the gTLD will be OK. The bid by Dot Gay was rejected because “its application did not cover a sufficient number of gay people”, an appeal was won and it’s been rejected again a year later.

The result was the same and the reason, Kieren McCarthy writes, was “the evaluation team decided the application did not sufficiently cover a community. But this time the reason was the complete opposite – that it was trying to cover too many gay people.”

It’s a bizarre and tortuous journey for Dot Gay and points to the application system being loaded against community groups and in favour of those with the money and resourced.

The Australian government has got involved in the new gTLD application for .food, being “among those asking ICANN deny a request to make .food a ‘closed generic’ gTLD,” according to Domain Incite.

“Eight people have filed comments opposing Lifestyle Domain’s application for Specification 13 status for its .food registry contract, which would allow the company to keep all .food domains for itself,” the report says.

The ICANN meeting has come and gone, and there have been a few roundups of what happened in recent days.

Don Hollander wrote an article on Universal Acceptance discussions at the 54th meeting held in Dublin for Centr. Universal Acceptance, Hollander writes, is “the idea that all domain names will work equally well in all applications” and he notes it “made material progress during the ICANN54 meeting in Dublin.”

FairWinds Partners, a consultancy and lobby group, published their ICANN 54 Review while APNIC’s Paul Wilson wrote his Reflections on ICANN 54.

RIPE published their review of the meeting, ICANN 54: Addressing the Accountability Question, and Milton Mueller wrote “Transition is a noun, not a verb: Thoughts on the Dublin ICANN meeting” where he noted “the Dublin meeting was not a train wreck. That much we can say. My assessment of ICANN 54 is not, to put it mildly, as chirpy as that of the Internet Society CEO, but it is more objective and nuanced. Insofar as progress on the transition is concerned, the deliberations among the CCWG, the GAC and the ICANN board averted a rupture that would have jeopardized the transition. But it did so primarily by caving in to the board-promulgated fears of creating a membership, and by side-stepping contentious issues. There are still a lot of loose ends.”

The IE Domain Registry (IEDR) has published some research noting that “over a third (37%) of Irish SMEs still do not have a website or any online presence whatsoever.” The research also found “91% of Irish SMEs cannot process sales online and 54% do not have websites optimised for mobile browsing, were outlined this morning at the launch of Ireland’s first ever ‘Internet Day’ at the CHQ Building.”

Sovereignty and Property Rights: Conceptualizing the Relationship between ICANN, ccTLDs and National Governments by Milton Mueller & Farzaneh Badiei

Abstract: Can ccTLDs be considered property? Or are they sovereign rights? Or are they somehow both? In recent litigation involving the top level domain for Iran (.IR), plaintiffs sought to garnish the domain as a form of property that could be used to compensate victims of terrorist acts allegedly backed by the Iranian state. Similar cases seeking to garnish ccTLDs have affected Syria (.SY) and the Congo (.CG).In the theory and practice of Internet governance, there is a tendency to resist recognizing ccTLDs as a property right. These arguments tend to view ccTLDs as trustee relationships and argue that recognizing private property rights will undermine the rights of the domain registrants within the ccTLDs. Some (but not all) court cases have found that second-level domains are not property, but services.On the other hand, governments are keen on asserting sovereignty rights over ccTLDs. They claim that sovereigns should be the ultimate authority over delegation and public policy for ccTLDs. In countries like Iran with a long-term conflict with the US, sovereignty rights are thought to immunize them from confiscation by outsiders. Some sovereignty claims closely mirror property claims.In physical space, sovereign states have recognized territories. Sovereignty results primarily from a state’s ability to maintain a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence in that territory, but also from recognition of its sovereignty by other states. In cyberspace, the delegation of a domain name representing a country (e.g., .BR for Brazil, or .IN for India) involves an unusual three-party relationship between a government, a party that operates the domain (delegee) and ICANN. ICANN, as the global coordinator and policy maker for the domain name space, must delegate a country code or name to a specific operator – otherwise the domain simply does not exist on the Internet. And because the DNS root is a globally shared resource, its management involves more than the wishes of the sovereign state but also involves obligations to “the global Internet community.” Yet, as a nonprofit under U.S. federal and California jurisdiction, ICANN’s role seemingly subjects ccTLD delegees to civil law claims of the sort seen in the Iran and Congo cases.What, then, is the best way to shape the relationship between ccTLD delegees, ICANN and the governmental authority referenced by a ccTLD string, and what role should sovereignty or property rights claims play? The scholarly literature has left these questions unsettled. It has studied mainly the relationship between states and ICANN, or between the state and the ccTLD delegee. Studies that consider the triangular relationship of ICANN, delegees and states have not applied both property and sovereignty theories. Either it has assumed that states have sovereignty rights over their ccTLDs, or it has not dealt with the applicability of the theories of sovereignty and property rights to this relationship.This paper uses a law and economics framework to analyze the relationship between ccTLD delegation, theories of sovereignty and theories of property rights. While property is a private right and sovereignty is a public right, international relations theorists have argued that they have some commonalities. Both, for example, involve claims of exclusivity. Both are also invoked in allocating rights over international resources, such as rights over the sea and over space. By critically and systematically examining the consequences of applying sovereignty and property rights to ccTLDs, this paper attempts to provide practical insights into the best way to handle conflicting claims over ccTLD delegations.To download this paper, go to:

IGP Proposes Roadmap For Globalising IANA

The Internet Governance Project has released what they describe as “an innovative proposal to resolve the 15-year controversy over the United States government’s special relationship to … ICANN.”The proposal, which has been published on the IGP blog, “involves removing root zone management functions from ICANN and creating an independent and neutral private sector consortium to take them over, will be presented at the Singapore ICANN meeting March 21, and then formally submitted to the ‘NETMundial’ Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in São Paulo, Brazil, April 23 and 24.””We think this plan provides the roadmap for making ICANN into a truly global and multistakeholder institution,” said Dr. Milton Mueller, co-author with Dr. Brenden Kuerbis.The contracts ICANN and Verisign have with the US Government “are an understandable legacy of the Internet’s origins in Defense Department and National Science Foundation, the U.S. has maintained control of ICANN long after it promised to let go. This has invited other governments, including authoritarian ones, to demand equal oversight authority over the DNS.””Unless we take a consistent and principled approach to non-governmental Internet governance,” Dr. Mueller claimed, “it is only a matter of time before other governments succeed in bringing the coordination and management of the Internet under the control of intergovernmental treaty organisations.”The IGP proposal is an attempt to develop a blueprint for globalisation of the IANA functions. In summary, the plan outlined on the IGP blog would:

  • “structurally separate the IANA functions from ICANN’s policy process, and ensure that the IANA functions are never used for political or regulatory purposes
  • integrate the DNS-related IANA functions with the Root Zone Maintainer functions performed by Verisign, and put them into a new, independent “DNS Authority” (DNSA)
  • create a nonprofit controlled by a consortium of TLD registries and root server operators to run the DNSA.
  • complete the transition by September 2015, when the current IANA contract expires.”

“It’s important/essential not to conflate policy with the operation of the root zone,” Kuerbis said in the IGP post. “It makes sense to put operational authority in the hands of an entity comprised of the registries and root server operators, as they are directly impacted by operation of the root, and have strong incentives to ensure its stability and security.””Contractually binding the DNSA to ICANN ensures adherence to the policy development process, and provides an important accountability function,” Kuerbis added. “It’s an institutional design that is consistent with the multistakeholder model and achievable in the near term.”The proposal was submitted to the NETMundial (Brazil) meeting on 2 March and can be download and commented on through links from the original IGP post at www.internetgovernance.org/2014/03/03/a-roadmap-for-globalizing-iana.

Dubia WCIT Conference Splits Developed and Developing Worlds On Internet Control

The International Telecommunication Union conference currently underway in Dubai, from 3 to 14 December, has been generating some controversy recently. This is due to proposals that many view as a power grab by the United Nations organisation to take control of some internet governance roles.

The grandly named World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) has gathered interest from luminaries involved in the domain name arena from father of the internet Vint Cerf to Paul Twomey to Milton Mueller. Even Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has expressed his concerns about proposals up for discussion.

But concerns the ITU is making a power grab are denied by the ITU. Leaked proposed regulations from countries such as Russia suggest that some countries want the role of, for example, ICANN, to come under the auspices of the ITU.

Twomey goes on to note what some of the changes proposed would be if adopted.
“Included in the fine print” he writes “are proposals by Russia, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others that could justify the following:

  • introduction of a spreading international regime for deep monitoring of internet communications, along with a move towards personal identification of who is sending and receiving communications;
  • dramatically increase the capacity of governments to restrict or completely block transmission of information via the internet; and
  • result in significant increases in the costs to internet users for accessing content on the internet.”

And then “proposals from some governments, if accepted, would go much further, including requirements that:

  • the internet be used ‘in a rational way’;
  • governments restrict the use of the internet where this would ‘interfere in the internal affairs of other states, or divulge information of a sensitive nature’; and
  • governments be required to re-route or block traffic passing through their territory simply on the request of another government.”

But the ITU’s secretary general, Hamadoun Toure, insists this is not the case and has said the ITU’s goal is not to regulate speech. There are many who believe otherwise. And the secrecy that surrounds ITU processes means it’s hard for many to know for sure given typical ITU secrecy.

However former ICANN CEO and president Paul Twomey writes on ABC News’ The Drum that “when the cheer squad includes China’s public security bureau, Putin’s bureaucrats and the Iranian government, it pays to be sceptical.”

There is as a proposal from the US and Canada, with support from the European Union and Australia, meaning most, if not all, western countries object to changes as rumoured to being proposed.

The proposal from the US and Canada is to “protect the internet from new international regulation has failed to win prompt backing from other countries, setting up potentially tough negotiations to rewrite a telecom treaty,” according to a Reuters report.

The idea “would limit the International Telecommunication Union’s rules to only telecom operators and not internet-based companies such as Google and Facebook.”

Reuters goes on to report “that could reduce the prospective impact of efforts by other countries including Russia and some in the Middle East and Africa to obtain more powers to govern the Internet through the ITU.”

“ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré told Reuters last week that any major changes to the 1988 treaty would be adopted only with “consensus” approaching unanimity, but leaked documents show that managers at the 147-year-old body view a bad split as a strong possibility.”

For links to the stories mentioned above and additional reports and opinion pieces, see below:

Keep the Internet free and open by Vint Cerf

Google’s Vint Cerf: Keep the Internet Free and Open

The new push to control the internet by Paul Twomey

Internet revolution in crisis by Milton Mueller

UN internet regulation talks in Dubai threaten web freedom

US fails to win early limit on Net controls at global gathering

Sir Tim Berners-Lee flags UN net conference concerns

Berners-Lee warns against changes to Net at UN conclave

The Internet’s Future Depends on Maintaining Its Free Spirit by Vint Cerf

Eye on Dubai: Predictions on U.N. Internet Regulations

Cutting Our Own Net by Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

Daily Wrap: .PW To Be A “gTLD”, More gTLD Bids Withdrawn, Civil Society Meets At ICANN Toronto And gTLD Confusion

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Daily Wrap, but here we go. Directi is to relaunch .PW, the ccTLD for Palau next week at the ICANN meeting in Toronto with a sunrise period due to start in December, Domain Incite reports. The relaunch will see .PW branded as “professional web”.

Palau is ranked 197th in the world in area out of 251 countries and principalities with 459 square kilometres – twice the size of Washington DC, and 218th in population out of 238 – 21,032 people, according to the CIA World Factbook.

And last week it was revealed two more gTLD applications have bitten the dust with .CIALIS and .CHATR being formally withdrawn. ELi Lilly & Co dropped its bid for .CIALIS and Rogers Communications withdrew its .CHATR application,” according to Domain Incite.

Public interest groups involved in ICANN will gather on 12 October in the leadup to the ICANN meeting in Toronto, Canada in an event called “ICANN & Internet Governance: Security & Freedom in a Connected World” sponsored by the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), the voice of civil society in ICANN, according to a post by Milton Mueller on the Internet Governance blog. “The policy conference will focus on key ICANN policy issues like the need to promote both cyber-security and human rights in the development of global internet policies.”

“The conference subtitle recognizes our shared twin goals of security and freedom, and questions to what extent must we sacrifice one for the other,” said meeting organizer Robin Gross whose organisation IP Justice is an NCUC member.

“Cyberspace is at a watershed moment. Global civil society, now increasingly recognised as an important stakeholder in cyberspace governance, needs to step up to the challenge,” Ron Deibert, one of the event speakers, said in a release reported on Intellectual Property Watch. “What is required is nothing less than a serious and comprehensive security strategy for cyberspace that addresses the very real threats that plague governments and corporations, addresses national and other security concerns in a forthright manner, while protecting and preserving open networks of information and communication.”

Other speakers include new ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé, Fiona Alexader from the US Department of Commerce and Wendy Seltzer, founder of the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse.

Panel topics include: Civil Liberties, Security and Law Enforcement; Controversial Top-Level Domain Names, Freedom of Expression and Intellectual Property Rights; The Changing Geo-Political Landscape of Internet Governance: Implications for ICANN; and Bringing Human Rights into ICANN’s Policy Development Process.

Meanwhile on gTLD Strategy, a blog post from Fairwinds Partners, there is a story on public confusion when new gTLDs come into being. The story notes a British electronics story Currys that has on its stories “Currys.digital.” The only applicant for .DIGITAL was Donuts. If successful, “it will be possible for the shop in the picture to go out and register the domain name Currys.Digital – but just because something is possible doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.”

The article asks readers to “consider a scenario where Currys does not register its eponymous .DIGITAL domain name, but Boots, the well-known, UK-based pharmacy and drug store chain, applied for the .BOOTS gTLD. Imagine you’re a consumer and an average Internet user, walking down this street in London, and you see the sign that displays ‘Currys.Digital.’ Then, a short block later, you see a sign in the window of Boots that reads, ‘Visit us online at our new site: Pharmacy.Boots.’ Further up the road, there is another retailer whose name is SportsDirect.com.”

Full Steam Ahead For New gTLDS

ICANN has no intention to delay or limit its rollout of the programme to introduce new generic Top Level Domains, the ICANN Chair Steve Crocker told .NXT recently.ICANN is due to begin taking applications on 12 January for a three month period and has been under a sustained but belated attack from a consortium of marketers and advertisers, largely US-based, along with a number of US politicians, all echoing the same complaints mostly revolving around trademark and brand protection issues.According to the .NXT report, Crocker admitted ICANN’s board will hold a special meeting in the “first week of January and that the meeting’s focus will be the launch of the new gTLD programme the following week. But that meeting will not consider either a delay or a limited rollout, he stated.”Support to continue the plan to begin accepting TLD applications also came from regular ICANN critic Milton Mueller who wrote on the Internet Governance blog that “this long overdue implementation is the result of an open process that began in 2006. It would, in fact, be more realistic to say that the decision has been in the works 15 years; i.e., since early 1997. That is when demand for new top-level domain names, and the need for other policy decisions regarding the coordination of the domain name system, made it clear that a new institutional framework had to be created.”Mueller believes the “result has been far from perfect, but human institutions never are.” He continues “Over the past 15 years, every stakeholder with a serious interest in the issue of top level domains has had multiple opportunities to make their voice heard and to shape the policy. The resulting new gTLD policy reflects that diversity and complexity. From our point of view, it is too regulatory, too costly, and makes too many concessions to content regulators and trademark holders. But delay is only going to make it worse. Stopping now disrupts the compromises that came out of the process which enabled movement forward after a long period of stagnation and artificial scarcity.”Commenting on those who have belatedly come to the party demanding the new TLD programme be stopped or delayed, Mueller writes “Now there is a cynical, illegitimate last-second push by a few corporate interests in the United States to derail that process. The arguments put forward by these interests are not new; they are the same anti-new TLD arguments that have been made since 1997, and the concerns expressed are all addressed in one way or another by the policies ICANN has developed. What is new is that U.S. corporate trademark interests are openly admitting that their participation in the ICANN process has been in bad faith all along. Despite the multiple concessions and numerous re-dos that these interests managed to extract over the past 6 years, they are now demanding that everything grind to a halt because they didn’t get exactly what they demanded, as if no other interests and concerns mattered and no other stakeholders exist. What they wanted, in fact, was simply to freeze the status quo of 1996 into place forever, so that there would be no new competition, no new entrepreneurial opportunities, no linguistic diversification, nothing that would have the potential to cause them any problems.””That group’s demands must be rebuffed, unambiguously and finally. ICANN must start implementing the new TLD program on January 12 as scheduled. It must keep its promise to those who participated in its processes in good faith.”Mueller credits the US Commerce Department for not caving “in to the cynical corporate obstructionism.””If ICANN blinks, if it deviates from or delays its agreed and hard-fought policy in the slightest way, the coup d’etat succeeds. Everyone in the world then concludes that a few corporate interests in the United States hold veto power over the policies of the Internet’s domain name system. Imagine the centrifugal forces that are unleashed as a result. Imagine the impact in Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and even the EU, when they are told in no uncertain terms that ICANN’s policy making is hostage to the whims of a few well-placed, narrowly focused U.S. business interests; that they can invest thousands of person-hours and resources to working in that framework only to see the rug pulled out from under them by a campaign by the ANA and an editorial by the New York Times. The entire institutional infrastructure we have spent 15 years trying to build will be drained of its life.”

New IANA Contract An Important Milestone Says Milton Mueller

“The new IANA contract solicitation, which was posted by the U.S. Commerce Department November 10, represents a milestone in ICANN’s relationship to the U.S. government,” writes Milton Mueller on the Internet Governance Project blog, even allowing for their “Freudian typo” where the Commerce Department refers to the requirement that “the Contractor to promptly notify the NTIA of ‘any outrages.'”Mueller goes on to say that “Rather than loosening the ties that bind Internet names and numbers to the authority of one national state, the Commerce Department has strengthened them considerably. Despite a European Commission news release trumpeting changes that it said it had demanded, the EC – and all other governments – have been sidelined. The new approach to the IANA contract is the final nail in the coffin of any attempt to globalize or de-nationalize oversight authority over ICANN. One can praise the NTIA for its attempt to make the contract a more open bidding system, but the more salient fact is that it has institutionalized a bidding system that is permanently confined to U.S. companies and subject to detailed regulation and oversight by the U.S. government.”To read more of Milton Mueller’s views on the new IANA and the new contract for operating the IANA on the Internet Governance Project blog, see blog.internetgovernance.org/blog/_archives/2011/11/16/4940638.html.

GAC Continues To Delay New gTLDs While Supporting Trademark Holders

Last week’s meeting in Brussels between ICANN and their Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) regarding the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) was a like a car “wreck” writes Milton Mueller on the Internet Governance blog. And things are not about to get better anytime soon.A reason for partial success writes Mueller is:
The ICANN Board wants to satisfy the GAC (which means, primarily, the US Government) so that it can proceed with the implementation of its policy for adding new TLDs. This meeting allowed it to respond to specific demands made by the GAC and to clarify which concessions it could/would make and which ones it would not. From the GAC’s perspective, they finally got what they crave, which is the full and undivided attention of the ICANN Board. And for a while, GAC’s time in the spotlight made many of these mid-level bureaucrats feel as if they were in the correct “role;” that is, one of exercising their sovereign “right” to make something called “public policy” (despite the fact that none of them are accountable to or elected by the global polity represented by the Internet and its users).But this was superficial as the GAC continued to do the bidding of trademark holders. ICANN, notes Mueller, went through five years of policy making on the new gTLDs and “and two paroxysms of last-minute changes demanded by trademark holders at the end, and another 11th-hour attempt to revise its objection/censorship process demanded by the GAC.”And why did governments behave the way they did asks Mueller. He responds saying the answers are depressing saying “it is not too outrageous to characterize this meeting as a street mugging. Governments and brand owners conspired to hold up and threaten the very existence of a new TLD program at the last minute, in order to extract concessions that were clearly and explicitly rejected by other stakeholders during the normal process.””Governments acted primarily as agents of a few powerful economic interests and secondarily as protective of the narrow institutional self-interests of national governments themselves.”Mueller notes it was obvious that the German and UK governments only listened to the concerns of trademark holders, and that the US government was not much different, but also involved in its own “geopolitical games”.The GAC did the bidding of trademark holders and did its best to continue to delay the process. They also said they could not consult with their governments before the ICANN meeting, further pleasing trademark holders by appearing to delay the process even more.”As far as GAC was concerned, it was not quite ready for such a formal consultation. By this logic, the GAC can delay indefinitely simply by refusing to admit that it is in a consultation until it gets whatever concessions it wants.”The GAC have had plenty of opportunities to have input into the decision on new gTLDs and yet they still claim they need to formally consult with their governments.As Mueller concludes:
“GAC is starting to look less and less like an Advisory Committee and more and more like an emergent intergovernmental organization.”To read Milton Mueller’s posting in full, see:

Ownership rights in IP addresses? A legal analysis by Milton Mueller

Milton Mueller photo“A new paper on ownership rights in IPv4 addresses has been drafted,” writes Milton Mueller who writes his critique of the paper on the Internet Governance Project blog.

The paper Mueller reviews is by Author Ernesto Rubi, a J.D. candidate at Florida International University School of Law.

“The paper explores the legal framework (or rather, the lack thereof) surrounding IP addresses. The depletion of the IPv4 free pool will, the author contends, intensify arguments about ownership interests in ipv4 address blocks. He concludes that ‘the concept of IP number ‘ownership’ or claim of right may be inevitable.’”

To read Milton Mueller’s critique of the paper in full, see:

Domain Names as Second-Class Citizens by Milton Mueller

“A new book by Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis (Lecturer in Law at the University of Strathclyde) provides a passionate yet legalistic and well-researched overview of the legal, institutional and ethical problems caused by the clash between domain names and trademarks,” writes Milton Mueller on the Internet Governance Project blog.Mueller then says in his review that “this is really the first decent book-length treatment of what is now a decade and a half of legal and political conflict between domain name registrants and trademark holders.”One of the key points of the book according to Mueller is where Komaitis says “domain names are a form of property, and the property rights held by domain name registrants need to be recognized in law – independently of, and carefully distinguished from, the limited rights associated with trademark protection.”To read more of this review of Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis’ book by Milton Mueller, see: