Peter Dengate Thrush, the former ICANN chair and controversial appointment as the executive chairman as Top Level Domains Holdings is to step down as a director at the end of January 2013.
The appointment of Dengate Thrush as chair of TLDH was controversial due to the appointment a few weeks after he stepped down as ICANN chair in mid-2011 with concerns from many in the domain name community of a conflict of interest.
In a statement, TLDH said
Under Peter’s leadership, the Company has successfully developed a portfolio of 92 gTLD applications on behalf of itself, its clients and co-venturers, raised substantial capital from both its existing capital base and from new investors and Peter was instrumental in guiding and negotiating the contract with dot London, one of the most anticipated and valuable new gTLDs in the current gTLD round.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with TLDH and its Board through an historic phase in the growth of the domain name industry,â said Dengate Thrush in the same statement. âThe company is now in a strong position to move forward to the next phase of its programme as gTLDs are implemented.”
Fred Krueger, a current director and former Chairman, will resume the role of Chairman following Peter’s departure.
With the “Big Reveal” happening today, ICANN’s CEO and President has defended the process that has been developed to process applications for generic Top Level Domains telling the Financial Times it is “fair” and “a level playing field” following harsh criticism from several critics.With around 1900 applications for gTLDs to be announced today, there will at least three and most likely four batches of applications to be processed over the next two years.”The consequences of batching are severe,” Peter Thrush, chairman of Top Level Domain Holdings and a former chairman of Icann, told the FT. “People who don’t get in first will suffer commercially, and in some cases fatally, against those who get into the first batch.””Whoever gets out of the gate first is going to get a significant advantage,” he said.But Beckstrom defended the process saying “The batching system, as we’re currently administering it, was approved and was publicly posted before anyone filed an application. If anyone didn’t like the batching solution they could have expressed their views back in December.”Beckstrom also defended the use of “digital archery”, whereby applicants are told to click a button on a website at a certain time, with those closest to the mark being processed in the first batch.”On average, it’s fair,” said Mr Beckstrom. “Even if you used a random number generator, random generators aren’t perfect. [With digital archery] everyone has an equal ability. It’s a level playing field.”Beckstrom also told the FT that the application process is expected to be discussed by the board at the ICANN meeting to be held in Prague from 24 June, and that “if the board wishes to change it, they can, and then we’ll have to review the whole programme.”Other options, including processing all applications together, would slow down the process Beckstrom also noted.To read this article in the Financial Times in full, see:
Minds+Machines has won the contract to be registry operator for .LONDON in the current round of applications for Top Level Domains, assuming the application is successful.
The Contract, won by Minds and Machines (a subsidiary of Top Level Domain Holdings) through a competitive tender process, is for a seven year period, with a three year renewal period which is subject to certain conditions.
âWe are delighted to be working with Minds and Machines on the dot London Application and are confident that the initiative will bring important additional revenue and jobs to the capital,â said Gordon Innes, CEO at London & Partners.
âThe dot London domain provides a tremendous opportunity to extend the global presence of London across the Internet, and likewise position it as a centre of digital innovation. We believe we are now excellently placed to benefit from the unprecedented opportunities provided by the de-regulation of the Internet naming system.â
Meanwhile Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of TLDH, said TLDH is âproud to be partnering with one of the greatest cities in the world. We are committed to working with London & Partners and DLDL to ensure that dot London becomes a central part of the cityâs promotion and a resource that is of real value to the people, businesses and communities of London. We are honoured to have won this contract in the Olympic year which places London at the centre of a global audience.â
There is much huffing and puffing from trademark holders over the coming new Top Level Domains for which ICANN began seeking accepting applications on 12 January for three months. The Financial Times is the latest to enter the fray with a column titled “Suffix wars are best left to politics and porn.”The columnist notes that “almost everything about the introduction of new internet domain names stinks of self-interest.” The article says “the intermediaries that work with Icann, and have helped clip the coin of big brand-owners for the past 15 years, must know they’re on to a good thing.” The article cites the example of Afilias who note the complexity of TLD applications and then spruik their services to assist in this.It then goes on to say that there were two events in 2011 that dispelled any notion that ICANN has its heart in the right place. These are “the unseemly speed with which Peter Dengate Thrush moved from chairing Icann to chairing Top Level Domain Holdings” and the approval of .XXX, with the registry, ICM Registry offering “companies the opportunity to block anybody else attaching their brand to the suffix, in return for a fee of up to $200 to cover costs. Owners of 80,000 trademarks paid up.”The column notes that the costs for brand owners to run their own TLD may be $500,000 per brand. “But it’s not hard for consultants to convince paranoid executives this is small change compared with the risk to a multinational’s reputation from cybersquatting, piracy and fraud. Extract small change from enough companies and soon you’re running a lucrative protection racket.”The idea that companies should register all permutations of their brands is given short shrift though, with the column describing this as a “never-ending task” and that “what happens in front of the dot is limited only by a potential troublemaker’s imagination. In any case, branding on the web is moving on. Entering and re-entering possible domain names used to be the best way to find a site. But search engines do the guessing now. Even if search is not the key to exploring Webs 5.0 and 6.0, it is hard to imagine typing of precise addresses will be.”The column goes on to note that there are safeguards for new any TLDs and that “companies that decide not to participate in the latest initiative … can object if others register their brand, and the loser in any dispute carries the cost.”The columnist then says that “instead of fretting about threats, chief marketing officers should drop their defensive posture and do what they’re paid for: market the heck out of their existing brand names, online and off.”The FT column is available in full from www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cf21aad0-4057-11e1-9bce-00144feab49a.html.
ICANN should have “revolving door” ethics rules for its leadership US Senator Ron Wyden said this week in a letter to the Commerce Department.The issue has come to light following the departure of former ICANN Chair Peter Dengate Thrush who, within a month of being involved in the final approval of application process for new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) went to work for a London company called Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd that intends to assist applicants in applying for new gTLDs and apply for new gTLDs themselves.According to a statement from the Democratic Senator, he has raised concerns about the potential for bias and unfair favouritism stemming from a revolving door between internet regulators and the multi-million dollar domain name industry they formerly regulated.In the letter Wyden highlighted the need for ethics and transparency rules — similar to that of Federal officials — to be included in any contract with future domain name authorities known as an Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The contract with ICANN is set to expire on 30 September.”As you know, any designated IANA is hugely important in regulating the multi-million dollar domain name industry,” Wyden said in the letter. “At the same time, because the IANA is not a branch of the federal government, its executive leadership is not subject to the same financial disclosure, ethics, or conflict of interest rules as executive leadership at federal agencies or in Congress.””While I support the control of this system by NTIA, I also believe that any IANA employees ought to be made subject to the same ethics rules in place as NTIA employees. With the growth in importance of this authority, it is important to ensure that decisions are made impartially,” Wyden continued in the letter.
The chairman of ICANN until last month, Peter Dengate Thrush, has today been appointed executive chairman of Top Level Domain Holdings, a company that intends to make targeted investments in this space, focusing on both infrastructure technologies and specific top level domains.
âPeter will be an outstanding asset to TLDH. Peter and I have worked together as ICANN participants since its inception, and I am very pleased to welcome him as our executive chairman,â said Antony Van Couvering, TLDHâs chief executive officer.
âPeter championed successfully the approval of the new [generic top-level domain] programme at the highest levels and with Peter on board I have every confidence we will achieve the same success at TLDH. I canât think of a better addition to our team â Peter is a superstar in our field, and we are delighted to have him at the helm.â
At the last ICANN meeting, the last that Dengate Thrush chaired, the application programme was approved by the board and there will be an application window for new gTLD applicants for three months from 12 January.
Dengate Thrush has been involved in ICANN since its inception over ten years ago including through providing comments on the formation of ICANN and serving on the launching group of the ccNSO, who subsequently elected him an ICANN board member in 2005 and then ICANN chair replacing Vint Cerf in 2007. His term on the board, and as ICANN chair, ended at the ICANN meeting in Singapore in late June.
Dengate Thrush was also instrumental in the establishment of the Asia Pacific Top Level Domain association and was legal advisor to InternetNZ.
Dr Steve Crocker was unanimously elected chair of the ICANN board Friday at the board meeting that traditionally concludes each week-long meeting here in Singapore.Bruce Tonkin, continuing an Antipodean influence, was elected vice chair unanimously, while Chriss Disspain, CEO of auDA, the Australian domain name policy and regulatory body, replaced Peter Dengate Thrush. As Peter Dengate Thrush noted, Disspain continues the “silver-haired Antipodean lawyers” on the board.The meeting saw Dengate Thrush and Rita Rodin Johnston leave the board, having served their two three-year terms, both receiving glowing tributes from fellow board members and standing ovations from those in attendance at the meeting.Also elected to the board was Canadian Bill Graham.Crocker has been involved in the Internet since its inception. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was a graduate student at UCLA, he was part of the team that developed the protocols for the Arpanet and laid the foundation for today’s Internet. He organized the Network Working Group, which was the forerunner of the modern Internet Engineering Task Force and initiated the Request for Comment (RFC) series of notes through which protocol designs are documented and shared. For this work, Crocker was awarded the 2002 IEEE Internet Award. Crocker also holds an honorary doctorate in mathematics from the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima, Perú.Crocker’s experience includes research management at DARPA, USC/ISI and The Aerospace Corporation, vice president of Trusted Information Systems, and co-founder of CyberCash, Inc. and Longitude Systems, Inc. His prior public service includes serving as the first area director for security in the the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the IETF Administrative Support Activity Oversight Committee (IAOC), service on the Board of the Internet Society and the Board of The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.Crocker earned his B.A. in mathematics and Ph.D. in computer science at UCLA, and he studied artificial intelligence at MIT.Steve Crocker was selected by the 2008 Nominating Committee to serve as a Board Member. He has been Chair of ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) since its inception in 2002, and he served as SSAC’s non-voting Liaison to the ICANN Board until being selected by the Nominating Committee. His current term runs from the end of the 2008 annual meeting through the conclusion of the 2011 annual meeting.Crocker is CEO and co-founder of Shinkuro, Inc., a start-up company focused on dynamic sharing of information across the Internet and on the deployment of improved security protocols on the Internet.Dr Crocker’s biographical information is courtesy of the ICANN website.
The US government is opposed to proposals for the International Telecommunications Union to have a veto over ICANN board decisions, said Larry Strickling at the welcome ceremony for the ICANN Silicon Valley-San Francisco meeting on Monday.”The United States is most assuredly opposed to establishing a governance structure for the Internet that would be managed and controlled by nation states,” said Strickling, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, in one of several suggestions in his address at the ceremony.”Such a structure could lead to the imposition of heavy-handed and economically misguided regulation and the loss of flexibility the current system allows today, all of which would jeopardise the growth and innovation we have enjoyed these past years.”But nonetheless, ICANN needs to do more to engage governments in the multistakeholder process by providing them a meaningful opportunity to participate and be heard inside of ICANN.”Strickling also spoke of the new gTLD programme and said that he was pleased with the progress that has been made between the GAC and ICANN in recent weeks, but that GAC advice should not come at the end of a policy development process.”I am quite pleased with the apparent progress made in the last few weeks as a result of the first really meaningful exchanges between the board and the GAC to understand and evaluate GAC advice on the new global top-level domain program, but as the review team pointed out in its recommendations, this is a two-way street.”The GAC needs to have the discipline in its process to offer consensus advice to the board, but when it does so, the board really needs to listen and engage with the GAC.”A weakness of the current model is that the ICANN bylaws and practices seem to envision that GAC advice often comes at the end of the policy development process. That should not be the case.”In his third suggestion that followed “from the recommendation of the review team” Strickling said “that the board clarify the distinction between issues subject to ICANN’s policy development process and those within the executive functions of the staff and the board.”As ICANN decision-making continues to grow more fractious, the board needs to evaluate the impact that its process of making decisions is having on the development of bottom-up policy within the organisation.”Increasingly, the board finds itself forced to pick winners and losers because the policy development process is not yielding true consensus-based policymaking.”This is not healthy for the organisation.”Strickling believes “there are two steps the board should take.””First, the board needs to insist upon the development of consensus before a matter reaches the board. And when the policy development process delivers a truly consensus process, the board needs to refrain from substituting its own judgment.”Second, when consensus has not been reached, the board needs to push back to ensure that the parties have exhausted all possible efforts to reach consensus before the board imposes its own judgment in a given matter.”If one group — in this case, the ICANN board — attempts to pick winners and losers, the multistakeholder model is undermined. Choosing between competing interests, rather than insisting on consensus, is destructive of the multistakeholder process because it devalues this incentive for everyone to work together.”A full text and audio transcript of the Welcome Ceremony, also including speeches by Vint Cerf, Ira Magaziner, Andrew McLaughlin, Peter Dengate Thrush and Rod Beckstrom is available from svsf40.icann.org/node/22345.