ICANN Go-Ahead on GTLDs with “String Criteria” of “Morality and Public Order”

By |July 1st, 2008|

"There has been wide coverage of ICANN’s decision this week to adopt a new process for creating new global Top Level Domains (gTLDs).... Civil libertarians supporting Susan Crawford’s line argue that if governments are able to pressure ICANN into prohibiting .jihad (which has perfectly non-violent meanings in Islam as well as the terrorist connotations it has recently acquired in the West), then can a prohibition on .falun-gong be far behind? ..."

Work Remains For ICANN’s New Top Level Internet Domains (IP-Watch)

By |July 1st, 2008|

Internet Technical Body an Authority on Morality? ICANN announced the "biggest extension of the DNS [domain name system] in 40 years" after its decision last week to finish implementation of a new policy for introducing new top-level domains (TLDs). According to the timeline presented at the ICANN meeting in Paris, new TLDs to compete against the existing .com, .biz or .museum TLDs will be open for application in the second quarter of 2009. ... But the most discussed and criticised reason for an objection clearly is “morality and public order.” This objection criterion would allow any government to veto strings (domains), ICANN director and US law professor Susan Crawford warned before the vote on the new TLD policy. This could undermine ICANN’s mission to act as a private self-regulatory body, she said, by giving such influence to governments. “It’s allowing governments to censor,” Crawford said, adding that the idea of having a private internet governance model was also “to avoid having the domain name system used as a choke-point for content.” Together with her colleague Wendy Seltzer, who acts as liaison of the ICANN At-Large User Community to the board, Crawford asked for clear-cut and narrow rules for the morality objection....

ICANN Board Approves Censorship Policy for Domain Names Based on Morality: 2 Board Members Speak Against It

By |June 26th, 2008|

Today in Paris the ICANN Board passed the GNSO's controversial recommendations to censor top level domains based on notions of "morality and public order", and broadly defined "community" wishes. However, 2 ICANN board members, law professors Wendy Seltzer (on behalf of the At-Large Internet Users) and Susan Crawford, made very powerful and compelling statements to protect free expression on the top level of the Internet. Hopefully Professor Crawford is right and this harm can be mitigated through narrowly tailored implementation.

US Congress Cites Free Expression as Reason ICANN Must Remain Controlled by US Govt.

By |May 15th, 2008|

US Congressmen are up to their old tricks of pretending to care about free expression publicly, while undermining it's practice with their policy decisions -- especially when it comes to free speech on the Internet. Congressman Edward Markey, the Chairman of the Congressional Sub-committee on Telecommunications and the Internet sent a letter urging the US Government to refuse to relinquish unilateral oversight of ICANN, the US Commerce Department created organization set up to manage the Internet's root server. Although the reason given by the politicians for needing the US to dominate Internet policy is to protect freedom of expression on the Internet, it is worth noting that ICANN and the US Congress have consistently refused to respect freedom of expression principles in its Internet policy-making choices. (Remember the new ICANN plan to prohibit top-level domain names that are offensive, immoral, disorderly, and desired by 'established institutions'?) The Internet Governance Project Blog discusses in more detail the irony of using freedom of expression arguments in order to continue to engage in censorship at ICANN. The post is worth a read to anyone who cares about freedom of expression on the Internet....

Class Action Lawsuit Against Network Solutions & ICANN for “Front-Running” of Domains and Defrauding Consumers

By |February 25th, 2008|

Network Solutions has forced millions of people to buy Internet domain names from them instead of cheaper competitors through a scheme that's netted the firm millions of dollars, a federal class action lawsuit filed today by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP states. ICANN, whose policies facilitate the scheme, is also named in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Each time someone asks Network Solutions about a domain name, the firm creates a monopoly for itself, forcing consumers to pay the price they demand," said Brian Kabateck, lead counsel in the class action and Kabateck Brown Kellner's Managing Partner. Whenever someone searches for the availability of a domain name through Network Solutions' website, the company immediately registers the name for itself, preventing other companies from selling it and forcing consumers to pay Network Solutions' expensive fees. If a consumer were to go to another, cheaper site to register the name, they would find the name is "unavailable." Consumers are never informed that inquiring as to a name's availability through Network Solutions results in the company holding a monopoly on selling that name. This allows Network Solutions to continue charging substantially higher prices for domain name registration. Network Solutions charged $34.99 to register the name sought by this suit's lead plaintiff. A competitor would have charged $9.99. Network Solutions' scheme is made possible by ICANN. ICANN allows companies that sell domain names to avoid paying registration fees for names cancelled within five days. Thus, Network Solutions can defraud customers at no cost to itself....

Domain Names are Bigger than Trademarks: ICANN’s New Consumer Protection Role

By |February 20th, 2008|

The terminology “confusingly similar” lends itself to the expansion of trademark rights to domain names by commercial uses and governments to the disadvantage of non-commercial users. ICANN should refrain from taking on consumer protection type roles (such as preventing “confusion” in people) and only regulate issues related to the technical coordination of the Domain Name System.

Comments to US Government on Review of Joint Project Agreement with ICANN by Robin Gross

By |February 15th, 2008|

"...In my view, given the international nature of the Internet, it is imperative that ICANN work toward moving away from oversight by a single nation and toward responding to the needs of the global Internet community. However, ICANN has yet to demonstrate that it has sufficiently evolved to the point that it should be left without any oversight and accountability, although it has made some progress in recent years. There remain significant problems with the existing structure and management of ICANN that must be resolved before ICANN can be left to itself to manage this crucial and shared public resource. In particular, “Internet users” (or the public-at-large) still remain outside of the ICANN decision-making process, such that the concerns of individuals, who have no “business” stake in ICANN policy are not adequately taken into account. ICANN continues to be dominated by large business interests and by specific commercial interests involved in providing Internet services...."

ICANN Not Yet Ready to Sever Ties to US Government

By |February 15th, 2008|

ICANN argues that it should be cut-lose from the only oversight it currently knows in the ongoing debate over who governs Cyberspace. I submitted my statement from the 31st public ICANN Meeting at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi, India. I said that ICANN has not provided for sufficient representation of Internet users in its policy making process, nor has it committed to respecting human rights in Cyberspace, although it has made progress to become more international....

NCUC Statement on “Domain Name Tasting” ICANN Policy Issue

By |December 7th, 2007|

"The Final Outcomes Report of the ad hoc group on domain name tasting suggests a growing trend of registrants exploiting ICANN’s Add Grace Period (the “AGP”) to receive a full refund on the cost of registration by canceling their domain name registrations within five days. The AGP may have been adopted upon the assumption that all commercial uses of a domain name would require registration for a period longer than five days. Certain registrants, however, have discovered that they can profit from repeated use of extremely short-term registrations through the use of pay-per-click advertising or otherwise. A coordinated response by ICANN may be appropriate to close this loophole. This response, however, should not be disproportionate to the problem nor stem from any misconception of the issue...."

IP Justice Statement on “GNSO Improvements” at ICANN

By |November 5th, 2007|

ICANN’s Board Governance Committee Report (BGC), in attempting to achieve the laudable result of greater inclusiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency conceives a near total restructuring of the GNSO and its processes. It proceeds from an assumption that any voting inherently inhibits the process and proceeds to find the most dramatic route to eliminate any vote. While many of the BGC Report’s recommendations would certainly improve the effectiveness of the GNSO, the report does not adequately consider the values inherent in the vote of the GNSO Council and the dangers of forcing consensus in all cases....