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  •   At Large Membership and Civil Society Participation in ICANN  
  • icannatlarge.com;
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  • ICANN-Related Reading
    Browse ICANNWatch by Subject

    Ted Byfied
    - ICANN: Defending Our Precious Bodily Fluids
    - Ushering in Banality
    - ICANN! No U CANN't!
    - roving_reporter
    - DNS: A Short History and a Short Future

    David Farber
    - Overcoming ICANN (PFIR statement)

    A. Michael Froomkin
    - When We Say US™, We Mean It!
    - ICANN 2.0: Meet The New Boss
    - Habermas@ discourse.net: Toward a Critical Theory of Cyberspace
    - ICANN and Anti-Trust (with Mark Lemley)
    - Wrong Turn in Cyberspace: Using ICANN to Route Around the APA & the Constitution (html)
    - Form and Substance in Cyberspace
    - ICANN's "Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy"-- Causes and (Partial) Cures

    Milton Mueller
    - Ruling the Root
    - Success by Default: A New Profile of Domain Name Trademark Disputes under ICANN's UDRP
    - Dancing the Quango: ICANN as International Regulatory Regime
    - Goverments and Country Names: ICANN's Transformation into an Intergovernmental Regime
    - Competing DNS Roots: Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?
    - Rough Justice: A Statistical Assessment of the UDRP
    - ICANN and Internet Governance

    David Post
    - Governing Cyberspace, or Where is James Madison When We Need Him?
    - The 'Unsettled Paradox': The Internet, the State, and the Consent of the Governed

    Jonathan Weinberg
    - Sitefinder and Internet Governance
    - ICANN, Internet Stability, and New Top Level Domains
    - Geeks and Greeks
    - ICANN and the Problem of Legitimacy

    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)


     
    Privacy ICANN To Allow WHOIS Privacy -- But Only When Legally Required
    posted by michael on Friday December 21 2007, @05:12AM

    ICANN has published a notice of implementation of the revised ICANN Procedure for Handling WHOIS Conflicts with Privacy Law.

    The procedure is due to be posted for 30 days, and implemented on 17 January 2008. The new draft reflects changes sought by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

    Good news: after all these many years, ICANN is revising its registry/registrar contracts to reflect the fact that the default rule violates privacy law of countries that have decent privacy law.

    Bad news: ICANN's default remains the same privacy-busting low it has always been. It is long past due to revise all the contracts to comply with best practices for privacy.



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    Security Homeland Security Department was warned about DNSSEC key ownership and trust issues
    posted by Mueller on Wednesday December 19 2007, @07:16AM

    In a Circle ID Post that generated many comments, Geoff Huston tries to dismiss as paranoid the idea that there is anything political about DNSSEC deployment. In particular, he scoffs at the idea that there is any relevance to the issue of who controls the encryption keys and the signing process for the DNS root. What Geoff (probably) doesn't know is that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was told by its own consultants that "trust in the [US] Government's intentions" would be an issue affecting the deployment of DNSSEC back in 2006.

    The Internet Governance Project has unearthed a consultancy report to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that makes it clear that the issue of root signing and DNSSEC key management has been recognized as a political issue for long time. The report stated clearly that mistrust of the U.S. government's intentions and the problem of who would own the DNSSEC keys could be barriers to DNSSEC deployment. It also offers some interesting insights into how DHS has approached the politics of DNSSEC and Internet security in its interactions with the US Congress.

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    ICANNWatch.org ICANNWatch Listed Among ABA Journal Blawg 100
    posted by michael on Tuesday December 11 2007, @05:49AM

    ICANNWatch was honored by the ABA Journal as one of the Top 100 top legal blogs.

    Thank you!



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    NomCom NomCom to Employ Search Firm?
    posted by michael on Tuesday December 11 2007, @04:50AM

    According to the Nominating Committee Call for Expressions of Interest in Assessment Team, this year's NomCom is planning to employ a search firm to help it find Board candidates.

    Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends enormously on the implementation. Ominously, the terms of reference include this instruction,

    # Provide to the Nom Com a short written qualitative assessment and conclusions formed from each candidate interview, together with a numeric rating of suitability for each position considered on a scale to be jointly agreed upon initially by the organization and the Nom Com.

    Based on my two terms on the NomCom, I do think it's a fair criticism that the existing practices don't do as good a job as they should in finding a deep enough pool of highly qualified developing country and non-native-English-speaking candidates from outside Europe. A search firm whose mission was to add some richness to that pool might be a very good thing.

    But there are two ways to use a search firm that I think would be very harmful. The first would be to give the search firm any input, even "just" evaluating, candidates who come to the nomcom via other channels. The second, almost as bad, would be to give the search firm anything but the most limited mandate to rate the candidates it finds. There is no question that any mechanistic process to try to score candidates will work to the disadvantage of the sort of untraditional candidates that ICANN needs to be more open to. (It will also tend to favor age -- more demonstrated accomplishment -- over youth, already a perennial problem.)

    A critical part of what the nomcom does is slate-making: trying to find a balance of talents. It's not a mechanistic process, and trying to reduce it to scores on some too-rigid pre-determined set of criteria would harm the process. Yet, because of the tight time-limits on which the NomCom works, there's a real danger that candidates with low scores based on whatever system emerges won't get their due. The numbers of files involved has been large but in no way unmanageable in the past; the NomCom shouldn't allow anyone to do its screening for it.



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    Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) New Policies Regarding “.pe” Domain Names
    posted by michael on Wednesday November 14 2007, @04:40AM

    Ruddy Medina writes "Beginning December 8th 2007, the new policies regarding .pe domain names will come effective. Among the most important changes there are the chance for registration and payment on-line for the domain name, the supressing of the 10-day period for new solicitations publicity, the chance por transfering the domain to a new owner and the reduction and supressing of several previous restrictions, as were the peruvian toponymics and surnames, among others.

    Also, domain names directly on the second level (.pe subdomain) will be registered, which for it has been established a 60-calendar-days sunrise period, so present domain holders in the third level can register theirs in the second. After this sunrise period, anyone will be able to register directly on the second level.

    Besides, new registration opposition system has been eliminated. A new domain-trademark controversy resolving system is being implemented. This new procedure will gather principles from WIPO´s (World Intellectual Property Organization) Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which have been used by ICANN for the same goal.

    Ruddy Medina
    rmedina@iriartelaw.com"


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    Board of Directors Joi Ito's Parting Thoughts
    posted by michael on Tuesday November 13 2007, @04:42AM

    Departing ICANN Board member Joi Ito's parting thoughts.

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    ICANN Staff and Structure When An Agreement Is Actually Polite Disagreement
    posted by michael on Monday November 12 2007, @04:47AM

    The headline on ICANN's press release says, ICANN and NRO Reach Agreement on Formalization of Relationships.

    From that you would think we have a done deal. You would be right and you would be wrong.

    First, let's consider the formalities. As the press release itself notes, there's supposed to be public comment before anything is final,

    ICANN is opening a public comment period on the formalization of its relationship with the Number Resource Organisation (NRO) and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) through an exchange of letters. At the ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, the negotiating teams reached agreement on the documentation of their relations and commitments under the exchange of letters, and agreed to seek approval of the arrangement from their respective Boards in accordance with the approval process of each of the parties.

    Comments on the proposed letters may be submitted to nro-letters@icann.org until 23.59 UTC on 7 December 2007, and may be viewed at http://forum.icann.org/lists/nro-letters/.

    So, as a formal matter, it's just a tentative deal, although if this comment period runs true to form, there will not be many and they won't matter much.

    More to the point is the glaring disjunction between the views expressed in the two letters touted as "Agreement on Formalization of Relationships": The RIRs basically say that they want everything to go on as it is. Their contributions are voluntary and ICANN acknowledges their authority and autonomy. ICANN's letter does that, but qualifies it with this key language:

    We seek to further enhance our relationship for the mutual benefit of our organizations and respective communities. For that matter we wish and will seek to establish an appropriate legal arrangement within one (1) year from the date of this letter.

    The RIRs are, however, much too smart to make legally binding commitments, either now or in the future. And it's hard to see what leverage ICANN has to make them.



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    The Big Picture IP Justice International Cyberlaw Clinic at IGF-Rio
    posted by michael on Monday November 12 2007, @04:42AM

    Robin Gross writes "On Wednesday 14 November 2007, the IP Justice International Cyberlaw Clinic will be showcased at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The IP Justice International Cyberlaw Clinic is a network of top law schools from different continents working together to promote the public interest in Internet law and policy matters. The IGF is an United Nations conference to facilitate cooperation and multi-stakeholder discussion on issues related to Internet governance.

    The purpose of the International Cyberlaw Clinic is to give law students from around the world hands-on experience developing Internet policy and negotiating with other stakeholders in an international forum. The International Cyberlaw Clinic is led by IP Justice Executive Director Robin Gross and an international legal faculty from the law schools participating in the network. The Cyberlaw Clinic also benefits from the expertise of a distinguished Legal and Technical Advisory Board, a group of international legal scholars and technical experts, including former European Union Privacy Commissioner Stefano Rodota, Canadian cyberlaw expert Michael Geist, representatives from Amnesty International, and Brazilian cyberlaw professor Ronaldo Lemos.

    “IP Justice is proud to introduce this new initiative and honored to be working with such a distinguished group of experts to promote the public interest in Internet law and policy matters,” said Robin Gross, IP Justice Executive Director who created the project. “The clinic draws from a variety of legal traditions to bring a truly unique and global perspective to Internet governance issues,” Gross explained.

    The International Cyberlaw Clinic officially launched earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Los Angeles. The specific project for the International Cyberlaw Clinic is to represent the interests of the ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) in policy development at ICANN. NCUC is the only constituency out of six at ICANN that does not represent a particular industry or commercial sector in policy negotiations. NCUC’s policy objectives include the protection of civil liberties, consumer rights, and the promotion of innovation and competition in online services. ICANN is the private nonprofit corporation set up by the United States Commerce Department in 1998 to manage the assignment of Internet addresses, but ICANN’s mission has expanded in recent years to include a broad range of policy issues related to the Internet."


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    Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) NeuStar Wins .US Contract Renewal
    posted by michael on Monday November 12 2007, @04:42AM

    dmehus writes "The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA"), an operating agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that oversees such things as domain name contract administration and wireless spectrum policy, has just recently announced a renewal of NeuStar's contract to act as registry administrator of the dot-US country code Top Level Domain ("usTLD"). NeuStar had faced some well-heeled and professional competition for the usTLD registry contract from Domain Name Alliance Registry JV, a 50-50 joint venture between The Go Daddy Group Inc. (the parent company of the world's largest domain name registrar GoDaddy.com Inc.) and Afilias Ltd. (the operator of the ".info" domain name registry, the back-end technical infrastructure administrator of the ".org" registry and the operator or administrator of numerous ccTLDs).

    That being said, it's always tough to knock off an incumbent government contractor and especially one that is itself a spin-off of well-known defence contractor Lockheed Martin which are both so deeply entrenched within the machinery of government. It's made even more difficult when NeuStar has not had any technical outages or major snafus, as far as I can recall, and in that sense is technically proficient. Given the heat civil servants and political appointees of the NTIA would take if something went wrong in transferring the usTLD registry operations to another contractor, they likely went with the incumbent to nullify that possibility. Where NeuStar has lacked is in its promotion and marketing of the usTLD, even the "www.neustar.us" website for the usTLD has stagnated and not been updated or issued a news release in at least three years. The "kids.us" restricted subdomain has also been really stagnant with zero growth and only a handful of domains, though that's likely the fault of the oppressively strict regulations the U.S. government has imposed on it.

    All said, there wasn't anything really wrong with NeuStar. If anything, it's been the restrictions and contractual limitations imposed by the NTIA. Assuming NeuStar can implement a new sales & marketing strategy, launch a new website and adopt some of the elements of the Alliance Registry proposal, such as getting registry price concessions from the NTIA, I think it's a win-win situation for everyone. If they can't, there's a consolation - and it's a big one: the renewal is for three years, to Oct. 18th, 2010, with two back-to-back one-year renewal options. So, there are at least two opportunities for Alliance Registry to come back with new bids if NeuStar stumbles."


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    Privacy WHOIS in a .name? It'll cost you to find out
    posted by tbyfield on Tuesday October 09 2007, @04:10PM

    fnord writes "As Milton Meuller pointed out, the most recent attempt by the various stakeholders failed (again) to come up with a consensus on the thorny question of what should go into ICANN's TLDs' WHOIS and how/when/why/who can access it. If I'm reading him right, but for a difference between competing monetary interests, us privacy advocates (for whom monetary concerns are tangential) could have lost out. Now, in a delicious irony, that mysterious invisible hand of the free market has come along to give those seeking privacy more than they could hope for, for free. The .name registry is now charging $2 for others to access its WHOIS and (far more mysteriously, at least to this scribe) ICANN is already saying that they have no problem with it.

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    NomCom 2007 NomCom Posts Its Slate
    posted by michael on Tuesday September 25 2007, @05:04PM

    The 2007 NomCom results are now official.

    ICANN Board of Directors

    Term: Conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2007 until conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2010


    GNSO Council

    Term: Conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2007 until conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2009


    At-Large Advisory Committee

    Term: Conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2007 until conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2009


    ccNSO Council

    Term: Conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2007 until conclusion of the ICANN Annual General Meeting for 2010

    The biographies of the Nominees will also be posted shortly at http://nomcom.icann.org/candidate-bios-2007.htm. The 2007 Nominating Committee will also be posting a summary of its work on its web page at http://nomcom.icann.org.

    Since I was a participant in making these selections, I will leave it to others to editorialize about them.

    Meanwhile, in a move that does not inspire confidence about ICANN's commitment to NomCom's recent tendency to rock the boat, the ICANN Board has chosen former Board Member Hans Kraaijenbrink Hagen Hultzsch to chair the 2008 NomCom.

    That does not bode well.



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    Security The Politics of DNSSEC
    posted by Mueller on Sunday September 09 2007, @06:26PM

    VeriSign's DNS expert, Dr. Phillip Hallam-Baker, has made a very interesting post on the IETF list about the political impliations of DNSSEC and signing the root. In it, he incisively describes the political implications of signing the root zone file, and argues that these political implications mean that authority for the signing authority must be shared. See the full post at the IGP blog.

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    Registrars Kidnapping Domains
    posted by Mueller on Sunday September 09 2007, @06:12PM

    Vision writes "I became acutely aware of ICANN and its 'role' when my domains were recently kidnapped by ONLINENIC.COM. I have had an account with onlinenic.com for years. I was willing to forgive all the quirkiness they demonstrate because their prices are the cheapest. After I received a renewal notice, I went to renew a bunch of domains, and they changed my password. I did not realize they were based in China when I signed up....

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    New gTLDs ICANN's Controversial Rules For New TLD's
    posted by michael on Wednesday August 29 2007, @06:05AM

    Seth Finkelstein writes "In a column on Controversy over new TLD rules, I discuss the new TLD report, and reasons against laissez-faire for new TLDs ("The domain name system is full of speculators, squatters, and scammers.")"

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    Privacy Whois Timeline published
    posted by Mueller on Thursday August 23 2007, @07:19AM

    Researchers at IGP have prepared a comprehensive timeline of the evolution of the Whois service and policies and the controversy over Whois and privacy, with links to relevant documents. The timeline was prepared by Dr. Milton Mueller and doctoral student Mawaki Chango as part of their draft paper for the annual Telecommunication Policy Research Conference at the end of September. Comments or suggested additions of important missing elements to the timeline are welcomed, use the "reply" function on the IGP blog.

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    Privacy Consensus Eludes Whois Working Group
    posted by Mueller on Tuesday August 21 2007, @08:06PM

    The report of the Whois Working Group was published today. The Working Group could not achieve agreement on how to reconcile privacy and data protection rights with the interests of intellectual property holders and law enforcement agencies. So the Working Group Chair redefined the meaning of "agreement." See the full story at the Internet Governance Project site

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    Board of Directors What Does the ICANN Board Do?
    posted by michael on Friday August 03 2007, @10:12AM

    As part of my now nearly complete service on the ICANN Nomcom, I had to think about what skills make for a good member of the ICANN Board of Directors. It seemed to me one way to think about it was that skills should be defined by what I wished the Board did; but that another way to think about it was that that skills should be defined by what the Board actually does.

    But what does the ICANN Board actually do? I decided to find out. Or rather, I made my research assistant find out. The results surprised me.



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    USA Goverment Relations TM Interests Create New Lobby Group to Fight DN 'Tasting' and 'Kiting'
    posted by michael on Monday July 30 2007, @05:25PM

    Meet The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, a new trade association with a mission to end "the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today."
    Recently, cybersquatting opportunists have employed two tactics called domain name tasting and domain name kiting as new means to the same abusive ends. Domain name tasting and kiting are deliberate exploitations of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 5-day Add Grace Period (AGP). This provision was intended to protect registrars from instances in which a registrant mistakenly registered a name he or she did not wish to keep or pay for. It was also meant to protect registrars when credit card transaction processors refused payment following notification of a lost or stolen credit card (a credit card charge back).

    Despite its original intentions, the AGP affords cybersquatters the means to “taste” domain names by registering millions of names and examining the popularity of each within the 5-day window. This test period allows cybersquatters to pay only for the names that provide a satisfactory return on investment and return those that do not, free of charge. The AGP could also be used to “kite” domain names, essentially keeping a name for no cost by perpetually registering, dropping and reregistering a name.

    ...

    Purpose
    The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a registered 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. Its objective is to facilitate dialogue, affect change, and spur action on the part of policymakers to address the gaps in both the law and ICANN policies that enable massive domain name abuse and consumer frauds. In doing so, CADNA seeks to decrease occurrences of cybersquatting in all of its forms by requesting anti-cybersquatting legislation updates and ICANN policy reforms.

    With pro-abuse groups already organized in Washington and the recent election of new leadership in both houses of Congress, the time to act is now.

    Approach
    CADNA will work to educate the public, lobby the relevant agencies of jurisdiction in the United States government, and actively communicate with members of Congress. Through these activities CADNA aims to effectively exert pressure on ICANN, propose draft legislation to increase the statutory damages set forth in the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) to take decisive action on abuses by domain name registrars and registrants, and work with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to introduce an international anti-cybersquatting treaty.


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    Security Signing the Root -- A Turning Point in Internet History?
    posted by michael on Thursday July 26 2007, @05:26AM

    The IGP Blog has a post about an important subject that is flying under too many radars, IANA's DNSSEC testbed signs root zone. I'll quote some key paragraphs, but it is worth reading the whole thing:

    IANA is generating new zone signing keys (ZSK) monthly, using a script based upon Public-Key Cryptography Standards #11 as published by RSA. IANA maintains it is committed to make the sources of the system public. IANA's approach is to generate 3 overlapping ZSKs, one of which is "active" at any point and used to sign the root zone. The ZSKs are signed using one of 2 overlapping key signing keys (KSK), both of which sign the bundle of 3 ZSKs. In the event of emergency rollover, IANA relies upon a scripted procedure that migrates from the compromised key to the new, already "socialized" key. A status page for the testbed is available.

    Based on this scant information, it does appear IANA is trying to move the ball forward on signing the root. However, the critical DNSSEC policy issue of who controls the root keys is still unresolved. It appears that control of both ZSKs and the KSKs (aka the "keys to the Internet kingdom") will reside with a USG contractor, just as suggested in the DHS sponsored root signing technical specification. This is sure to raise an eyebrow of some ccTLD and root operators and others who see DNSSEC as just one more way of solidifying the dominance of the ICANN/IANA root, and with it USG political oversight.

    The above approach also goes against a basic tenant of Internet architecture of diversifying critical infrastructure in order to improve security and reliability (e.g., similar to how anycast technology diversifies some of the Internet's root servers). Maintaining all root zone signing activity with one root key operator (RKO) (as opposed to the IGP proposal of spreading it across a few non-governmental RKOs) seemingly violates this tenant, and certainly increases the probability that ICANN/IANA would be liable should it falter in performing it's DNSSEC related duties. Of course, this assumes that ICANN/IANA is willing to offer some level of reliability for signed DNS responses it provides. And if they're not, it's unclear why any other organization would be willing to stick it's neck out to provide DNSSEC based services dependent on the ICANN/IANA trust anchor.

    Why is ICANN supporting the centralized solution? Because it expects to hold the keys.

    One more reason why IANA should be spun off from ICANN!



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    ICANN Staff and Structure Registry contracts secretly amended and extended
    posted by michael on Tuesday June 26 2007, @02:30PM

    ehasbrouck writes "In response to my comments in the public forum on registry failure plans, and on the GA list, ICANN Chief gTLD Registry Liaison Craig Schwartz has revealed that ICANN has "granted" secret amendments to extend the .AERO, .COOP and .MUSEUM sTLD agreements.

    In a follow-up, I point out that any such secret "grant", without the procedures required by the Bylaws (notice of the proposal, public comment, notice of the Board agenda, Board vote, etc.) is null and void, and should be reconsidered "de novo", according to the procedures required by the Bylaws."

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