Second level domains

11 December 2011

What’s the .rush?

Put the brakes on an expansion of Web domain names

Washington Post Editorial Board.

For two decades, .com, .org and some 20 other “generic top-level domain names” have served as calling cards for the vast majority of Web sites. That may change dramatically — and not for the better — if the obscure but powerful organization that manages domain names gets its way.

Starting next month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) plans to take applications from individuals and groups interested in plunking down $185,000 a pop to buy the rights to new domain names — the words to the right of the dot. Some of these could focus on a community of businesses or services, such as .bank or .news. Others may be used to market specific brands or products, as in .Coke or .Chevy. ICANN officials say that they expect up to 500 applications to be filed between January and April when the organization opens the process; those approved would go live in 2013. ICANN believes these changes will lead to innovations that build on the already explosive growth and inventiveness of the Internet age.

9 December 2011

For an organization that spends much of its time complaining about the overseeing role that the United States government has over it, ICANN has much to be grateful for today after the NTIA defended the organization not once but twice in front of Senators and key policy-makers.

Speaking at a Senate hearing on the program for hundreds of new Internet extensions yesterday morning, the NTIA's top civil servant Fiona Alexander unexpectedly came out in support of ICANN's plans, noting the concerns some groups continue to have but stating that compromise was a part of the model of decision-making that ICANN represents. She promised that the NTIA would keep the program under active review.

9 December 2011
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Senator Amy Klobuchar (AK): I want to introduce our witnesses. We first have Ms. Fiona Alexander. She is the associate administrator for the Office of International Affairs, National Telecommunication and Information Administration.

We also have Ms. Angela Williams, worked as a General Counsel for the YMCA of the USA and is also speaking on behalf of the not for profit operational concerns constituency.

We have Mr. Daniel Jaffe. Mr. Jaffe is an Executive Vice President for Government Relations for the Association of National Advertisers. He's also speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.

We also have Ms. Dyson. Ms. Dyson was the Founding Chairman of ICANN’s Board of Directors. She served in that role from 1998 to 2000.

And then we also have with us Mr. Kurt Pritz. Mr. Pritz is Senior Vice President for Stakeholder Relations for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers also known as ICANN. Do you want to begin? Each witness has five minutes and we will start with Ms. Alexander. And when senators come to give opening statements, we'll have them give opening statements. Ms. Alexander?

8 December 2011

Sometimes you just can't make it up.

Having spent seven years putting together plans for the greatest expansion of the Internet, and with applications for potentially thousands of new extensions due to open in just over a month, ICANN should be riding high.

Instead it is the focus of not one but two Senate hearings this month and a huge campaign that includes giants such as Procter & Gamble, Hewlett Packard, JC Penny, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg's to get ICANN to either delay or restructure the program.

ICANN's response? Nothing.

More press coverage came yesterday from a single response from FTC chair Jon Leibowitz than ICANN has achieved in six months with a $1.5 million communications budget.

Asked about the new gTLD program, Leibowitz said he was "very, very concerned" about it and that it has "the potential to be a disaster for consumers and for businesses".

ICANN's response? Um... Nothing.

7 December 2011

The Federal Trade Commission's chairman Jon Leibowitz launched an unexpected broadside against ICANN and its new gTLD program earlier today, stating that the FTC was "very, very concerned" about the program and that it has "the potential to be a disaster for consumers and for businesses".

The remarks came during a hearing by the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, held just one day before a Senate hearing into the program.

Leibowitz was responding to a question by stand-in Committee chair Bob Goodlatte who noted that the question had nothing to do with Leibowitz's written testimony, or the purpose of the hearing, which was titled "Oversight of the Antitrust Enforcement Agencies".

FTC's Leibowitz: Slams ICANN but did he know what he was talking about?

7 December 2011
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The following transcript comes from a hearing of the US House Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee.

The hearing, held Wed 7 Dec 2011, concerned: 'Oversight of the Antitrust Enforcement Agencies' and had FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz and Assistant Attorney General of DoJ Antitrust Division, Sharis Pozen.

Unexpectedly, the first question asked by chair Bob Goodlatte (filing in for Lamar Smith) was with regard to ICANN's new gTLD program. It was also picked up by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren later on in the two-hour session. Both excerpts are included below.

Goodlatte: Chairman Leibowitz, I'm going to start with a question that does not relate to your anti-trust jurisdiction but is an issue of concern to this Committee - in fact we've held a hearing on it - and that is related to ICANN - the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - which is about to open an application windows that could led to the creation of an unlimited number of new generic top level domains.

30 October 2011

I love It’s just what you need after an intense ICANN meeting. Their “demotivator” on Teamwork is a calming picture of a snowball rolling down a hill. The caption: “Teamwork, A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction”.

ICANN’s self-styled “multistakeholder community” conjures inspirational images of governments, private sector, civil society all rushing in with a common purpose to sort out Internet governance through teamwork, collaboration and consensus building. Yay! One world, one Internet.

Actually, ICANN’s original moniker, “private sector management” was a more accurate, and honest, description. It’s founded on self-regulation – the unwritten contract between industry and government: we keep ourselves honest, so you don’t have to spend public money on regulating us.

25 October 2011

The following letter was sent by ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom to EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes on the second day of the ICANN meeting in Dakar in October 2011. A physical copy provided to the EC's representative on the ground, just prior to the start of the Board-GAC meeting.

The letter came in response to an EC letter sent to ICANN just prior to the ICANN meeting in Singapore in June. It argued that ICANN had not done sufficient analysis to end the market separation rules between registries and registrars.

25 October 2011

Commissioner Neelie Kroes
Vice President of the European Commission
Rue de La Loi 200
B-I049 Brussels,

Dear Commissioner Kroes,

31 August 2011

Series of ‘informal background papers’ promote online power grab

An extraordinary series of policy papers drawn up by the European Commission and published today by .Nxt have called for greater governmental control over the Internet’s domain name system.

Among a long series of measures promoted in no less than six papers by the EC’s Information Society and Media Directorate-General are:

  • A government veto over any new Internet extensions
  • The creation of a list of names, drawn up by governments, that would be banned from registration
  • Significant structural changes at overseeing organization ICANN, including at Board level and in the crucial IANA contract
  • An obligation for ICANN to follow governments’ advice unless deemed illegal or damaging to the Internet’s stability
  • Two new bodies to oversee ICANN decision-making and finances
29 July 2011
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The Internet Governance Forum USA (IGF-USA) is one of the 'regional IGFs' set up to discuss relevant issues which then feed into the annual Internet Governance Forum, to be held this year in Nairobi, Kenya in September.

It brings together representatives of civil society, governments, academia, business and the technical community to discuss the future of the Internet and help move policy forward through partnerships, coalitions and best practices.

The third IGF-USA took place on 18 July 2011 at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Opening Plenary Session

Photo: Imagining the Internet/Elon University

The IGF-USA opened with remarks from Georgetown University’s Pablo Molina, Chengetai Masango of the IGF Secretariat and US Ambassador Philip Verveer. "The Internet is the largest and most successful cooperative venture in history," said Verveer. Conference organizer Marilyn Cade promised "a national perspective with a global view" throughout the day's workshops and sessions.

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