The International Framework on the White Paper, which convenes this week in Reston, Virginia is in danger of descending into chaos. The agenda called for a wide-ranging discussion, covering issues way beyond the original reason for holding the workshop: to establish a framework for setting up a non-profit corporation to manage the internet domain name […]
The International Framework on the White Paper, which convenes this week in Reston, Virginia is in danger of descending into chaos. The agenda called for a wide-ranging discussion, covering issues way beyond the original reason for holding the workshop: to establish a framework for setting up a non-profit corporation to manage the internet domain name system (DNS), as called for in the government’s recently-published white paper on DNS governance. The agenda, published last week by the chair of the meeting, Professor Tamar Frankel, called for the first day to be devoted to discussions about the corporation’s profile, board of directors and membership and its members rights and liabilities, with simultaneous debates. The second day’s agenda called for simultaneous discussions about implementation; domain names and trademarks and security and privacy. At that point some of the original organizers of the meeting spoke out, realizing that things were getting a little ahead of themselves. Debates about the relationships between domain names and trademarks and security and privacy issues are usually the subjects of conferences in themselves, and not just one stream within one day of a conference which is, after all, supposed to be about something else. According to the president of the Domain Name Rights Coalition, Mikki Barry (who was involved in the setting up of the conference when it was called the Global Incorporation Alliance Workshop), the head of the voluntary steering committee – Barbara Dooley – made the decision to expand the agenda to its current, seemingly unworkable format due to a fear that nobody would attend otherwise. Barry said as much in an open letter to the internet community posted on mailing lists late last week, alleging that Dooley – who is an executive director of the ISP organization the Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX) – changed the name to IFWP and expanded the agenda, with the DNRC, and it seems, others, shut out of the picture. Barry said her organization was cut out of the loop when Dooley took over, which occurred on or around June 16. Barry said she was unaware of how it occurred, although we have written previously of a conference call that day when Dooley was asked to take the helm (CI No 3,435) by some of the organizers, of which the DNRC was not one. Since then the steering committee has become dominated by trade organizations with little or no representation of user’s interests, and the process that has brought things to this point has been a largely closed one. There is an email address for suggestions of changing the agenda, but many have complained that they have been ignored, and the agenda does not seem to have changed. There is a simple reason for why it has become dominated by non-profit trade organizations – they are the only bodies permitted to be steering committee members – which is fair enough, but that fact was not revealed until late yesterday. Barry was worried that the trade organizations are pushing ahead with their own agenda and she has had a lot of support among the community for her call for the meeting to revert to its original, single-issue agenda, but so far nothing has changed. Another person who is feeling left out of the process is Iperdome Inc president Jay Fenello, a would-be registrar of any new generic top-level domain names that the corporation is expected to authorize. He says there are a lot of suspicious things that have happened, which he doesn’t put down to a grand conspiracy as such; more an attitude that the trade organizations that dominate the steering committee, brought to the process. Indeed, what exactly the process is that has brought us to this inflection point is not exactly clear, and nobody at the steering committee is saying much – we contacted Dooley about this but she pointed us to an FAQ on the site and to the chair, Tamar Frankel, who we have contacted in the past about such matters, only to be told that it is not her responsibility either. Barry said yesterday that it is imperative the meeting is able to mandate an open and accountable process. And that can only happen if everyone feels they have had a chance to express their views, otherwise the meeting, which starts tomorrow, will have been a waste of time.