By Nick Patience The main benefit for ICANN from yesterday’s multi-part agreements over the future management of the domain name system is short- term cash. The financially-challenged non-profit organization has been without enough money to pay its expenses for a few months now and had to get loans and donations from various large corporations, opening […]
By Nick Patience
The main benefit for ICANN from yesterday’s multi-part agreements over the future management of the domain name system is short- term cash. The financially-challenged non-profit organization has been without enough money to pay its expenses for a few months now and had to get loans and donations from various large corporations, opening it up to allegations of being in the pockets of big business. Most of those expenses have been legal fees but also include administration and travel expenses.
However, by getting Network Solutions Inc to formally recognize ICANN, it will receive a pre-payment of $1.25m from the company, representing half of a newly-agreed annual registrar fee of up to $2m and its $250,000 annual registry fee. That money will be due as soon as the agreements are signed, which pending ICANN board approval on November 4 is expected to be the following day, according to ICANN CEO Mike Roberts.
But along with the money comes the perceived credibility from having NSI as not only the registry but also one of its accredited registrars, of which there are about 75 at the moment. However, NSI CEO Jim Rutt was quick to point out yesterday that nothing in any of these agreements determines ICANN’s fee structure for the future. ICANN has a 13-member sub-committee – the Task Force for Funding – chaired by its president Mike Roberts looking into that issue. The money will be payable by registrars and the registry, but how they raise that money themselves has not been determined yet. Don Telage, NSI’s SVP internet relations said that along with NSI and the registrars, the country-code registries and the regional IP registries will also be shouldering a significant part of the burden.
There are has been a lot of debate in the community recently about defining the limits of ICANN’s power, which Ralph Nader alluded to over the weekend. In the revised registrar accreditation agreement, registrars are obliged to comply with ICANN’s directions only insofar as they relate to three specific areas. They are issues that require uniform resolutions and cooperation to maintain stable operation of the DNS; registrar policies that apply to its interoperation with the registry; and dispute resolution polices over domain names. In addition, registrars shall comply with ICANN’s policies so long as the policies do not unreasonably restrain competition.
Roberts says the guidelines are no broader or narrower than the guidelines within which ICANN operated before. But now they are written down and agreed upon, he hopes that criticism that ICANN is expanding beyond its remit will die down. However, Jamie Love, who runs Nader’s Consumer Project on Technology organization said the changes are a start but added that they focus too much on NSI’s rights, and too little on the public’s rights.
Perhaps one of the most useful aspects in terms of ICANN’s long term future is that it has secured an agreement with NSI on that loosest of terms used regularly by ICANN; that of consensus. After a lot of input from NSI’s lawyer David Johnson, who ICANN chair Esther Dyson publicly acknowledged at a press conference yesterday, ICANN must prove to NSI that it has sought and reached a consensus on policy matters under the terms of the revised registry agreement between NSI, ICANN and the DoC.
Under the agreement there must be a two-thirds approval of the policy adopted by the ICANN board by whatever supporting organization is appropriate. There must also be written documentation of all substantive comments received, documenting the agreements and disagreements and there must be proof of ICANN’s outreach effort to gain a consensus and document the nature and intensity of reasoned support and opposition to the proposed policy.
Then, within 15 days of the policy being enacted, if NSI is still not satisfied, it can ask ICANN’s independent review panel to look into the matter. If the penal gives it the green light, NSI must implement the policy unless it has received an injunction. However, the ICANN board can also adopt a temporary policy without a recommendation for any of its supporting organizations, provided two-thirds of the board approves it and the move is necessary to maintain the stability of the internet.