By Rachel Chalmers To Network Solutions Inc’s fury and to the resigned frustration of Michael Sondow of the International Congress of Independent Internet Users (ICIIU), two NSI representatives and Sondow were barred from participating in a teleconference held by the provisional Names Council, part of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) of the Internet Corporation […]
By Rachel Chalmers
To Network Solutions Inc’s fury and to the resigned frustration of Michael Sondow of the International Congress of Independent Internet Users (ICIIU), two NSI representatives and Sondow were barred from participating in a teleconference held by the provisional Names Council, part of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Part of what NSI has been involved with during this whole three-year process has been making sure the spirit of the White Paper is followed, NSI’s Brian O’Shaughnessy told ComputerWire. Now we’re saying the process has gone wrong. We’re worried about revocability. This may have gone beyond the point of no return.
NSI’s beef is that five Names Council representatives, two of whom were from MCI, effectively held a closed meeting after relegating NSI’s Don Telage to observer status and booting NSI’s Richard Sexton and ICIIU’s Sondow off the call altogether. Leaving aside the fact that by-laws prohibit two members of a single company from serving on the board, NSI cites Article III 1, which states that the Corporation and its subordinate entities shall operate to the maximum extend feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to endure fairness. The bylaws also state call for open electronic attendance by all interested parties. As if all that weren’t enough, NSI is also unhappy that of the 21 seats assigned to the seven constituencies, its own constituency – the global Top Level Domains, or gTLDs – gets only one seat, rather than the more logical three. That one seat does go to NSI, but the company, which represents over 90% of the gTLDs, had hoped that it would be able to give two more seats away.
The controversy over the Names Council meeting is symptomatic of larger problems with ICANN and its board of directors. O’Shaughnessy points out that IANA, a two-person, $250,000 outfit, has been replaced by a nine-member board with an annual budget of $5.9m. NSI is worried about that figure, too, as it has 5.9 million registrants in its database. Is ICANN plotting to levy a $1 tax on everyone who owns a domain name? But the most serious question, which O’Shaughnessy and Sondow raised independently, is that the interim board of directors is now calling itself the initial board. The interim board was supposed to incorporate and pave the way for an elected board of eighteen members. That elected initial board would be entitled to change the by-laws. By changing its name, the interim board appears to be side-stepping democratic procedure and claiming the right to change the by-laws for itself. This has annoyed a lot of people. Who chose them? O’Shaughnessy wants to know. It’s not clear that Postel chose those people.
Sondow says the real power is with the members of the Internet Society (ISOC), who are picking up the bills for ICANN. He suggests that those members, especially AT&T, IBM and (there’s that name again!) MCI, are seeking to regain control of the internet by hijacking the supposedly representative domain name registration process. Supporting that view is Telage’s observation that the un-elected board is now imposing top-down endorsements of the World Intellectual Property Treaty (WIPO) treaty. It’s worrisome, very worrisome, a clearly agitated Telage told ComputerWire, I think this is about control. There is a clear coalition between the ISOC [Council of Registrars] CORE and people from the trademark and intellectual property community. They’re talking about how to ram WIPO through the working groups as fast as possible, without consultation. They’re saying, let’s just go through the motions. After they locked us out, it was a love-in. It was an amazing experience. ICANN interim president and CEO Michael Roberts was travelling and could not be reached for comment.