Re: [ga] Last minute changes to Verisign agreements
On Tue, Apr 03, 2001 at 08:45:31PM +1200, DPF wrote:
> On Mon, 02 Apr 2001 12:01:37 -0700, Dave Crocker wrote:
> This is certainly true for some media. But I believe the degree and
> intensity of coverage is well beyond what one would expect for a body
> such as ICANN.
Your experience is quite different than mine, then. I don't see that
much coverage at all in mainstream, relatively objective media; and
most of the highly critical reports seem informed by the same
misunderstandings about ICANN that drive a lot of the criticism on
> >Critical comments did not come from "Congress". They came from a few
> >elected officials in Congress.
> Those officials were generally the Chairs and ranking opposition
> members of the committees that deal with issues pertaining to ICANN so
> it is not just a couple of rogue members of Congress but the senior
> members in the telecommunications area.
Once again, your experience is different than mine. There are actually
only a few such comments from members of Congress, and they seem (to my
ear) to be prompted by definite complaints by particular parties.
Moreover, if you listened to the recordings of the various hearings that
Bret has posted, you get a rather different perspective. In the Senate
hearing, Mike Roberts testimony was quite well received; in the House
Judiciary committee hearing the major concern that the concerns of
intellectual property owners were not being given sufficient weight in
ICANN processes -- hardly the criticism that you will find on these
In fact, while the press reports have been somewhat lurid, the hearings
themselves have been relatively mild affairs, in my opinion, and
frequently concerned about things that are not at all what people here
would worry about.
> Oh just like in NZ I have no doubt that you have your fair share of
> thick representatives. We had one who basically tried to ban the
The danger in the US is that many representatives believe that the
Internet belongs to the US.
> However we should not assume all representatives are
> uninformed on such issues and that their comments can be ignored.
Not what Dave said.
> Let's remember that it was politicians who effectively stopped the
> IAHC and led to ICANN being set up.
Yes, that is a quite serious point, and it is quite obvious that ICANN
takes the congressional hearings very seriously.
>>Elected officials do quite a lot of posturing for their constituency. It's
>>difficult to take a few of their indignant outcries as anything serious,
>>both given how superficial their knowledge is and how little they do with
>>their supposed concern.
> Some is posturing but if one really wants to ignore the increasing
> frequency of negative comments from senior representatives it is at
> your own peril.
Of course. But your premise is incorrect: ICANN is not at all ignoring
the Congress or the Senate -- in fact, they expend a great deal of
energy attending to such matters. But when you look in *detail*, there
isn't much in the way of useful direction that comes from those sources,
and all that they really do is increase the heat and temperature applied
For example: the House Judiciary committee is very concerned that ICANN
is not doing anywhere near enough to protect the rights of TM owners.
But what, exactly, do you propose that ICANN should do to do to deal
with that concern? Especially given that the overwhelming sentiment
expressed on these lists is that ICANN gives too much support to TM
>>And then we have your citing the tiny number of people who go to ICANN
>>meetings "with absolutely no vested interests". It might be interesting to
>>discover who these people are, since there are so few people at the
>>meetings, and therefore almost no one likely to be there with no vested
I don't think analyzing things in terms of "vested interest", in the
strict sense, is very useful to this particular discussion -- I'm quite
ready to conceed that there could be many people at an ICANN meeting
with no direct financial stake. The issue is what would cause people to
have a bias one way or another towards ICANN, and that is a far more
> A large contingent of NZers went to the Melbourne meeting as it was so
> close by. All are involved with ISOCNZ and hence have a potential
> vested interest with regard to cctld issues but as ICANN needs the
> cctlds far more than they need ICANN there is no real vested interest.
I submit that the above statement reveals a far more significant bias
than you realize.
> They all posted lengthy reports (4+ pages) of their experiences and
> none of them were flattering towards ICANN. Again you can close your
> eyes and pretend they also do not count but I think we should be
> concerned that people are coming away with such negative perceptions.
I agree that this is a concern.
> I want to do my part to make things better, not just pretend everyone
> complaining is a lazy journalist, an ignorant politician or an
> unrepresentative vested interest.
I don't think that is a fair characerization.
>>>I have a lot of respect for those who have put hard work into making
>>>ICANN work but I get frustrated at what appears to be a blinkered view
>>>that all criticism is wrong and ICANN could not be performing a lot
>>It is facinating you would make such a statement, since there is no one who
>>has ever expressed such blinkered view.
> No ever says it explicitly but when over a period of several months
> the vast majority of posts from certain individuals are attacking
> those who are criticising ICANN, then they get seen mainly as
That's more a function of the forum than the points of view involved.
Bear in mind that the sword cuts both ways -- people who are unrelenting
critics of ICANN can be conveniently labeled in the same manner. In
fact, if someone truly is an unrelenting critic, then it becomes
*necessary* to disregard them, because in fact there is nothing you can
do to satisfy them, and the time spent arguing with them is wasted time.
There is a very unfortunate social dynamic involved, as well: ICANN, by
its nature, has certain classes that simply cannot be satisfied, and
such parties become a permanent group of nay-sayers who quickly reach
the point of criticizing absolutely everything that ICANN does.
The alt-root crowd, for example, is never going to get any satisfaction
from ICANN. This is true by construction -- ICANN's whole existence is
predicated on the existence of a single root, and nothing is going to
change that. And indeed, if you look at this list, a very significant
number of the loudest critical voices are ssociated with the alt-roots.
They talk to the press, they talk to their congresspeople, they take
their case everywhere they can, but there really isn't anything that
ICANN can do for them.
> I was on the Council of ISOCNZ during a period when it was very
> unpopular. I found that acknowledging the areas where performance has
> been less than adequate does a lot for one's credibility.
Indeed, there have been numerous areas where ICANN's performance can be
questioned, but to me that is an almost insignificant issue, given the
incredible obstacles that ICANN has had to deal with. And most of the
criticism doesn't deal with those issues at all, but rather with things
that ICANN simply can't do because of the constraints it is under.
Think of ICANN as a rat in large, complex maze, with a 10 kilo lead
weight strapped to its back. We are standing around the maze, looking
through the thick glass top, and criticizing the rat's performance.
Some of the criticism is from people who aren't aware of the glass, and
who think that the rat should simply leap over the maze to the prize.
Some of the criticism is from people who aren't aware of the lead
weight, and who think that the rat should move faster. Other people are
annoyed at the attitude of the rat. A *very tiny* amount of the
criticism is actually directed at anything the rat has real control
> >Given the highly distorted history of mis-steps that ICANN inherited from
> >the US government, and the thoroughly politicized pressure-cooker that
> >ICANN lives in now, you should be astonished, impressed and delighted that
> >it has forged anything even close to "okay".
> We will have to agree to disagree. Nine months ago I was agreeing
> with you but I have seen enough now to know that one could improve
> things with some simple steps.
> Of course there will always be
> pressure but let's not pretend ICANN is somehow unique as a non profit
> in this respect.
It certainly appears to me that you are unaware of many of the constraints.
> >No. What is at issue is a contract. Contracts pertain to substantive
> >matters, and substantive matters, well... matter. But what is at issue is
> >a contract.
> But ICANN is not a for profit corporation where the aim is to act in
> the best interests of the corporation. ICANN is meant to act in the
> best interest of the internet community and this involves meaningful
> consultation with it.
> Last minute changes with no input do not further these aims.
This is nonsense. The last minute changes were THE RESULT OF INPUT.
> I judge off what I have seen here. I will be pleasantly surprised
> when I see evidence to the contrary, I would love to see from you an
> analysis of where ICANN could do better.
I would like to see such an analysis from you that expressed some
awareness of the constraints that I see.
> >1. How do you know that?
> Because the negotiators made it very clear they would not do so.
> Their position was the same as Verisigns.
That's your spin. My spin: their position reflected their best
understanding at the time of what Verisign would do.
> >2. You are wrong. The question was put to them, explicitly, during public
> >exchanges in Melbourne and they declined.
> Oh please. I mean a serious request as part of the negotiations from
> those who did the negotiations.
There is no evidence whatsoever to support your claim that such a
request was not made. My understanding, in fact, is that Verisign was
asked, and they said no.
> >> >What is Verisign's incentive for agreeing to a delay?
> >>Huge huge incentive. If they are told not agreeing will increase the
> >>chance of the status quo remaining.
> >That would require that Verisign be desparate to change the status
> >quo. Not just interested or willing, but absolutely desparate. What is
> >your basis for believing that retaining the current contract is such a
> >horrible outcome to Verisign?
> I believe they have been desperate to change the status quo.
I'm sorry, but you are quite incorrect in this belief. If that were the
case Verisign would *clearly* have done things very differently. All
the evidence points to this being a relatively last minute brainstorm
on VRSN's part.
> value of being granted *.com presumptively for eternity and keeping
> the registrar business is worth not hundreds of millions but quite
> possibly over a billion dollars in the next few years.
It is also quite possibly worth very little -- no one knows what will be
the result of competition from new gTLDs.
> >You appear to believe that the DNSO is supposed to participate in contract
> >They are not.
> I believe they contained important policy issues which were the
> province of the DNSO.
That is irrelevant to Dave's point. Even if the contracts contain
significant changes in policy (which I dispute), the fact remains that
the province of the DNSO does not include contract negotiations. In
fact, the province of the DNSO does not include policy *enforcement* of
any kind. Moreover, regardless of what the DNSO thinks, the ultimate
responsibility rests with the board.
Kent Crispin "Be good, and you will be
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