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Re: [ga] WLS Suggestion

Hi Karl,

--- Karl Auerbach <karl@cavebear.com> wrote:
> However, I do not like the intense regulatory system that ICANN has
> become
> - at some point ICANN has to step back and get out of the way.  I

Let's take this point on directly. You want ICANN to step back and get
out of the way -- that's fine. HOWEVER, that *doesn't* mean supporting
WLS. Remember, ICANN and Verisign currently have a contract. It is
Verisign that is asking to CHANGE the terms of the contract (via its
change of the domain allocation method, and the increase in pricing).

If you're truly in favour of stepping out of the way, then the correct
course of action is not to go for a change in the contract (which is a
one-sided windfall for Verisign, with no benefit and indeed an expense
to the community ICANN represents), but instead to simply say "NO", and
vote for the status quo. The Status Quo represents no regulation, not
making a change which unilaterally benefits the registry operator. Get
out of the way of the Registrars, who are innovating, and don't
interfere with the existing marketplace. It's not the Registrars who
are asking to change the rules, to tilt the playing field. Consumers
aren't asking for this -- they're begging you not to give more control
to Verisign. The Business Constituency isn't asking for WLS.

Verisign has the ability to compete at the Registrar level. Their
partner, SnapNames, boasts that it has a 70% success rate. They can
market it on that basis, in the status quo at the registrar level, and
allow their competitors to get what they can. Forcing SnapNames
competitors to shut down and simply become resellers of Verisign, with
no value added, is unacceptable, and leaves consumers with higher
prices, and fewer choices. How is that in keeping with ICANN's mission
to promote competition?

Verisign doesn't consider this an "innovative" service, you can be sure
of that (though they mouth the words). They don't need WLS to compete
against .co.uk, or .ca, or .tv, or .cc. You don't see those other
registries "competing" on the basis of waiting lists for expired names.
Having WLS on .de doesn't somehow make .de a more favourable place to
have domain names, rather than .com. You mentioned some areas that
*are* innovative, and you denigrate them by lumping them into the same
class as WLS, which is not innovative.

I've asked proponents of WLS to find a single example on the planet
where people pay to be on a waiting list like this, where if the
current registrant renews, they are still out their cash. Do you see it
in the Trademark registration field? How about vanity license plates,
or vanity telephone numbers (to Neustar in particular, who has
expertise in phone systems)? Suppose you wanted to be on a waiting list
for Dallas Cowboys season tickets -- if folks renew their tickets, do
the Cowboys keep your deposit? How about when you go to rent an
apartment -- does the landlord keep your security deposit for being on
a waiting list, if the current tenant renews? The only area in which
Verisign is "innovating" is in its level of greed and monopolistic
behaviour -- its desire to shut out competitors from an existing
market. That behaviour shouldn't be rewarded -- there are far greedier
people about who can do a better job, if ICANN will let me^H^H them. ;)

I've written a lot about this topic since last December, and others
have since months before that. I hope that the Board has been following
the debate, and has at least glanced at the WLS Public Comments forum
and the Anti-WLS petition. There are few issues where the Names Council
has had such a strong consensus, and for the Board to ignore that
consensus is inadvisable (it'll be challenged, if you do). Can ICANN
survive another embarrassment, in caving to Verisign like this? The
3000+ petition signatures and 1000 forum posts is only the tip of the
iceberg compared to the outrage that will ensue, when folks start to
see the ramifications of another poor ICANN decision.

> For example - ICANN is imposing business models.  ICANN's mechanisms
> rule
> out potentially innovative and useful alternatives.  For instance,

WLS isn't an example of innovation or a useful alternative. It's a tax
on the system, by reimposing central control over the list of expiring
names. What prevents Verisign registrar from taking out a (phantom) WLS
slot on 100% of its names, shutting out all other players, and then
auctioning off the names on eBay, like they do for .cc names? It's
money shifting from one pocket to another, and if they don't get their
price, they can always sell it for $24, in the worst case scenario.
This is a simple way to circumvent the price caps in the registry
agreement. ICANN clearly doesn't have the inclination to stop that
practice, either.

> service can be done is at the registry.  My own preference is for the
> thinnest of thin registries - sort of a microkernel - upon which 
> everything else is layered by other, independent, entities.)

But, moving things back into the control of the registry, like WLS, is
a move towards a thicker registry. The status quo is preferable, where
innovation takes place at the registrar layer.


George Kirikos

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