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[nc-udrp] A note to the GNSO

        I have sent the following to Bruce Tonkin, Chair of the GNSO. If you disagree with my assessment, you might send your own assessment to Mr. Tonkin.



Mr. Bruce Tonkin
ICANN Generic Names Supporting Organization

Dear Mr. Tonkin:

        I am writing as a member of the UDRP Review Task Force and as a person who has worked, in various ways, to assist both ICANN and the UDRP to function as efficiently and legitimately as possible. I have been reading the minutes of past GNSO meetings and even listened to the recordings of some GNSO teleconferences. I am prompted to write this message because I noticed that the agenda for the GNSO meeting in Rio next week does not include anything about the UDRP review. Instead, the UDRP review is listed as an agenda item for the teleconference in late April. This concerns me because it suggests that you and other members of the Council may be unaware that the Task Force has essentially stopped functioning.
        If I bear some responsibility for the fact that the Task Force has done no work on a report or even a draft report, so be it. I have urged the Chair of the Task Force, as the task force archives will show <http://dnso.dnso.org/clubpublic/nc-udrp/Arc00/mail10.html>, to establish a process for the Task Force to discuss the many different issues, some large, some small, that a review of the UDRP should involve. About a month ago, I wrote to the Chair and indicated that if he did not do this, I would submit my own assessment of the UDRP at the June ICANN meeting in Montreal. If necessary, I will still do this but I wanted to alert you as well that there is no forward movement, indeed no current activity at all, in this task force’s work. This reflects poorly on myself and other members of the Task Force, on ICANN, and on the GNSO.

        It is possible that other Task Force members will see progress where I see none. Perhaps you can inquire of some of them concerning this. All I know is that during the DNSO Names Council Teleconference on 3 October 2002 <http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20021003.NCteleconf-minutes.html> you yourself stated that “the question is whether there is a process moving forward on the UDRP and if not, it should be brought to the Names Council for a decision.” The minutes then indicate the following exchange:
Bruce Tonkin suggested looking at the Whois task force, where a report was put out for public comment having summarised the survey findings and preliminary recommendations made, and urged the task force to produce a report that used as input the results of the survey as well as the expertise and experience of the task force members in using the UDRP process. The alternative was to close the task force and start again. J. Scott Evans was in favour of maintaining the current task force.

Discussion was in favour of using the value added expertise in the task force in addition to the survey.

Bruce Tonkin suggested putting this on the agenda for the November meeting, and that the task force establishes meeting dates so that a report and initial recommendations can be developed for discussion at that meeting.
        It is now five months later and we have no scheduled meeting dates. I truly hope that Mr. Evans, the Task Force Chair, is in good health and that it is not some misfortune that accounts for the lack of any communication between him and the Task Force in more than a month. Unfortunately, if you will look at the archives, you will see that there is no reason, other than lack of leadership, why nothing is happening. With proper leadership, I believe that the Task Force could provide the Council by June with a list of items concerning the UDRP that have been looked at and discussed, a list of recommendations for change about which consensus exists, and a list of other recommendations favored or not favored by a majority. If the GNSO does not intervene, in June we will be no further along than we are now.

I might suggest that members of the Council look at <http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/2001.NC-tor-UDRP-Review-Evaluation.html> where the Task Force received an extension so that further work on the survey could be done. A timeline was then laid out in which the Task Force was asked to provide its report to the Council in March. This has not occurred and, indeed, the March I have just referred to is March, 2002, not March, 2003. My point is that the GNSO must accept the fact that, without some intervention, this task force is not even on the road to completing its work by March, 2004.

The last report Mr. Evans gave to you, in November I believe, indicated a commitment to have a draft report to you by the Rio meeting. As I have stated, there is no such report. Most of the time devoted to the UDRP review during that teleconference concerned not substantive issues but questions about membership and representation. I do not wish to minimize the importance of membership but the make-up of the task force is irrelevant if nothing gets done. Indeed, at some point the current members will decide that they do not want to be associated with a sham or a farce and there will be no task force at all.

        I was willing to join the Task Force because the UDRP is an interesting exercise in dispute resolution and I thought I might contribute to a serious discussion of what, if any, changes in the UDRP should be recommended. I continue to believe in the importance of this but I have lost faith that any kind of serious review will occur if there is not some intervention on your part. As you pointed out in October, other task forces have conducted themselves much more systematically and productively. I do not enjoy writing letters like this but it is not clear to me that the members of the GNSO are aware of the serious lack of progress and activity. You may or may not accept my assessment of what has been occurring but please go through the emails at http://dnso.dnso.org/clubpublic/nc-udrp/Arc00/mail6.html and determine for yourself what the Task Force has been doing or has not been doing.

        Thank you for giving this your attention. I would be most grateful if you would send copies to the other members of the Council.


Ethan Katsh
Professor and Director
Center for Information Technology
   and Dispute Resolution
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA

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