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[registrars] Efforts in Congress
Below is a summary of everything that happened in Washington DC last week.
The Coalition of Domain Name Registrars made significant progress with
members of Congress, as detailed in Susan Davis' report below. Further
proof of our success is the fact that, after hearing about what we were
doing, NSI had their staffers "on the hill" late last week telling stories
of the dangers to Internet stability, etc.
Although the Coalition was initially comprised of some of the US registrars,
it is clear from our success last week that in order to really ensure a
level playing field and true demonopolization of the domain name system, we
definitely need as much support as possible from as many of the registrars
as possible worldwide.
I'm off to the hospital now, as my wife Nelly may give birth any time now.
So, after seeing Susan's update, please contact either Lauren from
Register.com or my partner Frank Cona at my same number at InfoNetworks with
any questions or to discuss how to get involved.
Status Report: Coalition for Domain Name Registrars (CDNR)
During this first week the Coalition formed, created letterhead, a fact
sheet, FAQ document, and a letter of concern which was hand delivered to the
Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Tom Bliley (R-VA). The letter was
also delivered to Members of the House Commerce Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and Subcommittee on Oversight, as well as Members of the
House Judiciary Committee.
Representatives of the Coalition also met with 12 Members of Congress, a
member of the House Republican leadership, staff of five Members of Commerce
and Judiciary, the majority staff director of the House Judiciary Committee,
and key committee staff (Republican and Democrat) of the House Commerce
Committee who are organizing the Commerce Oversight hearing on July 22.
At the beginning of the week, we were aware that a House Judiciary Committee
hearing would be held on July 28. Ken Stubbs had been asked to testify. We
were also aware that the House Commerce Committee was considering holding a
hearing the week of July 19, but no information was available on the scope
of the hearing or the requested witnesses. On Tuesday, SDI learned a
hearing was being considered by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight
entitled "Is ICANN Out of Control?" The hearing was totally biased in
favor of NSI. The only witnesses requested were NSI advocates, including
Jay Fenello. Over the next two days the Coalition lobbied heavily to open
the hearing and make it an unbiased discussion of present status of
negotiations between NSI and DOC, impact on registrars to date, and future
concerns. There was heavy resistance from Chairman Bliley, but by late
afternoon on Thursday, we had succeeded in getting one Coalition
representative (Ken Stubbs) accepted as a witness. By Friday afternoon, we
had succeeded in getting two coalition witnesses (Forman and Stubbs)
accepted, and had persuaded the committee to assure an unbiased hearing.
There are now nine witnesses requested for a second panel (the first panel
will be DOC, ICANN and NSI). The nine include Forman, Stubbs, AOL, Domain
Names Rights Organization, Miller (ITAA), Zitrain(Harvard), Weinberg (Wayne
State), Jamie Love (Nader) and Grover Norquist. The Coalition had suggested
four names (Stubbs, Forman, Zitrain and Miller). All were approved, with
the support of the Republicans and the Democrats.
Additionally, the Coalition met with Congressman Chip Pickering (R-Miss) and
Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va). Both are key players on this issue, though
on different Commerce subcommittees. Both offered to work with the
Coalition if we needed to draft legislation to assure fair competition.
Pickering is urging the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications to hold a
hearing specifically related to the anti-competitiveness issues, as well as
legislative authority issue the first week of August. That decision will be
made next week. With regard to legislation, while it would hopefully be the
court of last resort, there are several options that would allow us to
potentially get legislation passed this Fall.
Next steps: we need to prepare for two hearings, the biggest of which will
be the Commerce Oversight hearing next Thursday, July 22. Testimony for
both Forman and Stubbs will need to be drafted, along with their oral
presentations; questions will need to be drafted to be asked by Members at
the hearing; Congressional staff will need to be briefed on the Coalition
testimony; several hundred copies of the testimony will need to be produced
and distributed to the Committee, witnesses will be need to be prepared for
their testimony and potential questions, media alerted prior to testimony as
to the substance of our positions, and a significant amount of work will
need to be done to coordinate with numerous Committee staff and personal
staff of key Members to shore up our support. This same scenario will need
to be replayed the following week for the Judiciary Committee hearing,
although this one will not have the same intensity, since it focuses on
intellectual property issues, and the Committee is generally supportive of
our positions. "If" there is a third hearing, it will carry the same
importance as the upcoming Oversight hearing, for different reasons. The
latter hearing could be the most helpful in terms of any potential support
we can get from Congress.
Those of us involved this week can surely say that the Coalition has moved
quickly and had excellent results against major odds. We have clearly put
the Coalition top of mind on the Hill, as well as with the U.S government,
and our issues are front and center. We have been able to move the focus
from what ICANN is/is not doing, to what needs to be accomplished to assure
true demonopolization and open competition. It will be very important to
maintain, and, if possible, increase the level of intensity, and visibility
over these next three weeks, to show all interested parties that we mean
business, and that the new registrars concerns must be dealt with fairly,
equitable, and expediently.