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[registrars] Important Update
This e-mail contains a summary of issues that the registrar constituency
must address if it is to remain an important part of the ICANN process.
I was nominated as the interim secretariat approximately seven month ago in
Berlin. Since then the registrar constituency has been very active advancing
the interests of open competition in the domain name registration business.
I believe one of the high points of the registrar effort was the
collaboration of a number of registrars in LA to get the several items
written into the contracts at the last minute. However, since then I have
seen several signs that concern me and should be a concern to you also.
I have been speaking with Ken Stubbs who has been preparing the Names
Counsel's budget. According to the ICANN by-laws, the registrar
constituency, is required to pay our portion of the Names Counsel's
operating budget. Ken has informed me that it appears that our portion will
be approximately $30,000 dollars. Currently only 40 out of the approximately
100 ICANN accredited registrars have joined the constituency. Therefore this
works out to a little less than $1,000 per registrar. In addition to these
fees, there are other minimum fees that registrar constituency must account
for. For example, we have been informed by ICANN that we will eventually
have to pay for meeting rooms at future regional ICANN meetings. However, I
do not believe these miscellaneous fees will account for more than $10,000
annually. Therefore, the registrar fee should not need to exceed $1,000.
To date the registrar constituency has adopted a very horizontal type of
leadership. Aside from me there is only the two (one is still to be elected)
names counsel reps. Although I am a strong proponent of horizontal
leadership I believe it is vital to increase meaningful participation in the
constituency. Some registrars have advocated a substantial membership fee to
empower the registrar constituency to effectively lobby and protect its
interests. Although I agree that money is a necessity to have your voice
heard, I believe that this figure does not have to be in the several
thousand dollar range. Moreover, it is more important to have meaningful
participation from the membership than just money alone. Therefore, I
propose the following.
The registrar constituency should strive to include EVERY ICANN accredited
registrar as part of the constituency. And that each member should actively
serve on one of the various task forces that I propose below. By doing so we
strengthen our collect voice while lowering our individual portion to the
constituencies operational budget. The task forces that I propose are
outlined below in order of importance.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) Task Force. This group of six registrars was
formed after the LA meeting and is currently working with NSI, the
registrar, to adopt an acceptable SLA. Although their initial work is due
to be complete before the end of January, I believe this task force should
remain as a standing task force to address performance issues in the future.
Web SiteTask Force: I would like a group of registrars to offer some
assistance in creating and maintaining a first class web site devoted to the
registrars constituency. This site would maintain all relevant records and
provide a compilation of useful resources for the registrar community. I
believe a strong functional web site is vital to our constituency being
perceived as having its act together.
Membership Task Force: After the initial 50 ICANN accredit registrars were
approved I single handedly contacted each of the registrars and encouraged
them to join the constituency. At that time, there was approximately a 70%
participation rate, as opposed to the current 40% participation rate. I
propose that a task force be established with the goal of having every ICANN
accredited registrar being part of the constituency. Since I have maintained
all the records to date, I will volunteer to head this task force. However,
I would like at least one volunteer from each ICANN geographic region to
assist in this membership drive.
Funding Task Force: This task force will be tasked with adopting and
overseeing a minimalist budget to achieve our goals. I believe that two
excellent candidates for this task force are Ken Stubbs who has been
preparing the Names Counsel budget and Richard Foreman who represented the
registrars in the ICANN funding task force.
Working Group B Task Force. Working Group B is tasked with protecting famous
trademarks in connection with the DNS. I am currently chairing this Working
Group. The are already several registrars participating in this Working
Group but I believe this effort needs to be focused. For the benefit of
those not up to date on Working Group B's activities, there is a push by the
trademark community to establish filters as part of the DNS process. I
believe that we collectively find this system inequitable, because we must
pay to install and maintain the filters and we have less domain names to
provide. For those of you that believe that this should just be passed off
to the registry, NSI has indicated that there is a significant cost
associated with filters. This is why NSI the registrar is phasing out all
filters. Therefore, I leave it to you to read between the lines. If filters
are mandated on the registry, it is possible that NSI would ask for an
increase in the registry fee. Remember that $6 fee can only go up, never
down. However, NSI is not to be blamed for this. In fact, Phil Sbarbaro at
NSI has expressed preliminary interest in backing a position paper that I
drafted that advocated a right of first refusal. The benefits of this system
is that trademark owners must pay for the registration of domain names prior
to the opening of any new top-level domains and that filter would not be
required. This working group will have a direct and significant impact on
the operation of all registrars.
Working Group C Task Force. Working Group C is tasked with adding new top
level domains to the root. Obviously this is attractive to the registrar
community since it provides us with more domains to provide to the Internet
Although registrars are participating in both of the above referenced
Working Groups, I believe it is important to formalize our voice and allow
the task force to speak for the constituency.
Whois Task Force. This appears to be an ongoing problem and I would
recommend a task force to address this important issue. I would recommend
that Len Bayles from All West Communications head up this effort since he
has been one on the more vocal/knowledgeable registrars on this topic.
Please indicate to me via e-mail which Task Force you would like to
participate on, and offer any other suggestions for task forces that would
benefit the constituency. In addition, I am open to entirely different
solutions as long as they increase meaningful participation.
For those registrars that believe that now that ICANN has introduced
competition into the domain name marketplace, the most important work has
been accomplished. I would respectively disagree, everyone's collective
business plan is tied to the success of the ICANN model. I believe the
following except from Register.Com S-1 filing in connection with its IPO is
Before April 1999, the domain name registration system for the .com, .net
and .org domains was managed by Network Solutions pursuant to a cooperative
agreement with the U.S. government. In November 1998, the Department of
Commerce recognized the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,
commonly known as ICANN, to oversee key aspects of the Internet domain name
registration system. ICANN is a non-profit, international corporation that
formed to oversee a select set of technical management functions relating to
the Internet. Although we believe that the measures adopted to date by the
Department of Commerce and ICANN have on balance benefited us, we cannot
you that any future measures will benefit us or that they will not have a
material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of
operations. In addition, we continue to face the risks that:
o the U.S. government may, for any reason, reassess its decision to
introduce competition into, or ICANN's role in overseeing, the
name registration market;
o the Internet community may become dissatisfied with ICANN and
recognize its authority or support its policies, which could create
instability in the domain name registration system; and
o ICANN may attempt to impose additional fees on registrars if it
to obtain funding sufficient to run its operations.
Finally, are there any more nomination for the vacant Names Counsel
Hopefully everyone has enjoyed their holiday season to date, and I wish
everyone a happy new year.