Dot ORG Final Report to the ICANN Board
Annex G
Public comments

Annex G

Public comment on the report was invited for a period of 14 days starting on 18th January ending on 1st February 2002.

The archive are at http://www.dnso.org/dnso/dnsocomments/comments-dotorg/Arc02/

The Public comments are as stated below in chronological order:

1. Milton Mueller Mueller@syr.edu

The Noncommercial Domain Name Holders Constituency sees the policies in the current draft as a well-crafted balance of the various constituencies' interests. We strongly favor a noncommercial management organization for .org and expect it to be broadly supported by and responsive to noncommercial Internet users. As we have made clear on numerous occasions, we oppose any attempt to restrict registrations in .org or to create new dispute initiative procedures. We prefer to rely on marketing practices and end-user choice to differentiate the domain. The NCDNHC joins the business constituency in calling the Board's attention to the competition policy issues raised by the divestiture of .org. We urge the Board to increase competition and diversity and encourage new investment in the provision of gTLD registry services, by ensuring that the market position of existing dominant actors are not entrenched nor enhanced through participation in, taking an interest in, or contracting to deliver critical services to, the new .org management organisation.

2. Danny Younger DannyYounger@cs.com

The limited number of public comments posted to this task force report (as well as to other recent task force reports) is indicative of a serious problem which once more calls into question the viability of the "task force approach". The DNSO has the responsibility to engage in outreach and to obtain the public's view. Instead, it merely "goes through the motions" and obtains no substantive input whatsoever from the public. This is pathetic and is yet another indication that the DNSO is in need of new leadership and must be thoroughly reformed.

3. Eric Brunner-Williams in Portland Maine brunner@nic-naa.net

Introductory Comments:

I'm ambivalent on the structural form of the delegee. The case for non-profit was argued with back during the WG-C period, without ever getting down to the awkward bits of actual capital outlay, cost-recovery, cleaning up the current operator's mess, etc. The closest the newTLD process has manifested to this point of view is the .coop delegation and its operator, a cooperative.

1. Characteristics of the Organization to Administer .org

Subsection 1b, final sentence, is highly problematic. Absent any other bar on the construction of the delegee, policy body, operator, registry, registrars, resellers and registrants, this one sentence allows highly fictional forms of "non-profit" policy and operational management oversight of the "new" .org.

If the first thesis is worth testing with the .org registry, registrars and registrants, that "for profit" is infra dig, then the corollary should also be worth testing, and the below sentence modified by the insertion of "not".

1b. ... Subcontracting of operational functions to for-profit providers is permitted.

Subsection 1d is interesting also. The goal stated is to create "the largest number of qualified" applicants. The condition is a lowering of the bar for financial resources. There are two things "wrong" with this picture. First, the cost of entry for registry operators is falling, the NeuLevel figure of $20 million is an artifact of poor judgement, other registries have gone-live on a tenth of that. However, the cost to meet existing ICANN gTLD functional and non-functional requirements is significantly greater than the 200k bogie, and under-capitalization or limited access to capital resources is just asking for trouble. Second, who cares if there are two or more "qualified" applicants? One will do very nicely, and beauty contests among entities that haven't any registry, or registrar operational experience, is a waste of everyone's time.

I suggest the following substitution for the original text:

1d. In order to ensure the capability of the applicant(s), the Board should require the equivalent of USD$500,000 in demonstrated financial resources from applicants.

2. Policy Guidelines for Applicants to Administer .org

Subsection 2b contradicts the notion that the incoming operator will utilize a distinct policy from the outgoing operator. This is an endorsement of the policy that is elsewhere deprecated.

Subsection 2c presumes no capital accumulation is consistent with the goals of the delegee, policy body, operator, registrars, resellers, or registrants. If no capital accumulation is allowed under the operating agreement, then the ability of the parties to invest accumulated capital in improved services is barred.

3. The Verisign endowment

While soaking Verisign is always a good idea, selecting an operator that can not succeed without $5 million in "found money" is absurd. If there is any case for burning $5 million of Verisign's money, it is in cleaning up the current pool of illegitimate registrants from the current registry. If there is any case for qualification from an applicant, it is non-dependency upon "found monies" for operational transfer and maintenance.

4. The Registry Operator

This is a wasted paragraph. The functional and non-functional requirements will be sufficiently close to the ICANN newTLD form. The pricing verbiage is unimaginative. Whether the registry uses RRP or EPP is irrelevant.

6. Follow up

The final sentence of the final para is interesting. Application fees are viewed not as a reasonable fee to cover ICANN's evaluation process, but as some brand of "non-frivolousness". This is a poor way to view both the cost to ICANN, and the ability of the applicant to raise funds. Given the 200K, or the 500K figures (Milton, et alia, and my own, respectively), the current 50K figure is not prohibitive.

Concluding Comments:

The .org registry is a 10^^7 sized registry, significantly smaller than the .edu registry, transferred earlier. It could be transferred to some existing non-commercial registry operator, or put up for competitive bid. Of the set of possible existing non-commercial registry operators, several ccTLD and a very few gTLD registry operators appear to be viable and appropriate choices.

Questions are welcome.

Eric Brunner-Williams wampumpeag,
llc and The EPP Trade Association,
a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit, Deleware Incorporation

4. Thomas Roessler roessler@does-not-exist.org

The undersigned members of the DNSO General Assembly

1. endorse the criteria and guidelines for applicants for operation of the .org registry contained in the Final Report of the .org Task Force (http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/council/Arc09/msg00031.html)

2. support the unrestricted character of .ORG, both for new and old registrants, and the absence of new eviction mechanisms for domain name holders.

3. emphasize the need for a complete divestiture of the .org TLD and urge the DNSO Names Council and the ICANN Board to ensure that the divestiture increases competition. The applicant organizations must submit proposals which are consistent with the goal of divestiture.

4. are concerned about the possibility of a price raise in the .org registration fee and emphasize that the registry fee should be "as low as feasible consistent with the maintenance of good quality service" (TF Final Report, 4). The ICANN Board's decision about the applicant organization should not be deflected by excessive attention to proposals for spending a possible surplus.

5. encourage applicant organizations to propose ways of ensuring that the "differentiation of the domain", which is "a key objective in the transition" (TF Final Report, 2e), is also communicated to dispute resolution providers and panelists. A simplistic, undifferentiated approach to domain disputes in the .org TLD puts the potential benefits at risk.

6. urge applicant organizations to consider incentives and deterrents to ensure that all registrars market .org domains in a way which does not run counter to the goal of differentiation enabling end-user choice.

7. thank the GA representative on the .org Task Force, Marc Schneiders, for his work.


  Don Brown <donbrown_L@inetconcepts.net> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Marc Schneiders <marc@fuchsia.bijt.net> GA-subscr, GA-voting, NCDNHC 
  Sotiris Sotiropoulos <sotiris@hermesnetwork.com> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Dan Steinberg <synthesis@videotron.ca> GA-voting 
  Michael Froomkin <froomkin@law.miami.edu> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Thomas Roessler <roessler@does-not-exist.org> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Joop Teernstra <terastra@terabytz.co.nz> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Alexander Svensson <alexander@svensson.de> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  David P. Farrar <david@farrar.com> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Leah Gallegos <jandl@jandl.com> GA-subscr, GA-voting 
  Jessica Westbrook <JessWest@aol.com> GA-subscr, GA-voting 


  Chuck Gomes <cgomes@verisign.com> GA-voting, gTLD constituency 
  Jeff Williams <jwkckid1@ix.netcom.com>

5. Cassidy Sehgal - cassidy.sehgal@registrypro.com

The following are the public comments of the gTLD constituency (the "Constituency" or "we") on the final report of the Task Force on the divestiture of .org which was approved by the Names Council as a consensus policy recommendation to the ICANN Board. We have no comments on the Final Report itself that can be meaningfully expressed in a public comment, however, we note that certain opinions have been voiced in the discussion of the latest drafts and subsequent to the Final Report's issuance. The Constituency is so concerned by these statements, that we are submitting the following comments to establish our position on the same.

We are particularly concerned by the view expressed by the Business Constituency and Non-Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency that the "market position of existing dominant providers are not entrenched nor enhanced through participation in, taking an interest in, or contracting to deliver critical services to, the new .org management organization."

Any such restriction or prohibition on the participation, interest or contracting ability of certain "dominant" providers raises significant concerns. Defining "dominant" providers, actors or service providers is not easily accomplished, and has not been done. As a result, existing registrars, registries, ISPs (i.e. AT&T, British Telecom, IBM, etc.) could be arbitrarily excluded from providing contract services.

Such a prohibition is also fundamentally anti-competitive and may ultimately add to the cost of services provided by the registry. By restricting the ability of the .org registry to choose its contractors or service providers and creating an artificial exclusion of certain market players, there will be less competition for services, and lower costs to the registry may well be forgone if the excluded parties are indeed offering the most competitive prices. Moreover, the limitation may also exclude provision of services by the most efficient and reliable parties, thereby hindering the performance of the .org registry.

Forcing the registry to pay higher prices for whatever they procure results in a higher cost structure for effected registries and this higher cost structure is eventually passed along to registrants. ICANN intervention into the ability of the .org registry to sub-contract or otherwise work with, seek participation from "dominant players" is not only outside of the scope of ICANN's mandate and mission, it also imposes a tax on registrants and eventually makes the registration service less interesting in the market.

For each of the foregoing reasons, the Constituency strongly objects to the view that there be any restriction upon the .org registry's ability to freely seek participation or contracting services from any players or actors that it deems capable of ensuring the secure and reliable operation of the domain.

6. Milton Mueller mueller@syr.edu

Reply comments of Milton Mueller to the gTLD comments on the .org Task Force.

Please note that the entirety of the gTLDs' comments are aimed at the additional positions of two DNSO constituencies and not at the Task Force Report itself.

The Task Force as a whole deliberately refrained from taking a position on the competition policy issue for two reasons:

First, because it did not seem to command a complete consensus among the constituencies;

Second, because we did not want the policymaking process to become bogged down in questions of defining "dominance" or in debate over phrasings that might be construed to include or exclude specific applicants.

That being said, when the Board makes its final selection among applicants, it seems to me to be impossible for the Board to ignore questions of competition policy. The whole process of removing control of dot org from Verisign was motivated by a desire to increase the number of players in the market and to reduce Verisign's dominance of the registry marketplace. If we were concerned exclusively with who was the low-cost provider we might not need to divest .org at all.

Obviously the pro-competition policy proposed by NCDNHC and B&C does not enjoy the same unanimous support enjoyed by the Task Force report as a whole. That fact should not, however, prevent the Board from using simple common sense and taking competition, dominance and diversity into account when faced with a set of qualified applicants that differ significantly in those dimensions. Consensus policies are binding on the Board, but while the consensus we are forwarding does not REQUIRE the Board to exclude dominant providers, neither does it PREVENT it from doing so.

The economic reasoning behind Mr. Neumann's comments is weak. Virtually any new registry is bound to have higher initial costs than a dominant incumbent because of economies of scale. However, it is well known in economics that in the long term competition encourages DYNAMIC efficiencies that are far more important to society than the static efficiencies that can be measured by looking at current cost structures. For example, the unit costs of new entrants in long distance telecommunications were often higher than the incumbent in the 1980s; but their competition led to investment in new transmission technolgoies, notably fiber, that improved overall efficiency.

Also, I would note that by Jeff's reasoning, ANY exclusion "reduces competition" and therefore we should not even exclude Verisign itself from applying for administration of the .org domain. Which seems a bit absurd given the purpose of the .org divestiture.

It is not surprising that the gTLD constituency, which represents incumbent registries who either collectively or individually account for a dominant share of the gTLD registry market, would oppose a call for attentiveness to dominance in the final selection process. I am sure that the Board will be wise enough to take this into account in weighing the comments.

7. Marc Schneiders marc@fuchsia.bijt.net

I fully support Milton's position. The registry market is a regulated market. In such a market, you cannot apply free market principles completely. The regulation diminishes competition by definition. It has to counter that effect as well to avoid the evils of monopolies and cartels. (This is even true when you start deregulating, which ICANN does not really seem to be doing very well so far.) New players on the market have to get a chance against the (former) monopolist or cartel.

Given the revenue of current registrations in ORG (slightly under 3 million), I doubt any new company would have to charge higher registry fees than the $6 VeriSign now takes.

Marc@Schneiders.ORG GA rep on the ORG Task Force

8. Comments of the Association for Computing Machinery's Internet Governance Project To the Names Council's Dot ORG Task Force Report

The Association for Computing Machinery's Internet Governance Project (ACM-IGP) wishes to express its strong support for the comments of the NC Dot ORG Task Force, and its Report placed on public notice on January 18 ("Report").  In our comments below, ACM-IGP will first express some general concerns regarding the future of .ORG, and then comment directly on sections of the Report.

General Concerns:

Overall, ACM-IGP is very concerned that the .ORG space will be restricted as it is spun off to new technical and policy management. Unlike any other gTLD delegation to date, .ORG is not a new creation.  It is an existing community; it is a valued noncommercial space.  Whatever the initial intentions of the National Science Foundation in creating .ORG two decades ago, it has exceeded all expectations and bounds.   Dot-ORG is the place for political and personal commentary, community organizing and family pages, as well as important organizational communication.

Dot-ORG is the place for organizational communication online on the Internet, but organizational communication is not done solely by organizations.  It is the communication of communities, families, schools, libraries, unincorporated associations, and formal organizations.  The .ORG domain name space offers an opportunity for online participation by the most diverse group online. 

There is rumored to be a move to restrict .ORG to perhaps even its most narrow definition, e.g., to allow only organizations to register .ORG domain names in the future.   Such a restriction on .ORG would disenfranchise entire classes of communication online. Where .COM, .NET, .BIZ and .INFO are top level domains open for general commercial domain name registration; .ORG is the only top level domain open for general noncommercial domain name registration.  To assign new management for the purpose of breaking up Verisign's monopoly is a fine idea; to establish new rules that excommunicate entire classes of noncommercial communication is not.

Specific Comments on Task Force Report:

ACM-IGP agrees generally with the full report.  We thank the Task Force for all its hard work, and the Names Council for its support of this work.  We note the particular importance of the following sections:

     A.   "[A]pplicant organizations should be able to demonstrate international support and participation from a significant number of noncommercial .org registrants." [Report, Section 1a]

     As discussed above, the .ORG delegation involves an existing, diverse and robust domain name space.  It would not make sense for one organization (however international) or one region to dominate or win exclusive management of .ORG.  An international coalition of noncommercial organizations from many countries and regions will reflect existing .ORG registrations and move forward to lay the foundation and set the policies for positive further growth of .ORG  for the benefit of their countries and regions. 

     B.   "The definition of the relevant community should be much broader than simply formal nonprofit organizations.  It must also include individuals and groups seeking an outlet for noncommercial expression and information exchange, unincorporated cultural, educational and political organizations, and business partnership with non-profits and community groups for social initiatives." [Report, Section 2a.]

     The words above were carefully chosen, and provide the core of what ICANN must protect, preserve and expand.   They should be adopted in their entirety in the final ICANN proposals.

     C.   "Dot org will continue to be operated without eligibility requirements... the registrars should rely entirely on end-user choice to determine who registers in .org." [Report, Section 2b]

     The Noncommercial Community has proven itself.  In overwhelming numbers, it flocks to .ORG to register its domain names.  It is a successful example of self-selection in the domain name space.

     But the Task Force Report goes a step further.  It asks ICANN to require that the new registry adopt a "definition of the served community" and put into place "appropriate marketing practices" [Report, Section 2b].  We have seen that even with the inappropriate marketing practices of today (encouraging companies .ORG, and the Noncommercial Community overwhelmingly register in it.  Self-selection will only become better as the new registry (under the Report's proposals) actively markets to the Noncommercial Community.


Again, our support for the Report runs to all its points and proposals.  Our thanks again to the Task Force, to its chairman, and to the Names Council.  We urge the ICANN Board to adopt the principles and recommendations of the DNSO in this Report.

Respectfully submitted,
Kathryn A. Kleiman
Director, ACM-IGP

9. Eric Dierker eric@hi-tek.com

Dear fine sir;

Please elaborate on this seemingly incongruent statement.

I guess I was mistaken in my understanding that we were looking for divestiture at any cost.

Is it your contention that the goal has devolved to the lowest common denominator of cost?

I agree with your telecom analogy, but am troubled by your fatalistic conclusions (?).

How do you suggest we move forward taking in your, Neumans' and Jeffs' input.

Your opinion is always valued here, please go out on a practical limb and give some modicum of advise.


Eric Milton Mueller wrote:

> <with major snippage>
> That being said, when the Board makes its final selection among
> applicants, it seems to me to be impossible for the Board to ignore
> questions of competition policy. The whole process of removing
> control of dot org from Verisign was motivated by a desire
> to increase the number of players in the market and to reduce
> Verisign's dominance of the registry marketplace. If we were
> concerned exclusively with who was the low-cost provider
> we might not need to divest .org at all.

10. Eric Brunner-Williams brunner@nic-naa.net

There appears to be some underlying points of agreement between Mssrs Meuller and Neuman, to pick them as arbitrary points of reference in an apparently bi-polar dispute. Both agree that:

	o the designee SHALL BE a non-profit entity,
	o the designee SHALL NOT operate the registry,
	o not to reference cost data available from the newTLD roll-outs.

As a policy, steering the current registry and its communities of registrants towards the original purpose of the registry, and the overwhelming majority of its 1 million registrants, towards non-commercial purpose, is reasonably, but not of necessity, applied also to the selection criteria of the designee. As several DNSO constituencies appear to agree on the first point, that issue is settled.

The second point is probably one which is not controlling. A proposal by a non-profit is not likely to fail simply because the non-profit is demonstrably capable of operating the registry, and proposes to do so rather than contract the service out to another non-profit, or for-profit, either by single-source or competitive bid. Consequently, that issue is peripheral.

The third point is where the money is. One-time and recurring cost vs pricing. This is where a discussion would benefit from data. With only two exceptions known to me, all of the newTLD projects ran 7-figure one-time costs, ranging from a high of $20 million (.biz) to one-tenth that. Assuming that the terms of the divestiture are "data only", the application must cost-in an RRP or an EPP registry, one or more data bases and associated business logic (some of which isn't necessary until some time after "go-live"), and a constellation of public data publication facilities hosting dns, whois, and operational "other" servers.

The community experience and expertise developed in the newTLD roll-out of late-2001 and early-2002 (.info, .biz, .name, .coop, .museum, and .pro and .aero) strongly supports costing a "data only" transfer at or under the mid 6-figure mark for one-time cost, with North American/European labor costs assumed.

he operational experience of SRI during its tenure of the ARPA NIC contract, with a staffing of 15 EFTS, modified to reflect a CRM model restricted to the ICANN accredited registrars, a policy-body liaison task, and a infrastructure maintencne requirement, strongly supports costing either a "data only" or a "data-plus-infrastructure" transfer at the 7-figure mark for recurring costs, again with North American/European labor costs assumed.

These figures, a .5M one-time and a 1M recurring cost, are guides for neutral policy base price, and active policy add-on price estimates. How active the policy or policies eventually specified in an ICANN RFP, or how creative the cost management and value multiplier in an Application, these vary from this base point.

Eric Brunner-Williams
wampumpeag, llc