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Computergram June 14: Self Appointed Names Council Throws NSI, ICIIU Off Meeting


* Self Appointed Names Council Throws NSI, ICIIU Off Meeting

C O M P U T E R G R A M   I N T E R N A T I O N A L

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San Francisco, California: June 14 1999
Issue Number 3681

*** Internet ***

+ Self Appointed Names Council Throws NSI, ICIIU Off Meeting

By Rachel Chalmers 

To Network Solutions Inc's fury and to the resigned frustration 
of Michael Sondow of the International Congress of Independent 
Internet Users (ICIIU), two NSI representatives and Sondow were 
barred from participating in a teleconference held by the 
provisional Names Council, part of the Domain Name Supporting 
Organization (DNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned 
Names and Numbers. "Part of what NSI has been involved with 
during this whole three-year process has been making sure the 
spirit of the White Paper is followed," NSI's Brian 
O'Shaughnessy told ComputerWire. "Now we're saying the process 
has gone wrong. We're worried about revocability. This may have 
gone beyond the point of no return." 

NSI's beef is that five Names Council representatives, two of 
whom were from MCI, effectively held a closed meeting after 
relegating NSI's Don Telage to observer status and booting 
NSI's Richard Sexton and ICIIU's Sondow off the call 
altogether. Leaving aside the fact that by-laws prohibit two 
members of a single company from serving on the board, NSI 
cites Article III 1, which states that the Corporation and its 
subordinate entities "shall operate to the maximum extend 
feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with 
procedures designed to endure fairness." The bylaws also state 
call for open electronic attendance by all interested parties. 
As if all that weren't enough, NSI is also unhappy that of the 
21 seats assigned to the seven "constituencies", its own 
constituency - the global Top Level Domains, or gTLDs - gets 
only one seat, rather than the more logical three. That one 
seat does go to NSI, but the company, which represents over 90% 
of the gTLDs, had hoped that it would be able to give two more 
seats away. 

The controversy over the Names Council meeting is symptomatic 
of larger problems with ICANN and its board of directors. 
O'Shaughnessy points out that IANA, a two-person, $250,000 
outfit, has been replaced by a nine-member board with an annual 
budget of $5.9m. NSI is worried about that figure, too, as it 
has 5.9 million registrants in its database. Is ICANN plotting 
to levy a $1 tax on everyone who owns a domain name? But the 
most serious question, which O'Shaughnessy and Sondow raised 
independently, is that the "interim" board of directors is now 
calling itself the "initial" board. The interim board was 
supposed to incorporate and pave the way for an elected board 
of eighteen members. That elected "initial" board would be 
entitled to change the by-laws. By changing its name, the 
interim board appears to be side-stepping democratic procedure 
and claiming the right to change the by-laws for itself. This 
has annoyed a lot of people. "Who chose them?" O'Shaughnessy 
wants to know. "It's not clear that Postel chose those people." 

Sondow says the real power is with the members of the Internet 
Society (ISOC), who are picking up the bills for ICANN. He 
suggests that those members, especially AT&T, IBM and (there's 
that name again!) MCI, are seeking to regain control of the 
internet by hijacking the supposedly representative domain name 
registration process. Supporting that view is Telage's 
observation that the un-elected board is now imposing top-down 
endorsements of the World Intellectual Property Treaty (WIPO) 
treaty. "It's worrisome, very worrisome," a clearly agitated 
Telage told ComputerWire, "I think this is about control. There 
is a clear coalition between the ISOC [Council of Registrars] 
CORE and people from the trademark and intellectual property 
community. They're talking about how to ram WIPO through the 
working groups as fast as possible, without consultation. 
They're saying, let's just go through the motions. After they 
locked us out, it was a love-in. It was an amazing experience." 
ICANN interim president and CEO Michael Roberts was travelling 
and could not be reached for comment.