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ICANN Accra Meeting Topic: Reassignment of the .org TLD

Posted: 26 February 2002

The Registry Agreement for .org, which was signed in May 2001 between ICANN and VeriSign, Inc., provides that VeriSign will cease being the registry operator for .org as of 31 December 2002. The agreement also provides:

5.1.4 No later than 90 days prior to [31 December 2002], [VeriSign] will pay to ICANN or ICANN's designee the sum of US $5 million, to be used by ICANN in it sole discretion to establish an endowment to be used to fund future operating costs of the non-profit entity designated by ICANN as successor operator of the .org registry. [VeriSign] agrees that such funds, once paid to ICANN, will become the property of ICANN and/or ICANN's designee, and that [VeriSign] will have no ownership or other rights or interests in such funds or in the manner in which they are used or disbursed.

5.1.5 [VeriSign] further agrees that it will make available to the party designated by ICANN as successor operator of the .org registry the use of global resolution and distribution facilities, at no charge until 31 December 2003, and thereafter at a price to be determined, for so long as [VeriSign] is also the operator of the .com registry.

At its meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, on 4 June 2001, the ICANN Board referred to the ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) the issues raised by the scheduled transition of the operation of the .org top-level domain from VeriSign to a new entity. In response, the DNSO created a task force, which prepared a report that makes several recommendations. The report was adopted by the DNSO Names Council unanimously (one member absent) at a meeting on 17 January 2002. The adopted report appears below.

The reassignment of the .org TLD will be a subject of the March 2002 ICANN meeting in Accra, Ghana. The issue will be discussed at the ICANN Public Forum to be held in Accra on 13 March 2002. The following day, the ICANN Board will consider how to proceed with selecting an entity to succeed VeriSign in operating the .org TLD. The actions that will be considered include the following:

  • Adoption of principles for selection of an entity to succeed VeriSign to operate .org beginning in January 2003;
  • Adoption of principles and policies under which .org will be operated by the successor;
  • Authorization of a process for selecting the successor through the solicitation of proposals, including establishment of minimum qualifications, desirable characteristics, and application fees; and
  • Other matters presented in the dot Org Task Force report as submitted to the Board by the DNSO Names Council.

Persons wishing to comment on these matters may do so at the ICANN Public Forum to be held in Accra on 13 March 2002 or by entering the web-based forum below and submitting a written comment.


February 5, 2002

Stuart Lynn
President and Chief Executive Officer
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina Del Rey, CA 90202, USA

Dear Stuart,

The Names Council, at the teleconference held on January 17, 2002, endorsed the dot Org Task Force's final report.

The Names Council hereby submits the report to the Board for approval.

The report documents:

A. Background to dot ORG report
B. Task Force members
C. Mailing List archives
D. Draft statement of policy and public comment archives - October 2, 2001
E. Final Report endorsed by the Names Council - January 17, 2002
F. Minority report submitted by the Business Consituency
G. Public comments submitted during two week period after endorsement, 18 Jan to 1 Feb 2002

Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments.

Respectfully,

Names Council Chair


Report of the Dot Org Task Force
Adopted by the DNSO Names Council 17 January 2002

A. Background to dot ORG report and terms of reference

On 25 May 2001 ICANN formally entered into new agreements under which the Internet's .com, .net, and .org domains will be operated for the next several years. The VeriSign, Inc. will give up control over the .org registry by the end of 2002.

For more information on the ICANN/VeriSign registry agreements, see <http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/verisign/>.

On 4 June 2001, in Stockholm, ICANN Board made the following decisions: cf. http://www.icann.org/minutes/prelim-report-04jun01.htm

Resolved [01.71] that the Board refers to the Names Council for its consideration the issues raised by the scheduled transition of the operation of the .org top-level domain from VeriSign to a new entity, including at least:

(a) whether to select an existing entity to succeed VeriSign as responsible for operation of the .org TLD, or to establish a new entity;

(b) the characteristics of the entity to be selected or established;

(c) selection criteria for the entity or its organizers;

(d) principles governing its relationship with ICANN (sponsored or unsponsored TLD, term of operation, etc.); and

(e) policies for the entity's operation of the .org top-level domain (to the extent they are not to be established by the entity).

Further resolved [01.72] that the Names Council is requested to provide a report on its progress on the issues referred by resolution 01.71, including any policy recommendations it has developed, no later than 12 October 2001; and

Further resolved [01.73] that the report will then be posted for public comment in advance of ICANN's third annual meeting in November 2001.

Board resolution 01.71 became the terms of reference for the dot org task force.

B. The dot Org Task Force was composed of the following members:

Milton Mueller, NCDNHC
Guillermo Carey, IPCC
Elisabeth Porteneuve, ccTLD
Grant Forsyth, BC
Cary Karp, gTLD
Ken Stubbs, Registrars
Marc Schneiders, GA representaive elected

See http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/2001.DNSO-GA-IDN-dotorgTF.html .

C. Mailing list archives

The mailing list, found under Names Council Task Forces and Committees, was set up on 4 Aug 2001 with the archives in http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/nc-org/Arc00/

E-mail discussion from the GA is archived in: http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/ga-org/Arc00/maillist.html

D. Draft statement of policy and public comments

The Names Council dot ORG divestiture Task Force submitted a draft statement of policy (v3.3, October 2, 2001) for public comment, see:http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/council/Arc06/msg00142.html

Public comments may be found at: http://www.dnso.org/dnso/dnsocomments/comments-dotorg/Arc01/ 11 October 2001 to 16 October 2001 (closed)

Following this the final report was drafted.

E. Final Report of the dot ORG Task Force on policy advice endorsed by the Names Council of the DNSO at the teleconference meeting on January 17, 2002

(The report is short and an executive summary is not required.)

http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20020117.NCdotorg-report.html

F. The Business Constituency Minority Report

http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20020205.NCdotorg-final-annexF.html

G. Public comments submitted during two week period after endorsement, 18 Jan to 1 Feb 2002

http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20020205.NCdotorg-final-annexG.html


Annex E

NC Dot Org Task Force report to the Names Council

11 January 2002

Presented by Milton Mueller, NC Dot Org TF Chair.

NAMES COUNCIL .ORG DIVESTITURE TASK FORCE v 5.4 (January 10, 2002)

The .org registry should be operated for the benefit of the worldwide community of organizations, groups, and individuals engaged in noncommercial communication via the Internet. Responsibility for .org administration should be delegated to a non-profit organization that has widespread support from and acts on behalf of that community.

The notions of sponsorship and restriction, as applied elsewhere in the gTLD process, do not provide an adequate framework for the .org divestiture. Some clear statement of administrative and marketing practices will be necessary but this must not result in an exclusive boundary being set around the community of eligible registrants. The manner in which the normative guidelines are labeled is not a primary consideration, but the framework should include all the points below.

1. Characteristics of the Organization to Administer .org

1a. The initial delegation of the .org TLD should be to a non-profit organization that is noncommercial in orientation and the initial board of which includes substantial representation of noncommercial .org registrants. We recognize that noncommercial registrants do not have uniform views about policy and management, and that no single organization can fully encompass the diversity of global civil society. Nevertheless, applicant organizations should be able to demonstrate international support and participation from a significant number of noncommercial .org registrants. The organization's policies and practices should strive to be responsive to and supportive of the noncommercial Internet user community, and reflect as much of its diversity as possible. While the initial delegation should be to an organization that meets the criteria described above, the ongoing governance arrangements should be open to any .org registrant.

1b. Applicants for operation of the .org registry should be recognized non- profit entities (understood to include corporations, associations, partnerships or cooperatives as those terms are defined in the legal jurisdiction in which the organization is established). Subcontracting of operational functions to for-profit providers is permitted.

1c. Applicants are encouraged to propose governance structures for the .org TLD that provide all .org registrants with the opportunity to directly participate in either the selection of officers, or the election of policy- making council members, or both. The bylaws should provide explicitly for an open, transparent and participatory process by which .org operating policies are initiated, reviewed and revised in a manner which reflects the interests of .org domain name holders and is consistent with the terms of its registry agreement with ICANN.

1d. In order to permit the largest number of qualified non-profit organizations to compete for award of the .org TLD contract, the Board should require no more than the equivalent of USD$200,000 in demonstrated financial resources from applicants.

2. Policy Guidelines for Applicants to Administer .org

2a. Definition of the .org community Each applicant organization should include in its application a definition of the relevant community for which names in the .org TLD are intended, detailing the types of registrants who constitute the target market for .org and proposing marketing and branding practices oriented toward that community.

The definition of the relevant community should be much broader than simply formal non-profit 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 partnerships with non-profits and community groups for social initiatives.

2b. No eligibility requirements

Dot org will continue to be operated without eligibility requirements. With a definition of the served community and appropriate marketing practices in place, the organization and the registrars should rely entirely on end-user choice to determine who registers in .org.

Specifically, applicants:

  • Must not propose to evict existing registrants who do not conform to its target community. Current registrants must not have their registrations cancelled nor should they be denied the opportunity to renew their names or transfer them to others.
  • Must not attempt to impose any new prior restrictions on people or organizations attempting to register names, or propose any new dispute initiation procedures that could result in the cancellation of domain delegations. The UDRP would apply as per section 5 below, however.

2c. Surplus funds

Differentiation of the domain is a key policy objective in the transition, and new marketing practices are the primary tool for achieving that objective. Applicants should propose specific marketing policies and practices designed to differentiate the domain, promote and attract registrations from the defined community, and minimize defensive and duplicative registrations.

Applicants should specify how they plan to disburse any surplus funds. Use of surplus funds for purposes not directly related to dot org registry operation is permitted, provided that the registry operation itself is adequately sustained and that the additional purposes bear some relationship to Internet use, administration and policy. For example, applicants are encouraged to propose methods of supporting and assisting non-commercial participants in the ICANN process. Uses intended only to subsidize other activities of the organization or its subsidiaries, activities that are not subject to oversight and management by the .org governance arrangements, should not be considered.

2d. Registrars

All ICANN-accredited registrars should be eligible to register names in .org. However, applicants are encouraged to propose methods of managing the relationship between the registry and registrars that encourage differentiation of the domain.

2e. Definition of marketing practices

Differentiation of the domain is a key policy objective in the transition, and new marketing practices are the primary tool for achieving that objective. Applicants should propose specific marketing policies and practices designed to differentiate the domain, promote and attract registrations from the defined community, and minimize defensive and duplicative registrations.

3. The Verisign endowment

Applicants should meet all requirements needed to qualify for the $5 million endowment from Verisign. Applications should describe how they propose to utilize the endowment and the timing of its use.

4. The Registry Operator

Any entity chosen by the TLD delegee to operate the .org registry (including itself) must function efficiently and reliably and show its commitment to a high quality of service for all .org users worldwide, including a commitment to making registration, assistance and other services available to ICANN-accredited registrars in different time zones and different languages. The ".org" registry should match or improve on the performance specifications of the current ".org" registry. The registry fee charged to accredited registrars should be as low as feasible consistent with the maintenance of good quality service. The registry- registrar protocol should either remain the same as the current ".org" registry, or it should match the new international standard for registry- registrar protocols being developed in the Internet Engineering Task Force.

5. ICANN Policies

The .org administration must adhere to policies defined through ICANN processes, such as policies regarding registrar accreditation, shared registry access, the uniform dispute resolution policy, and access to registration contact data via WHOIS.

6. Follow up

ICANN should invite applications from qualifying non-profit organizations to assume responsibility for operation of the .org registry with a deadline no later than 30 June 2002, so that an evaluation, selection and agreement process may be completed well in advance of the 31 December expiration of the current agreement with Verisign.

ICANN will provide an opportunity for the Names Council to review the request for proposals (RFP) prepared by the ICANN staff prior to its public dissemination, and will adjust the RFP as needed in consultation with the Task Force to ensure compliance with the policy. Application fees should be as low as possible consistent with the objective of discouraging frivolous applications.


Annex F

F. The Business Constituency Minority Report

The Business Constituency (BC) support the key policy objectives embodied in the report on the divestiture of .org endorsed by the DNSO Names Council on its audio meeting of 17/1/02.

Having said that, the BC has two remaining issues that we wish to communicate to the Board through the inclusion of this minority view.

The BC would have the ICANN Board note that the BC:

1. Does support restricted access (applied in the least interventionist manner by way of ex-post challenge) to future new registrations as a practical means of defining the constituency of registrants. Similarly, the "Sponsored" model of organization responsible for the domain would seem to provide the best basis for meeting the wish of devolved policy development inherent in the TF's report.

2. Urges the Board to increase competition and diversity and encourage new investment in the provision of gTLD registry services, by ensuring 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 organisation.

Grant Forsyth BC Representative on the NC TF on .org


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.

Agree:

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

Disagree:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Sincerely,

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:

  • the designee SHALL BE a non-profit entity,
  • the designee SHALL NOT operate the registry,
  • 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.

The 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

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