IX. The VeriSign Endowment

C40. The current .org registry agreement between ICANN and VeriSign, Inc., states:

5.1.4 No later than 90 days prior to the Expiration Date, [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.

C41. Do you propose to seek to qualify to receive any funds from this endowment?


C41.1. If so, describe in detail how you propose to use this endowment. Include the commitments you propose to make about the uses to which the endowment would be put. Explain why those uses are consistent with the smooth, stable transition and operation of the .org TLD for the benefit of current and future .org registrants.

The funds will be used for four primary purposes:

  1. Startup: To provide start up funding for the organization in the amount of $250,000 per year over 6 years and to provide a reserve fund for Diversitas.

  2. Capacity-building: For Internet and web-related "good works" and "digital divide" projects geared to the civil society. The goal is to expand the communication capabilities of civil society/non profit organizations around the world, using the Internet to leverage and multiply the capacities of these organizations, notably in relation to the developing world. One possibility is for the UIA to build on proposals previously elaborated in detail with an associated organization Development Alternatives (India), in response to the InfoDev program of the World Bank, for the use of information in support of development (see IINTERCEPT: Interactive Contextual Environmental Planning Tool for Developing Countries as approved by the World Bank for funding). This proposal built on a 1997-2000 project (Ecolynx: Information Context for Biodiversity Conservation) executed by a UIA-led coalition of NGOs under the Info2000 programme of the European Commission (DG-XIII). An example of a project along these lines is the TaraHaat Internet café effort geared to villages throughout India.

  3. Community support: Extend and integrate the above communication capabilities into the process of enhancement of community dynamics and the sharing of information among people in local communities under a variety of conditions. As an example, the UIA led a coalition that proposed to the European Commission a set of 18 complementary modules (see Facilitating Community through Information: a suite of software-enabled participation tools) indicative of the kinds of work that could be supported. "Local community" is also interpreted here to include enhancement of the quality of face-to-face gatherings of people from around the world.

  4. Pattern support: The UIA believes that a fundamental challenge for the nonprofit community is to give itself a new sense of identity and self-image that encompasses and honours its tremendous diversity and dynamics. Beyond the need of nonprofit bodies to locate and sustain contacts, the UIA sees a more fundamental need of sustaining new patterns of contact, partnership and coalition formation. One possibility the UIA would explore is the development of multi-media tools, integrated into web navigation, which would trigger recognition and activation of new patterns of relationship between organizations. Many of these possibilities have been elaborated in some detail in UIA studies, notably in the elaboration of a research proposal made to the European Commission (see Knowledge gardening through music: eliciting patterns of coherence for African management). Preliminary work integrating these approaches has already been integrated into UIA web database intiatives (as illustrated by images in this proposal).

C41.2. If you propose to seek to qualify to receive the endowment funds, explain why you believe that your proposed use is consistent with the terms of the endowment.

Per the requirements in the ICANN/VeriSign .ORG Registry Agreement, Section 5.1.4:

  1. UIA is a nonprofit organization specifically focused on global civil society in all its aspects
  2. UIA will use the endowment to support the operational mission of the .org Registry.

UIA plans to use $250,000 per annum of the endowment over the six year period of the contract for operating expenses, and has developed detailed budget estimates and projections associated with running the .org registry. Without such financial assistance from the endowment, UIA cannot make a commitment to running the registry. In addition, there will be some initial seed funding that will be required from the endowment in order to establish Diversitas infrastructure during a transitional phase (involving typical start up costs such as hiring, legal fees, leasing office space…etc). The intention is to pay these funds back into the endowment as funds are available from the running of the registry.

Our longer term goal is to fulfill the mission of the civil society, and as funds are available, to switch them over to various "good works" projects related to helping non profit organizations in the developing world to develop a presence on the web. A minimum of $3.5 million of the endowment is being held in reserve and the intent is to use the interest from the endowment for these efforts

Our plan is to fund a number of Internet or web-related projects through "micro-grants" up to $10,000 per award. Some of these may be promising R&D-type projects that could prove meaningful to the civil society more broadly.

We have deliberately decided not to lay out a more detailed plan for the "good works" or "digital divide" effort associated with the endowment for several reasons:

  • We want to explore various specific options in consultation with the Non Commercial Domain Names Holders constituency in ICANN's Domain Names Supporting Organization, Diversitas's Board of Directors and Policy Advisory Council; and,
  • We envision conducting several international "workshops" related to the endowment to solicit and generate good ideas and proposals from organizations around the world.

Indeed, we believe it would be premature and somewhat irresponsible to decide up front exactly how this part of the endowment (and any surplus funds from the running of the registry itself) would be used.

C42-49. Intentionally omitted.


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