I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you on a dark day in Internet history. On October 15th the price of a .com will increase by $0.42, marking the first price increase in the history of the modern Internet. Worse, this now signals a near-annual event that will take place in all major gTLDs. It is simply wrong. My full comments in the public forum in Puerto Rico in June are here.
While I do think Verisign has shown a lack of stewardship of this key public resource, I lay the primary blame for this on ICANN staff who put this forward and on ICANN board members who voted for this (it should be noted that the vote was 9-5. One of the closest in ICANN annals). As I said in Puerto Rico, shame on you. We all, all of us involved in the ICANN process in any way, owe the Internet public because of this.
It is important that we do not use this as a sign that ICANN, the idea, is failing. We should not confuse bad execution with bad strategy. The role of ICANN as an example of truly global, not International, governance is important. The role of ICANN in keeping the Internet free from government control and by that the predation of special interests is vital.
And it is a challenging environment. There is a debate inside the Registrar constituency right now, effectively re-fighting a battle that was already won, but sloppily implemented by staff. Many of you (the “you” here is our customers) will have already dealt with the end-user problems created by Go Daddy and Network Solutions in their “interpretation” of transfers policy in the name of “security”. For me this is simply deja vu.
Service providers, there is something you can do. Something important. There has been a process of GNSO reform going on inside of ICANN for the last 18 months. The GNSO is the primary policy-making body in the ICANN process. They are the ones charged with making policy for gTLDs. The board only has the power to ratify policy. Staff only has power to enforce and interpret policy.
Inside of the GNSO there has been something of a stalemate for the last few years. One of the chief reasons is that the Internet Service Providers Constituency (“ISPC”) has consistently sided with the Intellectual Property Constituency (“IPC”) on things like whois access and new gTLDs. I have been in and around the ISP industry now for 13 years and the ISPC does not look like any ISP assembly that I know.
I have been advocating change in the GNSO reform discussions. In Lisbon in March and again in Puerto Rico in June I have advocated a recasting of the ISPC. My position is that it should be a constituency for companies who stand between the “contracting parties” (ICANN-speak for Registrars) and end users. Most of the industry calls these people resellers (an old OpenSRS anachronism). They have no place or voice in the ICANN process right now and they need one. We have been trying to advocate their interests (your interests) for years. You can do a better job of it than we can.
When it comes to transfers, to whois and to most issues of DNS policy they (YOU!) are a voice that needs to be heard.
My advocating is the easy part of the battle. The harder part will be to actually have some of you folks do it. So take this as a plea to storm the ramparts! Now! In the next couple days we will post more about the ISPC, what can be done, and how to do it here. The time commitment is VERY small and the impact can be very large. Just ask George Kirikos what a little effort can accomplish in the ICANN process!