[CWG-Stewardship] Note for survey from co-chairs

Christopher Wilkinson lists at christopherwilkinson.eu
Fri Jan 2 22:12:05 UTC 2015

Dear Lise Fuhr, Jonathan Robinson and colleagues:
Thankyou for your Poll Questions regarding CSC & MRT and I look forward to seeing the followup relating to IAP and Contract Co. Quite apart from the technicalities as to how exactly one is expected to respond to these questions, I am rather taken aback by the implicit assumption that the complex nexus of new entities – currently discussed in the CWG RFP groups – will ever materialise.

Allow me, for the benefit of those who do not know me, to say that my personal interest in this matter arises from the fact that in the 1990's, together with very few others, we effectively created the DNS industry that we are now discussing. For my part, that was mainly from an European point of view. Thus, I have no difficulty in communicating my personal views, as you request:
Process: The structure and organisation of the IANA transition work since the London ICANN meetings have proved to be so complex and time-consuming that I am not able to credit the process and the eventual results with global legitimacy. Indeed there is something of a contradiction between the ideal of a bottom-up, consultative process and the reality that – except for full-time and fully-funded availability - it has not been possible to participate effectively.

Neutrality: The credibility of the ICG and CWG processes depends on balance and non-discrimination among multistakeholder participants. This has not been the case to date. On the one hand, the initial composition of the members of CWG built-in an unwarranted bias towards the so-called 'customers' of IANA, i.e. the Registries. On the other hand, cursory review of the mailing lists would confirm that in practice rather few individuals are dominating the discussion.

Specifically, I am personally distressed that representatives of a few corporations with very significant commercial interests in the outcome of the Transition, have been allowed to participate unrestrained, whereas in any other context that would have given rise to questions as to the risks of collusion and anti-competitive behaviour. For my part I have felt cautious about engaging thoroughly with CWG for that reason. I fear that the eventual outcome of CWG is ipso facto tarnished with the risk of collusion.

Complexity and Capture:	 Let me say from the outset that I do not see the need for any complex nexus of new entities such as Contract Co, CSC, MRT, IAP etc.

Most if not all of the functions putatively attributed to these hypothetical entities should be referred to ICANN. If ICANN cannot do that today, then it is the ICANN accountability that is the matter. That has to be resolved in any event; it will not be resolved by creating a parallel, competing quasi-IANA structure as envisaged by some of the CWG proposals.

Specifically, since some time past, it has been the announced intention of TPI and IGP, and other Registry based interests, that it should be the Registries alone who should control the Root. This derives, philosophically, from the erstwhile CXX trend towards self-regulation (e.g. in the financial sector) and in practice from a tacit desire to transfer the NTIA role towards a commercial solution, innocent of the global public interest.

Clearly, the more complex may become the structure, the more easily it may be controlled by those entities with the permanent financial and personnel resources to do so. Thus, I lack confidence that the structures envisaged by CWG would permit representatives of the public interest, whether civil society or governments to exercise any decision making role in these matters.

Commercial incentives: Contrary to the relatively passive, if not benign, environment of recent years, the advent of the new gTLD programme has transformed, overnight, the business environment of the control over the Root.

An entry to the Root for a new gTLD is now potentially worth millions. This seems to be already the case, even whilst the current new gTLD launches are still far from their anticipated success. Be that as it may, any new IANA entities controlled by Registrar and Registry interests would come under enormous commercial pressures to interpret any rules in their favour. Again, I lack confidence that any such new IANA entities would necessarily demur to decisions by ICANN on advice from the GAC. From my point of view, the much discussed separation between Policy and Administration of IANA would likely break down in the face of the scale of the commercial interests present.

This unwelcome prospect is aggravated by the expectation that a few very large Registrars and other major Internet corporations might be able to exercise their weight in IANA on the basis of their ownership of significant portfolios of multiple Registries. This harks back to the so-called 'vertical integration' decision in the new gTLD programme.

Commercialisation of IANA? The advocates of 'separability' between ICANN and IANA have necessarily had to address the question as to how their new IANA (and related separate entities, see above) would be financed. There is one proposal that 'IANA-bis' would charge fees. Of course, cost-based and not for profit. But we have seen how in principle cost based not for profit fees can be abused by ICANN itself in the new gTLD programme. 

A fortiori, a separate, commercial IANA, under the control of the Registries and Registrars, operating a critical element of the Internet infrastructure as a global monopoly, could charge whatever it likes. For present purposes I forebear to outline a likely fee structure, but it takes not much imagination.

The IANA Coordinating Group (ICG): I have noticed that among CWG participants there is a tendency to minimise the role of the ICG; specifically to the effect that ICG should not negotiate or arbitrate the outcome, but if necessary, just send non-viable proposals back to the CWG (and IETF, CRISP etc.) for reconsideration. Frankly, as I suggested in the London ICANN Open Forum, that is not plausible, particularly in view of the declared time-lines. We already know that the IETF and CRISP submissions are significantly at variance with those that CWG is envisaging.

I think that it is time the Naming Community came back to Earth. The one thing that apparently everyone agrees upon is that the IANA functions are currently administered perfectly well, thankyou very much. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

*	 *	 *
In conclusion, I must say that I feel that it would be more useful to reserve any further advice and comment on my part in due course to the ICG.

Meanwhile, you will understand from all of the above, that I have reservations about responding, in the CWG context, to what is becoming a quite unbalanced argument – almost a lobby - on behalf of commercial Registry and Registrar interests, with which the global Internet community, not to speak of our governments, would be quite unable to endorse.


Christopher Wilkinson

On 31 Dec 2014, at 14:36, Lise Fuhr <lise.fuhr at difo.dk> wrote:

> Dear all,
> In order to help frame our work during the Intensive Work Weekend (10-11 January), we will put together a survey for the CWG based on suggestions proposed during the Public Comment.
> We present the draft now, so that the group can review and give their feedback. Please be aware that it is a very early draft.
> You may use the mailing list of course, but Greg Shatan has also offered to use the RFP3 call on Friday 2 January at 14:00 UTC as an opportunity for discussion. We will review the feedback following the RFP3 call and expect to put out the survey to the group on Friday 2 January. This gives the group just 7 days to complete the survey in time for the Intensive Work Weekend.
> As with all the CWG work to date, we realize that this is a short turnaround time, but would appreciate the guidance in order to make the Intensive Work Weekend as productive as possible.
> Happy New Year 
> Best regards,
> Lise & Jonathan
> <IANA CWG Poll Questions for the CSC  MRT Draft 14.12.30.docx>_______________________________________________
> CWG-Stewardship mailing list
> CWG-Stewardship at icann.org
> https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/cwg-stewardship

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