Input to Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services Potential Conflict of Interest
edward.morris at alumni.usc.edu
Thu Aug 22 14:23:23 UTC 2013
*We submit the following comments (below and attached) to the EWG on the
difficult topic of Conflict of Interest.*
All members of the NCSG
**Potential Conflict of Interest*
This is a more difficult comment to write. In light of the very active
participation of MarkMonitor in this proceeding, including its active
support of a very controversial “labeling of domain name speech and
content” proposal (in the public forum in ****Durban**** and written
comments), we feel it is incumbent to point out that MarkMonitor has an
over-representation on the EWG.
Faisal Shah, a member of the EWG, is the former co-founder and president of
MarkMonitor, a company that successfully supported and worked on behalf of
trademark owners prior to its recent sale to Thompson Reuters.
Margie Milam, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives also has strong
historical affiliations with MarkMonitor, and served as its Vice President,
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary prior to joining ICANN staff. Ms.
Milam’s personal involvement on Whois issues on behalf of MarkMonitor and
in support of large trademark owners is well established. Her ICANN Wiki
bio confirms this, noting that Milam “coordinated and participated in
seminars on WHOIS related issues” on behalf of MarkMonitor clients who used
Whois aggressively to pursue their business interests online against
While we do not question the integrity or objectivity of Ms. Milam, and we
do recognize that no one should be stigmatized for having worked for a
particular company or organization, we point out that ICANN rightfully
takes its conflict of interest policies very seriously. For example, Board
members were asked to recuse themselves from the New gTLD Program Committee
so as to avoid the merest apprehension of bias. ICANN has also demonstrated
the application of these stringent conflict avoidance principles to senior
staff when Kurt Pritz left his position as Senior Vice President in order
to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
We reiterate that the integrity of ICANN staff members or their right to
having chosen a particular employer in the past, is not in question. We are
concerned, however, that while in her current role as a member of ICANN
staff, a strong apprehension of bias arises from the long and enduring
association between Ms. Milam and MarkMonitor – a major contributor to and
senior policy staff member on the EWG process. Staff must be neutral and
this staff member boasts a past record on advocacy on this specific issue,
has worked for one of the members of this Working Group, and has advocated
on this specific issue on behalf of a member of this Working Group.
*We respectfully ask that ICANN apply its conflict of interest policies and
reassign Ms. Milam outside of the EWG for the duration of this project.
This decision would, without any doubt, also contribute to enhanced
transparency of the process, and an avoidance of even the slightest
appearance of a conflict.*
Appendix: ICANN Wiki
“Margie Milam is *ICANN <http://icannwiki.com/index.php/ICANN>*'s Senior
* She works on important policy initiatives regarding domain names, and
supports the *GNSO <http://icannwiki.com/index.php/GNSO>* policy
development efforts. Prior to this, she worked as the Vice President,
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of
*, Inc., an ICANN accredited registrar based in ****Boise**, **Idaho****.
She was responsible for MarkMonitor's ICANN policy initiatives. She left *
MarkMonitor <http://icannwiki.com/index.php/MarkMonitor>* to join ICANN's
Policy Department in 2009.
When she was working for MarkMonitor she was an active user of
* information for the purposes of MarkMonitor's registrar related business.
She is experienced in providing services to financial institutions and
governmental agencies to help detect phishing attacks, identify the
culprits, and provide take down
Milam is also Member of the *OPOC Working
* and Internet Security Operations Community. She is interest in
intellectual property, corporate securities, mergers and acquisitions.
She not only served as MarkMonitor's representative to the ICANN *Registrar
Constituency <http://icannwiki.com/index.php/Registrar_Constituency>*, but
also served on the Internet Committee of IACC and the **INTA** Services
Committee. Margie is a frequent speaker on intellectual property issues,
and have coordinated and participated in seminars on WHOIS related issues.
Prior to joining MarkMonitor, Margie Milam was a partner with the ****Los
Angeles**** global law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman, representing
many international clients with respect to general corporate and
· University of Southern ****California** **Law**
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