[registration-issues-wg] [CPWG] [GTLD-WG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG

John Laprise jlaprise at gmail.com
Sat Nov 23 02:28:09 UTC 2019


Well, we all file statements of interest publicly. We lay our cards on the
table. I just came off a 2 year alac term and it is a labor of love. Not
all of us have a financial interest either. I didn't. I'm a market
researcher for a non profit membership organization but I care deeply about
the Internet. (Look me up on LinkedIn if you like).

To your second question, getting elected to the alac can be difficult.
Convincing a majority of als's to support you or bring selected by the
nomcom is no easy task and often requires doing work and contributing
before standing for a leadership role.

Sent from my Pixel 3XL

John Laprise, Ph.D.

On Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 5:05 PM Nat Cohen <ncohen at telepathy.com> wrote:

> Hi John,
>
> Thanks for that clarification.  What is the mechanism by which At Large,
> which requires no qualifications to join, aligns itself with the interests
> of end users?  The more familiar I become with ICANN the more I recognize
> that those who engage here usually have financial interests in the
> outcome.  And yes, I am one with financial interests, and it was those
> interests that led me to first pay attention to ICANN.  It takes a huge
> amount of time to productively engage here.  Unless one is exceptionally
> public spirited, that is a lot to ask of someone to devote so much time to
> ICANN without a financial interest and on behalf of the interests of random
> end users.
>
> So while the purpose of At Large is to be a good steward on behalf of the
> interests of end users, how is that ensured?  What prevents At Large from
> being populated by those with financial interests adverse to the interests
> of end users, such that the guidance from At Large is equally adverse to
> the interests of end users?
>
> As to your comment about .org being managed by those who make decisions
> primarily based on the financial impact, and who may therefore readily
> betray a .org or shut down a nonprofit website if an authoritarian
> government with which the private equity firm has business interests
> complains, that is one more good reason, among many, to be concerned about
> the sale to Ethos Capital.
>
> Regards,
>
> Nat
>
>
>
> On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 5:43 PM John Laprise <jlaprise at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Hi Nat,
>>
>> Just to clarify, At Large isn't a representative organization. Rather, it
>> collectively strives to be a good steward on behalf of the interests of end
>> users. More than anything else, we listen. On .org, my sense is that the
>> organization managing .org should at it's heart have non profit
>> sensibilities. We thought that was true of ISOC and we were disappointed.
>> Management by a fund is about as antithetical as you can get.
>>
>> The bigger picture for me is that in many places, being a nonprofit or
>> being affiliated with one is a personal security risk. Authoritarian
>> governments do not like non-profits. If .org is managed by an org driven by
>> $, then all it takes it coercion or money to get them to betray .org. A
>> non-profit with a mission is much more difficult to coerce. The next
>> billion users live in such places. I would not see them put at risk.
>>
>> Sent from my Pixel 3XL
>>
>> John Laprise, Ph.D.
>>
>> On Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 4:19 PM Nat Cohen <ncohen at telepathy.com> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> This discussion has taken an interesting turn - "very greedy
>>> non-profits", "turned it into a porn site", "any price INCREASE up to about
>>> $100 would be a POSITIVE".
>>>
>>> There's a lot to unpack here.
>>>
>>> I am a domain investor.  I recognize it may seem odd for domain
>>> investors to care about how much nonprofits are paying for their .org
>>> domain names.  Indeed, the primary focus of domain investors is .com domain
>>> names.  .Org domain names represent a negligible holding in most investors'
>>> portfolios.
>>>
>>> Domain investors are first and foremost registrants.  We care about
>>> registrant rights.  We care about our ownership rights in our domain
>>> names.  We want registry service providers to act like service providers.
>>> We don't like it when registries attempt to usurp the value in entire
>>> namespaces when those name spaces are legacy name spaces that they did not
>>> create nor nuture to maturity.
>>>
>>> As registrants, do registrants own their domain names, or do the
>>> registries own those domain names?  That is a key question.  The right to
>>> charge any price to renew a domain name is the right of an OWNER, not a
>>> contracted service provider.
>>>
>>> The right to tell EFF, ICANN, the Girl Scouts, and the registrants of
>>> ten million other .org domain names that their right to continue using
>>> their long term home on the Internet depends on paying PIR whatever price
>>> PIR wishes to impose, conveys to PIR the right of an owner.  PIR runs a
>>> database.  Actually they outsource the running of a database.  The marginal
>>> cost of adding or renewing a domain name is a fraction of a cent.  Yet PIR
>>> charges over $9 for performing that service - or rather for hiring someone
>>> else to perform that service - for an average cost of under $2 per domain
>>> name.
>>>
>>> As others have pointed out, the benefits from these agreements are
>>> concentrated in a couple of registries, in particular PIR and Verisign,
>>> while the harm is diffused across tens of millions of registrants.  The
>>> harm suffered by the average registrant is not great enough to motivate
>>> them to engage with ICANN.  So registries exert their influence on ICANN,
>>> the registrants don't participate, and the result is that the registrants
>>> are harmed while the registries negotiate sweetheart deals.
>>>
>>> One of the few businesses where registrations are concentrated such that
>>> the harm incurred is high enough to make it worthwhile to engage at ICANN
>>> is domain investing.  Domain investors are similarly situated with other
>>> registrants as to registrant rights issues.  You may not like our business
>>> model.  You may have other issues with us.  But in the absence of
>>> engagement by the millions of registrants around the world who bear the
>>> brunt of ICANN's policies but aren't here to participate in the process, we
>>> are speaking out.  You can think of us like the Lorax in the Dr. Seuss
>>> book, we speak for the trees when the trees can't speak for themselves.
>>>
>>> One might ask about the legitimacy of the participants in At Large to
>>> speak on behalf of the global Internet community.  What are your interests
>>> here?
>>>
>>> I am friendly with Alexander.  I know that he is a promoter of new
>>> gTLDs.  It is no accident he has the excellent domain name
>>> Schubert.Berlin.  Higher prices for legacy domain names, such as .org
>>> domain names at $100 or so, would make the new gTLDs he is promoting more
>>> attractive.
>>>
>>> Jonathan - I am fairly new here.  You have strong opinions on these
>>> matters.  What is your interest in these issues?
>>>
>>> As for your question about what shrill rhetoric may have motivated the
>>> nonprofits to comment, there is a blog post by NameCheap that they shared
>>> with their .org registrants that led many of them to comment, and some of
>>> them to use the form that the ICA created to facilitate comments.  That
>>> blog post is here -
>>> https://www.namecheap.com/blog/keep-domain-prices-in-check/.  I agree
>>> that the blog post raises the fear of sharply higher prices - "sky-high
>>> .org prices could be coming" and "Rather than a 10% increase to renew your
>>> domain next year, it could suddenly start charging registrars like
>>> Namecheap 100 times as much."  You can read the post for yourself and
>>> form your own opinion.
>>>
>>> Yet what I wonder about is why are the opinions of the folks who joined
>>> this group - I mean, you even allowed a domain investor to join - more
>>> relevant that what the nonprofit community is saying loudly and clearly and
>>> consistently.
>>>
>>> To the extent that this group has any relevance at all, and actually has
>>> any overlap with its stated purpose of representing Internet users at
>>> large, shouldn't it be guided by the interests of the nonprofits as stated
>>> by those nonprofits themselves, rather than whoever wandered into this
>>> group for whatever unknown reason?
>>>
>>> Regards,
>>>
>>> Nat Cohen
>>>
>>>
>>> On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 4:15 PM Jonathan Zuck <
>>> JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Good point
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>> *From:* GTLD-WG <gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org> on behalf of
>>>> Alexander Schubert <alexander at schubert.berlin>
>>>> *Sent:* Friday, November 22, 2019 4:12 PM
>>>> *To:* 'CPWG' <cpwg at icann.org>
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands
>>>> Together to Protect .ORG
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Any price INCREASE up to about US $100 per year would be a POSITIVE: It
>>>> scares scalpers away.
>>>>
>>>> The REAL risk we are facing is obviously the OPPOSITE:
>>>>
>>>> That PIR allows freebee “creates” (first year registrations) to hike
>>>> the .org domain count. The result of such action: bad actors snatching up
>>>> EVERY single generic term based .org; and expired domains.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I am not afraid of rice hikes. I am afraid of the opposite: free
>>>> “creates”. These monetization sites BADLY hurt the “.org” trust with
>>>> Google. We shouldn’t ask ICANN for a “price cap” – rather for a guaranteed
>>>> MINIMUM reg fee!
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Thanks,
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Alexander.berlin
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> *From:* GTLD-WG [mailto:gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] *On
>>>> Behalf Of *Jonathan Zuck
>>>> *Sent:* Freitag, 22. November 2019 15:58
>>>> *To:* Kaili Kan <kankaili at gmail.com>; Evan Leibovitch <
>>>> evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
>>>> *Cc:* CPWG <cpwg at icann.org>
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands
>>>> Together to Protect .ORG
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Yes, those are the same issues raised during the original discussion
>>>> about .ORG but they are still pretty specific to folks in the secondary
>>>> market if you go one layer down. I've got about a dozen .ORG domains
>>>> registered which I suspect is more than most non-profits, and I'd be fine
>>>> with the price quadrupling if it put a dent in the secondary market for
>>>> confusingly similar, snapped up and turned into porn sites and just plain
>>>> expensive domains. I've run an arts non-profit called DC Dogs for the past
>>>> decade. I found it a LOT cheaper to get the .COM than the .ORG because the
>>>> .ORG was being held by a domain investor. Several times a year, I get an
>>>> email from a broker asking if I'm ready to buy the .ORG. And THIS year, I
>>>> was breathlessly notified that there had been a HUGE price decrease so I
>>>> could now pick it up for the low low price of $7,500! Another time, I
>>>> switched from competitivetechnology.org to actonline.org and
>>>> unfortunately allowed competitivetechnology.org to lapse. It was
>>>> immediately purchased and turned into a porn site, capitalizing on the
>>>> traffic WE had established so to buy it back, I had to match the revenue it
>>>> was making for the domain investor, something close to $10k. It's a little
>>>> ironic to talk about non-profit management of .ORG when so many of the
>>>> second level domains are in the hands of the most for profit actors in the
>>>> market.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> We should also remember there are safeguards and PICs in the new
>>>> contract that legacy domains do not need to implement and we have not
>>>> evaluated their relative value to end users. As end users, we're most
>>>> certainly not automatically for limiting IP rights, for example, because of
>>>> the high correlation between infringement and malware. If we don't like the
>>>> safeguards, we have a role to play in improving them which will go a LOT
>>>> further than any reliance on someone's non-profit status to protect us.
>>>> There are PLENTY of very greedy non-profits in the world whos executives
>>>> make a great deal of money. I think the PIR CEO pay is something like $750k
>>>> so before we cry a river over their loss, let's have a real discussion
>>>> about how best to protect our interests in this.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> All this said, I have nothing against domain investors and they are
>>>> simply a reflection of a free market (that will exist with, or without PIR)
>>>> and I myself once sold activate.com for much more than I paid for it.
>>>> However, I do not believe the internet community owes them anything and
>>>> should not concern ourselves with their interests.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Consequently, when they are the primary driver behind an initiative to
>>>> control pricing, we should be wary of their motives. Yes, they managed to
>>>> generate a lot of comments and yes, Nat, I'm sure those comments were
>>>> legitimately from the organizations listed but we know little of how the
>>>> problem is being described to those organizations or how shrill the
>>>> rhetoric about domain takedowns, etc. What we DO know is that domain
>>>> investors are the group with the MOST to lose here whereas doubling the
>>>> price of innovatorsnetwork.org will make a lot of cash for Ethos and
>>>> not make a bit of difference to the Innovators Network Foundation.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> So Evan, I make no statement about the best outcome, because I have not
>>>> yet studied it and I have NO problems with strange bedfellows if we're on
>>>> the right side of something. I'm just not ready to ASSUME this is a bad
>>>> development because folks with an entirely unique stake tell me so. All I
>>>> ask is that we spend the time to discuss it.
>>>>
>>>> Jonathan
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>>
>>>> *From:* Kaili Kan <kankaili at gmail.com>
>>>> *Sent:* Friday, November 22, 2019 3:12 PM
>>>> *To:* Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
>>>> *Cc:* Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>; Dev Anand
>>>> Teelucksingh <devtee at gmail.com>; CPWG <cpwg at icann.org>
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [CPWG] [GTLD-WG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands
>>>> Together to Protect .ORG
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> After reading the letter signed by over 20 NGOs, I find it going beyond
>>>> far potential price increases.  The following are their listed concerns:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -- The power to raise .ORG registration fees without the approval of
>>>> ICANN or the .ORG community. A .ORG price hike would put many cash-strapped
>>>> NGOs in the difficult position of either paying the increased fees or
>>>> losing the legitimacy and brand recognition of a .ORG domain.
>>>>
>>>> -- The power to develop and implement Rights Protection Mechanisms
>>>> unilaterally, without consulting the .ORG community. If such mechanisms are
>>>> not carefully crafted in collaboration with the NGO community, they risk
>>>> censoring completely legal nonprofit activities.
>>>>
>>>> -- The power to implement processes to suspend domain names based on
>>>> accusations of “activity contrary to applicable law.”  The .ORG registry
>>>> should not implement such processes without understanding how state actors
>>>> frequently target NGOs with allegations of illegal activity.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> If these are true, it seems that we have even more reasons to act.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Kaili
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Sat, Nov 23, 2019 at 3:56 AM Evan Leibovitch <
>>>> evanleibovitch at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> I am somewhat comforted by the observation that the Free Software
>>>> Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation have signed on to the site,
>>>> neither of which is associated with being corporate proxies.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I share your concern about ICA. However, at various points in history
>>>> we've partnered with many different parts of the ICANN ecosystem and this
>>>> time we happen to be on the same side as an organization we often consider
>>>> as an adversary. Strange bedfellows indeed but why not?
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I maintain my position that PIR should be given more leeway to set
>>>> prices. That's not the issue to me. The change of PIR from nonprofit to
>>>> for-profit has far deeper implications for trust that price increases will
>>>> be reasonable and serving an interest beyond maximizing revenue. I had
>>>> trust that a nonprofit PIR would treat the removal of price caps with
>>>> prudence. I have no such confidence in a profit-maximizing PIR.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> ___________________
>>>> Evan Leibovitch, Toronto
>>>> @evanleibovitch/@el56
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Fri., Nov. 22, 2019, 1:50 p.m. Jonathan Zuck, <
>>>> JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> I confess I’d be interested to see who is behind this site.  The
>>>> talking points are very similar to those with which we were bombarded by
>>>> ICA during the original discussions around .ORG. Deep down, we ALL know
>>>> that the only ones truly harmed by a price increase are volume registrants.
>>>> It was you who suggested that a price hike might actually be pro-consumer.
>>>> Let’s not lose site of all that because we’re pissed at ISOC. Let’s try to
>>>> keep from being manipulated again and do a reasoned analysis of the
>>>> situation.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> *From: *GTLD-WG <gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org> on behalf of
>>>> Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
>>>> *Date: *Friday, November 22, 2019 at 1:41 PM
>>>> *To: *Dev Anand Teelucksingh <devtee at gmail.com>
>>>> *Cc: *CPWG <cpwg at icann.org>
>>>> *Subject: *Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands
>>>> Together to Protect .ORG
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Have a look at https://savedotorg.org
>>>>
>>>> Interesting list of signatories. Perhaps ALAC should endorse?
>>>>
>>>> ___________________
>>>> Evan Leibovitch, Toronto
>>>> @evanleibovitch/@el56
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Fri., Nov. 22, 2019, 1:16 p.m. Dev Anand Teelucksingh, <
>>>> devtee at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/nonprofit-community-stands-together-protect-org
>>>>
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