[CCWG-ACCT] Market Mechanisms and Competition

Alan Greenberg alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Wed Jan 27 15:11:56 UTC 2016

Upon a bit of investigation following yesterday's discussion, I am 
even more convinced that we must give ICANN the latitude allowed by 
the phrase "where feasible and and appropriate". Moreover, I am no 
longer sure that the addition of "as identified through the 
bottom-up, multistakeholder policy development process" in core value 
6 (now 5) is appropriate.

There are a number of reasons:

1. It became clear that we have multiple definitions and 
interpretations of "market mechanisms". And it would seem that in the 
minds of some, actions that ICANN takes, as in introducing new gTLDs, 
are "market mechanisms" themselves and thus allowed.

So some actions of ICANN in this area are proper market mechanism and 
allowed. Some actions would be deemed to be interfering with 
external-to-ICANN market mechanisms and forbidden. But we cannot use 
judgement to decide which is which. It is supposed to be intuitively 
obvious. It is not to me.

2. Depending on your definition of market mechanisms and to what 
extent ICANN is part of those mechanisms, Core value 4 and Core value 
5 (new numbering) may well be in conflict with each other.

3. The open market may be sufficient for ensuring competition in the 
developed world, but it has proven insufficient on parts of the 
developing world. ICANN's African and Latin American and Caribbean 
Strategies have been praised for their efforts to strengthen (and in 
fact create) a vibrant DNS industry in their respective territories. 
ICANN has invested heavily in this and it is bearing fruit. Do we 
really want to send a message that this is not allowed? And can we 
really claim that these efforts are as the result of the 
multistakeholder policy development process? They certainly are the 
result of a multistakeholder process but not "policy development" in 
the sense of our Supporting Organizations (which is the only sense 
that this expression is used in our Bylaws). 
provides an recent example.

4. With the understanding that we are not an arbitrator of issues 
that fall under the domain of national regulatory laws (and I would 
support explicitly saying that), ICANN does have an interest and 
concern about competition, and this is shown in our including it as 
an issue in considering and approving new registry services (via the 
RSEP). Without discretion, we may not even be allowed to ask about it 
or perform an initial evaluation on the response.

It may be clear to some that the existence of "where feasible and 
appropriate" in core value 4 and the omission of "as identified 
through the bottom-up, multistakeholder policy development process" 
in core value 5 have resulted in heinous crimes (yes, I know I am 
exaggerating), but I am not aware of them. And I believe that our 
recent enlightenment on ICANN's responsibility to support the 
development of the DNS industry in less advantaged parts of the world 
might not have been possible under the proposed restricted core values.

As a result, I do not see what current problem we are fixing, and I 
do not like the implications of the changes on our ability to be a 
good custodian of the domain name space and to support less developed 
economies in benefiting from the Internet as many of us in the west 
and north have.


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