[Comments-info-renewal-18mar19] Additional Comments of Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. opposing proposed .org, .info, .biz and .asia contract renewals

George Kirikos icann at leap.com
Fri May 3 12:48:22 UTC 2019

Submitted by: George Kirikos
Company: Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.
Website: http://www.leap.com/
Date: May 3, 2019

In addition to our prior comments (below), we would like to point out
that the submission by ALAC at:


(and in similar comments for .biz, .info, .asia)

should be given very little weight, as it appears to be
unrepresentative of the billions of users of the internet (which At
Large purports to represent). Rather, it reflects the views of a small
number of individuals, many of whom have current or past associations
with Internet Society or its various chapters.

This was pointed out by me in the thread at:


of the Consolidated Policy Working Group of the At Large:

----- start of snippet --------
Look at the actual history of this matter. At the last meeting, it
was decided that At-Large would not be making a statement. What "new
information" exists since that decision, to justify change? There is
none, other than the fact that thousands of others have made comments,
and so presumably some of ISOC's friends and/or allies feel the need
to help ISOC. That's not a good justification at all.

Remember, Jonathan even wrote on Friday:


"Let's table this discussion until we can have a more thorough
exploration of the issues. Email is a terrible way in which to have
such a discussion. "

But then some people ignored that, wanting to relitigate a decided
issue. And, many of those people were present at last week's meeting
too, so they already had their chance. Again, what new information did
they have? None. Did Jonathan rebuke them for not tabling the
discussion? Nope.

Indeed, look at Greg Shatan's email at:


"I believe that PIR was hoping for a comment along the lines of our
first draft (which I believe they saw on our site) or our second

That is again entirely consistent with capture.

5. It's obvious that many folks have some past or present connection
to ISOC or one of its chapters, or perhaps even aspirational future
connections with them. e.g. Greg Shatan's is obvious, via the NYC
chapter of ISOC.

Maureen Hilyard's SOI:


mentions the "Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society"

Marita Moll has a history with the Canadian chapter:


Cheryl Landon-Orr's SOI:


mentions "Internet Australia  (IA)  formally known as the Internet
Society of Australia ( ISOC-AU)"

John Laprise's LinkedIn profile:


mentions "cofounding Qatar's Internet Society chapter" as well as
"Faculty" of Internet Society in May 2014.
---- end of snippet -----------

There are even more than those, e.g.

Evan Leibovitch's involvement with the Canadian chapter of the Internet Society:


and Glenn McKnight:


"co-founder of Internet Society Canada Chapter and held positions for
three years as Treasurer, Secretariat and Board member.  In 2017,
Glenn was elected to the Internet Society Board of Trustees by the
Chapters for a 3-year term from 2017-2020."

Indeed, at yesterday's CPWG meeting (where that ALAC position was
finalized for .org), Maureen Hilyard (the penholder for the .asia
statement, and current Chair of ALAC) casually mentioned that she was
on the Board of Dot-Asia,. She even circulated her draft to the
Dot-Asia folks for comments to see if there were any problems with it!
Apparently no one but myself within the CPWG call yesterday saw how
that would be unusual.

Indeed, Maureen Hilyard is on the Advisory Council of PIR itself:


Given the lack of diversity and low participation in At Large, it's
prone to capture (as others have pointed out, in the email I sent to
the CPWG mailing list). It's clear to me that the ALAC statement is a
product of such capture.


George Kirikos

On Mon, Apr 29, 2019 at 4:51 PM George Kirikos <icann at leap.com> wrote:
> Submitted by: George Kirikos
> Company: Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.
> Website: http://www.leap.com/
> Date: April 29, 2019
> We write to oppose the proposed contract renewals posted by ICANN for
> the .org, .info, .biz and .asia contracts, as posted for public
> comments at:
> https://www.icann.org/public-comments/org-renewal-2019-03-18-en
> https://www.icann.org/public-comments/info-renewal-2019-03-18-en
> https://www.icann.org/public-comments/biz-renewal-2019-04-03-en
> https://www.icann.org/public-comments/asia-renewal-2019-03-27-en
> While our arguments are focused on the .org TLD, to the extent that
> the contractual terms are similar for the other TLDs, we repeat the
> same comments for .info, .biz and .org. Indeed, while the majority of
> the thousands of public comments to date have focused on .org, ICANN
> should read those comments as also applying to .info, .biz and .org,
> even if the submitters did not explicitly submit their comments to all
> 4 email addresses.
> 1. We support and endorse the great groundswell of opposition as
> expressed in the thousands of thoughtful public comments opposed to
> these proposed agreements. It is shocking that ICANN did not learn its
> lesson from 2006, when similar massive opposition existed for
> comparable contracts which would have allowed for unlimited fee
> increases:
> https://forum.icann.org/lists/org-tld-agreement/
> The proposed contracts are simply unconscionable, and ICANN should
> instead simply extend the existing contracts by another 6 or 10 years,
> rather than make any other changes.
> 2. Within the At-Large, we had a video discussion/debate, archived at:
> https://freespeech.com/2019/04/10/impact-of-the-urs-and-unlimited-fee-increases-for-registrants-in-org-info-biz-and-asia/
> https://youtu.be/KW3I1oFGbv0
> where many of the points below are discussed, and I include them here
> by reference.
> 3. We particularly agree with the comments and/or blogs submitted/posted by:
> a) Nat Cohen / Telepathy:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/003067.html
> http://www.circleid.com/posts/20190423_spurious_justifications_for_eliminating_caps_on_legacy_domains/
> b) NameCheap:
> https://www.namecheap.com/blog/keep-domain-prices-in-check/
> c) Zak Muscovitch / Internet Commerce Association:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/000006.html
> d) Jay Chapman / Digimedia:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/002967.html
> e) Andrew Allemann:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/003091.html
> 4. It should be noted that in the past ICANN trumpeted lower fees as
> one of its main achievements. For example, the testimony of ICANN
> General Counsel and Secretary John Jeffrey at:
> https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-109hhrg30233/html/CHRG-109hhrg30233.htm
> ...
>  Among ICANN's main achievements are the following:
> ...
>     Market competition. Market competition for generic top-level
> domain registrations established by ICANN has ****lowered
> domain name cost in some instances as much as 80 percent with savings
> for both consumers and businesses.****" (emphasis added)
> It is not consistent with those past statements for ICANN to abrogate
> its responsibilities, and permit unlimited fee increases by registry
> operators. Unlimited fee increases are not in the public interest, and
> do not even attempt to balance the needs of registrants against those
> of registry operators. ICANN was handed a responsibility to balance
> the interest of affected stakeholders when it achieved (against our
> wishes) independence from US government oversight, and it's now clear
> that it is not living up to those commitments given such one-sided
> contracts that have been presented here for public comment. Unlimited
> fee increases are not balanced, and do not promote stability of the
> internet or competition. ICANN is engaging in corporate welfare and/or
> crony capitalism through such anti-competitive proposals as are here
> before us.
> 5. As has been pointed out by others, under competition the cost of
> providing registry services (really just the management of a central
> database plus the operation of various nameservers) would be under USD
> $1.00 per domain name per year. This is evidenced by the .IN (India)
> tender, where Neustar beat Afilias with a winning bid of USD $0.70 per
> domain name per year (70 cents/domain/yr):
> http://domainincite.com/23364-afilias-sues-india-to-block-12-million-neustar-back-end-deal
> A similar competitive tender process happened in France:
> https://www.thedomains.com/2012/08/07/afnic-awarded-new-contract-to-run-fr-registry-but-only-after-open-bidding-results-in-reduced-prices/
> where AFNIC had to lower the wholesale fees for .FR domain names, and
> the contract was for 5 years.
> Similar competitions are held for the .US ccTLD:
> https://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/ntiahome/press/2007/Neustar_101907.html
> You'll note that registry operators do not have presumptive renewal in
> those ccTLD contracts, yet are more than willing and able to compete
> effectively and make investments. It was a major policy blunder of
> ICANN to have agreed in the past to presumptive renewal, a decision
> that has had a multi-billion dollar negative impact upon registrants,
> compared to a situation where there are regular competitive tenders.
> Even the US government has argued for those competitive tenders for
> both initial agreements and for renewals of agreements:
> https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/icann_081218.pdf
> (Ms. Garza's analysis begins on the 3rd page of the PDF, after the
> covering letter by Ms. Baker of the NTIA)
> The absence of such competitive tenders can only be rectified through
> the protective fee caps which have been long established, and which
> the registry operators themselves have agreed to since the times they
> entered into their respective agreements. If current registry
> operators are not prepared to renew the existing contracts (which have
> fee caps in place), then there would be no shortage of other
> prospective registry operators who would be prepared to step in and
> replace them (and at a much lower cost, with fee caps in place).
> Indeed, ICANN themselves have argued (in court) that such caps are
> *pro-competitive*, see:
> https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/icann-reply-on-cfit-26may06-en.pdf
> "....in a single supplier market, price caps are, if anything,
> procompetitive (Mot. at 13-14);"
> (line 13, page 6 of 15)
> 6. We would like to openly make ICANN the following offer: We will run
> the .org registry for USD $5 per domain name per year, and keep all
> other existing terms the same. [We would then simply subcontract it to
> one of the many registry operators who would bid for the job at USD $1
> per domain per year or less, and pocket the difference!] This is lower
> than the $9.93 per domain name per year that PIR currently charges.
> ICANN cannot of course accept this improved deal, even if it wanted
> to, because its hands are tied by the foolish decision to agree to
> presumptive renewal in the past.
> Looking forward, an agreement to permit unlimited fee increases in the
> future (far beyond the already generous 10% per year permitted
> increases) would similarly hamper ICANN's ability to negotiate future
> "win-win" deals, giving it no negotiating leverage in the future, as
> it would have already given away the farm if it entered into this
> proposed agreement.
> Agreeing to permit unlimited fee increases is like letting the genie
> out of the bottle, as there's no way that registry operators will ever
> agree to voluntarily undo such a change in the future. Presumptive
> renewal means that registry operators can safely ignore any future
> attempts by ICANN to renegotiate. This is why these contractual
> changes are so important, because they'll be impossible to fix in the
> future (without giving up even more to registry operators, e.g. via a
> buyout or something). This alone should be reason for caution. Given
> there's no urgency to making a change (i.e. registry operators have
> *falling* costs, not increasing costs), then the status quo should
> prevail.
> 6. Some have suggested that the Internet Society and/or PIR would
> never raise fees by a large amount. However, "hope is not a strategy."
> Past performance is no guarantee of the future. Leadership can change,
> as can priorities/missions. It's clear from section 7.5 of the the
> draft contract itself:
> https://www.icann.org/sites/default/files/tlds/org/org-proposed-renewal-18mar19-en.pdf
> that ISOC/PIR could simply sell or assign the registry contract to
> another entity (e.g. Private Equity, just as registry operator Donuts
> was sold by its founders), and that new owner/entity could take the
> heat for future egregious fee increases. ICANN would not be able to
> stop such a deal. Such a sale would allow ISOC to create a huge
> endowment for itself worth billions of dollars, given that .org is
> arguably the second most desirable gTLD, after only .com.
> 7. The ability to renew a domain name for 10 years is not sufficient
> protection for registrants. Eventually the bill will come due, and
> nothing can offset the enormous switching costs. Any
> goodwill/links/etc. built up will be reduced to zero, totally
> destroying one's investment in one's web identity that may have been
> built up over 20+ years (even longer than ICANN has existed, in many
> cases). URLs that have been printed in offline media such as books,
> DVDs, etc. can't be updated, thus it's impossible for many to simply
> stop renewing after 10 years and switch, as some people will still see
> the old URL. E-mails aren't forwarded by the new registrants to those
> of past registrants, meaning that all existing email addresses can't
> easily transition to a new domain name without risk. Business cards
> would need to be reprinted (and can't be "recalled" from past
> recipients). Registrants expect URLs to be permanent, not transitory.
> Registrants of legacy gTLDs like com/net/org own their domain names,
> and are not temporary tenants (like those in the failed new gTLDs).
> 8. One of the reasons prospective registrants rationally avoid new
> gTLDs is the lack of certainty over potential future fee increases. As
> one submission pointed out, they are "leery" of such one-sided
> contracts, and for good reason. Those failures of the new gTLDs
> experiment should not be allowed to contaminate the successful and
> proven legacy gTLDs like .com/net/org. Indeed, if there is to be any
> harmonization of contracts, the "base agreement" should be that of the
> successful .com/net/org TLDs which included fee caps, rather than have
> the future be modeled on the the failed new gTLDs program. Registrants
> of new gTLDs knew the problems with the lack of price caps, and
> foolishly agreed to them before registration. Changing the rules for
> existing registrants of legacy gTLDs is unacceptable, as this amounts
> to changing the rules in the middle of the game, rules which would
> never have been acceptable to most prior to registration.
> One submission suggested that as each new gTLD matures, or reaches a
> critical mass, it should then transition to the legacy contracts. That
> was a wise suggestion, to bridge the failed new gTLD program with the
> successful legacy gTLDs.
> 9. Even ISOC/PIR doesn't enter into such one-sided agreements, given
> that its own supplier/subcontractor (Afilias) had to win a competitive
> tender to retain the contract for managing the back-end of the
> registry (presumably at an even lower fee than it agreed to years ago
> -- fees would be able to be estimated once the relevant IRS Form 990
> forms become public).
> https://domainnamewire.com/2016/02/16/32-million-org-contract-up-for-bids/
> https://domainnamewire.com/2016/11/14/org-sticks-afilias-backend/
> It's entirely inconsistent that Internet Society doesn't give
> presumptive renewal and/or permits unlimited fee increases for its own
> suppliers, yet wants such things for themselves.
> 10. We oppose the ability for the registry operators to unilaterally
> create and impose their own mandatory RPMs upon registrants. See, for
> example:
> https://www.icann.org/sites/default/files/tlds/org/org-proposed-addendum-18mar19-en.pdf
> "Specification 7, § 1 The terms of Section 1 of Specification 7 are
> hereby amended and restated in their entirety as follows: “Rights
> Protection Mechanisms. Registry Operator shall implement and adhere to
> the rights protection mechanisms (“RPMs”) specified in this
> Specification. In addition to such RPMs, Registry Operator ******may
> develop and implement RPMs that discourage or prevent registration of
> domain names that violate or abuse another party’s legal rights.******
> Registry Operator will include all RPMs required by this Specification
> 7 and any additional RPMs developed and implemented by Registry
> Operator in the Registry-Registrar Agreement entered into by
> ICANN-accredited registrars authorized to register names in the TLD.”
> (page 6, emphasis added)
> This should be left to the GNSO, to develop only policies that have
> consensus, and which balance the needs of both rights holders and
> registrants. For example, suppose PIR (or another registry operator)
> was allowed to unilaterally create a RPM on their own which allowed
> for complaints to be filed for a fee of $100, but which required
> registrants post a $1 million bond if they wish to file any response
> to the complaint. Such a one-sided policy could be created by a
> registry operator under the proposed terms, and would ignore the
> requirement that ICANN policies need to balance the concerns of all
> affected stakeholders (including registrants).
> 11. We also oppose the searchable WHOIS, which ignores the ongoing
> https://www.icann.org/sites/default/files/tlds/org/org-proposed-renewal-18mar19-en.pdf
> (page 37)
> "Notwithstanding anything else in this Agreement, Registry Operator
> must offer a searchable Whois service compliant with the requirements
> described in Section 1.10 of Specification 4 of this Agreement."
> as it doesn't properly balance the privacy rights of registrants
> against those who would go on fishing expeditions. A searchable WHOIS
> system should only ever be adopted, if and only if the Trademark
> Clearinghouse (TMCH) equally becomes public and searchable, in return.
> If the TMCH is kept secret and non-searchable, then the WHOIS should
> not be searchable either.
> 12. Additional RPMs that were developed for new gTLDs were the result
> of bad predictions that were made of massive cybersquatting prior to
> the adoption of the program. For example, in testimony before the US
> government:
> https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-112shrg74251/html/CHRG-112shrg74251.htm
> "First, the immediate costs imposed on business is likely to be in the
> multi billions of dollars."
> "This Program in aggregate has multi-billion dollar implications for
> all marketers, both in the commercial and the nonprofit sectors, and
> their brands. It would cause irreparable harm and damage to the entire
> online business community. It would throw the domain name universe
> into substantial confusion for both marketers and consumers."
> "So there are billions of dollars that are going to be spent and it's
> not going to be providing a use for the economy."
> "And when we're talking about billions of dollars here, when we're
> talking about companies with 3,000 or more brands, even big companies
> will be facing really large expenses. So this is a very, very
> significant economic issue for this country and for the world."
> "An unlimited expansion of the TLDs will cost the business community
> billions of dollars."
> "The unlimited expansion of TLDs would dramatically increase the cost
> and complexity for trademark holders to protect their rights. The
> immediate cost imposed on businesses is likely to be in the billions
> of dollars."
> "We believe ICANN's gTLD program would impose billions of dollars in
> unnecessary costs on the restaurant industry at a time when restaurant
> operators are looking forward to investing in their businesses and
> hiring employees after the worst recession in decades."
> These predictions exaggerated and overestimated the actual risk that
> was realized by the launch of new gTLDs. Thus, the justification for
> the adoption of the URS and other RPMs turned out to be false
> predictions, and should now be undone. They were never intended for,
> nor should be imposed upon, registrants of legacy gTLDs.
> Prospective registry operators at the time were willing to accept such
> terms, as the trademark lobby threatened to thwart and delay the
> release of new gTLDs unless their demands were met. Registry operators
> were blinded by dollar signs in their eyes, for example, predictions
> by Name.Space:
> "Name.Space, whose business has a potential value of over 1 billion
> dollars, has been deprived the opportunity to fully launch and operate
> its portfolio of gTLD properties under what we believe is the most
> responsible, fair, and ethical practices yet to be employed in the
> commercial domain name industry." (same link as above for testimony)
> 13. Given that the RPM PDP of the GNSO is actively reviewing the URS,
> including determining whether or not it should be a consensus policy,
> no steps should be taken by ICANN staff and/or the registry operators
> to unilaterally impose it upon registrants. Indeed, there are numerous
> proposals to actively change the URS (including a proposal to
> explicitly eliminate it), see:
> https://community.icann.org/display/RARPMRIAGPWG/URS+Proposals
> (click the "Individual URS Proposal" tab to see the 33 individual
> proposals, 14 of them from us)
> The current URS is deeply flawed. For example of just one of the
> defects, currently complaints are required to be in English (unlike
> the language rules for the UDRP, where complaints must be in the
> language of the registration agreement, which varies by registrar).
> Thus, many registrants defending a URS dispute have no idea what the
> actual URS complaint is about, if they do not understand English. This
> is particularly egregious, given that new gTLDs are most popular in
> China.
> Such flawed RPMs whose creation was rushed before the launch of new
> gTLDs, and which are tilted in favour of large multinational
> companies, need to be reviewed and corrected before they are ever
> adopted for legacy gTLDs like .com/net/org.
> 14. In conclusion, ICANN's proposed contracts represent a failure of
> the multi-stakeholder model, and are instead evidence that ICANN has
> been captured by registry operators. ICANN claims these contracts are
> the result of a negotiation, yet what did registrants receive in
> return for these contractual changes? We received absolutely nothing
> in return, except for higher fees and higher regulatory burdens (via
> the imposition of the URS), with all the gains being received by the
> registry operators at the expense of registrants. That's not a
> negotiation -- that's a giveaway.
> We expect and demand that ICANN and the registry will simply extend
> the current contracts, rather than enter into these one-sided
> arrangements.
> Sincerely,
> George Kirikos
> 416-588-0269
> http://www.leap.com/

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