[council] RAA Amendments

Daniel Halloran daniel.halloran at icann.org
Fri Feb 20 18:31:43 UTC 2009

Thank you for your inquiry.  Both John Jeffrey and I consulted with Kurt and
his team before he sent his note, and we agree with the content.
I'm not sure I understand your reading of Section 4 of the RAA.  Subsection
4.1 <http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/ra-agreement-17may01.htm#4.1>
provides that registrars are obligated to comply with new "Consensus
Policies" only if (1) the policies are established according to the
procedure set forth in subsection 4.3, and (2) the policies are either
( on one of the topics expressly specified in the agreement or
( on the list of topics specified in subsection 4.2 (which has been
nicknamed the "picket fence").
I believe this interpretation of Section 4 has been consistent over the
years; please see for example the October 2002 "General Counsel's Briefing
Concerning Implementation of Policies by Registrars and Registry Operators"
http://www.icann.org/legal/briefing-on-implementation-20oct02.htm, which
stated that "In the consensus-policy provisions of ICANN's existing
agreements, registrars and registry operators have agreed to implement
policies developed after those agreements are signed only when: 1. The
policies are on a topic that is contractually defined as being appropriate
for establishment by ICANN S"
If you do not agree with the categorization in Kurt's note of which topics
are inside and outside the picket fence, that could be a subject for further
review and discussion ­ as Kurt's note indicated he was only conveying an
"initial review."
To clarify the two particular issues you raised, I don't think Kurt said
that Consensus Policies could not include enforcement provisions -- that's
different though from a hypothetical stand-alone modification to the RAA's
notice requirements, which we think would be outside of the picket fence.
Similarly, we see a difference between proposed new requirements for domains
registered by registrars for the purpose of providing registrar services
versus an outright prohibition on warehousing (which would be within the
picket fence).
I hope this is helpful.  Please feel free to let me know if you have any
further questions or if I can be of any other assistance.
Best regards,
Daniel Halloran
Deputy General Counsel

> From: Mike Rodenbaugh <icann at rodenbaugh.com>
> Reply-To: <icann at rodenbaugh.com>
> Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 15:34:48 -0800
> To: Kurt Pritz <kurt.pritz at icann.org>, <council at gnso.icann.org>
> Subject: RE: [council] RAA Amendments
> Thanks Kurt.  You are interpreting the RAA in a very narrow and
> unprecedented way, as Section 4.2 simply says "policies may be established
> on the following topics..."  It does not preclude policy on any other topic.
> Has ICANN Counsel created this interpretation, or is it simply yours?
> Moreover, are these your personal opinions as to what falls within and
> outside the 'picket fence' that you have now attempted to create?  Are they
> ICANN Counsel's opinions?  Who is it ultimately that would make those
> determinations (if we accepted for the moment that such determinations must
> be made)?  Surely the GNSO Council's collective opinion on any such
> determination ought to be at least as important as ICANN Staff's, and very
> well might differ.
> In particular, it appears illogical to say that the Council can develop
> policy on substantive issues, but cannot develop policy to enforce the
> resulting rules (via notifications to registrars, auditing,
> sanctions/suspension, etc.).
> Also I do not comprehend your attempted distinction between 'policy relating
> to warehousing' and policy 'requiring registrars to comply with all RAA and
> consensus policy requirements for names registered by the registrar'.
> Regardless of these concerns, I hope the Council will approve the path
> forward that I have suggested, so that we can reach consensus as to a
> package of amendments that can be implemented on a compulsory basis as soon
> as possible.  That motion is on the table for Mexico City, so hopefully
> Staff will give us its views on that motion as soon as possible, as well as
> further responses to my specific questions above.
> Thanks,
> Mike
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-council at gnso.icann.org [mailto:owner-council at gnso.icann.org] On
> Behalf Of Kurt Pritz
> Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 11:39 AM
> To: Council GNSO
> Subject: [council] RAA Amendments
> Dear All:
> In follow up to my earlier comments and in response to some of the
> subsequent discussion by the Council, I thought it might be helpful to
> clarify the options available to ICANN in modifying registrar obligations
> under the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA).  My earlier comments
> indicated that two paths were considered to incorporate amendments into the
> RAA.
> There are, of course, three ways by which registrar obligations under the
> RAA can be modified:
> The first option, which is described in the RAA, requires a report, approval
> by a two-thirds majority of the GNSO, and ICANN Board action.  As indicated
> previously, a new form of RAA adopted based on a two-thirds¹ vote of the
> Council would take effect upon expiration of each registrar¹s five-year RAA.
> With over 70% of all registrars' RAAs expiring between 1 June 2009 and 31
> May 2011, the result would have been substantial (compulsory) adoption of
> the new RAA and significantly improved availability of compliance
> enforcement tools for most registrars. The proposed amendments did not
> receive the requisite two-thirds vote for approval.  Staff will continue to
> engage the GNSO membership to address outstanding concerns raised in the
> process, to determine whether RAA amendment through this path may still be
> viable.
> The second option for amending the RAA requires Board approval and the
> voluntary adoption of a revised RAA by registrars.  It is anticipated that
> some forms of incentive would be required to encourage adoption as I
> previously described.
> The third option is the GNSO policy development process that has the ability
> to modify the terms under which ICANN-accredited registrars do business
> through the policy development process.  In particular, the RAA (at section
> 4.2: http://www.icann.org/en/registrars/ra-agreement-17may01.htm#4.2) allows
> for the establishment and revision of policies and specifications in the
> following areas:
> 4.2.1 issues for which uniform or coordinated resolution is reasonably
> necessary to facilitate interoperability, technical reliability, and/or
> operational stability of Registrar Services, Registry Services, the DNS, or
> the Internet;
> 4.2.2 registrar policies reasonably necessary to implement ICANN policies or
> specifications relating to a DNS registry or to Registry Services;
> 4.2.3 resolution of disputes concerning the registration of Registered Names
> (as opposed to the use of such domain names), including where the policies
> take into account use of the domain names;
> 4.2.4 principles for allocation of Registered Names (e.g.,
> first-come/first-served, timely renewal, holding period after expiration);
> 4.2.5 prohibitions on warehousing of or speculation in domain names by
> registries or registrars;
> 4.2.6 maintenance of and access to accurate and up-to-date contact
> information regarding Registered Names and nameservers;
> 4.2.7 reservation of Registered Names that may not be registered initially
> or that may not be renewed due to reasons reasonably related to (a)
> avoidance of confusion among or misleading of users, (b) intellectual
> property, or (c) the technical management of the DNS or the Internet (e.g.,
> "example.com" and names with single-letter/digit labels);
> 4.2.8 procedures to avoid disruptions of registration due to suspension or
> termination of operations by a registry operator or a registrar, including
> allocation of responsibility among continuing registrars of the Registered
> Names sponsored in a TLD by a registrar losing accreditation; and
> 4.2.9 the transfer of registration data upon a change in registrar
> sponsoring one or more Registered Names.
> These topics mark the boundaries of the "picket fence" within which policy
> development under the current RAA is possible.  (A two-thirds GNSO majority
> would still be required in order for such policies to be enforceable against
> registrars, as is the case with the RAA amendment process.)
> The current set of proposed amendments, reached through community
> consultation and negotiation with registrars, would reach several areas that
> are not ordinarily subject to policy development within the picket fence.
> Please keep in mind that we are not evaluating the specific amendments, just
> the realm of potential policy development, and also that our analysis may
> not have taken all factors into account.  In other words, the determination
> of what's inside the picket fence could conceivably result in a different
> answer under different circumstances.
> The following topics that were included in the original package of
> amendments sent to the GNSO do appear to fall within the picket fence of
> potential new obligations that could be imposed on registrars via Consensus
> Policies:
> ·      Escrow of Whois Privacy/Proxy Customer Data
> ·      Registrant Rights and Responsibilities Document
> ·      Registrar Contractual Relationships with Resellers (where the
> substantive topic lies within the picket fence)
> ·      Disclosure of Registration Licensee Contact Information
> ·      Registrar Disclosure of Its Own Contact Information
> ·      Operator Skills Training & Testing
> ·      Modification of Data Retention Requirements
> Based on our initial review, the following topics that were included in the
> original package of amendments sent to the GNSO appear to fall outside the
> picket fence, and therefore could not be imposed on registrars via Consensus
> Policies:
> ·      Registrar Auditing
> ·      Graduated Sanctions & Accreditation Suspension
> ·      Registrar Group Liability
> ·      Registrar Fees
> ·      Registrations by Registrars (the picket fence allows for policy
> development related to warehousing of domains by registrars, but the topic
> addressed by the proposed amendment - requiring registrars to comply with
> all RAA and consensus policy requirements for names registered by the
> registrar for registrar business use - would not be enforceable as a
> Consensus Policy under the RAA)
> ·      Modification of Arbitration Rights
> ·      Accreditation by Purchase
> ·      Use of ICANN-Accredited Registrars (is a topic appropriate for policy
> development by the GNSO, but it would not be enforceable through the RAA as
> a "Consensus Policy")
> ·      Streamlined Requirements for Registrar Notification of New and
> Revised Consensus Policies
> ·      Removal of References to U.S. Department of Commerce
> It is our expectation that the GNSO will continue to evaluate the need for
> and undertake policy development within the picket fence that would be
> applicable to all registrars. Nevertheless, we still see strong value to
> registrants and the greater Internet community in the proposed amendments,
> even if they cannot be uniformly applied at this time.  In the event a
> system of incentives is implemented to encourage voluntary adoption by
> registrars, we will, of course, consult with the GNSO and its
> member-constituencies as we have throughout this process, to solicit input
> with regard to the most beneficial and meaningful ways and tools to
> encourage registrar cooperation.
> I hope this information is helpful and clear. I will answer what questions I
> can and get answers to others.
> Regards,
> Kurt
> Kurt Pritz
> 4676 Admiralty Way, Ste. 330
> Marina del Rey, CA 90292
> +1-310-301-5809 (office)
> +1-310-400-4184 (mobile)

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