[CPWG] Discussion of Capture is and always has been a legitimate topic at ICANN (was Re: ICANN Code of Conduct)

John Laprise jlaprise at gmail.com
Wed May 1 17:21:13 UTC 2019

Hi George,

On a personal note:

You took the time to look at my LinkedIn profile in citing it but neglected to notice or mention that I don't work in the Internet industry. I also happen to expend paid vacation days to work at ICANN meetings as an ALAC member. 

I have been interested in the Internet for a long time. 


My 1993 MA thesis dealt with cyberwarfare. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1452713

I deeply care about the Internet around the world and am all too aware of capture; by government and industry having been a telecom sector analyst in the US. I find the suggestion that I'm a party to the capture you fear to be insulting and derogatory and not in the spirit of the ICANN community and certainly not of At Large. 

The Ombudsman should view this email as a formal complaint against you for violating ICANN community standards.

Best regards,

John Laprise

-----Original Message-----
From: CPWG <cpwg-bounces at icann.org> On Behalf Of George Kirikos
Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 11:44 AM
To: CPWG <cpwg at icann.org>
Cc: ICANN At-Large Staff <staff at atlarge.icann.org>
Subject: [CPWG] Discussion of Capture is and always has been a legitimate topic at ICANN (was Re: ICANN Code of Conduct)


I find your email:


which was in response to my email at:


which was responding to Greg's email at:


to be quite bizarre. Discussion of capture is and always has been a legitimate topic at ICANN.

1. Before going into the substance, there appears to be a double standard here, where you state my comments are "disingenuous" and refer to some "campaign". Calling someone "disingenuous" isn't nice or respectful. The "campaign" presumably refers to Greg Shatan's statement at:


where wild accusations of a "well-orchestrated campaign" are made, and pointing to just one "lobby group", the Internet Commerce Association as behind it. Again, not nice words (and which I'll discuss further below), but not a peep when those statements are made (which you presumably share, given you refer to "the campaign"). Greg Shatan's entire email disrespects and attempts to delegitimize the thousands of comments that were made. Again, not a peep of concern about that.

2. There's a great tool called "Google" that allows one to research past discussions of "capture" at ICANN, demonstrating that it has always been a legitimate topic that can be raised. Here are some examples to show that my statements are not out of line (not in any


In a review of the At-Large itself, comments by the Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) regarding capture:

"While we believe the structural changes proposed by ITEMS will help to improve the quality and representativeness of At-Large advice, we remain skeptical that representation by a few users is the best way to fully capture the user voice. Considering the diversity and breadth of user perspectives and ****pervasive concerns about the motivations of and potential capture by At-Large leaders*****, a more informative approach could be to carry out both quantitative and qualitative user studies about the impact of policies and other proposals and developments on Internet users." (page 40, emphasis added)

"Pervasive concerns and motivations of and potential capture by At-Large leaders" -- that's permitted topic for discussion.

Later in the same document, also by the RySG:

"Carrying out quantitative and qualitative user studies1 on the impact of policies and other proposals and developments on Internet users would be effective way to deal with the breadth and diversity of user perspectives and balance ****ongoing concerns about the motivations of, and potential capture by, At-Large leaders.****"

Again, "ongoing concerns about the motivations of, and potential capture by, At-Large leaders" is a legitimate topic for discussion within ICANN.

b) The CCWG-Accountability report at:


"The new Bylaws tasked the CCWG-Accountability WS2 to:
“review and develop ... recommendations on SO/AC accountability, including but not limited to improved processes for accountability, transparency, and participation that are helpful to prevent capture”"
(page 4)

c) By Greg Shatan himself:


Greg Shatan: "…It’s one of the - I wouldn’t say it’s a bogeyman because there are ****legitimate concerns about capture****. But it’s
- it gets thrown around a fair amount and it’s definitely - while it can’t be ignored it’s also - it’s important to try to dig down and do exactly what you do, which is to say, “What are you - what concerns are you actually expressing when you talk about capture?” (page 8, and elsewhere too; emphasis added)

d) https://www.icann.org/public-comments/soac-accountability-2017-04-14-en

"(iii) Supporting Organization and Advisory Committee accountability, including but not limited to improved processes for accountability, transparency, and participation that are ****helpful to prevent capture*****;

This Bylaws mandate for this project specifically mention capture, a concern raised by NTIA in Stress Tests 32-34, *****regarding internal capture by a subset of SO/AC members, and concern that incumbent members might exclude new entrants to an SO/AC.****" (emphasis added)

e) https://meetings.icann.org/en/dublin54/schedule/tue-ipc/transcript-ipc-20oct15-en.pdf

Kiran Malancharuvil (of the IP Constituency): "…So, but that group, it does make me sad because we - and this maybe a dangerous thing to say in an open meeting, but whatever. It's a really good example of capture in the ICANN community I think.

I think that the privacy interests have captured and refused to compromise. I think that the Registrars and the self-interested service providers have captured that group." (pp. 40-41)

Greg Shatan was even on that call, and wasn't perturbed at the discussion of capture. Immediately after Kiran spoke, Greg said:

"Kiran, there are others. Do you have any idea about solutions to this problem more concretely?"

Then Kiran even went further:

"And everybody talks about capture at ICANN as if the business interests are the ones capturing the groups, and it's absolutely not the case. And the Privacy interests actually now are starting to the capture the Public Safety Working Group which is the Law Enforcement Group." (p. 42)

Again, a legitimate topic of discussion within ICANN.


"ANNE AIKMAN-SCALESE: Is this thing on? Can you hear me? Okay. Just three quick points. I think that ****there's been a lot of concern expressed about capture and not keeping things open to capture.**** And from my standpoint if one SO or AC can completely dictate the nuclear option, the use thereof or no use thereof, that would be a capture situation. So if only one can completely block, that's capture. That would mean one SO or AC can capture. So I agree with the way it's formulated now." (page 81, emphasis added)

g) https://gnso.icann.org/sites/default/files/file/field-file-attach/transcript-gnso-working-session-2-11mar18-en.pdf

Phil Corwin of Verisign:

"Good morning. Phil Corwin. My group, and we had some participation, not a great deal of people involved, was on the question of capture.
So I'll of course working group recommendations are subject to challenge as representing ****captured by a single constituency or a single interest and that's why capture should be avoided***** because consensus recommendations of a working group should represent consensus of a fairly board cross-section of the ICANN community, and not simply people from this constituency or that stakeholder group, or this particular economic interest.

I'm going to speaking to this, I can't help but think in the context of a working group I'm co-chairing but I'm not going to refer to that specifically. I think you could have two types of capture. One, you could have a working group, which is just the only participants for whatever reason are from a single group, however you define it, and you can't get other people to participate. And I'm not sure what can be done at that point other than trying to encourage others to join in or to disband the group because you know that it's quite likely to have a single point of view and be subject to challenge, and why go through the exercise.

The situation I've been dealing with is different. You have a -- it's basically ****what I call operational capture where you have a small group representing a single interest and single point of view who are the most active members of the working group.****" (pp. 24-25, emphasis added; discussion is even longer, than this)

h) https://archive.icann.org/meetings/singapore2015/en/schedule/tue-csg/transcript-csg-meeting-10feb15-en.pdf

Elisa Cooper: "Yeah, so, you know, that’s an - if they ask us about that, that’s an opportunity for us. Our explanation was actually quite lengthy and I wanted to keep this to one slide. But it’s risks to coming from marginalized groups. It’s similar to some of these other ones that are out there.

****It’s risk of capture****. It’s risk of over representation by governments. There’s a whole category of items that we think pose potential risk to the multistakeholder model." (pp. 3-4, emphasis

i) https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-2003-01-09-en

"Among the reforms is fresh thinking on how to bring the voices of individual users and registrants into the decision process. An At-Large Advisory Committee is being formed to channel the thinking of users around the world. Last March, the ICANN Board decided that, at this time, online elections of directors is an expensive process too fraught with dangers of capture and fraud, and more effective means of bringing users to the ICANN table needed to be found. "ALAC," added Lynn, "will help bring this about."

That was an interesting one. Concerns about capture of online elections for ICANN directors, which then led to the creation of ALAC!


Danny Younger: "…The second, more urgent question that I've got is on the topic of capture. ****I'm one of many that views ICANN as having been captured by the contracted parties.**** I see multiple regional registry/registrar gatherings funded every year by ICANN with no equivalent for non- contracted parties whatsoever. Has the committee started thinking about recommendations to deal with the internal capture issue?" (emphasis added)

and later:

Marilyn Cade: "…Today ****I do think we have been captured by the contracted parties****, but I believe that we can overcome that and I believe that that is in the best interest of the contract parties as well." (emphasis added)

Normally 10 examples would be more than enough, but I couldn't resist an 11th:

k) https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/badiei-to-chalaby-22may18-en.pdf

>From NCSG:

"At-Large must develop a robust conflict of interest policy, in particular for their leadership.

It is no easy task to represent the interests of the Internet’s over
3 billion end users. However, if At-Large is going to play this function effectively in the multistakeholder process, it is critical to consider their role as being distinct from that of other stakeholder groups at ICANN. ****At-Large should develop a conflict of interest policy to facilitate this distinction, and to avoid capture by interests whose goals may not be in line with those of end-users***** more generally such as, for example, governments and businesses.
Although governments and businesses are, of course, end users in their own right, they also have dedicated stakeholder groups in which their interests are represented. Moreover, governments and some business sectors may have interests which are directly divergent from those of the vast majority of Internet users. ****In order to protect the integrity of ALAC, it is important to develop a conflict of interest policy which prevents membership by persons who are closely tied to these other groups.*****" (page 4)

There are obviously many more examples, but I'll stop at 11. It should be abundantly clear that discussion of capture has been and is an entirely legitimate topic at ICANN.

3. If one returns to my actual email:


it mentioned capture twice:

a) "Given the overwhelming opposition already expressed in the public comments to date, Greg's statement is more indicative of capture of the At-Large, rather than anything that could reasonably reflect what users think of these contracts."


b) "The statement that "many At-Large Structures are also ISOC Chapters" is consistent with a conflict of interest and capture, rather than being reflective of ordinary users."

The 2nd one is a supporting statement for the first, and literally quotes a statement from Greg Shatan's own draft:


"Many At-Large Structures are also ISOC Chapters, further demonstrating the commonality of interests."

That's a direct conflict of interest in my view, an entirely legitimate concern to raise, as per the many citations pointed to above.

4. 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 draft."

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.

I think I've made my point.

6. Let's take a look at Jonathan Zuck himself. Jonathan has 2 SOIs that I could find at ICANN, one for the At Large and one for the GNSO:


One thing that you won't find mentioned in those SOIs is the history of Jonathan's involvement with Netchoice, as documented by their Form
990 statements:



Page 7 of each Form 990 lists Jonathan Zuck as a director of Netchoice, an organization where Verisign is a member.


And of course Verisign desires fee increases too.

Indeed, one of the drafters of the Business Constituency's statement in support of fee increases was Steve DelBianco, of Netchoice:


[another drafter of that statement was Andrew Mack, who even has PIR/ISOC as a client, see:

https://www.amglobal.com/clients ]

And one is trying to assert that "capture" is somehow an inappropriate topic for discussion, given all of the above? I don't agree.

7. Let's not forget about Greg's email at:


where he is either unaware of or ignores relevant facts, such as:

a) I *personally* raised awareness to many .org/info/biz/asia registrants via Slashdot (as well as via my blog and Twitter), see:


Take a look at the date of that -- it's *before* our last meeting, linking again to a post by Nat Cohen at CircleID *before* our last meeting. On Slashdot, it generated 82 comments, and I didn't link to any form (neither did Nat Cohen via CircleID):


Take a look at the number of pageviews of the CircleID article --
35,257 (at the time of this email), which is far above any other recent post:


(most CircleID articles get 1,000 to 2,000 views)

Back in 2006, a similar Slashdot article also vent viral:


linking to my CircleID post that generate 76,707 views:


(and more than a thousand public comments opposing the proposed contracts)

There was no "campaign". Individuals simply got interested in an important issue.

b) NameCheap themselves blogged about it, *and* sent emails to all their own customers, thus generating many comments, both via the ICA form (which they linked to), and original creations. They certainly have a right to raise awareness. And then those clients also went to social media, to encourage public comment. For example, I don't know Quincy Larson personally, but take a look at his Twitter feed:


He's involved with FreeCodeCamp.org, and has more than 77,000 followers. His tweet at:


has 322 retweets, and 365 likes, implying it received huge coverage and clicks, raising awareness. And if you look at the WHOIS for


it's registered at NameCheap, where he presumably learned about the issue.

c) While many have been focused on .org, consider the number of public comments re: .info:


250 at the time of this post. Or for .biz:


169 at the time of this post. [The .asia archives appear to be broken, haven't been updated in a week, and haven't even posted my own submission yet, so those 6 comments aren't informative]

Given the relative size of .org vs. .biz and .info, one would easily have expected more than 1000 comments for .org.

d) Even the BBC reported about the issue, further raising awareness.

e) Some very large non-profits and organizations representing non-profits made substantial comments:

(i) NPR, YMCA, C-SPAN, National Geographic Society, AARP, The Conservation Fund, Oceana, and National Trust for Historic Preservation


(ii) National Council of Nonprofits

(iii) ASAE


f) Where are all the public comments from At-Large structures or individuals of this CPWG? We agreed last week that folks should submit individual comments, but where are they? I submitted one, of course.
Where are comments from ALSes? Where's any outreach to those ALSes?
All the entities that At Large purports to represent --- where are their comments? Doesn't At Large do any outreach or education?

Instead, we have a small number of people pushing for an At Large statement at this late date (despite last week's call), one that is rather extreme and illogical, inconsistent with those who've made comments already. It doesn't represent the views of billions of users, nor should it pretend to. It's reactionary, reacting to a perceived desire from PIR/ISOC to have their views (which are self-serving
views) put forth at ICANN. That's the very essence of capture. Go back to Greg's email:


"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 draft."

8. I feel so strongly about this issue, that if At Large does issue a statement that demonstrates capture, I will definitely cease my involvement with At Large and CPWG. Such a statement would undermine At Large's integrity and reputation. I will not waste my time providing input and analysis that will be ignored, if At Large demonstrates it has been captured.


George Kirikos

On Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 6:59 PM Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org> wrote:
> George,
> Your comments about Greg somehow "capturing" the At-large (on whose behalf I wonder) are disingenuous given the campaign. In which you are engaged and insulting to everyone on this list attempting to get a handle on a complex and highly political issue. I suggest you withdraw them. Thanks.
> Jonathan
> Jonathan Zuck
> Executive Director
> Innovators Network Foundation
> www.Innovatorsnetwork.org
> ________________________________
> From: GTLD-WG <gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org> on behalf of 
> George Kirikos <icann at leap.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 7:51:47 AM
> To: CPWG
> Subject: Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] Further Revised Draft Statement on .ORG 
> Renewal
> For the record, I disagree with the statement that Greg prepared, and 
> it doesn't reflect my views (which I linked to in an earlier post). It 
> doesn't even reflect the views expressed by many non-profits who made 
> public comments, including NPR and other high profile ones:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/003
> 179.html
> or the Non-Commercial Stakeholders:
> https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/003
> 207.html
> If folks wanted to send a letter, they should have sent it in an 
> individual capacity, rather than pretend that this statement is 
> reflective of the views of billions of internet users. Given the 
> overwhelming opposition already expressed in the public comments to 
> date, Greg's statement is more indicative of capture of the At-Large, 
> rather than anything that could reasonably reflect what users think of 
> these contracts.
> ISOC/PIR is just one of many non-profits, and its mission is no better 
> than any other. Every organization has unlimited wants, but needs to 
> work within a reasonable budget. ISOC/PIR doesn't own .org, and 
> shouldn't pretend it does via unlimited "rent" or taxes payable to it.
> They'll always be able to spend as much money as they can take in. As 
> I noted in my own comments, nothing would stop ISOC/PIR from selling 
> out to private equity, who could then take the heat for huge price 
> increases, while ISOC/PIR walks away with an enormous multi-billion 
> dollar endowment fund.
> The statement that "many At-Large Structures are also ISOC Chapters"
> is consistent with a conflict of interest and capture, rather than 
> being reflective of ordinary users.
> The base agreement for new gTLDs is different from that of legacy 
> gTLDs for good reason, and should not be adopted by legacy gTLDs which 
> predate ICANN itself, and whose registrants do not agree with 
> unlimited fee increases. That's changing the rules in the middle of 
> the game (whereas registrants of new gTLDs knew all along the risks 
> they take registering with new gTLDs, where the registry essentially 
> "owns" that TLD).
> The letter quotes Jonathan Zuck's statement about the "desirability"
> of higher prices almost verbatim, but hasn't done the same for others 
> in the CPWG. Higher prices are not desirable in any way, except by 
> some twisted logic that makes no economic sense (my own personal 
> background is in economics and finance). New entrants always knew that 
> legacy gTLDs had capped prices, before they entered the space.
> Furthermore, competition generally leads to *lower* prices, not higher 
> prices!
> Attempting to argue that capped fees contribute to confusion, phising, 
> fraud and abuse is truly a stretch.  The most abused TLDs are the new 
> gTLDs, not the legacy ones, e.g. see:
> https://www.spamhaus.org/statistics/tlds/
> If one wants to target phishing, fraud and other abuses, one needs to 
> actually *target* it using effective tools. Raising prices for
> *everyone* is not an effective tool, as it has more collateral damage 
> than actual benefits. If 1%, for example, of domains are engaged in 
> abused, it makes no sense to raise costs on 100% of registrants. One 
> wants to raise costs only on those engaged in abuse (e.g. through high 
> penalties for abuse, like jailtime, fines, etc.). Raising prices for
> *everyone* simply enriches the registry, at the expense of the public.
> Pretending that an "economic study" will be helpful is absurd, as 
> ICANN has in the past commissioned "experts" who simply regurgitated 
> whatever ICANN wanted them to say. Recall that these so-called 
> "experts" (the Carlton report, etc.) were used to justify the new gTLD 
> program in the first place, which has been a failure. Here's a comment 
> from K. Claffy, which talked about those reports:
> https://forum.icann.org/lists/economic-framework/msg00004.html
> which also referenced my scathing comments about them at the time 
> (which proved prescient). She concluded her comments with:
> "Similar to my observations of what's happening in the security and 
> stability discussion of root scaling, ICANN's behavior looks like it's 
> trying to buy rubberstamps of its current plans from commercial 
> consultants, rather than foster what is needed in the long term: a 
> coherent field of objective, peer-reviewed technical, policy, and 
> economic research on Internet naming and numbering, and incentivized 
> data-sharing to support such research."
> The ICANN contracts do not have any mechanism to "undo" the changes.
> Once the caps are removed, that genie cannot be put back in the 
> bottle. One should do an economic study *before* lifting any price 
> caps, rather than doing them after the horse has left the barn, and 
> after the damage has already been done.
> What "problem" is this contract actually trying to solve? If it's not 
> broken (and legacy gTLDs are successful, obviously), one should stick 
> with the status quo. If new gTLDs are the "broken" thing, they can be 
> fixed directly (by adding fee caps, just like the successful legacy 
> gTLDs, or making other changes).
> In conclusion, Greg, Jonathan, and others should have simply submitted 
> their own personal comments, rather than try to suggest that this 
> statement is reflective of billions of users.
> Sincerely,
> George Kirikos
> 416-588-0269
> http://www.leap.com/
> On Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 2:14 AM Greg Shatan <greg at isoc-ny.org> wrote:
> >
> > All,
> >
> > I am attaching another, further revised draft public comment on the .ORG renewal, after sifting through the various recent conversations on the list.   I will try to circulate a redline in the morning, New York time, but can't right now.
> >
> > I thought about including something on UA, but for .ORG and in the absence of proposed language, I did not see the obvious hook in this statement to bring that concept in.
> >
> > Best regards,
> >
> > Greg
> >
> > Greg Shatan
> > greg at isoc-ny.org
> > President, ISOC-NY
> > "The Internet is for everyone"
> > _______________________________________________
> > CPWG mailing list
> > CPWG at icann.org
> > https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/cpwg
> _______________________________________________
> CPWG mailing list
> CPWG at icann.org
> https://mm.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/cpwg
> _______________________________________________
> GTLD-WG mailing list
> GTLD-WG at atlarge-lists.icann.org
> https://atlarge-lists.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/gtld-wg
> Working Group direct URL: 
> https://community.icann.org/display/atlarge/New+GTLDs
CPWG mailing list
CPWG at icann.org

More information about the CPWG mailing list