Details of letter sent to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom.
Yesterday DNW wrote about a letter that House Judiciary Committee members Lamar Smith and Howard Coble sent to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom. This letter covers the roll out of new gTLDs and the expiration of ICANN’s joint project agreement with the U.S. Government.
Domain Name Wire has obtained a copy of the letter (pdf) and its detailed questions of ICANN. The letter is dated September 15, and requests a response by September 22. This tight deadline is probably due to the impending expiration of the JPA with ICANN at the end of this month.
In the letter, Smith and Coble discuss numerous issues:
Price Caps: “We note that the absence of price caps in the new registry agreements could mean that legitimate businesses with an established consumer base and Internet presence may be discriminated against and compelled to pay a premium for each new domain name they register or renew.”
Economic justification for new TLDs: “We also note that the record concerning the impact this proposed expansion will have on competition is woefully inadequate. To our knowledge, the only economic justification put forth thus far has been an ICANN-commissioned report that has been widely criticized for failing to include empirical data or analysis in support of its conclusion that the unrestricted expansion of gTLDS will result in net consumer benefits”
Policy development process, transparency, and accountability: “…we note with disappointment that serious consideration of these [intellectual property] interests did not occur in the normal course of ICANN’s policy development process, and the IRT was formed only after considerable public outcry arose from the business and intellectual property communities.” The letter further notes that decisions on IRT’s proposals haven’t been announced and aren’t planned to be announced prior to the expiration of the JPA. The congressmen note, “This apparent time-line reinforces the perception that ICANN decision-marking processes lack critical transparency and accountability.”
ICANN’s track record: “Given the late consideration of intellectual property concerns, the lack of a credible independent analysis on competition issues in the context of proposals to expand gTLDs, as well as ICANN’s less-than-stellar track record on a variety of other issues (enforcement of registrar obligations, accuracy of publicly available Whois data), we have serious misgivings about the prospect of terminating the formal relationship between the U.S. Government and ICANN that is currently represented by the JPA.”
The letter then asks pointed questions about IRT’s recommendations, the launch of new gTLDs, and the JPA.