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California AG backs down on document requests — for now

Attorney general had already narrowed the initial scope before ICANN published letter.

Seal for the California Attorney General

On January 30, ICANN published a letter from the California Attorney General that asked ICANN to answer 35 questions relating to pricing practices and the transaction to sell .org to Ethos Capital.

Oddly, ICANN waited until last Friday, February 7, to publish a communication (pdf) between ICANN’s attorney at Jones Day (who used to work for the California attorney general) and the attorney general that was sent on January 29, a day before ICANN published the attorney general’s initial letter.

That email outlines that ICANN would prioritize document production to just three of the 35 requests. The email also stated, “Finally, you also agreed that, until further notice, ICANN need not produce documents or materials called for in the other requests.”

It turns out that Jones Day sent a formal letter (pdf) to the attorney general on January 31, linking to publicly available information in response to the three requests. Again, that letter wasn’t published until last Friday.

Why ICANN published the attorney general’s letter and blogged about it on January 30 without noting that the initial request had been narrowed in scope is beyond me.

It’s unclear if the attorney general merely delayed the other requests until it reviewed the initial information, or if it’s backing down from further requests. We might find out on another Friday.

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  1. Charles

    >Why … is beyond me.

    Answer: Bread and circus.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses

    “In a political context, the phrase means to generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace[1] — by offering a palliative: for example food (bread) or entertainment (circuses).”

    The clock just needs to run a little longer, until people forget about this issue and move on to something else. The discussion of this matter alone is setting dates of expectations in people minds as to when this deal WILL close.

  2. John

    Oh man. Ethos Capital and PIR continue to spread false information.

    In the WSJ article, Ethos said “If Ethos jacked up the price, it would cause groups to leave .org and deter new ones from joining.”

    This is entirely false!

    Registrants and groups can not leave .org domain extension. The switching cost of moving from one domain to the other is enormous. If you conduct a SNIP test – it will prove that any increase in .org wholesale pricing – will not have any corresponding impact on demand.

    Registrants are locked into their domain names – because of search engine rankings, use of email, branding and advertising, and consumer confusion. Moving to a different domain name will erode all of that goodwill built up over the years – organizations would lose all of the Google traffic and search engine results. Email will no longer function. There is no way to recall old printed business cards or other offline media – where the old domain is used.

    Rebranding is an enormously tedious task and it takes time and effort – and in the case of much larger organizations, it takes tremendous coordination across multiple departments, lots of panning, and working with outside contractors and other personal.

    Bottom line – domain names are not substitutes for one another. And I’m tired of Ethos and PIR continue to make these false claims.

    The US Department of Justice also reiterated that domains are not substitutes and that its registrants are locked-into their domains.

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