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ICANN asks .jobs registry to explain itself

Kevin Murphy, October 20, 2010, 20:09:50 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN has asked .jobs registry manager Employ Media to clarify its plan to lift restrictions on who can register names in its top-level domain.

The ICANN board committee which handles Reconsideration Requests – essentially ICANN’s first-stop appeals court – has sent the registry a list of 13 questions (pdf), apparently distilled from a much longer list (pdf) supplied by the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition.

Employ Media wants to be able to start allocating premium generic .jobs domain names to companies via an RFP process and possibly auctions, dropping the rule which states that only companyname.jobs domains are permitted in the TLD.

ICANN’s board of directors approved the company’s plan in August, and Employ Media opened its RFP process shortly thereafter. Then the Compliance Coalition filed its Reconsideration Request.

This ad-hoc coalition comprises a number of employment web sites, such as Monster.com, and the Newspapers Association of America, which believe Employ Media’s plans fall outside its remit and could pose a competitive threat.

It’s common knowledge that the registry was planning to allocate a big chunk of premium real estate to the DirectEmployers Association, which wants to run a massive jobs board called universe.jobs, fed traffic by thousands of generic industry or geographic .jobs names.

Essentially, the Coalition’s questions, echoed by the Board Governance Committee, seem to be a roundabout way of asking whether this violates the .JOBS Charter, which limits the registrant base to corporate human resources departments.

Notably, the BGC wants to know when a universe.jobs promotional white paper (pdf) was produced, how much input Employ Media had in it, and whether the ICANN board got to see it before making its decision.

(A bit of a ludicrous question really, given that the BGC is comprised of four ICANN directors)

It also wants to know which purported “independent job site operators” have welcomed the Employ Media plan (a situation reminiscent of the recent unsuccessful calls for ICM Registry to disclose its .xxx supporters.)

The BGC’s Question 9 also strikes me as interesting, given that it does not appear to be inspired directly by the Coalition’s list of questions:

Please state whether Employ Media took any steps to prevent or interfere with any entity or person’s ability to state its position, or provide information, to the Board regarding amendment of the .JOBS Registry Agreement before or during the 5 August 2010 Board meeting.

I’m now beginning to wonder whether we may see a rare reversal of an ICANN board decision based on a Reconsideration Request.

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Comments (6)

  1. Kevin,

    I hope your last sentence does not happen. The .jobs registry has been one of the most scrupulous of ICANN registries. I don’t see them operating any differently with this registry service. I think ICANN realizes this too.

    In the years that I have worked with them, Employ Media has strictly adhered to their charter of allocating .jobs domains only for matching company names of employers. Applications from companies intending to promote third-party listings were always denied.

    There is a lot of noise and red herrings in these questions. In my reading of the proposed registry service, the .jobs charter doesn’t change. If you want to get a .jobs domain, you still need to be an employer.

    My understanding of the new registry service is that it is designed to help employers make their job listings more visible to potential empoyees using registry-controlled portals like bostonnurses.jobs. With a top-level domain designed to serve worldwide but localized and vertical industry markets, it will require the help of dozens of partners to make this possible. But their role would be as contractors, not as .jobs registrants.

    In terms of Employ Media fulfilling its charter of helping employers, the vision of the registry service is compelling. Think of it as open-source listings for the jobs industry, whereas the legacy job boards are closed and private.

    This is what ICANN was created for – in this case, to provide employers another choice compared to the old-line recruitment industry.

    Tom Barrett
    EnCirca

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Thanks for your comments Tom. I think you make some very good points.

      I don’t want to sound too pedantic, but surely the fact that the domain universe.jobs even exists suggests that Employ Media has not been *that* scrupulous about enforcing its usage policies.

  2. Michele says:

    I’ve been following this one and it sounds to me like Employ Media want to expand on their original remit. If that’s not the case then they’ve explained themselves very very badly

  3. […] ICANN asks .jobs registry to explain itself […]

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