ICANN has hired itself a new C-level executive.
Ashwin Rangan started today as chief innovation and information officer, meaning he’s going to be in charge of ICANN’s oft-criticized IT systems.
He most recently held the CIO role at Edwards Lifesciences, but he’s also held similar positions at MarketShare, Walmart, and Rockwell Semiconductors.
He’s based in ICANN’s Los Angeles headquarters, which the organization is now referring to as a “hub” office.
In keeping with ICANN’s international flavor (and hiring policy), he speaks three Indian languages in addition to English.
Interestingly, his LinkedIn URL is /theinsightfulcio, showing he understands the value of a decent web address, even if it is after the slash. I didn’t even know LinkedIn did vanity URLs.
With dozens of new gTLDs currently live and on sale, it’s easy to forget that many applicants are still in ICANN limbo due to several still-unresolved issues with the evaluation process.
The New gTLD Applicant Group wrote to ICANN on Friday to express many of these concerns.
First, NTAG is upset that resolution of the name collisions issue is not moving as fast as hoped.
JAS Advisors published its report into collisions, which recommends “controlled interruption” as a solution, last Thursday. But it’s currently open for public comment until April 21.
That would push approval of the plan by ICANN’s board beyond the Singapore meeting taking place at the end of March, at least a month later than originally expected.
NTAG secretary Andrew Merriam argues that the 42-day comment period should be reduced to 21 days, with ICANN and JAS conducting webinars this week to discuss the proposal with applicants.
Second, NTAG is upset that ICANN has pushed out the start date for the first contention set auctions from March to June. It’s asking ICANN to promise that there will be no further delays.
Third, NTAG says that many dot-brands are unable to enter into contracting talks with ICANN until Specification 13 of the Registry Agreement, which contains opt-outs for single-registrant zones, is finalized.
That’s not currently expected to happen until Singapore, apparently because there were no scheduled meetings of the ICANN board’s New gTLD Program Committee until then.
NTAG also complains about the length of time it’s taking to decide the first Community Priority Evaluations, which is apparently due to quality assurance measures (very wise given the controversy caused by the lack of oversight on new gTLD objections, if you ask me).
The NGPC has a newly scheduled meeting this Wednesday, with new gTLDs on the agenda, but it’s not yet clear whether any of NTAG’s issues are going to be addressed.
ICANN’s board of directors has given the clearest indication yet that the organization wants to set up an HQ overseas, further loosening ties with the US government.
The board has formed six new “President’s Globalization Advisory Groups”, made up of half a dozen directors each, one of which has been tasked with advising ICANN on ways to:
Establish complimentary [sic] parallel international structure to enhance ICANN’s global legitimacy. Consider complementary parallel international structure within scope of ICANN’s mandate.
This indicates that ICANN’s reported plan to base itself in Geneva may not be so far-fetched after all, but it also indicates that ICANN currently does not anticipate doing away with its original HQ in Los Angeles.
ICANN already has several offices around the world, but recently there’s been talk of it embedding itself in Switzerland, as an “international organization”, more deeply.
As we’ve previously reported, ICANN may not relocate outside of the US due to its Affirmation of Commitments with the US Department of Commerce, which requires it to remain a US non-profit.
But another of the three panels set up by the board this week will advise ICANN on how to create an “enhanced Affirmation of Commitments.”
Other panels will explore the globalization of the IANA function — currently operated under a procurement contract with Commerce — and the root server system, which is independent operated but heavily US-based.
The ICANN board said in its resolution:
the continued globalization of ICANN must evolve in several ways, including: partnerships in the broader Internet eco-system to strengthen multistakeholder Internet governance frameworks; strengthening ICANN itself, including affirmations of commitments and relationships among the stakeholders; evolving the policy structures to serve and scale to the needs of the global community, and identify opportunities for the future legal structures and IANA globalization.
The plan is for these panels talk to the community at the Singapore meeting next month, before reporting back to the board before ICANN meets for its 50th public meeting in London this coming June.
This week’s move is the latest in a series of decisions made by the ICANN board following the spying revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the subsequent consternation they caused in capitals around the world.
Brazil is set to host a meeting to discuss these kinds of internet governance matters with ICANN and its coalition of the willing in Sao Paulo this April.
ICANN could wind up being based in Geneva as a result of the current post-Snowden internet governance discussions, according to a report in a Swiss newspaper.
Le Temps, citing several anonymous ICANN sources, reported today that an HQ move from Los Angeles to Geneva was a “very likely scenario”.
That’s as an alternative to allowing its functions to be taken over by the International Telecommunications Union, the paper reported.
It’s not the first time a move to Geneva has been touted.
Back in September, DI rubbished — and ICANN denied — claims that the organization had already put the wheels in motion for a move to Switzerland.
It still appears to be unlikely in the short term, and for the same reason: ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments with the US Department of Commerce requires it to remain a US non-profit corporation.
But the AoC is now open for discussion again.
Barely a month after the Geneva move was first raised as a possibility, Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread US spying on internet users had led to the Montevideo Declaration, in which ICANN spoke of the need for further “internationalization” of ICANN.
Later last October, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade called America’s unique role in ICANN’s oversight “just not sustainable“.
Coming this April, governments, standards bodies, industry and others are set to meet in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for early-stage discussions that may eventually lead to the US cutting ICANN loose.
If ICANN does leave the US, Geneva does seem like the most plausible venue for its headquarters. It already has a small office there and has obtained international non-profit status for its local subsidiary.
IBM has won the first Uniform Rapid Suspension case to be filed against a new gTLD domain name.
National Arbitration Forum panelist Darryl Wilson handed down the perfunctory decision February 12, just seven days after IBM complained about ibm.ventures and ibm.guru.
Both domains have now been suspended, redirecting to a placeholder web site which states:
This Site is Suspended
The Domain Name you’ve entered is not available. It has been taken down as a result of dispute resolution proceedings pursuant to the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) Procedure and Rules.
For more information relating to the URS, please visit: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/urs
It was a slam dunk case, as you might imagine — the URS is designed to handle slam-dunk cases.
The registrant, who we estimate spent $2,500 on the two names, did not do himself any favors by redirecting both names to IBM’s .com site.
As we and Wilson both noted, this showed that he’d registered the names with IBM in mind.
IBM’s mark is included in the Trademark Clearinghouse, so the registrant will have been given a warning at the point of registration that he may be about to infringe someone’s IP rights.
Since the names were registered IBM, we’re told, has purchased a Domain Protected Marks List block from the registry, Donuts, which will prevent the names being re-registered when they expire.