If the US government shuts down tonight, would that delay the delegation of new gTLDs?
Probably not, from what I gather.
For reasons beyond the ken of most sane people*, the US legislature is currently deadlocked on a bill that would provide the funds to keep the executive wing of the government running.
It’s looking increasingly likely that the government is to shut down.
That’s a big deal for a whole range of important reasons, obviously, but it also has implications for new gTLD applicants.
The DNS root zone belongs to the US government, remember.
It’s managed by Verisign and ICANN’s IANA department suggests appropriate changes, but without USG the tripartite relationship that enables new TLDs to be delegated falls apart.
Without the NTIA in the mix, ICANN can make all the root zone change requests it wants and Verisign lacks the authority to execute them.
So there’s a reason to be worried if you’re a new gTLD applicant. If the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is out of the office for an indeterminate period, you may be looking at more delays.
However, it looks like the NTIA may have got that covered.
According to the Department of Commerce’s “Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations”, (pdf) a “Telecomm. Policy Specialist”, tasked with “Emergency protection of internet management (ICANN)” is on the list of “Excepted Positions”.
I gather that this means that there’s going to be an NTIA person working during any possible shutdown to manage root zone changes, including gTLD delegations.
* It’s been several years since I lived in the States, and my grasp of the nuance of American political life has waned accordingly, but I gather the shutdown is somehow related to protecting insurance companies’ profit margins. Or defending the constitutional right to get better healthcare than people poorer than yourself. Something like that.
I attended the TLD Security Forum sponsored by Artemis in San Francisco five weeks ago. By happenstance, I became involved in a small group formed after the meeting that dedicated themselves to replicating the Interisle study (“Name Collisions in the DNS”) and carrying on with the next step in the analysis.
The work among competitors that occurred over the next four weeks was collaborative, intensive, and competent: an excellent example of how the multi-stakeholder model can accomplish significant work and publish it to the broad internet community in an effort to resolve an issue. It brought the right people together to accomplish more, faster than any other governance model would achieve.
Their work is easily identifiable among the many comments submitted on the name collision issue. Without offering an opinion on conclusions here, I note that the competence of work shines through and should be carefully considered.
The Interisle study sounded an alarm because it reported a potentially high number of domain name “collisions” that might result from the delegation of new gTLDs. The term “collision” is somewhat of a misnomer and the key issue, I think, is the use of search-list processing by companies in configuring their networks.
The Interisle report published the volumes of NX Domain responses by TLD and described possible harms but did not link harms to specific types of queries nor delve into the data in order to draw firm conclusions or propose mitigations.
There is nothing wrong with this –- the report was competently executed given the time available.
This is where several interested parties, mostly applicants, jumped in. In an impromptu meeting after the conference a half-dozen companies coordinated: the purchase of servers to analyze previously collected root-zone data (the “Day In The Life” or DITL data); acquisition of memberships in OARC, to whom the servers were donated; and the analysis of vast amounts of data.
Considerable time was spent redesigning queries in order to replicate the Interisle results from the DITL data so that the next step in the analysis would be seamless as the work transitioned from Interisle to this collaborative group.
Hypotheses were developed, queries written, data summarized and statistically tested. Every difference between the Interisle data and the newly analyzed data was discussed until the team was satisfied it would withstand public scrutiny.
The team met twice weekly in conference calls and traded numerous emails to flesh out technical details. Data scientists learned about the DNS, DNS experts learned about z-tests and the effects of non-standard distributions.
The team agreed to publish the data, which it has, so that anyone could perform analysis similar to that done by this team.
For me, these technical discussions brought to mind the reaffirmation of the effectiveness of the ICANN model that occurred as a result of this issue. Work continues and will be discussed at the next TLD Security Conference on October 1st in Washington, DC.
This is a guest post written by Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s former chief strategy officer. He is currently an independent consultant working with new gTLD applicants and others.
ICANN is looking at “consistency issues” in new gTLD String Confusion Objections, program manager Christine Willett said in an ICANN interview published last night.
The nature of the probe is not clear, but ICANN does appear to be working with the dispute resolution provider, the International Centre For Dispute Resolution, on the issue.
In the interview, Willett said:
Staff is working diligently with dispute resolution service providers to ensure that all procedures have been followed and to look at the expert determinations — we’re looking at these consistency issues.
I would hope that ICANN is looking beyond just whether “all procedures have been followed”, given that the root cause of the consistency problems appears to be the lack of guidance for panelists in the policy itself.
Also in the interview, Willett said that she expects the first new gTLDs to be “in production” before the end of the year, and guessed that the second round of applications “is a couple of years down the road”.
Watch it here:
Nominet has raised the ire of critics of its Direct.uk proposal for refusing to engage with them, including forcibly ejecting one of their number from a .uk policy meeting.
Opponents of Direct.uk, which would open .uk’s second-level for the first time, have cataloged a number of instances of Nominet apparently failing to act in a transparent manner over the last few weeks.
Most notably, domainer Stephen Wilde of Really Useful Domains, author of a paper critical of Direct.uk, was “escorted” by hotel security staff from a recent policy discussion co-hosted by Nominet.
Domain lawyer Paul Keating was also refused entry and left without an escort.
The event was jointly hosted with the British Computer Society and the Digital Policy Alliance and was restricted to BCS members.
Wilde said that he had joined BCS specifically in order to attend the meeting and had then spent four hours on a train to get there. He said that there were plenty of empty seats in the venue.
Nominet spokesperson Elaine Quinn told DI that Nominet’s goal is to get as diverse a range of views as possible.
Wilde had already attended multiple previous meetings on the same topic and had been quite vocal at those, it seems. Nominet was worried that he might prevent other voices from being heard at the BCS event.
Quinn posted a statement to Nominet’s members-only forums, which was provided to DI, which read in part:
Two individuals who had been informed that they would not be able to attend in advance nonetheless turned up. Both initial requests to join were polite and were met in turn with a polite response. When the decision to deny entry was repeated, one person continued to remonstrate with our staff. He was then asked to leave the private area (not the hotel) by the hotel security. Upon refusal, the hotel security guard escorted the individual out of the area.
Colleagues at the event felt that the behaviour exhibited was unacceptable and that steps to protect our staff and to allow the event to proceed as planned were, unfortunately, necessary.
The BCS meeting was the latest in a series of controversies that have been raised by Direct.uk’s opponents and cataloged on the pseduonymous blog NominetWatch.com, which claims Nominet is trying to “silence dissenting voices”.
Another of its posts relates to the UK Network Operators Forum, an event on Friday in London.
A Nominet executive had been scheduled to speak at the event and others were due to attend, but all withdrew after the company discovered that Emily Taylor, its former head of policy and now one of its fiercest critics, was also speaking.
Taylor’s presentation (pdf) criticized Nominet’s lack of transparency, comparing it to ICANN’s relatively open culture.
Quinn confirmed that Nominet’s would-be attendees withdrew from the event, but said that this was because they were technical staff not qualified to speak to Taylor’s governance-focused criticisms.
Quinn confirmed that comments were closed, but said it was a temporary measure while Nominet, which had staff on vacation, sifted through some of the many defamatory comments that had been submitted.
Comments have since been reopened and a backlog, many of which are critical of Nominet, have been published.
The European Union is continuing to fight the proposed .wine and .vin gTLDs, even after ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee formally withdrew its advice on the applications.
Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, wrote to ICANN on Thursday to say that its “firm position” is:
under no circumstance can we agree having .wine and .vin and on the internet, without sufficient safeguards which efficiently protect the rights and interest of both GI [Geographic Indicator] right holders and consumers and wine and wine products
The EC believes that .wine and .vin should have special second-level protections for wine GIs — geographic indicators such as Champagne, named after the region in which it is produced.
It’s a view that has been put forward by many associations of wine producers in the EU and US for over a year. ICANN is also in receipt of letters disagreeing with the GAC from other wine producers.
The law internationally, and even in the EU, appears to be patchy on whether and how GIs are protected. They don’t generally enjoy the same uniformity of protection as trademarks.
The GAC considered the two strings in April at the Beijing meeting but failed to come to a consensus.
It wound up asking ICANN for more time and, after failing to reach agreement again in Durban this July, finally concluded last week that it was unable to find a consensus on advice.
That potentially laid the path clear for the four applications for the two strings to continue to contention resolution, contracting and eventual delegation.
However, the GAC’s all-clear arrived too late for the ICANN New gTLD Program Committee to formally consider it at its meeting last week.
According to the Kroes letter, the European Commission’s view is:
there has not been any consensus decision overruling the advice given in Beijing. We are therefore of the firm opinion that the advice provided at the GAC April meeting stands as long as there is no new consensus on the matter.
The Beijing advice, which was explicitly intended to give the GAC more time to deliberate, said that ICANN should not proceed beyond Initial Evaluation with .wine or .vin.
Kroes’ logic may or may not be consistent with the letter of the Beijing communique, but certainly not its spirit. That’s becoming an increasingly common problem with GAC advice.
It seems unlikely, however, that ICANN would put the views of one single government ahead of what the GAC as a whole has submitted as formal advice.
Her letter does not seem to have been published by ICANN yet, but you can read it in PDF format here.