Czech domain name registry CZ.nic has been told off by the ICANN Ombudsman for a sexist display at its booth here at the ICANN 43 meeting in Costa Rica.
The company, which will host ICANN 44 in Prague, is currently running a light-hearted promotion whereby attendees can claim a free public transport pass if they choose from a selection of postcards illustrating what they’re “most looking forward to” at the June meeting.
Options include historical sites, beer, and nightlife. And until this morning, you could also choose “girls”. There was no equivalent “boys” option.
I’m not the most tactful person in the world, but even I found the CZ.nic booth a bit icky.
So, apparently, did somebody else.
ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte confirmed that he received a complaint today and stepped in to ask CZ.nic’s reps to remove the offending postcards, which they did.
LaHatte confirmed that the booth display did not meet ICANN’s longstanding Expected Standards of Behavior, which states in part that participants must:
Treat all members of the ICANN community equally, irrespective of nationality, gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
It’s no secret that ICANN meetings, like most tech conferences, can be a bit of a sausage-fest at times, but there are hundreds (probably) of women in attendance too.
At recent meetings, the DNS Women’s Breakfast has become a regular networking event.
(Which, come to think of it, is a closed session and therefore probably a bit sexist too).
UPDATE: For all the pervs demanding photographic evidence in the comments, prepare to be disappointed.
This weekend’s shock news that ICANN’s bid to renew its IANA contract with the US government failed is still without an official, detailed explanation, but ICANN may soon reveal more specifics.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Saturday that no bidder for the IANA contract had met its requirements, and that it was canceling the RFP until a later date.
It extended ICANN’s management of IANA for another six months.
CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a press conference here at the public meeting in Costa Rica today that ICANN cannot comment on the reasons its bid was rejected for now.
However, it’s going to meet with the NTIA soon to discuss the matter and may issue an update later.
“We were invited to have a debriefing with them to learn more about this,” Beckstrom said. “Following that discussion we will share any information we are allowed to share.”
Here in San Jose, there are several theories floating around the show floor.
The first hypothesis, which was popular on Saturday but which since seems to have fallen out of favor, is that it was a deliberate attempt to, in the words of one attendee, “fuck with” Beckstrom.
His contract expires in early July, and it was speculated that the NTIA would prefer to deal with his successor on the IANA contract, forcing him to leave the organization on a bum note.
I don’t really buy that. I can’t see the NTIA playing personality politics to that extent, not with the future of internet governance on the line.
The other theory doing the rounds is that ICANN fell foul of some rather esoteric US procurement guidelines – that the NTIA was legally unable to approve its bid.
Others speculate that ICANN just submitted a really crappy response to the RFP, or a response that failed to take the NTIA’s requirements seriously enough.
This seems more likely.
Whatever the reason, the way the news broke – apparently catching ICANN off-guard as much as anybody else – certainly suggests that the NTIA either screwed up its communications or that it wanted to make one of its trademark pre-show sabre-rattling statements.
The March 29 and April 12 deadlines to register for and submit new gTLD applications are currently not open to negotiation, according to ICANN chair Steve Crocker.
“We don’t really have any indication of sufficient reasons to change the schedule,” Crocker said at a press conference here at ICANN’s public meeting in Costa Rica this afternoon.
“We have no proposals we are actively working on to cause it to be changed at the moment,” he said. “The message needs to be understood that the application window will close April 12.”
I asked about the possibility of an extension largely because almost every registry services provider and new gTLD consultant I’ve talked to recently is expecting a mad rush of new gTLD applicants.
There are only 17 days remaining for applicants to sign up for a TLD Application System account. After March 29, applicants then have two weeks to file and pay for their applications.
Despite these pressing deadlines, many potential applicants – including dot-brands and some geographic gTLDs – have yet to make their minds up about applying.
Other confirmed applicants still haven’t selected their partners – I heard today about a city gTLD with a tender offer closing March 20, just nine days before the sign-up deadline.
ICANN said today that it has 254 registered TAS users.
A last-minute stampede for application services seems likely. With a limited number of registry back-end providers and decent consultants on the market, we could see bottlenecks.
But it seems that the ICANN board — which is the only body that could extend the schedule — has no plans to do so presently.
ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom today offered a scathing criticism of his own board of directors, saying the current batch looks like it is too conflicted to act in the public interest.
During his opening address here at ICANN’s 43rd public meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, Beckstrom appeared to single out the chair and vice-chair for special concern.
“ICANN must be able to act for the public good while placing commercial and financial interests in the appropriate context,” Beckstrom said. “How can it do this if all top leadership is from the very domain name industry it is supposed to coordinate independently?”
He noted that ICANN has spent the last eight months introducing new conflicts of interest and ethics rules but said it was “time to further tighten up the rules” in response to “the growing chorus of criticism about ICANN’s ethics environment”.
“There is value in having community members with domain name industry experience but it is equally valuable to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest,” he said.
At ICANN’s last board meeting seven directors – including chair Steve Crocker and vice-chair Bruce Tonkin – excused themselves from a new gTLDs discussion due to conflicts.
Crocker’s company, Shinkuro, has registry services provider Afilias as an investor. Tonkin works for the registrar Melbourne IT, which expects to work with over 100 new gTLD applicants.
ICANN has 21 directors, of which 16 have voting powers. At least four voting directors – Crocker, Tonkin, Sebastian Bachollet and Bertrand de La Chapelle – have disclosed new gTLD conflicts.
But Beckstrom spent more time criticizing ICANN’s secretive Nominating Committee, which appoints half of the ICANN board. NomCom’s structure is a “significant threat” to ICANN, he said.
In future, all of NomCom’s board candidates should be “financially independent of the domain name industry,” he said, and NomCom members themselves should be “free of conflicts”.
“Reform of the board selection process is not just desirable. I believe it is imperative,” he said. “Ideally, a fully independent and non-conflicted NomCom should be in place before the next nomination cycle begins.”
The current NomCom-appointed directors are: Crocker, Cherine Chalaby, Bertrand de La Chapelle, Erika Mann, Gonzalo Navarro, R. Ramaraj, George Sadowsky and Judith Duavit Vazquez
Of those eight appointees, two have new gTLD conflicts of interest that have caused them to recently recuse themselves from board discussions on the topic.
Beckstrom’s opening address also covered IPv6 and DNSSEC deployment, new gTLD protections and the applicant support program, but he did not address the IANA contract problem in any detail.
Twenty members of the movie, music and games businesses have asked ICANN to impose strict anti-piracy rules on new top-level domains related to their industries.
In a position statement, “New gTLDs Targeting Creative Sectors: Enhanced Safeguards”, the groups say that such gTLDs are “fraught with serious risks” and should be controlled more rigorously than other gTLDs.
“If new gTLDs targeted to these sectors – e.g., .music, .movies, .games – are launched without adequate safeguards, they could become havens for continued and increased criminal and illegal activity,” the statement says.
It goes on to make seven demands for regulations covering Whois accuracy, enforced anti-piracy policies, and private requests for domain name take-downs.
The group also says that the content industries should be guaranteed “a seat at the table” when these new gTLD registries make their policies.
The statement is directed to ICANN, but it also appears to address the Governmental Advisory Committee, which has powers to object to new gTLD applications:
In evaluating applications for such content-focused gTLDs, ICANN must require registry operators (and the registrars with whom they contract) to implement enhanced safeguards to reduce these serious risks, while maximizing the potential benefits of such new domains.
Governments should use similar criteria in the exercise of their capability to issue Early Warnings, under the ICANN-approved process, with regard to new gTLD applications that are problematic from a public policy or security perspective.
The statement was sent to ICANN by the Coalition for Online Accountability, which counts the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and Disney among its members.
It was separately signed by the many of the same groups that are supporting Far Further’s .music application, including the American Association for Independent Music and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.