The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has dealt a stunning blow to ICANN in its bid to carry on running the internet’s critical IANA functions.
The NTIA said this hour that it has canceled the RFP for the new IANA contract “because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community”
NTIA thinks that ICANN’s bid was unsatisfactory, in other words.
The NTIA said:
Based on the input received from stakeholders around the world, NTIA added new requirements to the IANA functions’ statement of work, including the need for structural separation of policymaking from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local country laws, and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community.
The government may cancel any solicitation that does not meet the requirements. Accordingly, we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community. The Department intends to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined (TBD) so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served.
However, it has extended ICANN’s current IANA contract until September 30, 2012.
This means ICANN still has its IANA powers over the DNS root zone, at least for another six months.
While the NTIA has not yet revealed where ICANN’s bid for the contract fell short, it is known that the NTIA and ICANN’s senior management did not exactly see eye to eye on certain issues.
One of the key sticking points is the NTIA’s demand that the IANA contractor – ICANN – must document that all new gTLD delegations are in “the global public interest”.
This demand is a way to prevent another controversy such as the approval of .xxx a year ago, which the Governmental Advisory Committee objected to on the grounds that it was not the “the global public interest”.
Coupled with newly strengthened Applicant Guidebook powers for the GAC to object to new gTLD application, the IANA language could be described as “if the GAC objects, you must reject”.
If the GAC were to declare .gay or .catholic “not in the global public interest”, it would be pretty tough for ICANN to prove otherwise.
But ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has previously stated that he believed such rules imposed by the US government would undermine the multistakeholder process.
He told the NTIA last June that the draft IANA contract language stood to “rewrite” ICANN’s own process when it came to approving new gTLDs.
The IANA functions contract should not be used to rewrite the policy and implementation process adopted through the bottom-up decision-making process. Not only would this undermine the very principle of the multi-stakeholder model, it would be inconsistent with the objective of more clearly distinguishing policy development from operational implementation by the IANA functions operator.
Since then, language requiring ICANN to prove “consensus” on new gTLD delegations was removed, but language requiring it to demonstrate the “global public interest” remains.
The game is bigger than petty squabbling about new gTLDs, however.
The US government is worried about International Telecommunications Union treaty talks later this year, which many countries want to use to push for government-led internet governance.
A strong GAC, backed by an enforceable IANA contract, is one way to field concerns that ICANN is not responsive enough to government interests.
It’s tempting to view the deferral of the IANA renewal as an attempt to wait out Beckstrom’s tenure as CEO – he’s set to leave at the end of June – and deal with a more compliant replacement instead.
Just hours before ICANN’s Costa Rica meeting kicks off, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration has cast uncertainty over the new gTLD program by throwing another of its now-traditional last-minute bombs.
CLICK HERE for the updated story.
It’s canceled the request for proposals that was expected to lead to ICANN being awarded a new IANA contract – the contract that enables it to approve new top-level domains.
In an amendment to the November RFP posted last night, the Department of Commerce said it “hereby cancels RFP SA1301-12-RP-IANA in its entirety.”
In a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities web site, it added:
Request for Proposal (RFP) SA1301-12-RP-IANA is hereby cancelled. The Department of Commerce intends to reissue the RFP at a future date, date to be determined (TBD). Interested parties are encouraged to periodically visit www.fbo.gov for updates.
ICANN’s current IANA agreement is due to expire at the end of March and, by my reading, the NTIA has used up all of its options to extend.
Many expected ICANN or the NTIA to announce that the new contract had been awarded to ICANN yesterday, or when the Costa Rica meeting officially kicks off this coming Monday.
For the RFP to be canceled now without explanation hangs a huge question mark over ICANN’s ongoing ability to approve new gTLDs.
There are already community murmurs about ICANN extending the current gTLD application window beyond its current April 12 deadline, and this development may feed such rumors.
This is a developing story, but at the moment it appears that yet again the NTIA’s last-minute attention-seeking bombshell has stolen the show before the show even begins.
UPDATE: Shortly after this story was published, the NTIA released its rationale for the cancellation. Read about it here.
ARI Registry Services has managed to persuade another client to come clean about its dot-brand gTLD plans.
According to a report in the Australian press, Perth-based carrier/ISP iiNet plans to apply for .iinet using ARI for application support.
The report also states that rival telco Optus is mulling its options, while Telstra is saying it will not apply.
ARI has previously announced Singapore telco StarHub and the Australian Football League as dot-brand clients.
The domain name co.com has been put up for sale by domain investor Paul Goldstone.
The domain, which received 4.5 million unique visitors and 14 million page views in 2011, will be brokered jointly by DomainAdvisors and SellDomains.com, according to a press release.
I can immediately think of two companies that should be interested.
It might be a very smart move for .CO Internet, the .co registry, to buy the name and wildcard the third level in order to capture .co typo traffic.
It’s also exactly the kind of address CentralNic – which sells third-level names under domains such as us.org and uk.com – likes to use as a pseudo-gTLD.
If these two and others get into a bidding war, Goldstone could wind up making a packet.
DomainAdvisors CEO Tessa Holcomb said she expects the domain to fetch a “multi seven-figure” price.
Russia’s internationalized ccTLD, .РФ, lost 18% of its registered domains under management after its first launch anniversary, according to the registry.
Coordination Center for ccTLD said that the registry peaked at 954,012 names on December 28, but DUM had dropped to 779,264 by February 15, a 174,748 domain decline.
While the Center spun this as lower than expected – some experts had apparently predicted 25% to 30% of the early-adopter names would expire – it’s still relatively high.
Telnic deleted about 15% of its names during .tel’s first junk drop, the most recent in the gTLD space, for example.
The Russian registry has also made an eye-opening set of stats related to .РФ available on a new web site.
It reveals that just 33% of .РФ domains resolve to a web site (any web site, presumably including parking) while 29% do not even have name servers.