ICANN ships a quite staggering amount of equipment to its thrice-yearly public meetings, equivalent to more than 12 mid-sized cars at the recent Helsinki meeting.
That’s one of the interesting data points in ICANN’s just published “Technical Report” — a 49-page data dump — for ICANN 56.
It’s the second meeting in a row the organization has published such a report, the first for a so-called “Meeting B” or “Policy Forum” which run on a reduced-formality, more focused schedule.
The Helsinki report reveals that 1,436 people showed up in person, compared to 2,273 for March’s Marrakech meeting, which had a normal ICANN meeting agenda.
The attendees were 61% male and 32% female. Another 7% did not disclose their gender. No comparable numbers were published in the Marrakech report.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the Helsinki numbers show not a terrible gender balance as far as tech conferences go. It’s a bit better than you’d expect from anecdotal evidence.
Not many big tech events publish their male/female attendee ratios, but Google has said attendees at this year’s Google IO were 23% female.
Europeans accounted for most of the Helsinki attendees, as you might expect, at 43%. That compared to 20% in Marrakech.
The next largest geographic contingent came from North America — 27%, compared to just 18% in Marrakech.
The big surprise to me is how much equipment ICANN ships out to each of its meetings.
In March, it moved 93 metric tonnes (103 American tons) of kit to Marrakech. About 19 metric tonnes of that was ICANN-owned gear, the rest was hired. That weighs as much as 3.5 African elephants, the report says.
For Helsinki, that was up to 19.7 metric tonnes, more than 12 cars’ worth. Shipped equipment includes stuff like 412 microphones, 73 laptops and 28 printers.
In both reports, ICANN explains the shipments like this:
Much like a touring band, ICANN learned over time that the most cost-effective method of ensuring that meeting participants have a positive experience is to sea freight our own equipment to ICANN meetings. We ship critical equipment, then rent the remaining equipment locally to help promote the economy.
The Helsinki report, which reveals more data than anyone could possibly find useful, can be downloaded as a PDF here.
The fiercely contested .web gTLD is being forced into a last-resort auction and some people seem to think a major registry player is behind it.
They said the sale should be delayed to give applicants time “to investigate whether there has been a change of leadership and/or control” at rival applicant Nu Dot Co LLC.
Nu Dot Co is a new gTLD investment vehicle headed up by Juan Diego Calle, who launched and ran .CO Internet until it was sold to Neustar a couple of years ago.
I gather that some applicants believe that Nu Dot Co’s .web application is now being bankrolled by a larger company with deeper pockets.
The two names I’ve heard bandied around, talking to industry sources this week, are Verisign and Neustar.
Nobody I’ve talked to has a shred of direct evidence either company is involved and Calle declined to comment.
So is this paranoia or not?
There are a few reasons these suspicions may have come about.
First, the recent revelation that successful .blog applicant Primer Nivel, a no-name Panama entity with a Colombian connection, was actually secretly being bankrolled by WordPress, has opened eyes to the possibility of proxy bidders.
It was only after the .blog contention set was irreversibly settled that the .blog contract changed hands and the truth become known.
Some applicants may have pushed the price up beyond the $19 million winning bid — making the rewards of losing the private auction that much higher — had they known they were bidding against a richer, more motivated opponent.
Second, sources say the .web contention set had been heading to a private auction — in which all losing applicants get a share of the winning bid — but Nu Dot Co decided to back out at the last minute.
Under ICANN rules, if competing applicants are not able to privately resolve their contention set, an ICANN last-resort auction must ensue.
Third, this effective vetoing of the private auction does not appear to fit in with Nu Dot Co’s strategy to date.
It applied for 13 gTLDs in total. Nine of those have already gone to auctions that Nu Dot Co ultimately lost (usually reaping the rewards of losing).
The other four are either still awaiting auction or, in the case of .corp, have been essentially rejected for technical reasons.
It usually only makes sense to go to an ICANN last-resort auction — where the proceeds all go to ICANN — if you plan on winning or if you want to make sure your competitors do not get a financial windfall from a private auction.
Nu Dot Co isn’t actually an operational registry, so it doesn’t strictly have competitors.
That suggests to some that its backer is an operational registry with a disdain for new gTLD rivals. Verisign, in other words.
Others think Neustar, given the fact that its non-domains business is on the verge of imploding and its previous acquisition of .CO Internet from Calle.
I have no evidence either company is involved. I’m just explaining the thought process here.
According to its application, two entities own more than 15% of Nu Dot Co. Both — Domain Marketing Holdings, LLC and NUCO LP, LLC — are Delaware shell corporations set up via an agent in March 2012, shortly before the new gTLD application filing deadline.
Many in the industry are expecting .web to go for more than the $41.5 million GMO paid for .shop. Others talk down the price, saying “web” lacks the cultural impact it once had.
But it seems we will all find out later this month.
Responding to the letters from Schlund and Radix, ICANN yesterday said that it had no plans to postpone the July 27 last-resort auction.
All seven applicants had to submit a postponement form by June 12 if they wanted a delay, ICANN informed them in a letter (pdf), and they missed that deadline.
They now have until July 20 to either resolve the contention privately or put down their deposits, ICANN said.
The applicants for .web, aside from Nu Dot Co, are Google, Donuts, Radix, Schlund, Web.com and Afilias.
Due to a string confusion ruling, .webs applicant Vistaprint will also be in the auction.
Domain industry veteran Jennifer Gore is to become ICANN’s new director of registrar relations.
She takes over the role from Mike Zupke, who I gather is leaving ICANN, from next Monday. She will report to Cyrus Namazi in ICANN’s Global Domains Division.
Gore was most recently senior director of policy at Web.com, a role she held for over five years. Much of her earlier career was spent at Network Solutions and Verisign.
Her move from industry to ICANN means she has had to resign her position on the GNSO Council, where she represented the Registrars Stakeholder Group.
The RrSG will now have to hold an election to find her replacement.
Bulgarians finally have the ability to register domain names in their native Cyrillic script, after years of fighting with ICANN.
The domain Имена.бг, which translates as “names.bg” went live on the internet this week, according to local reports.
Bulgaria was one of the first countries to ask for a internationalized domain name version of its ccTLD, almost seven years ago, but it was rejected by ICANN in 2010.
The requested .бг was found too similar to Brazil’s existing Latin-script ccTLD .br. Evaluators thought the risk of phishing and other types of attacks was too high.
The requested string didn’t change, but ICANN processes were adapted to allow appeals and a new method for establishing similarity was established.
On appeal, .бг was determined to be less prone to confusion with .br than existing pairs of Latin ccTLDs are with each other, ergo should be approved.
Имена.бг does not yet directly resolve (for me at least) from the Google Chrome address bar. It’s treated as a web search instead. But clicking on links to it does work.
The new ccTLD, which is .xn--90ae in the DNS, was delegated last week.
The registry is Imena.bg (which also means “names.bg”), based in Sofia and partially owned by Register.bg, the .bg registry.
Despite the long battle, the success of .бг is by no means assured. IDNs have a patchy record worldwide.
It’s true that Russians went nuts for their .рф (.rf for Russian Federation) ccTLD during its scandal-rocked launch in 2010, but Arabic IDNs have had hardly any interest and the current boom in China seems to be largely concentrated on Latin-script TLDs.
.бг is expected to open for general registration in the fourth quarter.
I guess we’ll have to wait until at least next year to discover whether the concerns about confusion with .br were well-founded.
Governments and ccTLD registries would get new rights to own two-letter domains in new gTLDs under a proposed ICANN policy.
These highly-prized domains, many of which are likely worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, would be subject to a mini sunrise period, under the proposal.
The so-called Exclusive Availability Pre-registration Period would be limited to those companies or government entities in charge of matching ccTLDs.
The measures are outlined in “Proposed Measures for Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels to Avoid Confusion with Corresponding Country Codes” (pdf), published by ICANN late last week.
The surprisingly succinct document outlines three things new gTLD registries must do if they want to start selling two-letter domains matching ccTLDs, which are currently restricted.
The key measure is:
Registry Operator must implement a 30-day period in which registration of letter/letter two-character ASCII labels that are country codes, as specified in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 standard, will be made exclusively available to the applicable country-code manager or government.
In other words, if you’re a government or company listed as the ccTLD manager here, you get 30 days of exclusive opportunity to buy the LL.example matching your ccTLD.
Until now, governments have been able to block the release of LL new gTLD domains matching their ccTLDs.
The new proposal, introduced in an attempt to settle a long-running debate about the most appropriate way to enable the release of two-character strings, appears to add a “buy it or lose it” component to existing policy.
Under the base New gTLD Registry Agreement, all two-character domains were initially reserved.
Then, in late 2014, ICANN said registries could release all letter-number, number-letter and number-number combinations.
Many registries have already released such names, some selling for thousands at auction. When Rightside released its LN/NL/NN names, some carried price tags as high as $50,000.
Letter-letter domains could also be released following a formal registry request to ICANN, but were subject to a 60-day period during which governments could object.
Almost 1,000 new gTLDs have submitted such requests, and almost all have been “partially approved”.
That means some governments objected to the release of ccTLD-matching domains. Over 16,000 unique domain names have been objected to and therefore blocked over the last year or so.
The new proposal would add an extra process under which these blocked domains could be released, with ccTLD concerns getting first rights.
Interestingly, it appears to bring ccTLD managers into the mix, rather than restricting the names simply to governments.
The Governmental Advisory Committee has been the main driving force behind demands for restrictions on LL domains, but the proposed policy appears to also extend rights to private entities.
Remember, many ccTLDs are operated independently by private companies, without local government oversight.
For example, .uk is managed by Nominet, a non-governmental entity. The UK government has blocked many uk.example domains from being registered. The new policy appears to allow either Nominet or the government to register these names.
The one-page proposal is light on some details. It does not say, for example, what happens when the government and the ccTLD manager both want the name.
In keeping with ICANN’s habit of staying out of pricing, it does not specify price caps either.
It does, however, oblige registries to ban registrants from pretending to be affiliated with the relevant government when they are not.
Governments also get to complain, and registries have to investigate, if the relevant domains are causing “confusion”, though registries do not appear to be under a strict obligation to delete or suspend domains.
The policy is open for public comment until August here.