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IFFOR targets new gTLDs with policy service

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2013, Domain Policy

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility, which sets policy for .xxx, wants to broaden its scope and is to launch a “Policy Engine” service for new gTLD registries.

Kieren McCarthy, who has been working for IFFOR as its public participation manager for the last year, has been tapped to lead the organization too, taking over from Joan Irvine as executive director in April.

IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for .xxx, independent but created by registry manager ICM Registry as a way to demonstrate to ICANN that it planned to operate the porn gTLD responsibly.

It’s kept a bit of a low profile since .xxx launched, only emerging to distribute some small grants to worthy causes, but McCarthy says that it’s built up substantial policy-making and compliance expertise.

Now, it wants to let new gTLD registries outsource these functions to it.

“Broadly, the Policy Engine service lets gTLD applicants outsource their policy issues to an independent body,” McCarthy said.

IFFOR reckons plenty of new gTLDs will want such services, especially given the increased interest from governments in how new gTLDs are operated.

As the organization is currently set up to deal only with .xxx — it’s funded $10 a year from every .xxx sold — only three of its nine-member Policy Council are not members of the adult entertainment industry or connected to ICM.

Additionally, ICM’s general counsel is on its three-member board of directors.

But McCarthy said that the Policy Council, which also has substantial expertise in privacy, child protection and free speech issues, usually uses sub-groups to come up with its policies.

“The majority of what we do is applicable across any top-level domain,” he said.

McCarthy is the former journalist and ICANN staffer, current CEO of .nxt. When he takes over from Irvine in April, she is expected to stay around as a consultant.

How to make $10,000 from .xxx domains

Kevin Murphy, May 7, 2012, Domain Policy

The policy body overseeing .xxx domain names plans to dish out grants of up to $10,000 to worthy causes.

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility expects to launch a new IFFOR Grants Program on June 1, according to a March announcement I only just noticed.

According to IFFOR, the grants will be capped at $10,000 per individual or organization and will be given to those who contribute to IFFOR’s four official policy goals:

Fostering communication between the Sponsored Community and other Internet stakeholders

Protecting free expression rights as defined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights

Promoting the development and adoption of responsible business practices designed to combat online child abuse images and to support user choice and parental control regarding access to online adult entertainment, and

Protecting the privacy, security, and consumer rights of consenting adult consumers of online adult entertainment goods and services

It seems like a pretty good opportunity for free speech advocacy groups to top up their funding.

ICM Registry, the .xxx manager, gives IFFOR $10 per year for every resolving .xxx domain name registered.

Its funding is therefore very likely approaching the $1.5 million mark in the hundreds of thousands of dollars right about now.

.xxx to tackle piracy, child abuse and censorship

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2011, Domain Policy

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility, the policy oversight group for .xxx domains, says it wants to help fight piracy, child abuse material and internet censorship.

Those are the three priorities to emerge from IFFOR’s inaugural two-day meeting last month, according to the organization. It has set up three working groups to look at the issues.

On filtering, a pretty hot topic given the various pieces of copyright-related legislation currently under consideration in the US and elsewhere, IFFOR said:

The filtering working group will review the state of global filtering laws, regulations and plans with a view to educating legislators and others about the advantages and effectiveness of user-defined filtering as opposed to mandated filtering or blocking at the ISP or router-level.

While there’s yet to be a proven case of an entire nation blocking .xxx domains, some countries have said they are considering it and I’ve heard several anecdotal cases of companies blocking the TLD.

IFFOR also said wants to find a way to help combat piracy “that can work across the entire dot-xxx registry” and is looking at both technical and legal measures.

The child abuse imagery working group, headed by veteran cyber-cop Sharon Girling, plans to work with existing third-party organizations on reporting and policy-making.

All three goals are self-evidently noble. Whether IFFOR will be able to make a noticeable impact on any will of course depend on what policies its working groups come up with.

IFFOR’s Policy Council comprises nine members: five from the porn industry, a free speech advocate, a child protection advocate, a security expert and an ICM Registry representative.

Lawley quits as .xxx sponsor chairman

Kevin Murphy, November 10, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry president Stuart Lawley has stepped down as chairman of IFFOR, the sponsoring organization for .xxx, after ongoing criticism over potential conflicts of interest.

He will be replaced by Clyde Beattie, a former chair of .ca manager CIRA, who was already on IFFOR’s governing board of directors.

IFFOR, the International Foundation For Online Responsibility, was set up by ICM to act as the “sponsoring organization” required by ICANN’s 2004 new gTLD process.

The organization is supposed to be independent, consisting of a policy-creation committee overseen by a three-person board of directors.

However, it has come in for frequent criticism from the porn industry, notably the Free Speech Coalition, over the perception that it is basically an ICM puppet.

While the Policy Council has five out of nine members drawn from the porn industry, the FSC has often accused Lawley of having a “veto” on IFFOR’s decisions, which he has denied.

“Even though the bylaws ensured separation, the optics weren’t ideal,” said Lawley.

However, while Beattie takes over his role, Lawley’s empty seat on the IFFOR board will be filled by ICM general counsel Sheri Falco.

ICM still has a vote, in other words, but not the chair.

The third board member is Sebastien Bachollet, CEO of BBS Consulting. Bachollet also sits on ICANN’s board of directors as a representative of At-Large community.

IFFOR hires McCarthy to handle .xxx outreach

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2011, Domain Registries

Kieren McCarthy, CEO of the .nxt new top-level domains conference, has reportedly joined the International Foundation For Online Responsibility to manage policy communications.

IFFOR is the sponsoring organization for ICM Registry’s new gTLD, responsible for setting the policies that will govern .xxx domain names.

ICM’s opponents in the Free Speech Coalition fear IFFOR, claiming it will be both toothless in the light of ICM’s “veto power” over policies (which ICM disputes) and dangerous to .xxx domain holders.

As well as outreach, McCarthy will be tasked with “developing the tools through which Internet community members and IFFOR Policy Council members can reach consensus positions”, according to Xbiz.

He has the right background. He’s the former general manager for public participation at ICANN, and lately one of its fiercest critics. More recently, he’s also done some consulting work for ICM.

Hopefully one of his first actions at IFFOR will be to add DI to the press release mailing list, so I don’t have to source Xbiz the next time the organization has news to report.

IFFOR names .xxx porn council members

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2011, Domain Registries

The five porn industry members of the body which will set the rules for .xxx domains have been named by the International Foundation For Online Responsibility.

IFFOR is the policy shop set up by ICM Registry to oversee the new top-level domain. It will be funded to the tune of $10 a year from every .xxx domain registration.

The newly announced members of its Policy Council are:

Jerry Barnett, managing director of Strictly Broadband, a UK-based video-on-demand provider.

Florian Sitta, head of the legal department of the large German porn retailer Beate Uhse.

Trieu Hoang, based in Asia, counsel for AbbyWinters.com.

Chad Bellville, a US-based lawyer who advertises UDRP services.

Andy Kayton, general counsel for WebPower, which runs iFriends (a pornographic webcam service) and ClickCash, a large affiliate network.

Both Americans are members of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, according to IFFOR.

It will be interesting to see what the adult industry makes of this. Usually when a porn company throws in with ICM Registry and .xxx there’s a bit of a backlash on webmaster forums.

That said, I doubt these names will come as much of a surprise. Some if not all of the companies these people represent have already engaged in the .xxx Founders Program.

IFFOR’s non-porn Policy Council members were named in June.

ICM names former ACLU chief to policy board

ICM Registry has appointed former American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen to the Policy Council of IFFOR, the oversight body responsible for the .xxx top-level domain.

Strossen held the role at the ACLU between 1991 and 2008. Her appointment to the largely volunteer role at IFFOR is a bit of a coup for the organization.

She fills the seat designated for a free speech advocate.

Also named to the council is Sharon Girling, a former British cop who was closely involved in many high-profile child abuse imagery stings, including Operation Ore.

Law professor Fred Cate has been appointed the council’s security/privacy expert, and first amendment lawyer Bob Corn-Revere is ICM’s appointed representative.

There will be five other policy council members, all drawn from the porn industry, named in July or August, IFFOR said in a press release.

IFFOR, the International Foundation For Online Responsibility, will get $10 a year from every .xxx domain name registered.

Final call for .xxx policy volunteers

The International Foundation For Online Responsibility, which will set policies for the .xxx top-level domain, has issued its final call for Policy Council volunteers.

The deadline for nominations for the nine PC seats has been set at July 5, and IFFOR plans to announce the successful candidates in late August.

Five of the seats are reserved for members of the porn industry. Another will represent privacy/security interests, one will be drawn from the world of child protection, and one will be a free speech advocate.

The final seat will be occupied by ICM Registry, the .xxx manager.

My understanding is that a front-runner for the child protection role is Sharon Girling, a former British police officer who played a key role in child abuse stings including Operation Ore.

I know of a few people who have applied for the free speech spot. Most recently, outspoken .xxx critic “DarkLady”, author of the Dot-XXX Opposition blog, revealed she had put herself forward for the job.

While the PC members are ostensibly volunteers, they do get a $15,000 annual stipend and their travel expenses paid for.

IFFOR will receive $10 from ICM for every .xxx domain that is registered.

ICM faces porn anger over .xxx

ICM Registry executives took the brunt of angry opposition to the .xxx top-level domain from pornographers at an adult industry trade show this week.

A two-hour session on .xxx, which took place at The Phoenix Forum in Arizona the day after ICM and ICANN signed their registry contract, saw the new TLD attacked on multiple fronts.

Defending, ICM’s Vaughn Liley tried to explain why .xxx isn’t as bad as many in the US adult industry believe but, on the back foot from a misjudged opening gambit (asking the openly hostile audience of pornographers if any of them supported child porn), often found himself adding to the confusion.

Now that .xxx has been approved and the contract signed, the discussion focused largely on how ICM and its policy body, the International Foundation For Online Responsibility, will actually function.

Pornographers wanted to know, for example, why anybody would want to invest in marketing a .xxx domain if IFFOR could one day make a policy that excluded their business from the TLD.

I get the impression that the pro-ICM speakers, which included Greg Dumas of GEC Media, could have benefited from having copies of the company’s policy documents in front of them.

At one point, Liley flatly denied that ICM plans to “spider” .xxx domains to enforce compliance with IFFOR policies, such as the prohibition on meta tags that suggest the presence of child pornography.

Minutes later, a .xxx opponent read aloud from the IFFOR policy (pdf) that says all registrants must consent to “automated monitoring”.

A semantic misunderstanding? Possibly. But it left Liley facing calls of “liar” from the audience.

The question of whether this monitoring will extend to, say, .com domains, if the registrant chooses to redirect their .xxx names, was left unanswered.

IFFOR policies will be created by a Policy Council of nine members, five of which will be drawn from the adult entertainment industry.

Earlier in the discussion, Liley denied that IFFOR’s board of directors or ICM will have “veto” power over these Policy Council policies, calling it “factually incorrect”.

Again, an audience member reading aloud from the IFFOR Policy Development Process document (pdf) showed that the IFFOR board has the ability to block a policy under certain circumstances.

Not only that, but ICM gets to object to policies that emerge from IFFOR, under certain circumstances. If this happens, ICM will work with IFFOR “to modify the Proposed Policy to address any concerns identified by ICM”.

There may be enough limitations on ICM’s powers to mean it’s not technically a “veto”, but it’s close.

It makes perfect sense for ICM to have this safeguard, of course. If IFFOR were to be captured by the haters, they could easily make mischief that could ruin its business.

Many of the other questions raised at the forum related to issues that will effect all new TLD launches and concern all new TLD opponents, such as brand protection.

My conclusion after watching the two-hour session: ICM needs to work on its messaging.

The company actually has several ideas for how it could help the porn industry make money, but you wouldn’t know it from any of its public statements to date.

If you have a free couple of hours, the video can be watched here.

ICANN director has .xxx job offer

Sebastien Bachollet, recently installed on the ICANN board as its first elected “At Large” director, has been offered a job working for the .xxx top-level domain, it has emerged.

According to a board “statement of interests” (pdf) released yesterday, independent technology consultant Bachollet:

has been invited to be a member of the Board of the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR), which is set up to be the sponsoring organization for the .XXX sTLD, should ICM be awarded a contract for the .XXX sTLD.

He’s only the second person to be named as a potential member of the IFFOR board, after Canadian entrepreneur Clyde Beattie.

It goes without saying that Bachollet will be recusing himself from the (final?) ICANN board vote on ICM Registry’s .xxx contract, set for the San Francisco ICANN meeting March 18.

If .xxx is approved, IFFOR will create policies governing the .xxx TLD. It will be made up of a mixture of the adult industry, security, child protection and free speech advocates.

The SOI also revealed, in an ambiguously plural statement, that: “IBM may apply for new gTLD”.

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