Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has rejected a complaint from spam research firm KnujOn — and 173 of its supporters — claiming that ICANN’s compliance department is failing consumers.
In a ruling posted online today, LaHatte said there was “no substance” to complaints that a small number of “bad” registrars, notably BizCN, have been allowed to run wild.
KnujOn’s Garth Bruen is a regular and vocal critic of ICANN compliance, often claiming that it ignores complaints about bad Whois data and fails to enforce the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, enabling fake pharma spamming operations to run from domains sponsored by ICANN-accredited registrars.
This CircleID blog post should give you a flavor.
The gist of the complaint was that ICANN regularly fails to enforce the RAA when registrars allow bad actors to own domain names using plainly fake contact data.
But LaHatte ruled, based on a close reading of the contracts, that the Bruen and KnujOn’s supporters have overestimated registrars’ responsibilities under the RAA. He wrote:
the problem is that the complainants have overstated the duties of the registrar, the registrant and the role of compliance in this matrix.
He further decided that allegations about ICANN compliance staff being fired for raising similar issues were unfounded.
It’s a detailed decision. Read the whole thing here.
dotgay LLC could be hit by another formal new gTLD objection from gay Republicans.
ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte today said that it was “unfair” that a community objection filed by GOProud, a gay lobby group, was rejected by the International Chamber of Commerce.
The ICC screwed up, it seems, judging by LaHatte’s decision.
Washington DC-based GOProud, which seeks to show that not all gay rights advocates have liberal views on other issues, had filed a community-based objection to dotgay’s .gay gTLD application.
While the substance of the objection is not known, I suspect it’s politically motivated. The other objection to dotgay’s application was filed by another gay Republican organization, the Metroplex Republicans of Dallas (formerly Log Cabin Republicans Dallas).
The ICC rejected the objection because it was about 500 words over the prescribed limit, but it sent the notification to the wrong email address, according to LaHatte’s blog.
Had GOProud received the notification, it would have had time to amend its objection to rectify the mistake. However, by the time it discovered the problem the filing deadline had passed.
there is some unfairness in the subsequent rejection given the apparent error in the use of the wrong email. It seems to me that it would be relatively easy to unwind that decision, and permit the late filing of the objection. I can of course only make a recommendation, but in this case where there is some unfairness I think the matter should be revisited.
The Ombudsman’s role is to handle complaints about unfairness in ICANN’s actions, so it’s not entirely clear what’s going to happen in this case, given that the ICC is an ICANN subcontractor.
LaHatte’s recommendation is certainly not binding in either case. Whether the ICC changes its mind may depend on whether ICANN asks it to or not.
dotgay is the New York-based applicant founded by Scott Seitz. It’s one of four companies applying for .gay.
The other three applicants — Top Level Domain Holdings, Top Level Design and Demand Media — have each received community objections from the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association, a dotgay supporter.
ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has ruled that the decision to accept formal new gTLD objections sent one minute after the filing deadline “does not create unfairness”.
The decision is a blow to at least one applicant, which had tried to have an objection against it kicked out for being late.
LaHatte received a complaint from the applicant, believed to be represented by Galway Strategy Group’s Jim Prendergast, last month.
The complainant said that an objection by a competing applicant was sent at 00:01:02 UTC on March 15, one minute and three seconds after the deadline laid out in ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook.
But the dispute resolution providers hired by ICANN to manage objections decided to give a little leeway, agreeing among themselves (with ICANN’s tacit consent) to a five-minute extension.
Now LaHatte has decided — entirely reasonably in my view — that this was not unfair.
He wrote: “It is my view that a five minute window is a proportionate response and does not create unfairness for the applicants, but does provide fairness given that it is only five minutes.”
He added that at least one other objection, which was filed much later, was rejected for its tardiness.
ICANN’s Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has received complaints about some new gTLD objections that were apparently filed after the submission deadline but are being processed anyway.
Two companies have officially called on LaHatte to tell ICANN that “late complaints should not be received on the basis that the deadlines were well advertised and achievable”.
The issue seems to be that ICANN had set a deadline of 2359 UTC March 13 for objections to be filed, and some of them arrived slightly late.
The delays appear to have been a matter of mere minutes, and blamed on latency caused by heavy email attachments and other technical problems.
According to ICANN, the dispute resolution providers decided to give objectors a five-minute grace period, essentially extending the deadline from 2359 UTC to 0004 UTC the following day.
The recipients of these objections clearly now want to use this technicality to kill off the objections, avoiding the cost of having to defend themselves.
In a set of answers to questions posed verbally in Beijing last month, published last week (pdf), ICANN said:
ICANN is confident that the Dispute Resolution Service Providers are complying with the guidelines in the [Applicant Guidebook].
I don’t know which applications are affected by the issue, but the question at the Beijing public forum was posed by new gTLD consultant Jim Prendergast of the Galway Strategy Group.
He received applause, so I guess he wasn’t the only person in the room with an interest in the subject.
LaHatte, on his blog, is looking for feedback before making his decision.
ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte is investigating ICANN’s recent closed-door Trademark Clearinghouse talks, and wants feedback from community members.
In a brief blog post this evening, LaHatte wrote:
I have received a complaint about the process used in the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetings where decisions were made on the way forward. The complaint in summary says that the decisions were made without full consultation from some contituencies. I have of course not formed any view on this, and need input from people who participated and were pleased with the process, or from others who feel they were excluded. Such submissions can be made to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on this blog. as comments.
The complaint refers to meetings in Brussels and Los Angeles recently, convened by CEO Fadi Chehade to discuss proposals jointly submitted by the Intellectual Property Constituency and Business Constituency.
The IPC and BC continue to call for stronger trademark protections in the new gTLD program, and the talks were designed to see if any changes could be made to the TMCH that would fulfill these requests.
However, the meetings were invitation-only and, unusually for ICANN, not webcast live. Attendees at the LA meeting also say that they were asked by ICANN not to tweet or blog about the talks.
While the LA meeting was apparently recorded, to the best of my knowledge the audio has not yet been released.
While LaHatte did not of course name the person who complained about these meetings, I’d hazard a guess they are from the non-commercial side of the house, members of which have already complained that they were vastly outnumbered by IP interests.
(UPDATE: I was correct. The complaint was filed by Maria Farrell of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency)
Former GNSO Council chair Stephane Van Gelder (from the Registrar Constituency) also recently wrote a guest post for DI in which he questioned the possible circumvention of ICANN’s established bottom-up policy-making processes.
There’s also substantial concern in other constituencies that ICANN is trying to appease the trademark lobby for political reasons, attempting to force through their desired changes to the new gTLD program under the guise of tweaks to “implementation” detail.
Chehade has asked the GNSO Council for “policy guidance” on the TMCH strawman proposals, which seems to be already stirring up passions on the Council ahead of its December 20 meeting.
The question of what is “implementation” and what is “policy” is a meme that we will be returning to before long, without doubt.