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After .org price outrage, ICANN says it has NOT scrapped public comments

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2019, Domain Policy

ICANN this evening said that it will continue to open up gTLD registry contract amendments for public comment periods, despite posting information yesterday suggesting that it would stop doing so.

The organization recently formalized what it calls “internal guidelines” on when public comment periods are required, and provided a summary in a blog post yesterday.

It was very easy to infer from the wording of the post that ICANN, in the wake of the controversy over the renegotiation of Public Interest Registry’s .org contract, had decided to no longer ask for public comments on future legacy gTLD contract amendments.

I inferred as much, as did another domain news blogger and a few other interested parties I pinged today.

I asked ICANN if that was a correct inference and Cyrus Namazi, head of ICANN’s Global Domains Division, replied:

No, that is not correct. All Registry contract amendments will continue to be posted for public comment same as before.

He went on to say that contract changes that come about as a result of Registry Service Evaluation Process requests or stuff like change of ownership will continue to not be subject to full public comment periods (though RSEP does have its own, less-publicized comment system).

The ICANN blog post lists several scenarios in which ICANN is required to open a public comment period. On the list is this:

ICANN org base agreements with registry operators and registrars.

The word “base” raised at least eight eyebrows of people who read the post, including my two.

The “base” agreements ICANN has with registries and registrars are the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement and the 2012/2017 Registry Agreement.

The RAA applies to all accredited registrars and the base RA applies to all new gTLD registries that applied in the 2012 round.

Registries that applied for, or were already running, gTLDs prior to 2012 all have bespoke contracts that have been gradually brought more — but not necessarily fully — into line with the 2012/17 RA in renewal renegotiations over the last several years.

In all cases, the renegotiated legacy contracts have been subject to public comment, but in no cases have the comments had any meaningful impact on their ultimate approval by ICANN.

The most recent such renewal was Public Interest Registry’s .org contract.

Among the changes were the introduction of the Uniform Rapid Suspension anti-cybersquatting policy, and the removal of price caps that had limited PIR to a 10% increase per year.

The comment period on this contract attracted over 3,200 comments, almost all of which objected to the price regulation changes or the URS.

But the contract was signed regardless, unaffected by the comments, which caused one registrar, NameCheap, to describe the process as a “sham”.

With this apparently specific reference to “base” agreements coming so soon thereafter, it’s easy to see how we could have assumed ICANN had decided to cut off public comment on these contentious issues altogether, but that appears to not be the case.

What this seems to mean is that when .com next comes up for renewal, it will be open for comment.

A little iCal tool that might make your ICANN life a little easier

Kevin Murphy, May 27, 2013, Domain Services

Yo Dawg!I’ve created a little free service that might make it a little easier for regular participants in ICANN public comment periods to keep track of deadlines.

It’s basically an iCal feed that should automatically update your online calendar whenever a new comment period is created or extended by ICANN.

This is the link: http://domainincite.com/pro/publiccommentcalendar.php

If you click it you’ll see it attempts to download a .ics (iCal) file to your computer. The contents are automatically created, daily, based on whatever deadlines ICANN has published on its web site.

If you use Google Calendar (as I do) you can add the calendar to your existing calendars by clicking the “Other calendars” drop-down in the Google Calendar sidebar, then “Add by URL”.

My Apple-using guinea pigs tell me that the same functionality is possible with the Mac’s built in Calendar software, by clicking on “File” and “New Calendar Subscription”.

It seems to work with Yahoo! Calendar too.

Subscribing should immediately add the 30-odd current public comment deadlines to your calendar, automatically adjusted to your time zone.

Google Calendar screenshotWith Google Calendar, the entries are easy enough to remove if you don’t like what you see. I expect the same is true in other software.

If it’s working properly, updates should be automatically reflected in your calendar on a daily basis.

It hasn’t been tested on any other platforms yet, but iCal seems to be a widely-embraced technical standard so I can’t see why it won’t work everywhere.

As you may be able to tell, I’m providing this service for free very much “as is”. If ICANN changes the layout of it its web site or my code is dodgy, it will stop working properly.

In other words, if it breaks and you miss a deadline, don’t blame me.

But if it does work and it makes keeping track of things a little simpler, feel free to buy me a pint.

Bug reports, suggestions and grovelling thanks to the usual address.

Enjoy your weekend — ICANN extends new gTLD comment period

Kevin Murphy, August 10, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has extended the public comment period on new gTLD applications by 45 days, after pressure from intellectual property interests and the US government.

The window to have comments considered by evaluators, which was set to close on Sunday, will now end September 26. ICANN said:

After review and discussion of the community’s input, and careful consideration of the implications and impacts the additional time may have on the processing of applications, we have extended the application comment period an additional 45 days.

That’s in line with what the Intellectual Property Constituency asked for last week, but rather less than the Association of National Advertisers wanted.

To date, over 5,500 comments have been filed, but about half of those can be attributed to the same five or six brands, most of which are using the same consultant-prepared language in their filings.

The most immediate consequence of the change today, I expect, is that all the predictably last-minute commenters in the ICANN community get to enjoy their weekends instead.

And I checked: September 26 is a Wednesday.