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Anger as ICANN splashes out $160,000 on travel

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2016, 19:36:44 (UTC), Domain Policy

Should representatives of Facebook, Orange, Thomson Reuters, BT and the movie industry have thousands of ICANN dollars spent on their travel to policy meetings?
Angry registrars are saying “no”, after it emerged that ICANN last month spent $80,000 flying 38 community members to LA for a three-day intersessional meeting of the Non-Contracted Parties House.
It spent roughly the same on the 2015 meeting, newly released data shows.
ICANN paid for fewer than 10 registries and registrars — possibly as few as two — to attend the equivalent Global Domains Division Summit last year, a few registrars told DI.
The numbers were released after a Documentary Information Disclosure Policy request by the Registrars Stakeholder Group a month ago, and published on Friday (pdf).
It appears from the DIDP release that every one of the 38 people who showed up in person was reimbursed for their expenses to the tune of, on average, $2,051 each.
The price tag covers flights, hotels, visa costs and a cash per diem allowance that worked out to an average of $265 per person.
ICANN also recorded travel expenses for another two people who ultimately couldn’t make it to the event.
The NCPH is made up of both commercial and non-commercial participants. Many are academics or work for non-profits.
However, representatives of huge corporations such as Facebook and BT also work in the NCPH and let ICANN pick up their expenses for the February meeting.
Lawyers from influential IP-focused trade groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America and International Trademark Association were also happy for ICANN to pay.
One oddity on the list is the CEO of .sucks registry Vox Populi, who is still inexplicably a member of the Business Constituency.
MarkMonitor, a corporate registrar and Thomson Reuters subsidiary that attends the Intellectual Property Constituency, also appears.
Despite $80,000 being a relatively piddling amount in terms of ICANN’s overall budget, members of the Contracted Parties House — registries and registrars — are not happy about this state of affairs as a matter of principle.
ICANN’s budget is, after all, primarily funded by the ICANN fees registries and registrars — ultimately registrants — must pay.
“CPH pays the bills and the non-CPH travels on our dime,” one registrar told DI today.
One RrSG member said only two registrars were reimbursed for their GDD Summit travel last year. Another put the number at five. Another said it was fewer than 10.
In any event, it seems to be far fewer than those in the NCPH letting ICANN pick up the tab.
It’s not entirely clear why the discrepancy exists — it might be just because fewer contracted parties apply for a free ride, rather than evidence of a defect in ICANN expenses policy.
The NCPH intersessional series was designed to give stakeholders “the opportunity, outside of the pressures and schedule strains of an ICANN Public Meeting to discuss longer-range substantial community issues and to collaborate with Senior ICANN Staff on strategic and operational issues that impact the community”, according to ICANN.

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Comments (7)

  1. Acro says:

    Isn’t this what the multi-steakholder [sic] model is all about? 😀

  2. Jennifer Standiford says:

    ICANN has not published a plan to payback reserves much less justify travel support for more than 90% of the Non-Contracted Party House Conference attendees for the past two years… ICANN only proposed a small fraction of the travel funding for the Contracted Party House Summit for 2015 and upcoming 2016 event.

  3. Doug Peters says:

    ICANN is now so corrupt that I have lost hope in them.
    Around $2,000.00 USD for .car, .car or .auto registrations AND renewals is just another example of how they cash in on the “New ICANN Era” of corruption, purposely hindering entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.
    Having specific keyword generic names register as “premium domains” is one thing that smacks of corruption, but they take it one step further by requiring that same premium price for renewals. Whether it is them or the sponsoring registries themselves, they are allowing this corruption and taking a slice.
    I like the new names, but almost every one of them is at least twice or thrice as expensive or much, much more, than .com and .net
    In my view, ICANN is completely corrupt and totally destroying the domain market.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      ICANN does not set the prices in new gTLDs.
      ICANN makes exactly as much money on a $20,000 domain as a $0.25 domain.
      In fact, it probably makes less money on more expensive gTLDs, as it only starts charging transaction fees after a registry has 50,000 domains under management (which is less likely to happen the more expensive the gTLD is).

      • Dan Rodgers says:

        For this very reason it’d likely make sense for them to rethink that registry fee policy.
        While it makes sense to enable smaller registries to compete more easily, seems daft that one registry can sell at $10/yr, get 50001 regs, but only t/o $500,010 yet another registry selling at $2K/name with 500 names makes twice the money and pays no fees to ICANN…

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          All registries pay USD 25k per year in base fees, and that is USD 0.50 per domain for a registry with 50k domains or USD 50 per domain for a registry with 500 names. The USD 0.25 per domain is additional to the base fees.

  4. ICANN is meant to consider all sorts of constituencies, is it not?
    Not just large corporations like Facebook and MarkMonitor clients, lobbying groups for trademarks and the film industry, nor even just TLD registries and registrars … but also a far more diverse and numerous population of registrants – small businesses, tiny nonprofits, domainers, and ordinary individuals.
    This constituency – by far the largest – is perpetually underrepresented at ICANN meetings because its “membership” is small and scattered.
    These other constituencies can easily afford to tag along with ICANN globetrotting. Their voices are already disproportionately represented at the ICANN table. So why is ICANN subsidizing and exaggerating this imbalance? Well, “why” isn’t the question. The question is why it’s tolerated.

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