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ICANN throws out second .org appeal, so URS stays

Kevin Murphy, December 18, 2019, 17:15:33 (UTC), Domain Registries

The Uniform Rapid Suspension process is to stay in .org, after the ICANN board of directors rejected an appeal from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF had challenged the inclusion of URS in the recently renegotiated .org Registry Agreement, on the basis that the anti-cybersquatting system was designed for post-2012 new gTLDs and was never supposed to be deployed in legacy gTLDs such as .org.
In a Request for Reconsideration, the EFF had argued that ICANN had ignored the many commenters opposed to its inclusion in the contract, and that the board had shirked its duties by delegating the renegotiation to ICANN’s executive leadership.
But the board disagreed on both of these counts, saying in its resolution and accompanying 36-page analysis (pdf) that at no point had the organization broken its bylaws.
ICANN did not ignore the anti-URS comments, the board said, it simply decided that on balance the public interest was better served by having URS in the contract.

The Requestor has not demonstrated that ICANN Staff failed to seek or support broad participation, ascertain the global public interest, or act for the public benefit. To the contrary, ICANN org’s transparent processes reflect the Staff’s continuous efforts to ascertain and pursue the global public interest by migrating the legacy gTLDs to the Base RA.

Additionally, the board was well within its rights to delegate negotiation and approval of the RA to the CEO, the board decided. The fact that the EFF disagrees with that position does not amount to a basis of reconsideration, it found.
Since the EFF filed its RfR back in August, we’ve had the news of the $1.135 billion acquisition of .org manager Public Interest Registry by Ethos Capital, which will see it convert from a non-profit to a for-profit concern.
The EFF has since had the chance to put allegations to ICANN that its staff was aware of the deal before it was announced, and that the acquisition should have factored into its consideration of the RA renewal.
But ICANN flatly denies that it knew about the deal, which was announced four months after the renewal:

Since neither the Board nor ICANN Staff were aware of the PIR acquisition when the decision to renew the .ORG RA was made, there was no material information not considered, and therefore this is not a proper basis for reconsideration.

The Ethos Capital acquisition of PIR, which was announced more than four months after the execution of the .ORG Renewed RA, did not impact ICANN Staff’s determination that ICANN’s Mission and Core Values were best served by migrating the .ORG RA to the Base RA.

In conclusion, like almost all filers of RfRs, the EFF is SOL.
Another RfR, filed by the registrar NameCheap and related primary to .org pricing, was similarly rejected by ICANN’s board a few weeks ago.
ICANN is, however, currently quizzing Ethos and PIR seller ISOC for more details about the acquisition before it approves the change of contractor.

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Comments (1)

  1. John says:

    How does ICANN explain removing all pricing caps in .org benefit the global public interest?
    Removal of all pricing caps will harm consumers at large and benefit only one party. ICANN has granted PIR the ability to increase prices however it sees fit (enormous benefit to one.)
    ICANN is facilitating an enormous transfer of wealth – from a captive base of 10+ million registrants to one-for profit company.
    And most troubling, ICANN ex-CEO Fadi Chehade will be one of the biggest recipients of these supracompetitive profits.
    Despite the fact that the cost to operate PIR have declined over they years and PIR realized more than a 50% cost reduction in 2018 from a competitive bidding process which occurred in 2016.
    At the detriment of ten million registrants.
    So one (1) vs. ten million (10,000,0000) is in the public interest.
    ICANN – explain how the public benefits from rising prices on a captive base of users who have no alternatives?
    And be transparent – disclose all interactions Fadi Chehade had with ICANN staff and board members leading up to the announcement of Ethos transaction.

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