ICANN, in an affront to free speech and due process, has threatened to restrict my participation on important domain name policy issues, and I think it’s crucial that these topics be brought before the public for debate.
As noted in the first post of this blog, I’ve been a member of the RPM PDP working group for 3 years, which is chartered to review ICANN’s UDRP and other policies that affect domain name registrants. Eleven months ago, there was an exchange of emails on the mailing list between myself and another working group member, Gregory S. Shatan. He complained, alleging violations of ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior (ESOB).
In my view, this is an attempt to weaponize the ESOB, which is simply an aspirational statement with no actionable consequences, and convert it into something it was never meant to be, namely a tool that can be misused and exploited to censor policy opponents without adequate due process.
The ICANN Ombudsman, Herb Waye, concluded the exact same thing we did concerning the nature of the ESOB, as we noted in our March 10, 2019 response (point 5 on page 6) to ICANN General Counsel and Secretary John Jeffrey:
“But unfortunately the expected standards of behavior is a guideline; it’s not a rule with sanction or penalty attached to it.”
Despite all this, I was given an unreasonable ultimatum last week, and told my participation would be restricted if I did not give them what they desired, despite issues being under active dispute.
Much of the timeline is documented in the following:
- October 23, 2018 letter from Andrew Bernstein (one of my lawyers, on my behalf) to Samantha Eisner, which sets out the sequence of events from May to October 2018.
- March 9, 2019 letter and attachment from John Jeffrey to Keith Drazek (GNSO Council chair).
- March 10, 2019 letter from Robin Gross (one of my lawyers, on my behalf) to John Jeffrey.
- March 29, 2019 letters from GNSO Council Leadership to Mr. Shatan, and to myself.
- March 29, 2019 email from Robin Gross on my behalf to Keith Drazek, and his response of April 1, 2019 (email thread can be read backwards).
- Today’s response (April 5, 2019) by me to the March 29, 2019 letter.
I hope with this greater transparency, readers will understand that there are important principles of free speech and due process at stake.
Over the coming days, weeks, months and years, I will be writing more about this topic, and other topics. Domain name registrants are severely underrepresented in ICANN policy making. The ESOB should not be weaponized to censor champions of domain name registrants’ rights like myself, worsening that underrepresentation (which is the ultimate goal of those attempting to weaponize it).
I hope to continue to inform and educate you so that others will be able to make sure these censorship attempts do not lead to bad policy outcomes that would affect millions of domain name registrants.