Double Standards in the Application of the ICANN Expected Standards of Behavior – Part 6

In this series, I examine past behavior at ICANN, contrasting it with the Expected Standards of Behavior (ESOB), and ask you to decide for yourself whether it has been applied equally to everyone, or instead is applied selectively to achieve different results when different people are involved.

Philip S. Corwin, is Policy Counsel at Verisign (the dot-com registry operator), and one of the co-chairs in the RPM PDP working group that is chartered to review the UDRP, URS, and other rights protection mechanisms.

I previously documented how Mr. Corwin previously publicly rebuked me, in October 2018, for using the term “wish lists”, a term that had been used by others at ICANN.

On April 24, 2019, in a meeting of the Trademark Claims Data Review Sub Team of the RPM PDP, Mr. Corwin said the following in regards to one of the proposals I submitted:

Not to pile on – and I haven’t heard any support for this yet – I
just want to state in a personal capacity I regard this proposal as an intentionally poison pill proposal coming from a former member of this working group who was exceedingly clear that he wanted to sunset most, if not all, of the new TLD RPMs. [page 27 of transcript or starting at 45:40 of the MP3 recording, emphasis added]

So, in one instance, Mr. Corwin rebukes the innocuous term “wish lists” only when I use it (and not when others have used it). But then in another instance, Mr. Corwin feels free to make a far worse statement of his own, using the phrase “intentionally poison pill proposal.” His statement falsely suggests that my good faith proposal was actually made in bad faith (which is an attack on me personally). According to the ESOB, which Mr. Corwin claims must be followed, “Those who take part in the ICANN process must acknowledge the importance of all stakeholders and seek to understand their points of view.” Rather than attempt to do so, Mr. Corwin engaged in an attack against me when I wasn’t even present to defend myself (as I had been unfairly banished earlier that month. That’s the typical conduct of a coward, one who knows he can get away with an attack because the target of the statements isn’t present.

Without going into great length in this post (I’ll save that for future blog posts reviewing all my proposals), I made a serious proposal in good faith which sought to reimburse registrars for their costs (my company is not a registrar directly, although we do act as a reseller of the registrar Tucows mostly for the management of our own domain names) related to the Trademark Claims notices, via a CPM-based method. Some registrars haven’t even implemented the notices for new gTLDs (these notices might even become mandatory for legacy TLDs, depending on the outcome of the PDP), and those that did implement the notices have seen very high abandonment rates when prospective registrants are shopping for their domains. My proposal was a good faith attempt to find an economic solution to an economic problem (my academic background is in economics and finance), and one that is easy to implement (many DNS providers charge usage-based fees proportional to the number of DNS requests, as do other systems that use APIs, and as do many online advertising systems).

Indeed, it’s rich for Mr. Corwin, an employee and representative of Verisign, to attack my attempts to “work to build consensus with other stakeholders” (to quote the ESOB, with the “other stakeholders” being registrars facing burdens due to ICANN’s policies) and to act “irrespective of personal interests” (to again quote the ESOB, as my company isn’t directly impacted by the notices at present), given that section 7.3(d)(ii) of Verisign’s dot-com registry agreement permits Verisign to be directly compensated (through higher prices) if a new ICANN consensus policy imposes new burdens on Verisign. My proposal simply attempts to provide registrars with reimbursement for their burdens, to have similar protections that Verisign enjoys.

Indeed, I made another proposal in a similar vein which sought the provision of open source software examples to be provided to registrars, to once again lower the burden on registrars by lowering their implementation costs. This second proposal read in combination with the other shows my good faith intent to address a real economic problem for registrars. I doubt Mr. Corwin or Verisign would unilaterally offer to remove section 7.3(d)(ii) from their contract without compensation, but his criticism of my proposal would ring more sincere if Verisign did so.

Mr. Corwin, in rebuking me in the past, asserted that one should “refrain from using terms that denigrate the efforts and ideas of other WG members“. But it’s clear that he feels free to use phrases like “intentionally poison pill proposal” and not follow his own advice in his attack on myself, his policy opponent. Indeed, Mr. Corwin’s hypocrisy reminds me of Matthew 7:5:

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;
and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

In conclusion, this example further illustrates the dangers of the ESOB. It has been weaponized to selectively target and eliminate policy opponents using one alleged “standard” of behavior, but then equal or even worse conduct is permitted. The double standard is clear.