ICANN delays staff report on Verisign dot-COM contract until after ICANN67 meeting

Over 9000 comments were submitted to ICANN regarding the controversial Proposed Amendment 3 to the .COM Registry Agreement. The staff report had been due on March 6, 2020, before ICANN67 commenced (see archive.org for proof). However, ICANN has quietly changed the due date for the staff report to March 16, 2020, after ICANN67 is complete.

It is very odd that that they would extend the report’s due date, especially given that they would not extend the deadline for public comments (to ensure that the public had ample opportunity to reply to some of the statements that had been submitted by other stakeholders). ICANN has one set of standards for the public (deadlines are deadlines!), but another set of standards for their staff (deadlines are not really deadlines!).

It appears to me that this is a sign that ICANN intends to ignore the overwhelming opposition by the public to the proposed contract, and they hope to avoid immediate public scrutiny of such a biased report (just like their dot-ORG fiasco) by delaying it until after ICANN67 is complete. Had a biased staff report been delivered on schedule, they’d face difficult questions during their Public Forum. ICANN68 does not happen until late June of 2020, and by that time the ICANN Board may have already decided to rubber stamp the bad deal, making questions at ICANN68 pointless.

Given the above potential for “gaming” by ICANN staff, it’s imperative that ICANN makes no decision regarding the dot-COM agreement until the public has an opportunity to scrutinize the staff report and provide feedback to the ICANN Board. As I pointed out in my own submission (point #17), there is no requirement to complete a “negotiation” with Verisign until October or November of 2020, so ICANN should refrain from making any decisions until at least after ICANN68.