Sham ICANN Working Group Plans To Trample on Domain Name Registrants’ Legal Rights

As I warned in October 2021, an ICANN working group intends to seriously jeopardize domain name owners’ legal rights. There was a call for public comments, and my own company submitted a substantial 54 page submission, as did others.

However, the working group just posted to their mailing list a draft of their final report yesterday (see the DOCX attachment at the bottom), one that is essentially unchanged from their highly criticized initial report’s 5 recommendations. IGOs are given new rights not present in law, and instead the rights of domain name registrants to due process are ignored.

The draft of the final report does not reflect any substantial changes reflecting good faith consideration of the serious public comments. In brief, the entire process has been a complete sham. Indeed, the draft final report is actually shorter than their initial report (29 pages vs 31 pages), much shorter than even my own 54 page submission. Rather than seriously analyzing the substantial public input, it’s been completely ignored by the working group if it disagreed with their initial report.

The working group even cancelled their ICANN73 session, claiming (see page 12) during the preview week that they had “conflicts” with other meetings. What’s more likely is that they simply want to avoid facing the community, given they are are perpetuating a sham process that tramples on the rights of registrants.

The GNSO Council should reject this shoddy work, which makes a mockery of the claimed “bottom up” consensus driven multi-stakeholder process. This is a process where domain name registrants’ input and interests were completely ignored, to their detriment, with IGO interests given supremacy. It’s completely unbalanced. Domain names will be handed over to IGOs that a court would never have agreed to do, and registrants will be left with no recourse.

I would hope that the Registrars Constituency in particular, which made substantial comments opposing the initial report, will protect the interests of their customers against these one-sided proposals.

If this report is accepted by GNSO Council and the ICANN Board, it’s yet another sign that ICANN simply doesn’t care about the fundamental legal rights of domain name registrants, including due process. An organization that doesn’t have that respect for fundamental legal rights is unfit to oversee policy for  domain names.