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. domain name changed hands for $600,000

According to a recent SEC filing (see page 14), Medidata Solutions Inc., a provider of cloud-based solutions for clinical research in life sciences, acquired the domain name for USD $600,000 in the first quarter of 2019. According to, the domain name used to redirect to, operated by a Swiss company.

Once charted by DNJournal, it would enter the top 5 reported domain name name transactions for this year, although we’ve yet to reach the midpoint of 2019.

Ten Year Renewal In Advance of Domain Name Fee Increases Is Inadequate Protection

In the past month, one of the most controversial topics in the domain name world has been the proposal by ICANN to permit unlimited fee increases for .ORG domain names, compared to the current generous allowance of 10% annual fee increases (far above inflation). My own submission in the public comment period can be read in a prior blog post.

Yesterday, PIR, the registry operator, wrote an open letter to the .ORG community that can be summarized in 2 words, “trust us.” That is insufficient. Organizations have a tendency to change their minds, especially when it serves their interests. What matters is what’s
in the contracts, as what is allowed to happen often does happen. Continue reading “Ten Year Renewal In Advance of Domain Name Fee Increases Is Inadequate Protection”

My comments to ICANN opposing proposed .org, .info, .biz and .asia contract renewals

Below is a (slightly reformatted) version of the comments I submitted to ICANN today regarding the proposed .org, info, .biz and .asia contract renewals. The deadline for comments on the .org and .info contracts is just a few hours away (longer deadline for .biz and .asia), so hopefully they inspire others to submit comments, if they’ve not already done so.

Submitted by: George Kirikos
Company: Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.
Date: April 29, 2019

We write to oppose the proposed contract renewals posted by ICANN for the .org, .info, .biz and .asia contracts, as posted for public comments at:

While our arguments are focused on the .org TLD, to the extent that
the contractual terms are similar for the other TLDs, we repeat the
same comments for .info, .biz and .org. Indeed, while the majority of
the thousands of public comments to date have focused on .org, ICANN
should read those comments as also applying to .info, .biz and .org,
even if the submitters did not explicitly submit their comments to all
4 email addresses.

Continue reading “My comments to ICANN opposing proposed .org, .info, .biz and .asia contract renewals”

Should ICANN staff be fired over the outrageous .org, .info, .biz and .asia proposed registry contracts?

ICANN staff put forth outrageous proposals for the renewal of the .org, .biz, .info and .asia contracts, which are now open for public comment (with the first deadline being April 29, 2019). ICANN is proposing allowing unlimited fee increases for .org domain names, which currently are allowed to increase a maximum of 10% annually. That 10% annual cap of fee increases came about after the huge public outcry that ensued in 2006 when a comparable proposal to eliminate price caps was made, and successfully opposed by the public. It seems that ICANN did not learn from history.

More than 100 comments have been submitted so far regarding the .org contract renewal, with most of them vehemently opposed to the potential for unlimited fee increases.

Should ICANN staff be held accountable for such outrageously one-sided contracts?  Please vote in the poll below on Twitter:

Continue reading “Should ICANN staff be fired over the outrageous .org, .info, .biz and .asia proposed registry contracts?” domain name changed hands for $71,842

According to a recent SEC filing (see page 30), blockchain company Prometheum acquired the domain name in October 2018 for USD $71,842.

Once charted by DNJournal, it would become the 99th highest reported domain name transaction for 2018.


Impact of the URS and Unlimited Fee Increases for Registrants in .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ and .ASIA

I had the pleasure of having a discussion today with several members of the ICANN At-Large community, regarding the proposed contracts for .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ and .ASIA that are now out for public comment. Glenn McKnight, Jonathan Zuck and Eduardo Diaz participated, along with myself, and it was recorded (see YouTube recording here; best to fast forward to 1:40 into the recording, to get to the true beginning of the discussions). I hope you find it educational, and will comment on these proposed contracts. I’ll have more to say about these contracts as we get closer to the deadline for comments later this month.

There’s also an audio MP3 recording of our discussion.

Update: My participation rights have now been eliminated at ICANN working groups

Just to followup on the earlier blog post of today, I received the following email from Keith Drazek (GNSO Council Chair),

Dear Mr. Kirikos,

Receipt of your letter is acknowledged.

We note and regret that you have elected to not accept and agree to abide by ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior (ESOB).

As such, per the notice provided in the Council Leadership Team’s letter of 29 March, you will be placed in observer status in the RPM PDP WG and any other GNSO-related forum until such time we receive the necessary communication confirming acceptance of the ESOB, or until such time the ICANN Ombuds rules that you may return to member status following any appeal.


Keith Drazek
GNSO Chair (on behalf of the GNSO Council Leadership Team)

So, unless I “bend the knee” and “swear an oath of fealty” (or unless the ICANN Ombudsman says I can return), I’m forever banished. Is that reasonable and proportionate?

And, this affects participation for all working groups (not just the RPM PDP), even though there’s no issue in the IGO PDP!


ICANN Threatens to Restrict Participation Rights of critic George Kirikos

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. Continue reading “ICANN Threatens to Restrict Participation Rights of critic George Kirikos”