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.

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Galaxy Digital acquired the Galaxy.com domain name for $1.8 million

[UPDATED AGAIN ON JANUARY 31, 2022:  After further information from the buyer’s broker, it turns out that USD $1.8 million was indeed the amount received by the seller of the Galaxy.com domain name. Any additional fees that changed hands between the buyer and the buyer’s broker are more properly characterized as “success fees.”]

[UPDATED ON JANUARY 30, 2022: Based on additional information from the buyer’s broker, it’s now unclear whether the transaction price for the Galaxy.com domain name was USD $1.8 million, so we’ve adjusted the headline and text below accordingly.]

A new SEC filing by Galaxy Digital has disclosed that they purchased a domain for USD $1.8 million last year. See page F-25 of the filing, which states:

During the third quarter of 2021, the Company purchased a website domain name for $1.8 million.

While the SEC filing didn’t reveal the actual domain name, Galaxy.com was the likely candidate for the domain name upgrade, given that their current primary domain name is GalaxyDigital.io. The Galaxy.com domain name is under WHOIS privacy, which doesn’t assist us in proving the ownership of that domain. And there is no active website at present for Galaxy.com. However, there are other clues which point to Galaxy Digital as the new owner of the Galaxy.com domain name.

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Forge.com domain name acquired for $2.2 million by Forge Global

Forge Global, a private securities marketplace, revealed in a recent SEC filing that it had acquired the forge.com domain name in the third quarter of 2021 for USD $2,202,000. This was documented on pages F-96 and F-97 of the filing.

Forge Global announced in September its intention to go public in a $2 billion SPAC deal.

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

ICANN has a public comment period that ends today for “Proposed Revisions to the ICANN Documentary Information Disclosure Policy.” Below is a PDF of my full submission, which begins as follows:


Dear ICANN org,

In the Harry Potter series of books and films, access to the Marauder’s Map was granted by saying the phrase “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” after tapping the map. I imagine that the ICANN staff who crafted these proposed changes to the Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP) had that quote in mind, either explicitly or implicitly, when they sat down to edit the existing version of the DIDP.

[read the rest in the following PDF]

Submission of Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. to ICANN Regarding Proposed Revisions to the ICANN Documentary Information Disclosure Policy

ICANN Responds To My Open Letter Regarding IGO Protections

In mid-October, I sent an open letter to the ICANN Board regarding IGO protections.  Today, they responded with the following letter (which should find its way to the ICANN Correspondence page shortly):

Maarten Botterman letter to George Kirikos Dated December 9, 2021 re: PROTECTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

In response, I wrote the following:


BY EMAIL ONLY

December 9, 2021

Dear Mr. Botterman,

I have received your letter of today, responding to my prior correspondence.

I am encouraged by your statement that “it will not be appropriate to
provide greater protection to IGOs than what exists under
international law”. However it’s a fact that current policy already
provides greater protection to IGOs than what exists under
international law. Similarly, the current EPDP’s work threatens to go
much further, thereby harming domain name registrants’ rights by
providing IGOs with greater rights than exist under international law.

If your statement that “it will not be appropriate to provide greater
protection to IGOs than what exists under international law” is
correct (and it’s a statement I agree with), then ICANN should
terminate the EPDP and roll back the policies that exceed the actual
rights of IGOs under international law.

As for the “Reply Period Public Comments”, it is not correct that
their discontinuation in 2014 represented any “improvement” of the
process. Furthermore, that change continues to violate the Bylaws,
which literally require a reasonable opportunity to reply to the
comments of others. If a comment is submitted on the final day, for
example, or even in the last 30 minutes of a comment period, it is
unreasonable to require the public to respond within that same day or
within 30 minutes, as the case may be. Indeed, your own reply to my
short correspondence took nearly 2 months, which demonstrates that the
public generally needs weeks to read and consider their own responses.

Sincerely,

George Kirikos
416-588-0269
http://www.leap.com/


 

Final Call To Submit Comments to ICANN To Protect Domain Name Owners’ Rights

After a Herculean effort, I’ve managed to complete my company’s comment submission to ICANN, to respond to the dangerous proposal from its working group which would have severe negative consequences for domain name owners. My company’s comment can be read below:

Comments of Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc. submitted to ICANN on October 23, 2021

The deadline for comments is Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 23:59 UTC, and can be made by going here.  That’s less than 24 hours from the time of this blog post.

You can read the comments of others (16 at the time of this blog post, including one by the Internet Commerce Association) here. It takes only a few minutes to sign up for an account to endorse/support the comments of others (that’s what some of the IGOs have done, to support the comments of WIPO).

Past blog posts on this topic can be read here, here, here, and here.

If the proposals are adopted without any changes, there would be great risk for consequence free reverse domain name hijacking. I urge people to take this seriously and to submit comments opposing the changes.

 

Unbalanced ICANN Working Group Participation Harms Domain Name Owners

In a blog post last week, I sounded the alarm about a dangerous proposal from an ICANN working group which would have severe negative consequences for domain name owners, allowing IGOs (intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations) to engage in consequence-free reverse domain name hijacking.

To understand what led to such a report, I decided to look at the actual participation of working group members, as per the mailing list activities and on the weekly calls (transcripts are available on the GNSO Calendar page). The shocking results [visible on the web via a published Google Spreadsheet, with graphs) clearly demonstrate why such one-sided proposals were arrived at by the working group. In particular, the IGOs (through the GAC) had far greater participation, via Brian Beckham of WIPO and others, with only Jay Chapman of Digimedia (participating on behalf of the Business Constituency) as a voice for domain name owners. It is clear that the output of the working group reflects capture.

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If ICANN Creates An Arbitration System, It Could Not Be Limited To Just Domain Name Disputes

In a blog post last week, I sounded the alarm about a dangerous proposal from an ICANN working group which would have severe negative consequences for domain name owners, allowing IGOs (intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations) to engage in consequence-free reverse domain name hijacking.

After additional research and contemplation, it’s actually even worse than I imagined, and not just for domain name owners. It could create a system whereby an ICANN-developed arbitration system would handle employment disputes, trademark cancellation disputes, environmental disputes, sexual misconduct disputes, defamation actions, whistle-blower retaliation cases, copyright cases, and any other potential court actions, as long as an element of  the overall dispute related to domain names and alleged cybersquattingContinue reading “If ICANN Creates An Arbitration System, It Could Not Be Limited To Just Domain Name Disputes”

An Open Letter To The ICANN Board Regarding IGO Protections

Earlier this week, I sounded the alarm about a dangerous proposal from an ICANN working group which would have severe negative consequences for domain name owners, allowing IGOs (intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations) to engage in consequence-free reverse domain name hijacking.

I noticed that the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN wrote a letter to the Board that was published earlier this week which is highly misleading as to the nature of IGOs’ rights, and wrote a letter to the ICANN Board in response. I’ve published it below to show how ICANN policymaking has been held hostage via misinformation from the GAC and IGOs.

[Edited on October 15, 2021: I made 3 changes: (a) changed the date to October 15, (b) added a section on page 2 about Louis Touton’s similar analysis from 2001, which came to light after some Twitter discussions in the past day; (c) amended to note that they’ve not agreed to extend the deadline; it’s now a PDF]

Letter to ICANN

Duplicitous ICANN Working Group Jeopardizes Domain Owners’ Rights

A duplicitous ICANN Working Group has issued a report that is open for public comments that would have severe negative consequences for domain name owners.  In particular, it would tilt the playing field in a domain name dispute (i.e. a UDRP or the URS) involving IGOs (intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations) in such a manner that it would be nearly impossible for domain owners to have their dispute decided on the merits by the courts. This would encourage consequence-free reverse domain name hijacking. Rather than accept the findings and recommendations of the prior working group, which reached a consensus, this new working group instead had tunnel vision and focused instead on ramming through an alternative recommendation (involving arbitration) for which there was an express consensus against in the prior working group!

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