As part of its avowed commitment to transparency – a key element in the Affirmation of Commitments signed at the conclusion of direct U.S. oversight — ICANN maintains a document disclosure procedure similar to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. This Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP) “is intended to ensure that information contained in documents concerning ICANN’s operational activities, and within ICANN’s possession, custody, or control, is made available to the public unless there is a compelling reason for confidentiality.”
ICA has just filed a DIDP request with ICANN asking for certain information to be disclosed about what has been done with URS implementation to date and what data and analysis led to the staff conclusion that the URS requires “reconfiguration” through two URS “Summits”, a yet-to-be-fully-defined concept, at a cost of $175,000 earmarked in the proposed FY 13 Budget.
Our complete letter is below, and we admit it contains a lot of confusing legalese because we don’t know exactly what documents exist or from whom they arose, so the resulting letter is rather complex and convoluted. Cutting through the run-on sentences, what we’ve requested is:
Last week we filed a comment letter on the proposed FY 13 Budget that objected to funding these “URS” Summits until the ICANN community had more information on what implementation had transpired to date as well as the factual backing for the staff suggestion that the URS needs to be reconfigured through an undefined process. The questions we have raised are intended to give us and the community the information we should have had all along.
We have no idea why ICANN decided to proceed with URS implementation in the way it has. Other than the answer to that question, everything else we’ve requested is quite similar to the technical, cost, legal, practical, and other issues that have arisen and been openly debated and discussed in the course of the proceedings of the Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) for the TMC. Therefore, we wouldn’t think that ICANN has any sound basis for asserting confidentiality as a reason for non-disclosure of the requested materials.
As ICANN strives to respond fully to all DIDP requests within 30 days, we hope to have most if not all of this information by the week of its upcoming Prague meeting. We look forward to reviewing it.
Here’s the letter —
Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal
1155 F Street, NW Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004
May 29, 2012
By E-mail to: email@example.com
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601
Re: DIDP Request
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) to initiate a disclosure request pursuant to ICANN’s Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP) in regard to a matter with reserved funding in the Draft FY 13 Operating Plan and Budget.
ICA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the domain name industry, including domain registrants, domain marketplaces, and direct search providers. Its membership is composed of domain name registrants who invest in domain names (DNs) and develop the associated websites, as well as the companies that serve them. Professional domain name registrants are a major source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself. ICA members own and operate approximately ten percent of all existing Internet domains on behalf of their own domain portfolios as well as those of thousands of customers.
Description of request
The ICA is hereby requesting information from ICANN relating to the $175,000 earmark in the Proposed FY 13 Operating Budget for the purpose of convening two “Summits” to address reconf
iguration of the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) rights protection mechanism required for all new gTLDs that shall be delegated to the root under the now ongoing application and evaluation process for new gTLDs.
This request is made pursuant to ICANN’s DIDP. As stated on the portion of ICANN’s website explaining its commitment to transparency, the DIDP “is intended to ensure that information contained in documents concerning ICANN’s operational activities, and within ICANN’s possession, custody, or control, is made available to the public unless there is a compelling reason for confidentiality.” (http://www.icann.org/en/about/transparency/didp) We have reviewed ICANN’s website and can find none of the information that might be divulged in response to this request, so we are seeking its disclosure through the DIDP process; nor do we believe that any significant portion of the materials requested would fall within the “Defined Conditions for Nondisclosure” recited on that webpage. In addition, while we oppose the holding of URS Summits or any other non-standard process for “reconfiguration” of URS policy absent a fuller explanation and consensus approval by the ICANN community, if such process is indeed undertaken those participating in it would require much of the information we are hereby requesting in order to make fully informed decisions.
Because the receipt of information in response to this reasonable request may be the basis of important interaction between ICA and other concerned community members with members of the ICANN Board and staff at the upcoming public meeting in Prague, and because the Board will be finalizing the FY 13 Budget immediately after such interaction (including comments received during the Public Forum to be held in Prague), we urge that even if our request cannot be fully accommodated within 30 calendar days of receipt, that all such responsive information that can be made available within that standard response time is in fact made available as soon as possible so that we and others may be provided with the maximum amount of factual background to inform our remarks, activities, and interactions in Prague.
Our request is as follows:
Relevant Background Information
ICA has been participating in and monitoring the activities of the Trademark Clearinghouse IAG since its formation last year. Anticipating that a similar IAG would be established for the URS, we asked ICANN staff in public session at the October 2011 Dakar meeting when such implementation would commence and were told that it would be initiated the following month; that assertion was not borne out. Similarly, we raised the same question with more urgency at the March 2012 San Jose meeting and were told that a request for proposals (RFP) for URS providers would be issued the following month; again, no such action was taken.
It is now apparent, based on a staff statement quoted in its entirety below, that “Implementation work [has been] conducted on the URS to date” but that ICANN staff have only communicated with and have chosen to involve only selected organizations and individuals. We are unsure when this URS implementation process began or the identities of all the organizations and individuals it has involved and our request is meant in part to fill in those blanks, as well as to provide us with an informed understanding of what the “Summit” process might entail.
The materials on which we base this understanding and analysis are as follows:
24. Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) – $175K
At present there is a significant gap between the features specified for the URS procedure and the desired cost. In order to bridge this gap we will: hold two summit sessions to reconfigure the URS to arrive at a lower cost model (one session in FY12 budget and another in this FY13 plan), conduct a process to develop and finalize URS Model in consultation with current UDRP providers and community members; and conduct RFP based on URS Model and select URS providers. The goal is have a URS program in place and providers contracted and onboard by June 2013. (Emphasis added)
Uniform Rapid Suspension:
There is a budget line item identified as “URS Summit” Implementation work conducted on the URS to date indicates that the the implementation will not attain the cost target of $300-$500 in URS fee per case. This is based on discussions with WIPO staff, direct communication with the IPC, and examples understood from the ICM registry and Nominet. Because the fee target is a primary goal of the URS, additional work and study should be undertaken to determine if amendments to the program might attain the fee goal and retain the safeguards and other features of the program. This study must be undertaken by a community group. While the scope of the effort is not yet defined, it was necessary to reserve resources for the work in the ICANN’s FY13 budget. The line item in the budget is the placeholder for those resources while the best way to accomplish the work can be designed. Again, the work will be done through a bottom-up, community discussion similar to the the work done to create and review the URS in the first instance. The timing of the budgeting process required that we create the line item before planning for this work could be drafted and worked through the community. (Emphasis added)
The current model of the URS contained in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook represents the result of a long and arduous process conducted within and by the full ICANN multi-stakeholder community. We believe that URS reconfiguration undertaken to realize a single URS policy goal may require the sacrifice or diminution of other important policy elements, including adequate due process for registrants/respondents, and should be undertaken only with the full understanding and concurrence of the community that created the current model. We are also extremely concerned that the URS implementation process undertaken to date has not been transparent (indeed, the fact that implementation was underway was not even revealed until publication of the Proposed FY 13 Budget) nor has it been open to all interested and implicated parties. The request we have made for the documents described above is being submitted for the purpose of gathering the maximum amount of available information within ICANN’s possession and control that may shed light on the URS implementation process undertaken to date and the potential paths forward.
Thank you for considering our request for the above referenced and described information contained in documents within ICANN’s possession, custody or control. We look forward to reviewing whatever information may be provided in response to this request.
Philip S. Corwin
Counsel, Internet Commerce Association
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