Michael D. Palage

Michael D. Palage

Intellectual Property Attorney and IT Consultant
Joined on August 31, 2006
Total Post Views: 571,969


Michael Palage is the Chief Trust Officer at InfoNetworks LLC. Michael has been actively involved in Internet Governance and ICT issues over the last twenty years. During this time Michael has been intimately involved in ICANN operational and policy matters in an individual and leadership capacity, including a three-year term on the ICANN Board of Directors. As CEO of Pharos Global, Inc. Michael provided consulting and management services to a wide range of domain name registration authorities. Since co-founding InfoNetworks in 2017, Michael has focused on building online trusted ecosystems incorporating federated verified data. Michael has testified before the United States Congress multiple times and has been an expert witness in both Federal and State courts in numerous legal proceedings.

Michael holds a Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University. 

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Michael D. Palage on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

NIS 2.0 and Its Impact on the Domain Name Ecosystem

I recently appeared on the 419 Consulting podcast to discuss the European Union's NIS 2.0 Directive and its impact on the domain name ecosystem. I encourage all TLD registries, domain name registration service providers, and DNS operators to listen to the recording of that session which Andrew Campling has made available. more

13th Registration Operations Workshop: Join Us Online on June 4th, 2024

As a member of the ROW Planning Committee, I am writing this post on behalf of the Committee and welcome all community members to join us on June 4th. We are celebrating ROW's 10th anniversary! A decade of collaboration and inspiration! Thank you to the incredible community that has fueled this journey! more

Advancing Digital Trust: Global Innovations in Domain Registrant Verification (Highlights from the ICANN79 Community Forum)

On 6 March 2024, the ICANN At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) held a plenary session entitled "Building Trust on the Internet Through Registrant Verification" at the ICANN79 Community Forum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that Michael Palage and Avri Doria co-moderated. This session was inspired in part by a recent World Economic Forum report entitled "Reimagining Digital ID"... more

ICANN’s Changing of the Guard – Part 1

On the 21st of December, ICANN announced that Goran Marby had stepped down as ICANN's sixth CEO. As the ICANN Board commences its search for its next CEO, I thought it would be useful to look back at ICANN's selection process for its previous CEOs and how each tended to be driven by the unique challenges confronting ICANN at that time. more

Solving the .US Registrant Data Directory Services (RDDS) Conundrum

Recently ten Democratic Members of Congress wrote a letter to Alan Davidson, head of the NTIA, requesting that the "NTIA immediately cease the public disclosure of personal information about users of .US" country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This communication highlights a significant concern regarding domain registration data: the need to protect the privacy rights of Registrants. However, an equally significant concern regarding registration data was raised... more

The Death of TLD Front Running

In an article published over two years ago, I cited a disturbing trend of third parties seeking to obtain national trademark registrations in an apparent attempt to game ICANN's new gTLD process. While many of these applications have withered and died on the vine some have sneaked through. However, it appears that the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has issued a very well-reasoned and articulate opinion... more

IANA Checkmate - Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Shame on Me

In connection with the recent publication of the IANA RFP, there have been some commenters that have proclaimed that removing the requirement of the Contractor to document the consensus of relevant stakeholders in connection with the delegation of new gTLDs from the original draft Statement of Work as a win for ICANN. However, when reading the recently revised IANA RFP language in light of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) Dakar Communiqué, a rather compelling legal case can be made... more

Inconsistencies in ICANN New TLD Application Fees

In preparation for Monday's Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group call, I spent some time reviewing various documents in connection with what are ICANN's actual costs in reviewing top-level domain name applications. One thing that caught my attention was the following metric in Rod Beckstrom's most recent CEO Monthly One Page Metric Report. more

ICANN Hubris Knows No Ends

Despite all signs pointing to a launch of the new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) program in Singapore, it seems like ICANN could not help poking the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) in the eye one last time. In the latest installment of how a California not for profit technical coordinating body knows best, we have the ICANN Evidence of "Use" Requirement for Trademark Protection document. more

Bring a Responsible Closure to the New gTLD Process - The Home Stretch

Over the course of the last year, the ICANN Board and Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) have constructively worked through a long list of their differences contained in the GAC scorecard. As we near the finish line with Monday's scheduled ICANN Board meeting to approve the Applicant Guidebook, there remains a small handful of issues that will hopefully be resolved in a similar responsible manner during Sunday's ICANN Board/GAC consultation. more

Ensuring Last Minute GAC Safeguards

In light of some changes contained in the most recent Applicant Guidebook as well as some of the proposed contractual provisions contained in the recent IANA Statement of Work, there is a potential growing justification to make some necessary last minute changes to the legal terms and conditions contained in Module 6 of the Applicant Guidebook. Specifically, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and its individual members have a clearly defined role in the new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) process... more

What ICANN Can Learn from Humpty Dumpty

I have been an active participant in the ICANN "grand experiment" from the beginning. An experiment in which a private sector led organization was entrusted by the Internet community and governments to be a trustee of a global public resource. However, at no time during my twelve years of participation in ICANN have I been more concerned about the long term viability of this organization than I do now heading into the Singapore meeting. Failure of the ICANN Board to do the right thing in Singapore will have a profound impact on the future of the private sector led model. more

Bringing a Responsible Closure to the gTLD Implement Process

Last Friday ICANN released an updated new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Applicant Guidebook that appears to have taken a number of positive steps toward closing the divide between the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). One of the more important changes to the Applicant Guidebook was the following text... more

A Phased Array Early Warning System

The following is a proposal for an "Early Warning" system to resolve one of the remaining impasses between the ICANN Board and the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) as identified in the GAC Scorecard. Based upon phased array radar technology, this proposal is designed to incorporate multiple discrete evaluation phases into the new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) program to provide an integrated and comprehensive early warning system for the GAC in providing advice to the ICANN Board, potential applicants, and the broader Internet community. more

Still Missing in Action

After wading through the various IANA Notice of Inquiry (NOI) submissions I thought I would take a break and do a secondary review of the recently concluded ICANN regional meeting in San Francisco. In doing this review there were three things that kind of jumped out at me as still missing in action. more

GAC New gTLD No Fly Zone

I have struggled over the past couple of weeks to come up with a metaphor to succinctly describe the standoff between the ICANN Board and the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) over the new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) implementation process. So here's my best attempt to explain these dynamics in terms a layperson may be better to understand. I chose the metaphor for its timeliness, without meaning to offend anyone. more

Inquiring About the “Unthinkable”

There has been no shortage of speculation within the ICANN community regarding the continued show down between the ICANN Board and its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) over new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and the pending expiration of the IANA contract this September. Now one of the more interesting topics of discussion that I have had with multiple independent parties was the potential of ICANN making changes to the L root zone file... more

ICANN’s New gTLD Double Standard?

Over the last two days I have sat in a room and watched a rather interesting dynamic unfold between the ICANN Board and its Government Advisory Committee (GAC). While I remain optimistic of there being a responsible closure to the new gTLD implementation process within the next six months, an apparent double standard being used by the ICANN Board could be a potential stumbling block. more

New gTLDs and Children

At first blush most are unlikely to see the relationship between new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and children. However, as a father and someone that has worked with approximately 50% of all new gTLDs approved by ICANN over the last decade, I have a unique perspective that may shed some light on this analogy. Hopefully, as the ICANN community begins to seek closure in connection with the new gTLD implement process, this article may offer one perspective as to what lies ahead. more

New gTLD Auctions and Potential Unintended Consequences

Auctions will play a critical role in ICANN's new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) process, the only question is whether they reinforce ICANN's position as a steward of a global public resource, or undermine it. Auctions are one of two widely used mechanisms used in the allocation of scarce global resources, the other being a comparative analysis (aka beauty contest). ... This paper seeks to highlight those potential unintended consequences and propose a more equitable model consistent with ICANN's role as a steward of public global resource. more

Missing in Action - ICANN’s 2010 Annual Report

In preparation for some upcoming long-haul international flights, I was looking for some "light" ICANN reading material. One document that came to mind was ICANN's 2010 Annual Report. Over the last four years ICANN has produced a year end report. While this document was probably originally conceived as a means to demonstrate ICANN's progress... more

New gTLDs and the Power of “Because”

Despite numerous false starts over the last decade it appears that 2011 will be the year ICANN finally implements a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) process that will lead to the responsible expansion of the domain name space. One of the important remaining steps in this process will be the upcoming meeting between the ICANN Board and the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) intended to resolve a number of outstanding differences. more

ICANN Board - GAC Geneva Meeting: Open to Observers?

The ICANN Board and GAC will be having a meeting in Geneva next month to resolve outstanding issues in connection with the new gTLD implementation process. Unfortunately to date details of whether this meeting will be open or closed to observers has not yet been publicly addressed. As a strong advocate toward openness and transparency I have drafted the following text which calls for the meeting to be open to observers. more

ICANN’s San Francisco Meeting

I was sitting around on a Sunday afternoon catching up with a backlog of work watching the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants in an unbelievable comeback, when I visited the ICANN website and noticed the new logo for the upcoming 40th ICANN regional. ...I personally thought the original choice of the San Francisco logo looked confusingly similar to Cisco's registered trademark. more

ICANN’s Governance Conundrum

After reading Steve Delbianco's recent CircleID article entitled The Tale of Two Governance Models I was torn. On one hand I agreed and supported Steve's comments about the strength of the bottom-up consensus driven model upon which ICANN was originally founded. As I am about to begin my thirty fifth ICANN regional meeting over the last eleven years, it is a model which I still believe in and fiercely fight to defend. However, on the other hand I look back over the last eleven years... more

IANA and the Automation of the Root Zone Management

As an unwavering stalwart of ICANN's obligation to honor its commitments under the bylaws to "operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner" I make it a point to read the minutes of its board and committee meetings in large part because I spent most of my three years on the ICANN Board trying to get these documents timely published. In reviewing the recently published IANA Committee minutes the following item caught my attention. more

MOPO - The Latest Speed Bump on ICANN’s New gTLD Superhighway

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a Petri dish for acronyms. The latest one to be introduced into the ICANN lexicon is MOPO which is short for Morality and Public Order. MOPO is one of the four grounds by which a third party can challenge an application for a new generic top-level domain (gTLD). The profile of MOPO recently increased when ICANN's Government Advisory Committee (GAC) provided formal advice to the ICANN Board regarding the current MOPO procedures set forth in ICANN's Draft Applicant Guidebook (DAG) for new gTLD applicants. The resolution of this issue will largely determine whether new gTLD applications will be accepted by ICANN in 2011 as planned or sometime in the far distant future. more

Openness and Transparency: ICANN Takes an Important Step in the Right Direction

Over the years I have been critical of ICANN's inability on several occasions to match its words on openness, transparency and accountability with its actions. Therefore, it was a very pleasant surprise to see ICANN post the Board briefing documents in connection with two of its last three Board meetings. more

ICANN Reloaded - Will They Ever Learn?

Less than a week ago, I posted a short blog piece entitled "Can ICANN Please Stop Shooting Itself in the Foot?" in which I questioned ICANN's actions in connection with the recently announced key signing ceremony. At the end of this piece I asked the question: "While it seems that ICANN continues it propensity to shoot itself in the foot, does the community need to start worrying about when ICANN takes aim at other more vital organizational body parts?" Well it looks like I only had to wait five days to get the answer to that question. more

Can ICANN Please Stop Shooting Itself in the Foot?

One would think with an annual budget in excess of 60 million dollars a year and a staff of upwards of 140 (including consultants), that someone would have figured out how to prevent the organization from repeatedly shooting itself in the foot. Unfortunately not even a year of star-fish management oversight by the likes of Rod Beckstrom seems to have done the trick. Exhibit One, earlier this week on CircleID we learned about the first Root Zone DNSSEC KSK Ceremony on Wednesday 2010-06-16 in Culpeper, VA, USA. Of course given the significance of this event one would reasonably assume that ICANN might mention this somewhere on the main page of their website? more

DEFCON 1 Status at ICANN

Defense Readiness Condition (DEFCON) is a measure of the activation and readiness of the United States armed forces. The DEFCON scale is a numerical ranking from 5 (standard peacetime protocol) to DEFCON 1 (expectation of actual imminent attack). Today ICANN should find itself at a DEFCON 1 status with the announced pending departure of Doug Brent, ICANN's Chief Operating Officer, effect at the end of July. more

ICANN Documentary Information Disclosure Policy Request

Listed below is correspondence that I have submitted to ICANN's general counsel in connection with the organization's stated documentary information disclosure policy. more

ICANN Board Meeting Spoiler Alert

For those participants that have been working rearranged hours and participating remotely in connection with ICANN's Nairobi meeting, here is a chance to sleep in. While ICANN Board tea leaf reading is not an exact science, there is a great deal of predictability to ICANN's actions so here are my big three predictions for tomorrow. more

ICANN Openness and Transparency: Actions Speak Louder than Words

ICANN has announced that they will be having a Special Meeting of the ICANN Board on 19 February 2010 (3:00 UCT) to discuss the "upcoming ICANN International meeting." It is reasonable to assume that the 17 February 2010 security update will be a topic of discussion... I trust that the ICANN Board will make the right decision balancing the obligations that ICANN has to the global Internet community, with the safety and security of those ICANN stakeholders that participate in person at these ICANN events. However, the ICANN Board needs to gain the trust of the global community in connection with this and other important decisions that it will be making. more

Top Three Reasons to Just Say No to ICANN’s Current EOI gTLD Proposal

On December 9, 2009, the ICANN Board announced its intention to vote during its upcoming February 4, 2010 meeting to approve a plan by which ICANN would solicit "Expressions of Interest" (EOI) from prospective applicants for new Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) such as .BLOG. But given a number of significant governance and public policy concerns raised by the current EOI proposal, the ICANN Board should take no action on it before the next in-person ICANN regional meeting--in Nairobi, March 3-7, 2010. more

Changes in the ICANN Board’s Operational Activities

One of the more interesting developments in this new year is the proposed changes in how, or perhaps more accurately, when the ICANN Board will undertake its activities. Historically, the ICANN Board has held monthly teleconferences (Special Board Meetings), with the exception of those months when the ICANN Board meet in person as part of a regional meeting (Regular Board Meeting). Approximately five years ago, the ICANN Board also began holding bi-annual retreats as part of their regular business activities. Interestingly, the proposed 2010 agenda for the ICANN Board has only four proposed Special Meetings... more

New gTLD Expressions of Interest: Proceed with Caution

The ICANN Board, at its October 2009 annual meeting in Seoul, passed a resolution directing staff to prepare an analysis regarding the feasibility of ICANN soliciting Expressions of Interests (EOIs) from prospective applicants for new Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)... While this latest initiative should not distract ICANN from the remaining four overarching issues, if well executed, this EOI initiative could provide valuable insights into two of the four overarching issues: economics and root scaling. more

Rod Beckstrom’s First 100 Days at ICANN

Rod Beckstrom took over as ICANN President/CEO on July 1, 2009, so October 9th marked his 100th day in office -- and a good opportunity to examine the progress made by ICANN during his short tenure. ...to borrow an analogy from American football: when you have the ball in the Red Zone, you need to score touchdowns, not field goals. So far, under Rod's leadership, ICANN has moved down the field on a number of issues. In particular, ICANN scored a "touchdown heard round the world" by bringing the MoU/JPA to a successful conclusion. more

Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Framework for ICANN

Over the next month, the ICANN Board will consider its options for ensuring that some framework is in place to ensure ICANN's accountability to the global Internet community after the approaching expiration of its Memorandum of Understanding and Joint Project Agreement (MOU/JPA) with the U.S. Department of Commerce. We analyze these options in our new paper... more

New gTLDs: Let the Gaming Begin (Part I - TLD Front Running)

A series of recent applications for national trademark rights in terms that correspond to likely strings for new top-level domain names, or TLDs, (e.g., ".BLOG") highlight just one way in which ICANN's new generic TLD (gTLD) application process is likely to be "gamed." But it is also a strategy to which some trademark holders may feel compelled to resort to defend their rights to that string. Unfortunately, it does not appear that ICANN is addressing these important public policy considerations. more

Domain Name Registry-Registrar Vertical Separation: The Economic, Anti-Trust Red Herring

ICANN has operated on the fundamental principle that there should be separation within the domain name marketplace between registries (wholesale) and registrars (retail). This fundamental principle has been a pillar upon which ICANN has provided registrants (consumers) with increased choice, innovation, and price savings. Therefore it was with great surprise when ICANN staff unilaterally undertook this initial vertical separation analysis through exclusive consultation with ICANN contracting parties (registrars and registries), while totally excluding non-contracting parties (individual, business and non-commercial registrants)... more

ICANN Regime Change:  Exit Twomey, Enter Beckstrom

On July 1st 2009, Rod Beckstrom succeeded Paul Twomey as the fourth CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Rod assumes this important leadership role at a critical juncture in ICANN's ongoing evolution. Saying that he is jumping into the deep end of a pool would not do justice to the magnitude of the tasks before him. The more appropriate analogy might be parachuting from a plane above the Mariana Trench during a typhoon. However, after reading some of his writings, reviewing his biography, and having met with him one-on-one during ICANN's recent Sydney meeting, I am confident that the ICANN Board made the right decision in selecting Rod to lead the organization at this defining moment in Internet governance. more

ICANN’s New gTLD Timetable: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

ICANN staff recently posted on its website an updated timeline on the new gTLD process. Attempting to be "fair and balanced," I see some good, some bad, and some potential ugly in this timeline. I know there are a lot of good people at ICANN working very hard to conclude the Herculean task of implementing the new gTLD process. However, ICANN just can't help shooting itself in the foot with poorly worded and ambiguous statements... more

ICANN’s Economic Reports: Finding the Missing Pieces to the Puzzle

The ICANN community has been especially concerned about the economic reports used by ICANN to justify its decisions as to whether, and how, to implement applications for new gTLDs. Among the greatest sources of concern has been the failure of ICANN staff to issue a complete public response to the ICANN Board's October 2006 demand that ICANN Staff commission economic studies about gTLDs... more

ICANN’s Implementation Recommendation Team for New gTLDs: Safeguards Needed

During the recent ICANN Board meeting in Mexico City, the Board authorized the creation and funding of an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT). This team was to be comprised of "an internationally diverse group of persons with knowledge, expertise, and experience in the fields of trademark, consumer protection, or competition law, and the interplay of trademarks and the domain name system to develop and propose solutions to the overarching issue of trademark protection in connection with the introduction of new gTLDs." more

ICANN’s gTLD Proposal Hits a Wall: Now What?

ICANN's plan to begin accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in mid-2009 may have been derailed by last week's outpouring of opposition from the global business community and the United States Government (USG). Having been involved with ICANN for over a decade and having served on its Board for three years, I've never seen such strong and broad opposition to one of ICANN's proposals. more

Unforeseen Legal Consequences of Implementing Internationalized Top-Level Domains

ICANN is currently analyzing technical and policy implications regarding the introduction of Internationalized Top-Level Domains into the root. This is an important step in the continued evolution of the Internet by enabling language communities of the world that write non-Latin and extended Latin scripts to utilize their languages on the Internet... While the IDNC Working Group (IDNC) has made constructive progress on proposing a framework for the introduction of an initial set of IDN TLDs, the approach taken by the IDNC from a legal perspective is fundamentally flawed. more

Please, Keep the Core Neutral

Many in the technical community attribute the rapid growth and spread of the Internet to innovation that took place at the "edge" of the network, while its "core" was left largely application neutral to provide a universal and predictable building block for innovation. It is this core neutrality that provides a basis for the security and stability of the Internet as a whole. And it is this same core neutrality that is critical to the continued spread of the Internet across the Digital Divide. Unfortunately, when the politics of censorship rather than solely technical concerns drive the coordination of these "core" Internet resources, it threatens the future security and stability of the Internet. This paper proposes a paradigm upon which all the governments of the world have equal access to these core Internet resources to empower them and their citizens with the rights acknowledged in the WSIS Declaration of Principles. more

Tiered (Variable) Pricing Compromise?

The new and proposed ICANN registry contracts contain no definite price terms, and thus permit potential tiered pricing on a per domain name basis. This has raised concern within the community that a registry operator might abuse its sole source position to engage in pricing practices detrimental to registrants. ...Notwithstanding the possibility of tiered pricing on a per domain name basis in connection with the recently executed sponsored registry contracts (.MOBI, .JOBS, .TRAVEL, .CAT, and .TEL), there have been numerous comments submitted in connection with this possibility in connection with the proposed contracts for the .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG registry contracts. There were four messages that motivate me to write this article... more