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Why Restricted TLDs Should Not Be Gatecrashed

In recent weeks, thousands of what ICANN describes as “questionable” registrations have been activated by one of their registries operating a supposedly “restricted” TLD.

Restricted registries have been set up by ICANN to provide verified participation intended solely for exclusive groups.

This is the intention and purpose behind ICANN’s Registry Agreements with such Registries, explicitly expressed, and widely understood, and these agreements constitute the contractual basis for the operation of restricted registries. To take an example, the .travel TLD will shortly be launched and the ICANN Agreement will intend to keep uncertified people out.

What happens, then, when a Registry or Registrar knows all along the restricted nature of their product, the limitations intended, the verifications planned, but they choose to circumvent those limitations?

They may argue that other people have bent the rules already, and that the Agreements are poorly constructed. That does not however change the well-recognised and clearly-stated intentions in the case of a “restricted” registry. They may cite other ways in which the rules can be exploited to justify their own exploitation of the rules. I don’t buy that.

I believe that certain registrars or registries may recently have found ‘methods’ and ‘devices’ to circumvent the expressed intentions of their TLD and its Agreement, thereby subverting the Agreement’s stated purposes.

They may argue that there is ‘market’ demand to let anyone purchase a restricted domain, and use this to justify opening up a clearly restricted TLD to every person on the planet. But the market may be driven by the need to make money, and the desire of people who cannot meet ICANN requirements to break in to a market from which they are deliberately restricted.

There has been a flood of registrations recently which have in fact opened up a restricted registry and circumvented the need for the actual customers to be verified and - because I believe these actions have undermined the underlying foundations and purpose of the TLD - I believe that registries or registrars in such circumstances had a contractual responsibility or a moral obligation of honesty to consult with ICANN in advance about the impact of their proposed actions - instead of presenting it to ICANN as a fait accomplis.

Internet governance and policy development is a process that involves a wide range of constituencies, discussing processes and outcomes, balancing the needs for various TLDs, and after a long process of consultation, agreeing on outcomes. When registrars act unilaterally against the intentions of an Agreement, they are claiming for themselves a right to define policy which should be the role of wider constituencies and greater consultation.

It’s all very nice saying “We should let everyone register a restricted domain”, but that’s the whole point: we should not. Not, because the whole purpose of the TLD was that it should be restricted.

They may say “We don’t allow everyone, because our customers must tell the truth about their credentials.” But what if they get round the need for verification by offering to stand as ‘proxy registrants’ for anyone anywhere in the world? How then is a restricted TLD protected and preserved for the people for whom it was intended?

So we have recently witnessed a flood of unauthorised people who - if they choose not to be called ‘registrants’ because a registrar will act as proxy registrant instead - have still paid for the registration, gained the ‘ownership’ implied by registration, obtained the rights implicit in registration of “THEIR” domains… thousands of registrations which have been paid for by what (in any other circumstance) would be understood to be “registrants”.

A registrar has even published the facility: “Now anyone can register… no proof of credentials are required.” The device is to say that the Registrar is the stand-in registrant, so that the need for verification is bypassed.

I’m sorry, but in such circumstances I suspect the registrars or registries involved know that this was simply not what the Agreement intended.

Let me illustrate:

Mr. ICANN decides to hold a party. He has decided that he only wants to ask some of his professional friends to come, so they are asked to bring their party invites with them to prove they’ve been invited, because poor Mr. ICANN has had trouble before with people gatecrashing his parties. At a sunrise party he’d held a few years ago, all kinds of people had gatecrashed and no-one had asked to see their invites and it was dreadful.

So Mr. ICANN hires a bouncer to stand guard at the front door of his house. The bouncer, Johnny Registry, assures Mr. ICANN that no-one will get in without an invite.

“You are clear about that, aren’t you?” says Mr. ICANN. “That’s why I’ve hired you. I only want my professional friends. You promise to check each invite and let no-one else in?”

“Yes boss, I’m clear about that,” says Johnny Registry. “You can rely on me.”

So the party begins. To be honest, it was very slow getting going, because Mr. ICANN’s travel directions were so complicated that half his friends had got lost on the way. Anyway, after a while one of the guests, Tommy Registrar, gets a bit restless because he’s been trying to sell tickets for a raffle and he hasn’t sold many.

So he comes up to the front door and has a chat with Johnny Registry the bouncer. “It’s a bit quiet, Johnny old feller. I think it’s time we livened things up, and I’ve got a plan. If it works, I’ll share some of my raffle takings with you.”

“OK,” says Johnny, “but remember: I’ll get fired if I let anyone in without an invite.”

“Don’t worry,” says Tommy Registrar. “They’ll all have an invite.”

So Tommy Registrar gets on his mobile phone and phones hundreds of his mates. “Yeah, and spread the word to anyone else you know. All welcome. Just meet me at the back door and buy one of my raffle tickets.”

Soon hundreds of people are crowding around the back door. “But we haven’t got invitations so the bouncer guy won’t let us in.”

“Don’t worry guys. Johnny Registry’s a mate of mine. I’ll get you in.” Then Tommy Registrar says to the first stranger, “Listen. Buy one of my raffle tickets first, then I’ll lend you my invite and you can take it round the front and he’ll let you in.”

So the stranger goes round the front, and shows the party invite to Johnny Registry. “Is this yours?” says Johnny.

“Well no,” replies the stranger, “but your friend Tommy Registrar said you’d let me in on his invite!”

“Yeah, OK then” says Johnny Registry. “In yer go then. Just act perfeshnal.”

The stranger goes in, and returns the party invite. So Tommy Registrar lends his party invite to hundreds more people, making sure to sell a raffle ticket each time, and Johnny Registry lets each one in. “You’ve got an invite - you can go straight in.” I’m going to make a good bit of money out of this, he thinks.

After a while, the house is full of complete strangers.

Mr. ICANN, who’s been on the phone to Argentina in his bedroom, comes downstairs to find mayhem. The house is full of strangers. Freddie C*nt.xyz is chatting up Sally F*uck.xyz, and there are loads of Sluts.xyz who look… well… both ‘pro’ and ‘sluts’ at the same time. Most of Mr. ICANN’s genuine professional friends are thinking of leaving.

So Mr. ICANN goes to the front door, where Tommy Registrar is just handing Johnny Registry a bundle of notes. “What’s going on?” asks Mr. ICANN. “I told you to keep a strict watch on who you allowed in, and they had to have an invite.”

“They did have an invite” said Johnny Registry. “Honest, boss!”

“So where’s your invite?” asks Mr. ICANN turning to Freddie C*nt.xyz.

“He lent me his f*cking invite!” yells Freddie, pointing at Tommy Registrar. “What’s it got to do with you, you stupid pussy.xyz! Now f*ck.xyz off!”

“I hired you to keep gatecrashers out,” said Mr. ICANN to Johnny Registry. “You’ve let thousands of total strangers into the house! Why didn’t you come and get me? Why did you go against my express wishes?”

Johnny Registry, whose pockets are bulging with wads of dollars, shrugs his shoulders and says to Tommy Registrar: “Come on, Tommy. Let’s go and have a drink. We don’t have to listen to him.”

And they turn their backs on Mr. ICANN and ignore all his complaints.

Mr. ICANN stares in disbelief as more and more people pour in through the wide open door of the house.

“I hired him to follow my instructions. He’s ignored them. He’s done the exact opposite of what I told him. He’s let everyone in on a single ticket.”

“You ought to fire him,” whispers Dr. Honest.xyz.xyz who is in the process of leaving the party.

“Maybe you’re right” sighs Mr. ICANN. “Oh, but come to my next party. It’s going to be at the .Travel Inn and I promise there won’t be any gatecrashers there.

But the doctor has gone too far down the garden path to hear old ICANN’s words, which are drowned out by the noise and shouting coming from inside the house.

* * * * * * * * *

In my opinion, some registries may fail to honour the underlying commitments that were made to ICANN. Instead, there is always the temptation to present ICANN with a fait accomplis driven by their own market needs.

Eighteen months ago a registrar wrote to ICANN with these words about another DNS issue:

“The entire DNS industry should ensure that the public has the highest confidence that changes are being introduced to the DNS according to a well-defined process based on consensus… The Internet Community, as well as the various ICANN constituencies deserves clarity in the process ICANN uses.”

I wonder if you can guess which registrar said that?

He was right then to recognise the need for consultation. It is, in my opinion, wrong now that ICANN and its constituencies have not been consulted before a restricted TLD has been opened up for hundreds or thousands of unverified individuals by a device which exploits loopholes but seems to ignore the central purposes of a “restricted registry” Agreement.

There are good reasons why Agreements should be respected, not just exploited; why the underlying intentions of Agreements are more important than the individual words within it, which may be circumvented by clever devices.

The Internet is a resource which needs protecting, and its processes and agreements should be upheld. If a TLD is supposed to be restricted, that intention should be respected. Otherwise, what are the repercussions for subsequent restricted TLDs like .travel? Because there are far-reaching implications to take into account, policy should not be hijacked by market forces (or, to be honest, the market needs of an individual registrar). It should not be left to individual registrars to re-define the purposes and intentions of TLDs, by consciously by-passing the anticipated checks and verification of users, which had always been intended.

But the loop-holes were there, a registrar may complain, so it’s their fault not ours. I don’t know if you call it a ‘loophole’ if elsewhere in the agreement there are clearly-stated and widely-understood outcomes (verification to safeguard exclusivity etc.) which you, as a registrar, then undermine.

As some of you know, I used to be a Prison Governor. If one of my prisoners was serving a ten year sentence but saw a ladder which had been carelessly left leaning against the prison wall, would he be right to escape? The ladder would certainly be a ‘loophole’ but the prevailing purpose of his sentence would still apply.

In a similar way, the existence of loopholes does not justify their use, if prevailing purposes and contractual intentions are thereby subverted.

The bottom line is people should apply for restricted domains in their own right, with the proof and credentials required from the outset by the Registry Agreement. That is how such restricted TLDs were expected to be responsibly administered.

By Richard Henderson, Active member of the At Large constituency

Filed Under


Cliffton  –  Mar 31, 2005 1:16 AM

Uh… ya. ICANN knew of the 2nd-level .Pro implications when they sanctioned the use of .Pro at the 2nd-level. ICANN’s experiment to establish professional integrity is a nobel one and should continue at the third-level as it was originally intended. ICANN’s funding of this experiment should also continue by selling off 2nd-level .Pros only to licensed professionals i.e. not by ICANN Registrars. The usage of 2nd-level .Pros should not be regulated as this is simply a supid notion and not in ICANN’s mandate.

Gregory Krajewski  –  Mar 31, 2005 6:27 AM

Once again Richard you fail to see that “nothing” has changed with how dot pro is being utilized.  Dot pro is still a restricted domain.  You still need two 3rd level domains to buy a 2nd level pro domain.  Which I think is a ridiculous requirement, but one we will have to live with as RegistryPro requires it. 

If you fail to see the above, I’m sorry that you feel the way you do.  It is your opinion, albeit a very lengthy one that “proves” absolutely nothing.  That is the sad point. Clarity has it’s uses!!

AS far as your assumptions about dot travel, they are based on many “what if’s”.  Obviously that is why contracts are negotiated beforehand.  Dot travel will roll out it’s domain per the agreement signed with ICANN.  If however down the road the Dot Travel registrar feels the need to roll out a new service which enhances it’s product, my guess is they will do it if they are still able to operate within the agreement.  Does this rule out leasing options, etc?  Most certainly not, as even domain owners could potentially “sub-lease” their own dot travel space.

Does leasing mean the “end” to Sponsored TLD’s?  Absolutely not.  The DotPro Registry will continue to open up space after certification has been verified.  If Encirca’s Profowarding service did not exist, would anything change with respect to the way DotPro handles new registrants?  Nope.  Will the dot pro space be in anyway diminished by Encirca’s service?  No.  And here is why.  The use of the domain is not regulated, even before 3/2/05.  I think this is a key point that is lost.  www.ppcpage.pro existed the moment ICANN approved the 2nd level domain.

My guess is Richard what you are really making your case for is 100% restricted usage of “restricted domain space”.  This means that if a future dot travel registrant uses the domain for other purposes, which would diminish it’s, “restrictedness”. then ICANN would compel the registry to void the domain.  That is what you are arguing Richard… Do you at all see the absurdity of this? 

Probably not…

hodgepodge  –  Mar 31, 2005 2:13 PM

Some predictions for .pro

1. In response to ICANN’s request to admend the contract, RegistryPro will say “no thanks”

2. A year will pass and ICANN will finally agree to remove the restrictions on second level .pro to “foster competition” and “offer consumers and businesses another option for the internet”

Let’s move on.

Thomas Barrett  –  Mar 31, 2005 6:59 PM

“The entire DNS industry should ensure that the public has the highest confidence that changes are being introduced to the DNS according to a well-defined process based on consensus… The Internet Community, as well as the various ICANN constituencies deserves clarity in the process ICANN uses.”

I wonder if you can guess which registrar said that?



I’ll own up to this!  And I will insist the same consensus process be followed for any contractual admendments that you, ICANN or anyone else wants to propose for .pro.


Tom Barrett
EnCirca, Inc.

Joe S Alagna  –  Mar 31, 2005 7:55 PM

The problem I see is “positioning”. 

Let’s stop trying to pretend that we can regulate who is going to register a domain and what their qualifications are.  That just isn’t working except in the most limited senses like .museum or .coop and that could have been accomplished on some sub-domain (sorry). 

As far as I’m concerned, we can add as many specialized domains as we want.  But let’s stop trying to restrict who can register them or how they can be used.  That experiment has failed.  The public will always find a way around it and then the original intent is lost and all we’ve done is misled an innocent public. 

Any reasonably sized company can hire a doctor, lawyer, or engineer (to register a domain). 

Most people (even crooks) have friends who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, travel agents, or HR professionals (and that would be willing to register a domain for them or for a small fee). 

What is the point of trying to restrict who can register what domain?  Aren’t we learning anything here? 

If we create a new Tld, let’s give it a sunrise period to be fair to trademark holders, open it up, and let the world play.  Let’s stop unintentionally misleading the general public into thinking that someone who has a .pro or any sponsored domain is any better or more qualified than someone who uses a .com (or any domain for that matter). 

We’re doing an injustice to the industry by making statements that we “qualify” certain registrants.  It’s not working.

Richard Henderson  –  Mar 31, 2005 10:23 PM

I’d like to thank Tom for coming online here. He is defending his innovations and although I have criticised them I respect his right to argue a case. I want to make the brief point that I do not know Tom and my comments centre on process and policy, and not on Tom’s private self. People are allowed to be entrepreneurial and I have brothers who are and I like them for that.

There are broader implications that arise from the specifics of the .Pro case and this affair has maybe brought them into focus: for example - just how viable is the concept of “restricted” TLDs? I believe they are viable, but an interesting alternative viewpoint has been expressed today by Joe Alagna in the preceding post in this thread.

“As far as I’m concerned, we can add as many specialized domains as we want. But let’s stop trying to restrict who can register them or how they can be used. That experiment has failed. The public will always find a way around it and then the original intent is lost.”

I take a different view but the issue deserves to be discussed in the context of the Proof of Concept of which .Pro is a part. However, my point is that it is not the role of a registrar (or domain name speculators) to re-define the outcomes of a previously agreed policy. There should not have been a fait accomplis. These matters should have been, and still should be, matters for open discussion and consultation.

With another restricted TLD like .travel in prospect, this discussion (and review of Agreements?) is urgent and necessary.

With kind regards,

Richard Henderson

Daniel R. Tobias  –  Apr 1, 2005 1:52 AM

I see that EnCirca is actually threatening to sue a blogger who dared to write the truth about them:


Apparently, freedom of speech and press are no more compatible with the agenda of this sinister company than the integrity of a restricted TLD.

Gregory Krajewski  –  Apr 1, 2005 5:51 PM

Just a couple of comments:

1)  The bottom-up, consensus process that drives ICANN decisions are usually occurs in situations which directly effects the DNS. 

I believe what Encirca has done with their ProForwarding? service does not in any way “alter” the agreement RegistryPro signed with ICANN, nor does it “change” the way the DNS is utilized.  Let’s be clear on this because it is important to the whole process.  If every time a registrar or registry wants to introduce a new service they were required to beat down every “internet community” organization for their approval we would have “stagnation” at the highest levels.  DO NOT CONFUSE ALTERING THE DNS (APPROVING A NEW TLD, etc) WITH ADDING A NEW SERVICE THAT ADHERES TO CONTRACTS IN PLACE.

2)  My 2nd point has to do with the suggestion that ICANN approve “multiple” restricted TLDs. Bad idea.  Reason:  Restrictive practices inherently drive up costs, which ultimately puts the average internet user on the “other side” of the internet divide.

Michael J. Silver  –  Apr 3, 2005 12:08 AM

Oh what I wouldn’t give to be 17 again, sitting in a circle, passing a j—-t around and listening to your party story.(pun intended) Frankly, I think you’re a little tired from going back and forth on this all week. I know I am. I also know that I have read some brilliant arguments from you during this week. I’m always amazed to find that some of the best advocates have never attended law school. I would love to see you arguing constitutional law. You would have much to contribute. That said, I’m not so comfortable with your contribution on issues pertaining to the internet. And this is not the lawyer in me talking and you’ll have to trust me when I tell you I would have had the same concern had I never taken a financial position on the web. The reason is very simple and I feel awkward saying this, but its the truth. I fell in love with the internet because with few exceptions, it represents an oasis of freedom in a world that seems to grow more conservative and more regulated by the day. Though it may be inevitable that the internet will face increasing government regulation, I wish nothing that tends to hasten that. The seriousness of your scrutiny in what I preceive as the last bastion of business and political freedom is antithetical to that freedom. Having grown up in New York, I never thought I’d see the day when they would board up the adult shops on 42nd Street. But I watched them do just that. I thought that was a sad event, indeed. A thriving industry shut down by a mayor bent on bringing order to his streets. Thus, I become concerned when others seek to micromanage the internet. I rather think its doing just fine on its own. I thank you for your attention.

Michael J. Silver

Richard Henderson  –  Apr 3, 2005 3:09 AM

Yes, well actually I take your point, Michael, and like the almost elegiac tone of your language. Because like you, I feel dismay and disappointment at the dull swing to the right in American politics (and presumably, therefore, in large sectors of American community) - and I say that without disparagement to the American people who I have found invariably friendly and welcoming and kind in my personal interactions with them. But it was exactly that negligence of process which accompanied the invasion of Iraq, and the bombing from great (and rather cowardly) heights of Iranian squaddies and grandmas and children who got in the way (in their thousands). There was a process already going on, which reported zero weapons of mass destruction, and it was stopped short because of an imaginary imminent threat from Iraq. There was a process going on, which could have been pursued alongside the rest of the world, but no - the process was ignored (and the rest of the world with it). I’m not one of those who say that the invasion of Iraq would never have happened, but it could have been done (a little more reluctantly) in the company of the rest of the world, homing in step-by-step on Hussein’s tyranny. But there was a process to follow.

Michael, I am not one of those who believe that “proess” and “legality” are antithetical to freedom. On the contrary, in a free society I want to be able to go home to my dinner in the knowledge that I won’t be mugged on the way. And yes, I also want more freedom than that… the right to be different… the right to hold minority views… freedom from other people’s morality… the freedom that comes from deep within yourself, and in the ‘flow’ of ideas among friends, and even in the random and shambolic nature of much of our lives… imperfect, incomplete, but still with some residual prospect of that hope we harboured in youth.

So if I am being an enemy of freedom, I apologise, though I will freely express my views if I can. I agree - there is something unfettered about the internet, and anarchic, and something communal and about peoples and nations coming together despite the efforts of politicians or governments to polarise or sometimes divide.

This internet is a most precious worldwide resource for ALL the people’s of the world (including, we must never forget, the people who do not yet have it). I therefore feel it needs protecting. I think it needs a kind of communal oversight. I also think that there should be basic respect for process, in order to give us freedom over total anarchy.

I regard the actions of EnCirca and RegistryPro to be creative, yes, independent, yes… but constructive? I’m not so sure.

RegistryPro was commissioned to administer this .pro TLD responsibly. And freedom often needs to be accompanied by responsibility. I believe they were dutybound to keep the registry fully “restricted” - in line with their commission as defined in the Registry Agreement. I think the device of proxy registering to “let in” thousands of registrations was a conscious subversion of the commission they were given.

Obviously this debate demonstrates that there are contrasting opinions on that.

Fortunately, you have shown that it is possible to hold these divergent views and yet still communicate eloquently and with grace. I thank you for that.

Richard H

Richard Henderson  –  Apr 8, 2005 3:03 PM

At the ICANN Public Forum yesterday, concerns were raised about the .Pro affair by three contributors (two At Large constituents and one registrar). Concerns were raised about mass registrations on behalf of uncertified customers, using a “proxy” device to bypass the Registry’s main purpose and intention of creating a TLD exclusively for the use of verified professionals. ICANN was asked to enforce amendments to the Agreement to ‘clarify’ acceptable practice by the Registry and by Registrars. The Board was asked to consider the implications for the integrity of future restricted TLDs.

The Registrar who intervened at the Public Forum requested urgent attention over what he described as a Registry “thumbing its nose at ICANN”. He had spoken to a lot of people who were dismayed by what had happened. “If this kind of conduct was allowed to go unchallenged,” he said, “then it made him and people like him want to give up on ICANN’s processes.” Vint Cerf, the Chairman, agreed that this matter must be addressed by ICANN staff and the Board.

At the ICANN Board Meeting today, Michael Palage once again raised the matter of the .Pro Registry, and said that it was important for the community that they understood that the ICANN Board takes this matter, and matters of registrar and registry compliance, very seriously indeed. He reported that ICANN staff are in the process of gathering further information on the .Pro issue and that it would be wrong for the ICANN Board to pre-empt those enquiries. However the issue would be pursued and decisions taken in response to ICANN’s enquiries.

Michael Palage also referred, in this context, to the new Registry Compliance procedures that were posted on the ICANN website on 2nd April.

Tina Dam wrote a public letter to RegistryPro 15 days ago, complaining about measures which have “violated the spirit of name restrictions in .Pro” She added that ICANN would like to discuss the possibility of a contract amendment. To date, no reply has been received (or, at least, published).

Gregory Krajewski  –  Apr 8, 2005 8:17 PM


You must really think internet consumers are this gulliable. For one, who are the “named” persons you say made comments at the Public Forum yesterday. Also who is the Registrar who lodged that “fierce” complaint. Facts Richard, your story is lacking facts.

One thing I do anytime I quote a “source” is to provide provide links to those comments. If the comments were made on ICANN “chat board” then what we really have is “chatter”. Nothing collegial or authentic.

I did try to find the comments you suggest happened by going to the ICANN site. Unless you can show me Richard, I do not find those comments you suggest happened anywhere on either the 4/6 or 4/7 ICANN Public Forum page:



To find particular comments do a “Control F” if you have Microsoft Explorer. Then enter the search words you are looking for. Unless I missed something, I don’t see the comments you are “quoting”.

Facts, Richard, just give me the facts instead of trying to “flame” your point of views on circleID, and other forums.


Gregory Krajewski  –  Apr 8, 2005 8:20 PM

FYI:  This time I took a screenshot of my post

Richard Henderson  –  Apr 8, 2005 8:21 PM

Hi Greg,

I refer you to the Chairman of ICANN. He read out one of the complaints, and was chairing the meeting and can therefore confirm the other two. As to Michael Palage raising the issue at the Board Meeting, there is nothing hidden or secretive about that. Ask him yourself.

Since all the comments were made, and clearly heard not only in the hall but 1000s of miles away via the webcast, it rather brings into question the quality of the transcript.

But if you want to say that I’m lying, that will be an error, because I’m telling the truth, and only posted these facts for information. Everything I’ve said can be corroborated - I can’t help it if the transcript has inexplicably omitted all 3 comments - but ask the people who were there and you will have to acknowledge that I told the truth.

To be fair on you, I can see it from your own point of view. The transcript contradicts what I have said. I accept that. But if you care enough to find out, you will find out.

It’s easier just to say I made it all up, of course. Unfortunately for RegistryPro, that was not the case…



Gregory Krajewski  –  Apr 8, 2005 10:57 PM

All I ask Richard is that when we discuss these important issues we provide links to “quotes” if we are “using” them, or have the person make their own determination as to how they feel on the subject.

Too many times the internet has been used to foster ones own agenda.  I’m not saying you are intending to do this, but clearly when you post inflammatory comments they MUST BE BACKED UP!!

We cannot settle for anything less….

Anyways, I do appreciate your reply.

Richard Henderson  –  Apr 8, 2005 11:26 PM


I agree with your point that ‘claims’ ought to be substantiated. Since my previous post I have checked up on the ICANN transcript which (as you pointed out) can be found here:


The reason the 3 Public Comments about .Pro are not listed on this transcript is that the transcript breaks off halfway through the Public Forum at the “Break”.

*The whole of the meeting after the Break* has been omitted: the New sTLD Update; the Process for NewgTLDs; the Dot Net Bid Process; the IANA Process; and then the Public Comments and Open Microphone.

You can see the Agenda here:

If you scroll down to Thursday 7th April and compare the Agenda to the transcript, you will see that ICANN have in fact only published the discussions up to the Break.

The 3 Public comments were in the Public Comments and Open Microphone section and took place just before Vint had to leave the hall and hand over the Chair to Alexandro Pisanty.

I’ve contacted ICANN and requested that (for the sake of openness and transparency) they publish the second half of the meeting.

Meanwhile, as I say, Vint Cerf and anyone else present will be able to confirm to you that the comments were made.

I agree, I would prefer it if my assertions could be corroborated by the transcript, and you have a right to ask for sources.



Richard Henderson  –  Apr 10, 2005 8:05 PM

Life is too short to get trapped in what Borges called a “repetition of repetitions” - although after .info four years ago and now .pro that is what it feels like… a labyrinth of registration agreements and broken processes, where you meet yourself coming back from a previous repetition, or await a response from this CEO or the last one, with the prospect of hearing from neither (though Vint Cerf has always replied, to be fair).

Therefore this is my final post on .Pro (which I have sent to the ICANN Board and relevant ICANN staff).

I recognise that they are engaged in a step-by-step process with the .Pro issue.

I believe that enforcement should (if necessary) be applied in the case of RegistryPro on the grounds that (I believe) they have breached the ICANN-Registry Agreement.

Just to clarify: the issue I think should be investigated is not ‘failure to undertake verifications’... it is ‘failure to uphold the central and stated principles and purposes of the Agreement, and misuse of the verification processes to bypass the stated purposes of the Agreement.’

In short, the problem that concerns me is not lack of use of the verification processes, but misuse of them.

The Registry Agreement makes such clear statements of the intention of a “restricted” registry using verification for the purposes of ‘keeping unchecked people out’, and in practical terms RegistryPro appear to me to have broken their Agreement by ignoring the clear *intentions* of the Agreement and its Verification processes, by actually using verification (1000+  verifications of the same proxy Registrar) to give unchecked people access to domain names reserved for specific sets of professionals. These people, in the words of EnCirca, become the “owners” of these domains. They can use them, sell them, renew them, develop them. The Agreement, in my opinion, has been broken - breach of its clear purposes and intended outcomes, and misuse of its verification processes to bypass the basic intentions of the Agreement.

The Registry Agreement is so clear about its purposes, that misuse of the verification process in such a way as to ‘let in’ rather than ‘keep out’ unqualified and unchecked customers, may be regarded as a breach of the Agreement. RegistryPro are responsible for endorsing and activating these proxy registrations and the effects these have on the Registry Agreement.

I have suggested to Tina Dam in her investigation of EnCirca and RegistryPro, that she asks:

1. Did either party consult ICANN about the implications of this “Proxy” device?

2. Did EnCirca carry out any kind of check or verification about their customers? The answer is ‘No’ - you just had to pay $49 and click.

3. Did RegistryPro take any steps to curb the inflow of registrations on behalf of unqualified customers?

4. How many .Pro registrations were there, in total, up to the end of December 2004? How many .Pro registrations were there by the end of March 2005?

5. Was RegistryPro satisfied that this flood of new registrations was in keeping with the purposes and intentions of the Registry Agreement?

... and later in the process…

6. Will RegistryPro agree to stop this Proxy ‘device’ with immediate effect, until a consensus has been arrived at?

7. Will RegistryPro agree to amendments that ICANN might propose to their Agreement?

8. Will RegistryPro agree to stop all Proxy registrations through registrars, unless the actual customers have been verified?

9. Will RegistryPro agree to check and verify all actual customers (not the registrar proxy), at the latest, at the annual renewal when such checks would be due?

... and enforcement if necessary ...

If RegistryPro do not agree to negotiate a settlement with ICANN, to reclaim the clearly-stated purposes of this restricted sTLD, will ICANN intervene with measures on the grounds of breach of contract/agreement, and misuse of its verification processes to bypass the basic intentions of the Agreement.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

second half of message follows…

Richard Henderson  –  Apr 10, 2005 8:06 PM

(continuing from previous post)

I have urged the firmest action (rationally and step-by-step) because otherwise this restricted registry will be opened up more and more, and the precedent of “proxy registration” will have been established for any other restricted sTLD where a registrar or registry chooses, in the future, to circumvent the original purposes and intentions of their Registry Agreement.

Basically, the .Pro Registry Agreement was abundantly clear about the purpose and intentions of its verification processes. Those verification processes did not exist in isolation to be used any way people wanted. They existed *in the context of the Agreement’s purposes* to uphold those clearly-expressed purposes of restricting access to the TLD to specific and exclusive sets of professionals.

The bottom line is: ICANN knows this. RegistryPro knows this. EnCirca knows this. What we have is a loophole through one element of the Registry Agreement. This loophole, consciously exploited for profit, does not nullify the greater expectations and requirements of the rest of the Agreement, of which the verification process was merely a subsidiary part.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Henderson

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Postscript - “Compromises”

To be fair to the integrity of some people I have discussed this matter with, I will end with their counter-argument. If ICANN - beset by bigger battles and more pressing issues - seeks a compromise on this issue, because of pressure on staff and resources, then the best compromise proposed by people I have discussed this with (not my position, theirs) is that ICANN should allow time to pass so that the present commotion dies down, and then they agree with RegistryPro that domains at the 2nd Level will be opened up to help make the .Pro project financially viable, while certain 3rd Level combinations are reserved for a range of professions. This, they would argue, would respond to market demand and help to make .Pro more viable, not less viable. I don’t agree with this line of argument, for all the reasons I have set out above and my concern for integrity of process and the future of sTLDs, but ICANN may decide to consider this ‘compromise’ along with the option of taking firmer action. My concern is that this will irreparably damage the exclusive purpose and identity of .pro. The proponents of this compromise say that it would strengthen .Pro, citing the small number of registrations, and the vulnerability of the project before EnCirca started its unilateral process.

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