[discuss] elephant in the room

David Conrad drc at virtualized.org
Mon Mar 17 23:09:05 UTC 2014


On Mar 17, 2014, at 4:34 PM, Pranesh Prakash <pranesh at cis-india.org> wrote:
>>> The question is: how has USG oversight prevented this?
>> It was before my time at ICANN, but I'm told that DoC instituted explicit terms in the IANA functions contract to prohibit ICANN from doing something similar to what was proposed above, triggered by an (ill-advised but arguably good intentioned) attempt by ICANN at the time to force ccTLD administrators to enter into a three-way contract with ICANN and the ccTLD's government.
> This is very interesting.  Could you elaborate on this?  My understanding was that there are many ccTLD administrators that have entered into a agreements (through letters of exchange, memoranda of understanding, 'sponsorship agreements', etc.) (though most of these are not three-way contracts, some seem to be).  

Yes, most of those agreements (documented at http://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/cctlds) are primarily acknowledgements of existence of both parties. The key issue was that operation of the IANA functions was core to Internet security and stability and ICANN couldn't impose unilateral requirements prior to performing those functions.

> So the DoC made it voluntary but not mandatory?  Or did the DoC say that ICANN couldn't do this without community consensus or some such?

This was back in the early 2000s when ICANN was refusing to process even simple name server update requests if the ccTLDs didn't enter into the three-way contracts -- I was on SSAC (actually, it was called SECSAC then) at the time and I remember arguing that the requirements were simply broken. ICANN's attempts to require contracts results in "a bit" of controversy (including, as I understand it), the creation of http://www.wwtld.org and general unhappiness with ICANN that I often had to deal with when I took over IANA general manager duties in 2005, even though ICANN stopped trying to enforce that requirement long before. 

> Also, would you know of any blog posts / books / RFC that recount this particular episode in detail?

Not that I know of, however I believe section C.4.3 of the 2003 contract (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/ianaorder_03142003.pdf) may corroborate what I've been told. It's probably also worth pointing out that before I joined ICANN, there were complaints about ICANN's responsiveness in performing the IANA functions, resulting in contractual terms that mandated timeframes under which ICANN should perform their services.  Fortunately, by the time I joined ICANN in 2005, the staff performing the IANA functions had already begun improvements so I could take credit :).

>>> USG oversight has not been a panacea for domain name ills.  No system that will replace it will be without its own problems.
>> Both are true, so I'm not sure what you're expecting.
> I just wish it to be acknowledged that while moving to new terrains will be testing, the old system wasn't great either.  I think we both agree on this.

Yes. The old (current) system obviously has its problems or there wouldn't be the consistent demands by various entities for a change. Given we (the Internet community) now have an opportunity to institute change, I personally believe it is important that we understand exactly what it is we're changing (not the strawmen various folks have constructed to push their own agendas) and why.


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