Board Activities and Meetings
INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS
A meeting of the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") was held by teleconference on February 10, 2000. The following Directors of the Corporation were present by telephone: Esther Dyson, Chairman, Amadeu Abril i Abril, Geraldine Capdeboscq, Philip Davidson, Ken Fockler, Hans Kraaijenbrink, Alejandro Pisanty, Michael Roberts, Linda S. Wilson, and Pindar Wong. Directors Robert Blokzijl and Greg Crew joined the teleconference while it was in progress. Also present on the teleconference were Louis Touton, Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel of the Corporation; Andrew McLaughlin, Chief Financial Officer of the Corporation; Jody A. Baram, the Corporation's At-Large Project Manager; and Joe Sims of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.
The meeting was called to order by Esther Dyson at 4:37 pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time.
The first item on the agenda was the review and approval of minutes of the Board's special meeting of January 12, 2000. Mr. Touton, as the Corporation's Secretary, reported that the version of the minutes that was initially posted did not include the discussion of the Board's January 12 resolutions concerning leasing of office space, to avoid prejudicing the Corporation's position in negotiations for a lease. Shortly before the February 10, 2000 meeting, those negotiations resulted in an agreement in principle for a lease. Mr. Touton expressed his view that posting the leasing discussion from January 12 would no longer harm the Corporation's interests. Accordingly, it was agreed that the January 12 minutes, including the leasing discussion, should be posted promptly (this was done on February 13, 2000) and the Board should consider approval of those minutes at a later meeting.
Mr. Roberts presented a report on the Corporation's financial condition at December 31, 1999 (mid-way through the 1999-2000 fiscal year) and on management's plans for formulation of the Corporation's budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year. He described several changed circumstances since the budget was originally adopted at the Board's meeting in Berlin on May 27, 1999, including the agreements reached with Network Solutions regarding NSI registry and registrar payments to ICANN, implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on Funding, and continued success in controlling expenses during the startup and transition period. The net effects of these changes are a projected reduction in FY99-00 total revenue of $675,000 from the May budget, a reduction of $910,000 in projected expense, and a corresponding increase in projected contribution to debt repayment and reserves of $235,000. The President recommended that the adjusted budget projections be adopted as a midyear revision of the budget, and that they become the basis for the initiation of the budget process for FY00-01.
Upon motion duly made and seconded, the Board unanimously adopted the following resolutions:
RESOLVED [00.8] that the budget approved in resolution 99.55 is revised to conform with Exhibit A hereto.
At this point in the call, Director Blokzijl joined the meeting.
Mr. McLaughlin reported that the Reconsideration Committee has adopted recommendations on two requests for reconsideration presenting similar issues. On Request for Reconsideration 99-3, the committee adopted the following recommendation:
The request asks the Board to reconsider its decision to block registration of ?.com and ~.com. Because the ICANN Board has made no decisions relating to whether or not those domain names can be registered, there is no decision that can be reconsidered.
Since the implementation of the Internet domain-name system in the 1980s, the specifications published and implemented by the Internet community have not permitted labels making up domain names to have characters other than letters, numbers, and internal hyphens. Througout this period, the specifications for the format of domain names have been well-known throughout the Internet technical community. They have been set forth in several RFCs, including RFC 1035 (published in 1987) <ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1035.txt> and RFC 1123 (published in 1989) <ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1123.txt>. The commonly accepted specifications are reflected in the functional specification for the Shared Registry System, through which competitive registrar services were introduced in the .com/.net/.org top-level domains last year, which requires that labels contain letters, digits, or internal hyphens. The use of domain names in a noncompliant format presents interoperability problems. Among other things, domain names that violate this format have the potential of causing software written in reliance on these formats to malfunction, and several instances of actual malfunctions have been identified.
The Reconsideration Committee finds the domain names identified in Reconsideration Request 99-3 to be incompatible with the functional specifications contained in the Shared Registry System. Any proposed change in those specifications should be advanced through the appropriate Internet standards-development organization, in this case the IETF.
After discussion, the following motion was duly made, seconded, and adopted unanimously by the Board:
RESOLVED [00.10] that, for the reasons set forth in the Reconsideration Committee's Recommendation RC 99-3, the Board denies the request for reconsideration submitted by Bruce Perelman on September 4, 1999.
At this point in the call, Director Crew joined the meeting.
On Request for Reconsideration No. 00-1, the committee adopted the following recommendation:
[RC 00-1] The Reconsideration Committee recommends that Reconsideration Request 00-1 (submitted on 6 and 7 January, 2000, by Russ Smith) be denied. Mr. Smith requests ICANN to reconsider "the revocation of domains ending in a '-' ..."
Mr. Smith appears to be operating under the mistaken impression that ICANN made a decision to revoke those names.
ICANN does not have the ability to cancel or revoke specific domain names; rather, ICANN has the power to enforce the terms of its agreements with registries and registrars, which may require the cancellation of registrations performed by mistake. Nevertheless, the Committee notes that ICANN staff did indeed advise NSI-Registry and several ICANN-accredited registrars (1) that the registration of trailing-hyphen names would violate the specification for the Shared Registry System and (2) that the various agreements among NSI, ICANN, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the ICANN-accredited registrars require that all registered names must comply with the format specified in the registry's functional specification. In view of the ICANN staff's advice, the Reconsideration Committee will treat Mr. Smith's reconsideration request as a request to reconsider the staff's advice to NSI-Registry and the affected registrars.
The Committee notes the explanation of the ICANN staff in its Comment Concerning Trailing-Hyphen Domain Names, posted 7 January 2000:
"Since the implementation of the Internet domain-name system in the 1980s, the specifications published and implemented by the Internet community have not permitted labels making up domain names to have trailing hyphens (e.g., "example-.com"). Througout this period, the specifications for the format of domain names have been well-known throughout the Internet technical community. They have been set forth in several RFCs, including RFC 1035 (published in 1987) <ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1035.txt> and RFC 1123 (published in 1989) <ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1123.txt>. The commonly accepted specifications are reflected in the functional specification for the Shared Registry System <http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-hollenbeck-rrp-00.txt>, through which competitive registrar services were introduced in the .com/.net/.org top-level domains last year, which requires that labels end with letters or digits, not hyphens.
"In the past several weeks, however, over 800 domain names with labels containing trailing hyphens were registered by mistake in the .com/.net/.org registry. These names do not conform to the functional specification under which the .com/.net/.org registry is operated. The registry software in use before January 3, 2000, however, permitted registrars to enter these malformatted names into the registry, and some registrars' software similarly failed to screen out requests to register these names. Promptly upon learning that these names had been registered, the registry operator (NSI-Registry) <http://www.nsiregistry.com/> revised the software to reject additional requests to register names of this format.
"ICANN supports these corrections to maintain the stability of the Internet. At the ICANN annual meeting on November 4, 1999, the ICANN Board approved a package of agreements among NSI, ICANN, the United States Department of Commerce, and the ICANN-accredited registrars <http://www.icann.org/nsi/nsi-agreements.htm>. Those agreements require any names that are registered to comply with the format specified in the registry's functional specification. They also provide that those registering domain names must agree to cancellation of the registration in the event of a registry or registrar mistake, and in the case of every one of the trailing-hyphen names the registering party did in fact have such an agreement.
"The use of domain names in this noncompliant format presents interoperability problems. The documented format is well-known throughout the Internet technical community. Among other things, domain names that violate this format have the potential of causing software written in reliance on these formats to malfunction, and several instances of actual malfunctions have been identified.
"The U.S. Government's Statement of Policy on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses, 63 Fed. Reg. 31741 (June 10, 1998) (commonly known as the "White Paper") <http://www.icann.org/general/white-paper-05jun98.htm> specifies that preserving the stability of the Internet should be the first priority of any DNS management system. A second principle that the White Paper states should guide DNS-management activities is the promotion of competition in the provision of registration services.
"After consultation among ICANN, NSI-Registry, and the registrars involved, notices have been given to the registering parties that these names were accepted and registered by mistake and will be cancelled. These cancellations reflect implementation of longstanding policy, rather than adoption of any new policy. ICANN commends NSI-Registry and the registrars involved for working constructively within the competitive framework adopted at the March and November 1999 ICANN meetings to effectively and promptly address this challenge to Internet stability. This sort of commitment to stability and competition will continue and expand the many public benefits the Internet has brought."
The Committee has reviewed the relevant agreements, RFCs, and functional specifications and concludes that the ICANN staff was correct in its advice that the registration of domain names containing trailing hyphens contravenes the specification for the Shared Registry System, the elements of which are binding on NSI-Registry and the ICANN-accredited registrars.
The Committee has further examined the various allegations and claims made by Mr. Smith in his reconsideration request and finds them to be without merit.
Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the Board deny Mr. Smith's request for reconsideration, as well as his request for a temporary stay.
The following motion was duly made, seconded, and adopted unanimously by the Board:
RESOLVED [00.11] that, for the reasons set forth in the Reconsideration Committee's Recommendation RC 00-1, the Board denies the request for reconsideration submitted by Russ Smith on January 6 and 7, 2000.
Mr. McLaughlin reported that the Reconsideration Committee has three pending requests and expects to have other recommendations ready for Board action in time for the Board's next meeting on March 10, 2000.
Mr. Roberts described progress on implementing the at-large membership program, as called for in resolutions 99.143, 99.144, 99.145, and 99.146. The web site at members.icann.org had been under beta test by over 20 testers for about one week, and various technical issues were being resolved. Mr. Roberts indicated that as implemented the site required applicants for membership to be at least 16 years old, to have a working e-mail address, and to give their name and postal address. Mr. McLaughlin gave a presentation regarding establishment of the Membership Implementation Task Force. The task force will consist of several units, each responsible for a particular aspect (such as outreach in particular regions) of the task force's work.
After this discussion of implementation status, the Board discussed whether to go forward with taking applications for membership. It was noted that several aspects of the at-large membership program had not been fully defined, so that details regarding membership could not be given to visitors to the web site. The Board also noted that the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and Common Cause had recently written a letter expressing concern regarding some aspects of the membership program, noting that they were studying aspects of the program and expected to present a report to the Board at the Cairo meeting in early March, and urging the Board to avoid taking implementation steps that would be difficult to reverse.
After some discussion, it was the informal sense of the Board that the site should begin taking applications for membership, but that efforts should be made to retain flexibility to revise the program should it appear appropriate after input from the community (including CDT and Common Cause) at the Cairo meeting.
Mr. Touton presented a proposed revision to the bylaws that would permit a Supporting Organization to revise the terms (1, 2, or 3 years) it designated for each of its original selections for the Board of Directors. The proposed revision of terms would become effective only with the consent of the affected directors. Mr. Touton explained that, due to the tight deadlines under which the Address Supporting Organization selected its directors in October 1999, it had designated terms for Mr. Fockler and Wong of 1 and 2 years, respectively, even though all involved parties now agreed that those terms would most appropriately be 2 and 1 years, respectively. It was the sense of the Board that this proposed bylaw amendment should be posted for public comment so that the Board could act on the proposal at its meeting in Cairo on March 10, 2000.
Mr. McLaughlin noted that the Non-Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency had submitted a request for extension of the terms of its representatives on the Names Council, which under the Board's October 18, 1999 resolutions recognizing the constituency expired on February 1, 2000. The constituency did not complete its elections by that date, but expected to complete its elections by February 20, 2000.
The following motion was duly made, seconded, and adopted unanimously by the Board:
RESOLVED [00.12] that the terms of all three NCDNHC representatives on the NC as of October 18, 1999, which were on that date set by resolution 99.101 to expire on February 1, 2000, are hereby extended to expire on February 20, 2000.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:08 pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time.