Click here for the final ALAC Statement (PDF format) transmitted to the Board on 09 May 2011.

Proposed open letter to the ICANN Board

Revised by Alan Greenberg and Evan Leibovitch, 02 May 2011

(Previous version can be viewed at revision 6 of this document -

When the new Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) was approved in 2009, the GNSO Council committed to a process which would lead to further RAA amendments, looking at both the subjects to be included and the process by which it could happen. The ALAC and At-Large was pleased to participate in this process.

It now appears that the GNSO Council is deadlocked on how to handle the renegotiation of the RAA. Moreover the Council has considered two motions addressing future RAA work. The first would have allowed non-contracted parties to act as observers in the RAA amendment discussions (as suggested by the non-contracted party participants in the RAA Working Group). It was rejected. The second would have accepted no observers but required regular reports of the negotiations and required a strict but liberal time schedule. That motion too was rejected.

This has the potential to both delay the RAA amendment process and to keep the RAA negotiation process as opaque as it ever was. To date, ICANN staff has been silent as to how it believes that RAA revision process should be handled.

The ALAC wishes to make its concern formally known that not only is the ICANN community being prevented from proper participatory process in creating Registrar policy, but that the Transparency and Accountability required by ICANN By-laws and the AoC is effectively being abrogated.

Indeed, the ALAC reminds the Board that while the RAA has the form of a contract between the registrars and ICANN, this should not mean that only the directly contracted parties should be part of the discussion: ICANN uses contracts merely as a tool to formalize what should be the result of a larger participatory process; the contract is the tool, not the framework.

This issue is fundamental to ICANN's function, perception and credibility as a multi-stakeholder, bottom-up institution.

We maintain that "ICANN" has a multi-stakeholder model, as described in its organizational diagram and at no moment is "ICANN" restricted to ICANN Staff.

We therefore request that the Board examine this procedural issue and for it to act as the steward of the process and the trustee of the multi-stakeholder principle upon which ICANN is based.

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  1. Olivier,

    There are some substantive issues ALAC could address as well.

    • two thirds of all accreditations are held for the purposes of access to the com/net drop pool (the secondary market), and those are overwhelmingly held by a handful of registrars. There are (or were when I made this comment during the DC Consultation two years ago) 529 ICANN accredited registrars in the US, of these 4 companies control 318: eNom (116), Directi/PDR (47), Dotster (51), and Snapnames (104). Another 122 accreditations are owned by only 23 companies. The RAA does not improve this situation, either by creating a "shell registrar" (or equivalent) second form of accreditation, or creating a criteria primary market registrars meet.
    • there are (or where, as of the Cartagena meeting) when I made this comment during the Compliance presentation by Stacy and other ICANN staff, six accreditations held by businesses in South America, two held by businesses in Africa, and two (I think) held by businesses in North Africa and the Middle East (one territorial jurisdiction omitted). The existing problems that result in the regional disparity of accreditation distribution is not addressed by the proposed RAA, and the higher requirements, intended to solve some other problem (see the first bullet item), may worsen this regional disparity.
    • the new RAA does not foresee the application by many applicants for registry contracts, which have distinctly different needs from existing primary market registrars offering the CNOBI inventories.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. Comment from Kieren Mc Carthy, copied from the NARALO-Discuss list:

    From: Kieren McCarthy <>
    Date: April 23, 2011 7:34:31 AM PDT
    To: "" <>
    Subject: Re: NA-Discuss Digest, Vol 54, Issue 26

    Hello all,

    My two cents worth on the RAA statement.

    It seems a little one-sided and demanding.

    I don't think it does the ALAC any good to 'pick sides' in another SO's

    As such, It would have far greater impact if you acknowledged the statement
    put out by the Contracted House, and then explained why, in the ALAC's view,
    this was not sufficient to pull away from allowing other stakeholders to
    view the process.

    You could even try to act as peacemaker and suggest to the Board that both
    sides find a mutually agreeable observer - who could be from anywhere in the
    community (ALAC?).

    The last thing I'd note is that the statement doesn't really explain why
    individual Internet users are impacted by this. The average Internet Joe
    doesn't care about the multistakeholder model - but he does care about the
    rules surrounding domain names.

    I think the statement would be much stronger if it was clearer why the ALAC
    was sticking its oar in- because this has an impact far beyond the GNSO

    Hope this is helpful,


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  3. I fully support the intent of this statement. A review of some of the salient parts of this complex issue may be worthwhile:

    • The first paragraph of the statement implies that the inclusion of community observers was agreed to by the RAA WG. That is not correct. It was supported by the non-registrars on the WG, but rejected by the registrars. The rejection of the first GNSO motion was fully in line with the position that the registrars took within the RAA WG.
    • The second motion that was defeated was not exactly the same as the “Option B” alternative (the registrar proposal that did not include observers) in the RAA Final Report. The largest difference was that the motion set an absolute deadline for completion of negotiations. It also required reports on a specific time-basis. I personally do not consider either of these to be important, since there was no penalty identified for missing the deadlines, and missed deadlines is a way of life in ICANN.
    • Although accepted by registrars in Option B of the report, they are now taking the position that the GNSO does not even have a roll to play in agreeing to a new RAA (except for aspects subject to Consensus Policy and handled through the formal PDP methodology). They have said that they agreed to it for the previous RAA change in the interest of expediency.
    • The lead sentence of the ALAC statement notwithstanding, it is not completely clear that the GNSO needs to decide how to handle the renegotiation. They never had to before! One of the troubling parts of this entire process is that the Registrars have laid down their “rules”. ICANN, the other party in the negotiations, has been silent (at least from our perspective). As such, our communication directly to the Board is both warranted and timely.
    • It is quite clear that the formal negotiations are between ICANN and the registrar community. As the ALAC statement says, “ICANN” is not synonymous with “ICANN Staff”. I have contended that ICANN could name to its negotiating team representatives of At-Large or the GNSO Non-Contracted House. Or the GAC. They would of course be subject to non-disclosure agreements and such and could not necessarily report back to their constituencies. Registrars have said that if ICANN did that, they would not participate. It would be good if ICANN would weigh in on this possibility.
    • To a large extent, the registrars are in a strong position here, since generally there is little in the RAA that they need changed at the moment. The status quo is acceptable.
  4. At the last ALAC meeting, I was asked to revise this statement, with the help of Evan. The new version has now been posted replacing the original one at the top of this page. There is a link to the old version as well.

  5. Putting both Kieren and Eric's perspectives in play, would it be useful to generalize and add a line that includes Eric's observation as another rivet to the public interest angle Kieren is suggesting this intervention highlight?

  6. Anonymous

    Hello all,

    So I think this is a better and stronger statement.

    One further suggestion: you could add weight to the overall statement by pointing out that the RAA directly impacts every single domain name owner. And stress that ALAC is acknowledged within ICANN as the voice for the millions of Internet users, especially domain name holders.

    To my mind at least that would give the whole statement greater impact.


    Btw I wasn't able to register for an account on this wiki.

  7. Thanks for the comments. Although I agree with the content of both Kieren's last suggestion and Eric's comments, I don't think that they should be included.

    For Eric's comments, although all true, I am not sure they directly relate to the issue at hand. If we were arguing for why *we* should be a fully party to the discussions, it would be relevant, but unfortunately, that does not seem to even be on the table at the moment. These are, however, subjects that should be raised once the actual contract changes start to be discussed.

    Regarding Keieren's addition that ALAC is the voice of users and thus registrants, it is true and the line we normally use. But in this case, I think that our refernce to the AoC and transparency and accountability is a far stronger issue and I am not sure that we should dilute it.