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News Updated 11/21/2000 11:43 AM EST
AFTERNIC EXCLUSIVE

Vint Cerf Blocks Bid for .web
by Judith Oppenheimer
11/17/2000

Judith Oppenheimer, publisher of ICB Toll Free News: Domain Name & 800 News, Intelligence, and Analysis and president of ICB Consultancy, reports from the ICANN Annual Meeting in Marina Del Rey: No one said it would be easy and it wasn't. We expected ICANN-centricity to present front and center and, in all its foolish glory, it did. But even we couldn't have predicted an audience stunned into silence by the absurdity, the mockery, and sometimes cartoonish embarrassment of the ICANN board's performance. In a field of 1 to 10, it rated a cringe-factor of 10-plus. After what can only be described as a day of keystone cop chaos, Internet and MCI luminary Vint Cerf dug deep into his pioneer roots, and blocked Afilias' bid for the desirable .web gTLD, an existing registry operated by Image Online Design.

ICANN troublemaker (and Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel) Louis Touton bullied, badgered and smirked throughout the afternoon, lobbying for his preferred applicant and TLD, Afilias and .web, he thought triumphantly, apparently oblivious to his embarrassing public display of indiscretion.

But in the end, after numerous straw votes, the board was unanimous in its consensus to negotiate with Afilias only on its second choice TLD, .info.

Cerf was unable to quiet his discomfort at displacing the Existing .web, reflecting repeatedly on its function in commerce for the past four years, as well as its intellectual property interests in the TLD and its associated service.

"I'm still interested in IOD," he repeated over Touton's objections. "They've worked with .web for some time. To assign that to someone else given than they're actually functioning makes me uneasy," he said, prompting board member Linda Wilson to chime in, "I agree with Vint."

Directors Ken Fockler and Esther Dyson expressed their support as well, whereas board member Fitzsimmons denounced IOD's status. "We have to be careful of preregistration," he said, mischaracterizing IOD's 20,000 active .web domain names registrations.

"I'm still interested in IOD," he repeated over Touton's objections. "They've worked with .web for some time. To assign that to someone else given than they're actually functioning makes me uneasy," he said, prompting board member Linda Wilson to chime in, "I agree with Vint."

Directors Ken Fockler and Esther Dyson expressed their support as well, whereas board member Fitzsimmons denounced IOD's status. "We have to be careful of preregistration," he said, mischaracterizing IOD's 20,000 active .web domain names registrations.

"The wrong decision here might set up the wrong incentives and precedents, encouraging people to set up registries in advance of applying to ICANN." He forgot to add, and paying $50,000 for the privilege.

While Afilias was not granted .web, neither was IOD, which was excluded in the final board resolution from consideration even though it is already a working registry in the ORSC rootzone and has the endorsement of the influential Intellectual Property Constituency.

Per the resolution passed, one existing TLD, .biz, was assigned for consideration to JVTeam, a NeuStar company, despite the fact that .biz is already a commercial registry with web-based registration, and has also been in the ORSC rootzone for more than 4 years (it's creation date is 1995).

Despite Fitzsimmons' attempt to brand alternative root operators as outlaw geeks or worse, the founding members of the ORSC rootzone include such respected internet players as Anthony M. Rutkowski, currently VP for Internet Strategy at VeriSign-NSI, and board member Ken Fockler.

In Thursday's resolution, the board "selects the following proposals for negotiations toward appropriate agreements between ICANN and the registry operator or sponsoring organization, or both: JVTeam (.biz), Afilias (.info), Global Name Registry (.name), RegistryPro (.pro), MDMA (.museum), SITA (.aero), NCBA (.coop)."

A brief "special" board meeting followed at which Vint Cerf was named new ICANN Chair. For today at least, he earned it.


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