Cory Lancaster took role.
Scott Harris introduced the general business items. This included discussing the next steps for the Kids.us suspension recommendation and a report on the suggestion regarding publishing usTLD statistics on the Neustar website. Prior to the call, a draft of the Kids.us suspension letter was circulated for Council review. After discussion, a motion to approve the letter was made and seconded. The Council unanimously agreed that Mr. Harris should sign the correspondence and send it to the Secretariat on the Council’s behalf.
On the previous call, James Bladel suggested that the Secretariat provide statistics to be published on the Neustar website. Terri Claffey stated that five statistical charts are published on the website. The charts cover the following information: the number of registered .US names, the number of names that are transferred each month, the number of monthly registrant renewals and deletions, the number of name servers and the number of registrars. Mr. Bladel suggested that while these statistics give great insight into the current profile of .US, it would be helpful if in addition to these statistics, .US could published a zone file similar to that required by gTLDS. Mr. Bladel described the zone file as including the breakdown of domain registrations by registrar, the number of registrants the registrars have signed up, and each domain’s market and geographical share data.
After some clarifying discussion from the Council, Becky Burr mentioned that this information is available. Ms. Burr stated that she would need to check to make sure that publishing this information would not violate any confidentiality agreements. Ms. Claffey then took this on as an action item. She stated that she would consult with Neustar’s Technical, Legal and Marketing teams to find out what Neustar is providing to its other gTLDs and report back next month. The Council agreed that this was an appropriate approach.
Mr. Harris then introduced the next agenda item: policy issues. On its previous call, the Council asked that Neustar create a background paper regarding the prohibition of the use of privacy and proxy services in the usTLD. This paper was distributed for the Council to review prior to the call. Becky Burr presented the paper to the Council. Ms. Burr defined privacy and proxy services, explained their benefits and challenges, and introduced the range of privacy and proxy service options. In her summary, Ms. Burr referenced the latest study from ICANN’s Privacy and Proxy Accreditation Issues Working Group, a study of WHOIS privacy and proxy service abuse, and a study that spoke on the use of p/p services and commercial entities. She also mentioned several industry debates surrounding the analyses of these studies. Ms. Burr concluded her summary by opening the floor to James Bladel, Michele Neylon, Robert Flaim, and Alex Deacon due to their direct/unique experiences with WHOIS as registrars, law enforcement officials, and in a rights protection manner.
James Bladel began the discussion by noting the complexity of this issue and acknowledging that ICANN is working to address this issue in its entirety. He explained that his understanding of the .US ban is less about the industry criticisms of these services and more about the incompatibility with the Nexus policy in that if p/p services are allowed in .US how could you verify that the beneficial user of that policy was in fact compliant with the Nexus policy? He asked if the Council would have to create a separate function to verify this. Mr. Bladel mentioned that the fact that so many people are paying for these services shows that registrants definitely find value in these services and the fact that there is abuse within the WHOIS database supports the idea that registrants do want their information to be private. Most importantly, Mr. Bladel noted that a lot of the discussion and analysis around this issue is taking place within the ICANN Working Group. He suggested that it might be better to monitor how this issue is developing within the ICANN sphere, and then decide whether or not ICANN’s findings are applicable within the .US namespace. Mr. Bladel also mentioned that it is correct to say that it is probably true to say that the majority of people involved in criminal activity do use p/p services, but it is also true that the majority of people using p/p services are not involved in criminal activity. Mr. Bladel wanted to clarify that these two things are not mutually exclusive and make sure that that context was not omitted.
Mr. Harris interjected that he understood the concern about users hiding behind proxies for inappropriate purposes but he mentioned that given the size of .us compared to larger TLDs, the use of p/p services to prohibit criminal activity is a frivolous argument. If privacy and proxy services are allotted in larger domains, then what exactly is the purpose of barring p/p services in .us given that it is a much smaller TLD. Ms. Burr explained that there is a legitimate concern about whether or not .us is losing/deterring potential registrations because people do not want to provide their information to the public WHOIS. Mr. Harris explained that maybe there is no benefit to barring this service in this one small TLD because there are much larger TLDs that don’t have these restrictions and it seems that registrants would just go and register there.
Mr. Bladel stated that there are also legitimate concerns about people misusing WHOIS data for purposes unrelated to the domain information such as for telemarketing and for spamming. Ms. Burr responded that she would like to hear from Mr. Flaim and Mr. Deacon about their experiences, noting that if the question is whether or not WHOIS information is more accurate for legitimate people who use p/p services than legitimate who make their information public then that is indeed a relevant thought to consider. She also mentioned that there are European TLDs that allow you to opt out.
Mr. Flaim said that he agrees with Mr. Bladel that it would be very beneficial for the Counil to follow the ICANN arguments so as to not rehash the same arguments that are already taking place within the ICANN community. Also, due to the fact that this is a ccTLD, not a gTLD, and the fact that a government contract plays into the policies that govern the .US space, there is nothing wrong with trying to hold this particular TLD to a higher standard. Mr. Flaim deferred to Mr. Deacon who agreed that the Council should be monitoring ICANN’s work, not trying to “reinvent the wheel” and duplicate ICANN’s efforts. Before closing Mr. Deacon did mention that his perspective is that if p/p services do ensure correct contact information is available for the domain name owner, without third party interference, then they are in fact serving a valuable purpose. He mentioned that these services could be useful in .US as long as there is proper Nexus compliance.
Shane Tews agreed that the Council should hold off on this issue. Ms. Tews also mentioned that there are interesting discussions to be had about compliance and the Council should be monitoring and thinking about compliance developments as they monitor the ICANN Working Group’s developments.
Brian Britt spoke next. His experience is that as the delegated manager of 500 domain names that are required to use a special email for publication in WHOIS, that email addresses published in WHOIS receive a great deal of spam email compared to email addresses not otherwise available. This shows that WHOIS databases are in fact being combed by spammers. It is his perspective that .US will not receive any celebrity or other major accounts if there are no privacy protection services. He also mentioned that for the past nearly twenty years the delegated managers have been enforcing the Nexus policy and it is definitely possible for privacy service to be mandated in the same way. This can occur because Neustar gets the verified data while only the privacy service information is listed in WHOIS. He also mentioned that if privacy services cannot enforce the Nexus Policy then Neustar could enforce a policy that they will lose the ability to sell within the .US space. Ms. Burr acknowledged the importance of Mr. Britt’s perspective as did Mr. Harris.
After continued discussion, the Council decided that it would defer taking a position or debating this issue any further until more developments arise from the ICANN Working Group. There was agreement that the Council should continue monitoring the ICANN developments and if the Working Group doesn’t produce any new information within a reasonable time frame, the Council will revisit this issue at a later date.
Mr. Harris then asked if there were any new business items. There were not.
The Council concluded the call.
- Terri Claffey to explore options for publishing zone files.
- Brian Britt
- Scott Harris
- Robert Flaim
- James Bladel
- Phil Corwin
- Michele Neylon
- Alex Deacon
- Shane Tews
- Cory Lancaster
- Terri Claffey
- Becky Burr