Spreading DCT
[Posted to Random Bytes on October 29, 2002 11:36 PM| Links to this post ]

As the registrar rep to the Transfers task force, I've been very busy trying to ensure that we can achieve the level of consultation, dialogue and agreement on the task force recommendations to ensure that we can demonstrate community consensus when making our policy recommendations. Part of this includes tracking the development of the viewpoints of the other constituencies and impacted stakeholders. I've tried to keep a particularly close eye on the evolution of the position of the registry constituency - the source of some of the more spirited debate within the TF. Three times over the last week I confirmed with the chair of the registry constituency that the registry constituency did indeed support the overall recommendations of the TF but that they wanted to make sure that some very small points were explored in further detail - the examples that Neuman provided me with a high degree of confidence in our capability to close this issue off with a demonstration of consensus and a positive vote by the Names Council.

Well, at least until yesterday.

During the Names Council meeting, Roger Cochetti, an employee of Verisign and one of three registry constituency representatives to the Names Council, indicated some grave concern with the contents of the interim report. Not only did this attempt to undermine the bridge building and compromise that are achieving, but it is also completely inconsistent with my understanding of the prevailing sentiments of the Registry Constituency. I am sure that the registry constituency will deal with this serious breach of protocol internally, but the incident does raise a question of whether or not Cochetti represents the Registry Constituency or Verisign on the Names Council.

The cynics that I've talked to about this are probably correct when they point out out that he received his electoral mandate when he, as the sole member of the constituency (pre-expansion) appointed himself to the Names Council.

As a side note, Roger made a rather curious argument regarding the tendencies of task forces. He indicated that they often attempt to craft recommendations that promoted administration based on matters of material interest and were far too detailed to actually constitute policy. While he didn't state this explicitly, his remarks left an implication that Verisign would prefer that the Names Council ratify task force recommendations only insofar as they expressed principles of equity that would allow the implementors to actually determine what the administrative details were.

The bureaucratic dialect use by Cochetti left me scratching my head until I keyed in the fact that he was abusing the definition of policy. By its very nature, policy *is* the management of details and processes - without it, you are left with the hope that everyone else will abide by the principles that govern the character of the community. Cochetti seems to advocate that the Names Council, and therefore by extension the ICANN Board, only promote principles. Principles are important, but they don't come with a guarantee that they will actually be followed. Order and Good Government are two principles that govern civil society, but it takes the social policy embodied in the law to ensure that those who operate under a different set of principles don't upset the basic order that society values.

I'm not sure about this, but I don't think that I stand in the minority when I state that I'm not willing to bet on Verisign's capability to follow the principles that the Internet Community sets forth for all of us to follow. More explicitly, unless we determine solid policies that keep Verisign's monopoly tendencies in check and continue to promote true competition within the generic namespace, they will continue to disrupt the positive forward movement, imagination and innovation that this community has continually demonstrated.

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