Contemporaneous with the ICANN Staff announcement to Associated Press on Monday, ICANN Staff held an invitation only briefing for registrars. The extent of the invitation is unknown, but it appears that only the top registrars were notified. I received a voicemail from Kurt Pritz followed up by a later email urging me to join the call on behalf of Tucows. I knew it was important – to the best of my recollection, staff have never extended a personal invitation like this in the past.

The subject of the call is now well known – a review of the proposed Verisign lawsuit settlement terms. The terms of the settlement, a basic affront to most of what I value about ICANN.

CuomoThings got rather heated on the call – the registrars present were not impressed at the prospect of $12 .com registrations, not impressed that Verisign’s commercial interests were being placed ahead of those of the community and not impressed that the settlement negotiations were happening as a backdrop to the recent .net negotiations.

ICANN Staff invited us to a followup call that was originally scheduled to happen later today. Those present have decided that we’d prefer to use the time to talk to one another instead and have declined their invitation.

Interestingly, it was only after staff were notified of the cancellation that they invited the broader registrar community to a briefing on the settlement. This process point is really the least of my concerns right now – but it is bothersome nonetheless.

To review, staff held a private briefing with a few registrars and made their announcement to the community via Associated Press. Despite representations made at the private briefing that the proposed terms would be available for review on the ICANN website within “20 minutes or so” from the end of the call, it was hours before they were actually posted (I grew tired of waiting for them and went to bed. When I awoke the next day, they had been posted to the website). To the best of my knowledge, nothing has been sent to the ICANN General Announcements mailing list and no notice of the posting has been made to ICANN’s GNSO Council – the elected committee of representatives from the gTLD community. And most recently, the staff have decided to hold an official briefing for the Registrar Constituency, one of the groups most affected by the proposed terms, only after they were rebuffed by their handpicked group.

Frankly, I’m feeling very stage-managed through this public comment process. We should update the mission statement in ICANN’s bylaws to include something about “Coordinate public perception on key issues to ensure an orderly close to a pre-determined conclusion.”