Friday, 22 February 2008
.travel registry sold -- again
The owners of the registry for Internet domain names ending in ".travel" have announced plans for another sale of the .travel registry business, raising renewed questions about Tralliance's compliance with its contractual commitments to ICANN as well as about the lack of transparency of ICANN's decision making and ICANN's compliance with its own bylaws.
According to a report in Travel Weekly (free registration required) by Dan Luzadder, who has been doing the most in-depth reporting on .travel lately, even members of the body that is supposed to be responsible for .travel policies weren't aware of the impending sale:
Bill Maloney, executive vice president of ASTA and a former member of the Travel Partnership Corp., dot-travel's advisory board, said he was unaware of the sale but added that taking Tralliance private raised some questions in his mind.
"What the industry loses, of course, is transparency," Maloney said.
Luzadder's description of the TPPC as "advisory" may be true in practice, but ICANN delegated .travel to Tralliance only on condition that the TTPC would have actual authority over .travel policies. If it's been reduced to a purely advisory role, that's a violation of the agreement between Tralliance and ICANN.
The sale of the .travel registry business may also be a violation of the contract by which ICANN delegated .travel to Tralliance. Section VIII.5 of the ICANN-Tralliance agreement provides that:
[N]either party may assign this Agreement without the prior written approval of the other party... (i) Registry may assign this Agreement as part of the transfer of its registry business if such transfer and assignment are approved in advance by ICANN in accordance with its procedures
I can find no record on the ICANN Web site of any decision by ICANN to approve a sale of the .travel business, much less a record of compliance by ICANN with the procedural rules in ICANN's Bylaws that would apply to such a decision.
Meanwhile, ICANN has adopted a set of policies and procedures for informatiuon (non)disclosure that would effectively repudiate ICANN's commitments -- in its own Bylaws and its contracts with the USA Department of Commerce -- to openness and transparency.
I've advised the Department of Comnmerce, which is currently reviewing ICANN's performance under its so-called "Joint Project Agreement", of this and ICANN's other contract violations.
I've also requested that ICANN's decision to approve this new "Documentary Information Disclosure Policy" be referred to an independent panel charged with reviewing whether it complies with ICANN's Bylaws on openness and transparency.
But since ICANN (1) has yet to take any publicly-disclosed action on the request I made almost 3 years ago for an independent review of the process by which it decided to approve .travel and delegate it to Tralliance, or any of the other pending requests for independent review, (2) has never complied with the requirements of its Bylaws to designate an independent revierw provider and approve policies for independent review, and (3) hasn't even bothered to respond to my specific written questions concerning the lack of a duly-approved independent review provider or procedures, I'm not holding my breath for action on this second of my independent review requests.
[Addendum: More on the sale from John Levine]