Saturday, 8 July 2006

ICANN moves to renew SITA sponsorship of .aero

Five years ago — over my objections and after denying my request for reconsideration — ICANN entered into a contract with the Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA) to sponsor a new .aero top-level Internet domain (TLD).

The initial contract delegating authority over .aero was for a 5-year term, expiring in early 2007. SITA has applied to renew the sponsorship agreement, and that renewal application is now under consideration (secretly, of course, like most ICANN decision-making) by ICANN.

Earlier this year, I pointed out in formal comments to ICANN that the .aero agreement has been violated, and should not be renewed.

In its response to me, SITA claimed that no individual stakeholder has ever contacted the (unnamed) person SITA now claims to have designated to represent them in .aero decision-making. Scarcely surprising, since it is impossible to determine from SITA’s Web site or any other public source who that purported representative is, or even that they exist, or what issues or proposals for .aero policies or decisions are under consideration.

On 30 June 2006, ICANN’s Board of Directors decided that my comments did not “raise a substantial question about whether renewal of SITA’s agreement would be in the best interest of the sponsored TLD community and the global Internet community”, and voted unanimously and without debate to authorize ICANN’s staff “to enter into negotiations with SITA for a renewal of the .AERO Sponsorship Agreement.”

The current sponsorship contract would have required a formal review by ICANN’s staff, and a further opportunity for public comment, if my comments or any others had raised such a “substantial question” — regardless of how ICANN’s Board of Directors or staff believed that question should have been answered. In the absence of any debate, it’s unclear from the transcript whether the members of the Board of Directors understood that the issue properly before the Board was whether the comments raised, as a threshhold showing, a “substantial question”, and not how to answer that question. Nor is there any indication of what they would have considered to constitute a “substantial” question”.

I expect that the next thing made public about the .aero agreement will be an announcement that it has been extended for another 5 years.

Link | Posted by Edward on Saturday, 8 July 2006, 09:30 ( 9:30 AM)
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