Constantine Zournas wrote that ICANN should be sued in order to stop the foreseen tremendous increase in domain pricing to benefit insiders who have worked for and continue to work for ICANN. Here are some excerpts of his fine analysis:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) doesn’t care about the thousands of comments, tweets, articles, petitions and opinions. Submitting comments and signing petitions achieves nothing. Like nothing was achieved by the 3,200 comments that were made on not lifting the .org price caps. ICANN ignored them and went ahead with the plan, screwing all domain name registrants in the world.
I tried to warn people back in April but almost no one cared: “Wake up people! ICANN and the registries want to steal your domain names!“. ICANN and the registries are imposing a domain name tax that has no justification and also you can find no way around it.
Do you think ICANN cares about my and your comments? All they are seeing are the billions of dollars from private equity companies flowing that thinking about their new positions and bonuses.
.ORG is being sold to private equity fund “Ethos Capital” for $1.135 billion so while we were trying to spell out some disagreement about lifting price caps on .org, .info and .biz, ICANN has now conveniently moved the whole debate on the sale of the whole .org extension. Do you think a private equity fund would be interested in a fixed income company? No. But they are now seeing infinite potential by running a monopoly without any price caps. This is unprecedented in the world economy!
The only thing they care about is their bank accounts. They are getting paid handsomely working for ICANN to serve the private companies and funds that they go to work after they have fulfilled their mission in ICANN.
Fadi Chehade, former Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, is a prime example of this as he is the one that orchestrated all this. He started in 2012 when he joined ICANN. He was so shameless that he announced in August 2015 (while being the ICANN CEO) that he was going to be a Senior Advisor on Digital Strategy for ABRY Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm. That was 7 (!) months BEFORE leaving ICANN. ABRY Partners then went ahead and bought DONUTS that is the biggest New gTLD registry with 200+ domain name extensions. So he was working from the inside for at least 7 months! Fadi Chehade then became a consultant (also helping them incorporate) for Ethos Capital too. ABRY Partners and Ethos Capital probably share some or maybe all of their investors.
Now ICANN says that they can’t stop ISOC selling PIR. First of all, yes they can. They awarded the stewardship of .org in 2002 to a non-profit (ISOC) operating another non-profit (PIR). Now PIR is moving to a private equity fund. They can just remove the stewardship and give .org to a public bid.
But the whole point here is not about stopping the PIR sale. The whole problem started when ICANN removed price caps from .org and other legacy extensions like .info and .biz.
Equity funds don’t buy fixed income companies. They want to buy PIR/.org because of the infinite potential it has of printing money on the backs of all registrants. This was only possible after removing the price caps. Where was Ethos 6 years ago? PIR could then increase prices for .org domains by 10% every year. Why now?
ICANN claims that they are only moving .org and other extensions like .info and .biz to the “Base Registry Agreement”. But there is one thing they are hiding. This agreement was/is called the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement“. There is a reason “New gTLD” was/is in there. It is there because the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement” only applies/applied to the New gTLDs and NOT the legacy extensions. Guess who approved the “Base New gTLD legacy agreement”? Correct: Fadi Chehade.
The New gTLD legacy agreement also allows premium renewals for individual domains that the registry decides at will. Will this apply to .org soon? And then .com? When will this all end?
At this point my only hope except suing is the European Community stepping in and stopping ICANN as the current US government is a parody show. Yes, the bureaucratic European Community is unfortunately our only hope except it we take matters into our own hands.
Are you wondering who else will benefit if .com price caps are removed too? Well the only thing holding Donuts (ABRY and Fadi Chehade) and other New gTLD registries from increasing the minimum domain name price to $100+ per year was .com, .net and .org prices. Premium new gtlds are already priced at $2,500+ per year so the sky is the limit. Now that .org is gone there is only .com and .net left holding domain prices down.
We are talking about a cost of less than 50 cents per domain per year! This is how much these companies are charging!!!
Once .com is $10,000 per year, .net and .org are $2,500 per year then all new gtlds can increase to a minimum of $1,000 per year and bury all world businesses into this internet tax.
And guess what is the biggest New gTLD registry at this moment with over 200 extensions? Donuts. The company owned by Abry (that Ethos says has not connection but have probably the same investors behind them). Coincidentally Ethos and Abry have the same adviser, Fadi Chehade, and Fadi’s best buddy from childhood Akram Atallah, former President of ICANN‘s Global Domains Division, is the CEO of Donuts. Erik Brooks that is the founder and CEO of Ethos Capitalcoincidentally was the Former Managing Partner of Abry Partners LLC. Finally, Donuts co-founder and chief counsel Jon Nevett is now the PIR/.org CEO.
Each of these legacy extensions (.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, etc.) is essentially an unregulated monopoly. ICANN’s only job was to regulate these legacy extensions but they refuse to do it because they are getting paid. So what good is having ICANN anymore?
There are tens of companies what would pay ICANN a lot of money just for the rights to operate .org at a fixed price of $2 per domain. But ICANN has gifted .org (and .com, .net, .info, .biz and other extensions) to its current registry operators to get rich for years to come! An open competitive bid for all legacy extensions is the only solution that I will accept from ICANN at this point. Of course they would never do that in their own so they must be forced to. Whoever charges the least per domain per year gets the registry for 10 years. I am sure that there will be bids for less that $2 per year per domain for .org, .info and .biz. And there will be bids at about $1 for .com. As it is, New gTLD registries are getting charged less than $1 per domain from their backend operators.
Also I have to say that is not just a problem for the non-profits. This is a problem for all registrants of .org. And all other legacy extension registrants like .info and .biz as well. They will be all blackmailed from a company that is essentially nothing more than a back-end operator. ISOC/PIR and ICANN don’t own the .org extension or any of the other legacy extensions. All legacy extensions are part of the public infrastructure. They had different rules from day one. .Com, .net and .org existed before ICANN ever did.
So there is only one option available to stop these corrupt organizations: Let’s sue ICANN.
Let’s sue ICANN and dissolve it. We don’t need it any more. ICANN is corrupt to the bone and there the only option we have is to kill it. ICANN is dead to us anyway.
Will it be a class action lawsuit? Will it be an antitrust lawsuit?
I also expect ICANN and the people on the ICANN board sued as well as the ICANN employees that orchestrated this. This includes former ICANN buddies Fadi Chehade and Akram Atallah.
I expect their communications and financial records checked, including bank accounts and shares/stocks, companies, etc.
Yes, ICANN can be sued. I don’t know how but I am expecting attorneys to come up with ideas and a plan. ICANN has breached half their bylaws in the past 6 years and probably many US and international laws. ICANN headquarters are in California so I would expect to start from there.
I am willing to offer at least $5,000 per year to support this lawsuit. I am sure other people around the world will join me if they see a vision and some action. If the ICA starts a lawsuit then I will become a member and fully support it. At the moment they are not doing a lot more than what individuals, bloggers and journalists are doing.
Sure we can file for an Independent Review Process but that could take 2 years and then it is going to be too late.
Now ICANN also wants to give ICANN the ability to increase .com prices once again. Do we know who that ever worked in ICANN had Verisign stock while working for ICANN? No? Why not? ICANN giving Verisign the ability of a price increase would be a classic case of front-running trading as it would drive up Verisign stock. This is what U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigates every day. Is ICANN above any law? Has anyone ever in ICANN disclosed any conflicts?
Let’s sue ICANN!!!
I commend Constantine for this insightful article and urge the domaining public to seriously consider this action. It will be expensive and would require substantial funding. At the very least, this should be an important topic to discuss and take action at Namescon next month.
Howard Neu, Esq.