With the Help of New Members
WASHINGTON, September 17, 2008 — The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is pleased to announce the addition of two new members: NIKE, Inc. and Wells Fargo & Company. Nike and Wells Fargo have joined the leading brand owners of CADNA to help the Coalition achieve its goal of stopping illegal and unethical infringement of brands and trademarks online. Brand owners are growing increasingly concerned with the direction that Internet governance has taken and are looking to make an impact by getting involved in the public discussion of this issue. This is a positive and encouraging reaction, especially in light of the recent structural reorganization at ICANN, the Internet governing body, that conflicts with the organization’s duty to uphold public interest.
In a 13 to zero vote, ICANN’s board unanimously approved a change to the structure of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), a significant policy making component of the organization. As a result of the vote, the GNSO will be transitioned into a bicameral entity. The new structure, which has many components that could be both positive and negative for brand owners and Internet users, will divide the GNSO into “contracted party” and “non-contracted party” houses. The contracted party house will be composed of representatives from registrars, registries and a member of the nominating committee. These parties have generally aligned interests, and will be able to form a cohesive 50 percent voting block with little debate. The non-contracted party house will be composed of commercial and non-commercial stakeholders who represent ISPs, and the general business and intellectual property communities. These parties’ interests are significantly more diverse, and will make consensus within the 50 percent voting block less likely.
While heralded as a vast improvement, this change to the GNSO structure is concerning to many because it is perceived as another step by ICANN that will further advance the interests of domain industry insiders to the detriment of Internet policies that could benefit the rest of us. It is of particular concern since contracted parties now possess 50 percent of the voting power, while commercial interests are left with just 23 percent of the vote. This break down of representation will materially diminish the voice of brands, and by proxy, consumers, from the decisions that determine the future of Internet policy and governance.
ICANN’s Board aims for the transition to this new structure to be completed by January 2009; CADNA advocates postponing or reconsidering this change. Internet user interests are already a minority voice within the ICANN community and this change will have long-term, and potentially grave implications on domain policy and Internet governance as we know it. Issues such as the GNSO restructuring decision make it more important than ever for brand owners to get involved in both CADNA and ICANN to protect the public interest and ensure that ICANN’s decisions benefit the Internet user community as a whole.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today. For more information, please visit www.cadna.org.