International Domain Names Meeting Findings

Marc P. Chinoy, Facilitator (Regis Group, Inc.)


On Friday, January 22, 1999, a day long Domain Name Open Forum, attended by more than 150 Participants representing a wide range of Constituencies with an interest in the ongoing development of the Internet, was held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Forum was to further the consensus processes initiated by the ICANN Board of Directors (BoD) in 1996. It was hoped by the Forum organizers that the event would further the development of a set of By-laws acceptable to the BoD of ICANN for a proposed Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO).

The Forum was organized and sponsored by the following organizations:

Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX)
Council of European National top level domain Registrars (CENTR)
European ISP Association (EUROISPA)
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
International Trademark Association (INTA)
Internet Council of Registrars (CORE)
Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI)
Policy Oversight Committee (POC)
World Information Technology Services Alliance (WITSA)

The Forum included the participation of Esther Dyson, Interim Chair of the ICANN BoD, and Mike Roberts, Interim President of ICANN.

At the time of the Forum, several groups had identified publicly their intention to submit proposed DNSO By-laws. These included the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP), CENTR, the working affiliation identified as, INTA, and ORSC.

Additionally, at the time of the Forum, several groups had identified themselves as being Intervenors in the process. These groups included CORE, ICC, and NSI.

During the Forum, representatives of those groups identifying themselves as being prepared to submit by-laws made opening presentations. Additional presentations were made by representatives of the Intervenors, and by Esther Dyson, who discussed the intentions of the provisional ICANN BoD. Acting as a panel, the presenters then responded to questions from the floor, further expressing their views to the Forum, and listening to the views of the wide range of Participants. (Cont.)

In the latter part of the Forum, representatives of the five publicly declared Presenting entities conducted an open panel discussion in order to explore prospects for compromise with input from the floor.


Immediately preceding the Forum, on Thursday, January 21, 1999, approximately 45 representatives and advisors to the Presenting Groups and Intervenors met in a Preliminary Session for the purpose of establishing the agenda, processes, and principles intended to increase the prospect that the Forum would prove to be a valuable step in the development process.

The principle outcome of the Preliminary Session was the establishment of a proposition for the Forum that the DNSO should remain primarily an advisory and facilitatory body. It was also established that a primary issue for the larger group might be the degree to which and manner in which the Names Council might be structured.

Both activities where Chaired by Jon Englund, Senior V.P. of ITAA. The group development activities conducted on both days were facilitated by Marc Chinoy, President of the Regis Group, Inc. (TRG). At the request of the Participants, TRG has prepared this report which is comprised of Background Information, Group Findings, Facilitator=s Observations and General Recommendations.



These Findings represent an effort to describe basic understandings resulting from the Open Forum and Preliminary Session. They should NOT be construed as capturing or memorializing binding decisions on the part of the Participants. It is hoped that these Findings and the discussions they seek to typify may assist in the process of closing the intended by-laws promptly.

During the Forum discussions there appeared to have been mutual and general understanding by the participants that the DNSO would be well served if it incorporated the following characteristics and principles:

  1. The DNSO should act as an advisory body which recommends policy to the ICANN BoD
  2. The DNSO should neither regulate member activities nor adjudicate the appropriateness of Member actions
  3. The structure of the DSNO must be based on open processes that are intrinsically fair and respond systematically to a broad base of Constituencies
  4. The DNSO must work to assure the continuation of a coherent root (i.e., no conflicts in names globally)
  5. The DNSO must establish a naming system that is stable, secure and robust
  6. A Names Council should be established in some form
  7. The Names Council should actively facilitate solutions which reconcile the interests of broad-based membership
  8. The Names Council should communicate directly to the ICANN BoD
  9. The Names Council should include:
    • Representation from registries and registrars
    • Representation from business
    • Representation from trademark owners
    • Regional diversity throughout
    • Broad expertise
  10. The DNSO should have substantial control over internal funding and finances in terms of budgeting



The discussions indicated that a core set of issues remain to be resolved, although the parties indicated a willingness to actively work to seek prompt resolution to these matters. The core issues include matters related to:

  • Internal Governance and the Structure of membership
  • Corporate Structure
  • Funding sources and mechanisms, and in particular the funding relation of ICANN to DNSO and whether DNSO-member financial participation should be on a flat funding basis vs scaled funding
  • Membership qualification (i.e., what is the balance of membership for legal entities vs. organizations vs. individual domain owners/users)

PLEASE NOTE: All parties expressed a desire to actively pursue resolution of their differences prior to the February 15 date for a requested joint by-laws set.


Due to significant effort on the part of a number of groups and individuals over an extended period of time, there appears to be more synergy than disagreement between the groups in this ongoing process, with most of the Presenting Groups aligned on most points of substance. A concerted effort in the next days on the part of the Presenting Groups should yield a draft which, while not necessarily reflecting unanimous agreement, may represent the view of a significant cross-Constituent plurality.

The point of most fundamental disagreement appeared to have been the definition/categorization of Constituent Groupings. Issues related to legal structure and funding methodologies while of real concern should not be allowed to erode the time needed to develop mutually acceptable solutions satisfying the main issue.

Several of the remaining issues actually appear to be disagreements only as to >degree,= and therefore should be open to compromise solutions if properly framed. A prime example is the determination of the relative levels of fee-based funding to be paid by which Constituent sources.

Given the vast array of participants and the lack of historic venue for issue management, there appears to be an unfortunate and not atypical level of mistrust between several elements of the Internet community. This mistrust is driven in large part by the combination of differing backgrounds and miscommunication. Due to the inherent diversity of views as to how the Internet should be utilized and therefore managed, the compression of time at the end of a multi-year project and the varied experience/history of all involved, it is likely that concerns surrounding the implication of various courses of action will remain. For this reason the continuation and expansion of efforts to communicate frequently and in particular any efforts that can be undertaken to clarify terminology, technical processes, and near term sequences of activity should prove to be of considerable value.


  1. To the greatest extent practicable the DNSO.ORG grouping should be asked to continue facilitating joint discussions and joint drafting.
  2. Communication of process, activities and outcomes should be aired and updated on the web on a daily basis.
  3. Once the DNSO is established, ongoing decisions/modification should be made to the greatest extent possible on a predictable, well-understood cyclical basis. Thought should be given as to how to anticipate and prepare data well in advance of any broad changes. Additionally, a limited appeals process should be constructed for presentation of irreconcilable issues to the ICANN BoD.
  4. The Group would be well served if they adopt a Principle of Sequential Closure (i.e., all common elements in development are considered Closed at the moment common language is agreed upon for that element), and that the Groups recommend to the ICANN BoD at the start of negotiation that any subsequent attempts by one or more groups to reopen Closed Elements be rejected.


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