[LINK] FW: ICANN powerless in Net disputes
eric.scheid at ironclad.net.au
Thu Apr 14 17:28:15 EST 2005
ICANN powerless in Net disputes
THE internet's peak technical governance body has appealed to
Australia's consumer watchdog for help to tackle a flood of consumer
complaints over domain names.
THE internet's peak technical governance body has appealed to Australia's
consumer watchdog for help to tackle a flood of consumer complaints over
The chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN), Australian Paul Twomey, and the chairman, Dr Vint Cerf,
urged Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel
to consider ICANN's plight during informal discussions this week.
"(Mr Samuel) was saying he was very happy for us to work together on those
sorts of issues and it was similar to a conversation we've had with the
Federal Trade Commission in the US. I've also raised the same issue with
Donald Johnston Secretary general of the OECD," Mr Twomey said.
Mr Samuel yesterday played down the significance of the meeting, describing
it as a "social gathering", however he conceded that the possibility of
closer coordination with ICANN had been discussed.
ICANN maintains the internet's core addressing system and subcontracts
management of segments of the domain naming system such as .com, .net and
.info to registries. The registries resell the database services to
registrars who then retail the names to consumers, either directly or
through resellers such as web hosting companies.
Mr Twomey said disputes between consumers, and registrars and their agents
were becoming very common around the world but that ICANN did not have legal
power to intervene in 99 per cent of cases brought to its attention.
He said that in many instances domain registrars and resellers could be
engaging in misleading deceptive practices falling foul of fair trading and
consumer protection laws in their respective local jurisdictions.
Mr Twomey said Mr Samuel had opened the door for ICANN to refer complaints
to the consumer watchdog in instances involving Australian domain name
But no formal arrangement had been reached, Mr Samuel said.
"Nothing's been arranged at this stage but if it's constructive then
obviously we'd like to do it," he said.
Information supplied by ICANN was more likely to lead to enforcement action
than that supplied by individual consumers, Mr Samuel said.
"They're at the coal face and we are the enforcement agency. If there are
matters that need our attention, clearly we'll deal with them as best we can
particularly if we've got some serious proof of what might be occurring."
At least part of the idea for the closer cooperation between ICANN and the
local consumer protection agencies was conceived by observing the
relationship between auDA, Australia's .au domain regulator and the ACCC.
"auDA has done a very good job of aligning with the ACCC. It has its own
investigations of its registrars for .au but also works closely with the
ACCC," Mr Twomey said.
"I think that's something that ICANN could be doing more clearly."
Mr Twomey also said that ICANN was considering reworking its agreements
with registries to give the organisation more legal power to intervene in
"We're looking for ways in which our registrar accreditation agreements are
complimentary to consumer protection legislation and if we get these
complaints - and we think they're going to continue, it's just part of a
maturing industry - we are going to have to have mechanisms for concerted
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