As I noted on May 26, the final decision issued on May 20 in the Independent Review Process (IRP) brought by Afilias against the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rejected Afilias’ petition to nullify the results of the public auction for .WEB, and it further rejected Afilias’ demand to have it be awarded .WEB (at a price substantially lower than the winning bid). Instead, as we urged, the IRP Panel determined that the ICANN Board should move forward with reviewing the objections made about .WEB, and to make a decision on delegation thereafter.
Afilias and its counsel both issued press releases claiming victory in an attempt to put a positive spin on the decision. In contrast to this public position, Afilias then quickly filed a 68-page application asking the Panel to reverse its decision. This application is, however, not permitted by the arbitration rules – which expressly prohibit such requests for “do overs.”
In addition to Afilias’ facially improper application, there is an even more serious instance of rule-breaking now described in a July 23 letter from Nu Dot Co (NDC) to ICANN. This letter sets out in considerable detail how Afilias engaged in prohibited conduct during the blackout period immediately before the .WEB auction in 2016, in violation of the auction rules. The letter shows how this rule violation is more than just a technicality; it was part of a broader scheme to rig the auction. The attachments to the letter shed light on how, during the blackout period, Afilias offered NDC money to stop ICANN’s public auction in favor of a private process – which would in turn deny the broader internet community the benefit of the proceeds of a public auction.
Afilias’ latest application to reverse the Panel’s decision, like its pre-auction misconduct 5 years ago, has only led to unnecessary delay of the delegation of .WEB. It is long past time for this multi-year campaign to come to an end. The Panel’s unanimous ruling makes clear that it strongly agrees.