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The Internet Society's .Org Bid 

Bid Executive Summaries

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Section I—Gen’l Information-- Executive Summary

The Internet Society (ISOC) is pleased to submit this proposal to ICANN in response to ICANN's RFP to manage the .ORG registry. The Internet Society is a not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia and has 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code.

If this proposal is accepted by ICANN, ISOC proposes to form a not-for-profit corporation, referred to in this proposal as "Public Interest Registry" or “PIR.” PIR will be solely controlled by ISOC, will enter into the registry management agreement with ICANN, and will carry out the registry functions. ISOC has entered into a Letter of Intent with Afilias, Limited; this letter provides that Public Interest Registry and Afilias will negotiate a contract under which Afilias will provide a full range of back-end registry services as a subcontractor to Public Interest Registry.

Public Interest Registry will operate as a fully separate corporation from ISOC. When operational, at least a majority of its officers and directors will be separate from those of ISOC. ISOC will have the sole power to appoint PIR’s directors, who will in turn appoint and hire PIR’s officers.

Public Interest Registry will apply to receive the endowment provided by VeriSign, Inc. to ICANN. We propose that the endowment be used to fund public service activities that will strengthen the registry's ability to support and reach out to the noncommercial community. We hope to reach out with worthy projects that will aid people around the world, such as workshops to help developing countries extend the Internet and develop responsible policies in support of the advancement of the Internet and therefore their country’s development for the benefit of education and economic development. We would also support public interest organizations and their use of the .ORG domain.

Section II—Capabilities--Executive Summary

The Internet Society’s (ISOC) bid on behalf of its subsidiary, Public Interest Registry, Inc. (PIR), to operate the registry rests on its extraordinary capabilities in two areas.

First, ISOC is the foremost nonprofit organization focused exclusively on Internet-issues—and has been for more than ten years. As the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and other Internet standards-setting bodies, ISOC has a global constituency that provides deep understanding of the policy and management issues facing TLDs, as well as keen insight into proposed enhancements to .ORG. PIR will have the benefit of ISOC’s established consensus building mechanisms that will enable it to manage both policy and strategy for the domain. Further, ISOC has earned the respect of the Internet and noncommercial communities, which will help PIR.

Second, PIR has Afilias’commitment to provide the back-end registry services for .ORG. Afilias is the registry operator for .INFO, the most successful of the 7 new gTLDs, and the .VC ccTLD. Afilias manages more than 805,000 names in .INFO using the new EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol) standard for registry operations—and has spearheaded the use of EPP, including the first implementation of EPP’s transfer capability. Afilias supports more than 90 ICANN-accredited registrars. Together these registrars already handle 99% of .ORG’s current registrations. Afilias has prepared an EPP transition plan based on experience both with these registrars and a similar conversion being managed by AusRegistry Pty. Ltd., in Australia. (Afilias is a minority shareholder in AusRegistry.)

This section will detail the capabilities of PIR and Afilias to deliver “best in class” registry services that enhance the stability of the Internet, deliver affordable services with a high degree of service responsiveness and reliability, and enable .ORG to realize its full potential on a global basis.

Section III—Technology-- Executive Summary

PIR’s back-end registry services provider, Afilias, will provide a proven, world-class suite of services to serve .ORG registrars and registrants. This will help PIR make the .ORG registry the first to operate in the public interest, and allow PIR to deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction in the domain name industry.

Leveraging expertise gained from operating the .INFO TLD, Afilias’ services will speed resolution times, increase reliability, enhance security, protect information, and provide stability to .ORG. These services include core functions such as conformance to registry-registrar models and protocols, zone file generation and distribution, billing and collection, data escrow and backups, publicly accessible WHOIS service, technical and customer support, and redundant physical locations.

Afilias has an experienced technology management team leading an expert staff of technical support, customer service, and product management specialists who assist registrars and registrants every hour of the year. This disciplined team has created well-defined processes that allow it to avoid emergencies and quickly address issues as they arise.

Afilias pioneered the use of EPP, and is the registry that possesses the most experience with it. Afilias already supports more than 800,000 .INFO domains, and has executed over 20,000 transfers to date. Afilias’ systems and technology base are standards-compliant, flexible, fault-tolerant, and proven under challenging operational conditions. Afilias’ existing systems are already powerful enough to run the .ORG TLD (with capacity to spare), meaning that PIR and Afilias are ready to hit the ground running.

Afilias has developed a comprehensive plan to transparently migrate the .ORG domain with no interruption to DNS or WHOIS services, and with minimal impact on registrars. Afilias has directly relevant experience in this area, since it helped design and test the new registry system for the redelegated .AU domains, which is being used to transition 250,000+ domains from the current registry operator. Afilias also enjoys close relationships with the registrars who sponsor more than 99% of all existing .ORG registrations.

Afilias’ combination of proven technology, strong leadership, customer advocacy, and operational excellence provides a solid foundation for PIR’s stewardship of the .ORG domain.

Section IV—Equivalent Access--Executive Summary

Public Interest Registry (PIR) and its subcontractor Afilias will fully comply with the proposed equivalent access requirements and deliver equal access to both its shared registry system and its registry resources to all ICANN-accredited registrars. We will implement the Registry-Registrar Agreement (RRA) currently in force with the new gTLDs (e.g. .INFO). Our key contact with registrars, Afilias, has already in place approved and working mechanisms for the provision of equivalent access to its registry services by all registrars. Afilias has an excellent record of providing equivalent access, which it expects to build on with .ORG.

The RRA will set the standards for our interactions with registrars and is based on clearly defined policies, mechanisms, and commitments that ensure equivalent access. As detailed in this section, these include: providing capacity to handle all registrars (connections, customer service); technical support via phone, e-mail and Web site that operates 24 hours each day, 7 days each week, 365 days each year; Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI) training of all relevant staff; annual certifications and sign-off by staff; regular internal neutrality reviews; a clear Registry Code of Conduct and mechanisms for guaranteeing the confidential treatment of registry and registrar information.

Our “24x7x365” service policy will address the needs of registrars in every time zone. From a language standpoint, we propose for now to maintain English as official language for providing registry services in .ORG. We would add languages in the future as the marketplace dictates.

PIR is committed to providing a smooth transition to new version of the EPP protocol once it is published as an IETF Standards Track RFC. Our transition plan (detailed in Section III) includes tools and transition help for registrars moving to EPP (OT&E assistance will be available to all). The plan also supports RRP through a proxy for those yet to complete the conversion. Net, all current .ORG registrars will have uninterrupted support during the transition.

Beyond this, PIR is committed to promptly adopting the new EPP standard when it is approved and published as an IETF Standards Track RFC. Through ISOC, PIR will be closely following the standards process to ensure it is prepared to quickly transition .ORG registrars to new standard once approved.
Section V—Registry Services--Executive Summary

PIR proposes the following service offerings. These services, offered in conjunction with registrars, have been designed so that the TLD will function smoothly for registrants and registrars alike. These services will also transform the .ORG name space into one that supports and nurtures noncommercial entities. They will help organizations develop their visibility, give donors peace of mind, and connect people to communities.

We propose four general types of services:

  • Low-cost services in the public interest
  • No-cost services in the public interest
  • Domain name registration services
  • Supplementary services

PIR proposes that the .ORG registry be operated as a "thick" registry, with the appropriate domain name registration services. A thick registry is one in which all of the information associated with registrations is stored authoritatively within the registry repository. This includes information about registrants and their contacts, and technical information (such as that needed to produce zone files). This is in contrast to .ORG’s current nature as a “thin” registry, in which the data is stored across the participating registrars. Thick registries offer great technical, operational, legal, and business advantages.

Section VI—Competition--Executive Summary

ICANN has succeeded in introducing competition in the registrar market. However, in the gTLD registry space, VeriSign still maintains a 95% market share, with .ORG declining under its stewardship. While competition is important, stability is paramount. To guarantee a stable and smooth transition, the new .ORG registry operator must have demonstrated experience maintaining a shared registry system containing at least 500,000 domain names under management. ISOC believes that Afilias is the optimal registry infrastructure provider to guarantee stability, while simultaneously enhancing competition in the registry marketplace. Further, the ISOC proposal provides competitive marketing for .ORG to restore its vitality.

Section VII—Responsiveness to the Noncommercial Community

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Public Interest Registry (PIR), through its ISOC roots, will have the benefit of long-established and well-recognized mechanisms in place for responding to and supporting noncommercial Internet users. These will be supplemented with a special noncommercial .ORG Advisory Council and additional web-based input mechanisms for interested parties. This combination provides a solid foundation for the broad support that has already been expressed for this proposal and will enable .ORG to reach it’s full potential.

ISOC heritage ensures noncommercial user focus for .ORG. ISOC will establish the Public Interest Registry to extend its mission and values to the only TLD with potential to be a true home for this community. This assurance stems from 3 key aspects of ISOC:

First, ISOC’s global mission is “to assure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.” ISOC’s PIR will extend this mission to the .ORG domain, enabling the expansion of .ORG under a clear vision. PIR’s board will consist of globally representative Internet experts, reflecting the diversity of both the Internet and the .ORG domain.

Second, ISOC Constituencies are made up of key community-based groups who set standards and policies through a bottom-up, collaborative process. For the most part, ISOC-sponsored groups embody the “self forming, self-governing” vision admired in many of the recent ICANN reform papers. Virtually all of these groups are noncommercial in nature—made up mostly of concerned and talented Internet citizens. Additionally, individual membership in ISOC has recently been made FREE (at a central level) to encourage the broadest possible participation and to strengthen the local chapters of ISOC. PIR will provide support for these groups and infuse the .ORG domain with renewed vision and focus.

Third, ISOC Outreach enables it to work cooperatively with many other global organizations (including UNESCO, the ACLU, and the Center for Democracy and Technology) to create consensus around critical policy and standards issues (such as IPv6, privacy, copyright, to name a few). This established “outreach network” will enhance not only the voice of noncommercial entities within .ORG, but will enhance .ORG itself by creating a more inviting atmosphere within the domain. ISOC’s PIR will continue this work by providing a true home on the Internet for noncommercial entities.

In summary, Public Interest Registry’s ISOC community-based roots compel a focus on the noncommercial Internet user community, and allow it to serve the this community effectively and immediately. This section details the many mechanisms already in place plus new ones to ensure that .ORG becomes an even more valuable home for the noncommercial Internet community.

Section VIII—Differentiation--Executive Summary

As one of the original domains established on the Internet, .ORG enjoys high awareness in its strongest markets and is already known as the most likely home of noncommercial entities on the Internet. However, .ORG has been limited geographically and by a lack of marketing support, which, combined with the recent introductions of competing TLDs, have contributed to its current weak registration performance.

In this section, we will review both primary and secondary research to show that, while currently weak, .ORG has tremendous potential in three areas:

  • First, the percentage of noncommercial entities that leverage the Internet is increasing as these organizations recognize the efficiencies and effectiveness of the Internet.
  • Second, growth in the number of noncommercial entities worldwide is accelerating as economies continue to develop. In both developing and developed countries, specialized organizations are filling the gap left between market- and government-provided services.
  • And third, expansion of the .ORG domain beyond the US offers significant opportunity. .ORG can grow through adoption by more noncommercial entities across the globe.

To drive this growth, we propose a complete marketing and public relations program that will create a sustainable competitive advantage for .ORG through:

  1. clear and compelling positioning that leverages its heritage and sets it apart from other TLDs;
  2. a channel program that enlists registrars to tap that potential; and
  3. a public relations program that will carry the message across a global audience.

ISOC’s experience as a respected member of the noncommercial community and its deep understanding of the market on a global basis provide a strong platform on which to revitalize .ORG and help it attain its true potential.

Section IX—VeriSign Endowment--Executive Summary

PIR proposes that the endowment be dedicated to expanding outreach and services to noncommercial organizations on behalf of .ORG. As shown in the market analysis segment of Section VIII, the noncommercial community worldwide is technologically behind other economic sectors in adopting and leveraging the Internet. Since access to and usage of the Internet can significantly improve the ability of these organizations to deliver benefits to their nation and publics, the key gating variable is KNOWLEDGE.

To address this pressing need, ISOC and PIR propose to field extensive educational and awareness building programming for non-commercials that will have the dual benefits of: 1) helping these organizations enter the Internet age; and 2) better serving their ‘customer base’ and more quickly meeting their objectives and mission.

In addition to outreach, we plan to accelerate the launch of several new services tailored to noncommercial registrants. This will enable the community to more quickly realize the benefits of the re-delegation.

We believe that this proposed usage meets the qualification criteria for two reasons. First, the programs will be undertaken by ISOC and PIR (both are not-for-profit), initially leveraging the ISOC mechanisms. Second, this is true primary market development activity—especially in technologically emerging areas—making the investment a future operating (marketing and product development) expense. By initiating these programs immediately, we can build on the smooth transition already planned and begin .ORG’s migration into a growing, vital home for a larger portion of the noncommercial segment.

If you have additional questions, we'd like to hear from you. Please write to us at orginfo@isoc.org