Namecheap's legal campaign leads to ICANN review of decision on price caps

Started by Domaining News, Jan 10, 2023, 03:17 AM

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Last week, ICANN received yet another negative Independent Review Process decision from a panel of arbitrators. The panel found that when ICANN decided to eliminate price controls from its .org and .info registry contracts in 2019, it behaved in the most secretive manner possible and violated its bylaw commitments to transparency.

Although Namecheap argued for the "annulment" of the agreements with the two registries, the panel instead recommended that ICANN review its decision and engage in discussions to possibly re-introduce the price caps. The decision criticized ICANN's practice of operating without sufficient public scrutiny, highlighting the Registrar's failure to apply its policies in a non-discriminatory manner and to consult with the community while explaining its decision-making.

The panel found that ICANN overused attorney-client privilege to avoid scrutiny and failed to provide an open and transparent explanation of its reasons for opposing the removal of price controls, despite receiving thousands of negative public comments. ICANN's failure to disclose "almost none" of the documents evidencing its deliberations to the IRP exacerbated the situation, according to the panel.

Despite these criticisms, the panel did not instruct ICANN to alter its future conduct, allowing the organization to remain as secretive as it had been beforehand. Namecheap also claimed that ICANN deliberately avoided scrutiny by allowing Org to eliminate the price caps without a formal board of directors resolution, and the panel agreed that this was not a routine matter of "day-to-day operations." Instead, it was a policy decision that required Board action.