ICANN Ombudsman Blog Creating Dialogue Affirming Fairness

February 27, 2007

registerfly, a reply to a correspondent from Security and Stability Committee

Filed under: Registerfly — Frank Fowlie @ 7:40 am

You addressed your note to the Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee, Frank Fowlie (the Ombudsman), and me (chair of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee). I can assure you each of us is deeply concerned about the problem you and many others are having with Registerfly. I can also assure you the ICANN staff are working vigorously to resolve these problems. Let me also emphasize that none of us are part of the ICANN staff in the usual sense. The Governmental Advisory Committee and the Security and Stability Advisory Committee are external committees which provide advice to ICANN. The Ombudsman, as is usual with ombudsmen, sits outside the staff structure and provides an independent path for complaints about the behavior or performance of ICANN staff. The GAC chair and I are not ICANN employees and don’t have access or control of the registrar contracts. The people who do have that access and control are on the ICANN staff, and, as I indicated earlier, Mike Zupke is the primary person to coordinate with. (If you’re not getting any response from ICANN staff. I’ll be happy to intercede if you’re having trouble getting attention.)

February 24, 2007

Interesting media story

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 11:44 am


February 22, 2007

Registerfly and ICANN

Filed under: Registerfly — Frank Fowlie @ 9:06 am


February 20, 2007

registerfly, The Register, and the Office of the Ombudsman

Filed under: Registerfly — Frank Fowlie @ 9:09 am

Last week The Register had a story which relates to my previous blog on registerfly: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/19/registerfly_angry_customers/    Here is my reply to the author of that story, Burke Hansen:

Dear Burke,
I am responding to your article “Registerfly on the fly, ICANN on the run”, dated Monday, February 19, 2007.  In your article you quote a recent entry in my blog, and then assert that I have washed my hands of the matter. 
I’d like to clarify a few points.  First, with respect to the jurisdiction of my Office; the ICANN Ombudsman is established in the ICANN Bylaws.  It empowers the Ombudsman to look into matters of fairness concerning decisions, actions, or inactions taken by the ICANN Board, its staff, or supporting organizations.  Therefore,  the ICANN Ombudsman does not have any jurisdiction over the commercial relationships between registrants and registrars.  To give an example that may be more understandable, you live in San Francisco; if the City of San Francisco had an Ombudsman, that Office would have jurisdiction the city government, its staff and services.  The Ombudsman would not have jurisdiction over disputes between consumers and business owners, just because the business or the consumer is located in that fine city or because the city passes bylaws that may regulate those businesses.  ICANN can no more empower its Ombudsman to investigate registrar – registrant disputes than the city Ombudsman can act to resolve disputes between a computer retailer and its customer.
To put it another way, General Motors can’t help you if you received poor service at the local gas station.
Just as with the City Ombudsman, I have to respect the fact that there are agencies that have jurisdiction to deal with these issues.  The registerfly consumers may come from any of a multitude of city, state, or national jurisdictions, with different consumer protection laws and regulatory frameworks.
Secondly, with respect to the individual consumers who have contacted my Office, I can tell you that I have looked at each complaint individually, and have responded to each complainant personally.  Our Registrar Liaison Manager,  Mike Zupke has followed up on each complaint I have referred to him, and these have all been identified to senior management at registerfly.
My Office has done a trend analysis of the complaints regarding registerfly which have come to my attention, and these have been transmitted to our compliance manager, and the registrar for appropriate follow up.
I recognize that consumers are presently frustrated with registerfly.  I have attempted to advise consumers and registerfly of my concerns by putting factual information about the role of my Office in this matter on the blog.  I have also informed them of the limits of my jurisdiction so that we don’t falsely raise expectations about what we can do.  I am sure that you will recognize that no one wants to be listed on the Ombudsman blog as being problematic, and perhaps putting this into the public forum will provide some moral suasion for registerfly to deal with these consumer concerns.  United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis has said “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
Best regards,
Frank Fowlie

February 18, 2007

Northwest Ombudsman Meeting

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 3:57 pm

On February 16, I attended a meeting of Ombudsmen from Oregon, Washington State, and British Columbia.  This is a regular once or twice a year meeting of Ombudsmen from local and state or provincial governments, universities, and other agencies.  It was hosted by the Ombudsman for the Worker’s Compensation Board of British Columbia (Work Safe BC).

These meetings are very beneficial, because, like my Office, many Ombudsmen in the Pacific NorthWest are sole practitioners, and the ability to share experiences, and talk about the day to day operations of our offices with colleagues helps to stay balanced in what we do.

There were common issues discussed.  Demostrating value, or being able to rationalize your work, without giving up the principle of independence was a well discussed topic.  How can Ombudsman be evaluated in terms of merit pay, retention, and salary increments, when part of an Ombudsman job is to potentially to publicly criticize the organization who will determine these things.

We had some good discussions around cases that we have dealt with, and were able to analyze our own work, with collaboration from our colleagues.

Thanks to Peter and his Work Safe colleagues, and Susan Neff for organizing this event.

February 15, 2007

Ombudsman Posts Report concerning ALAC

Filed under: cases and findings — Frank Fowlie @ 3:35 pm

The Office of the Ombudsman today posted a report concerning the handling of an application for At-Large Status.  http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/documents/report-15feb07.pdf

The Ombudsman has found that ALAC has acted unfairly towards the applicant and has made 12 recommendations for individual and systemic redress.  The Board of Directors is to report back to the Ombudsman by May 13, 2007 (60 Days after the next Board meeting which is March 13) with an update on its accpectance, rejection, and /or implementation of the recommendations.

February 12, 2007

Registerfly and the ICANN Office of the Ombudsman

Filed under: Registerfly — Frank Fowlie @ 3:43 pm

In the past couple of weeks, over 70% of the non-jurisdictional contacts my Office has received have concerned  registerfly.

The role of the Ombudsman is to review the fairness of actions, decisions, or inactions taken or not taken by the ICANN Board or Staff.  In these cases, consumers have essentially asked me to look into a matter involving a dispute between them and registerfly, and this falls outside of the powers given to me under Bylaw V.  http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/documents/ombuds-frmwrk-eng-20jun05.pdf

In most circumstances, the matter would be reffered to Mr. Mike Zupke, ICANN’s Registrar Manager, and he would in turn pass along consumer concerns to the registerfly contact, who can be found by entering your domain name in the following search engine: http://reports.internic.net/cgi/whois?whois_nic=&type=registrar  If, however, Mr. Zupke determined that the matter you are complaining about is unrelated to the Registrar’s Accreditation Agreement, or any other ICANN policy, he will likely encourage you to work out the situation with the registrar.  The contact details above may be of use to you in contacting registerfly.

February 11, 2007

Welcome to the Ombudsman Blog

Filed under: general — Frank Fowlie @ 7:16 pm

Thank you for stopping by the Ombudsman blog space.  I will be using it as a tool to keep the comunity of issues relating to my Office, my travels, etc.  I hope that you will come back and visit me often.

Frank Fowlie



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