The furore surrounding the report on .net ownership has intensified with another highly critical assessment by one of the bidders, and ICANN sticking to its guns.
CORE++ has joined Denic and Sentan in condemning the report, its evaluators, Telcordia, and the decision-making process. The depth of anger and repeated calls for an investigation has finally sparked ICANN into giving an official response on the saga at its conference in Argentina in an effort to calm the situation.
CORE++'s letter is the most in-depth and thoughtful of all the responses so far but it is no less critical. The report is accused for the fourth time of being "seriously flawed" to the extent that it cannot be used as the deciding factor in .net's ownership. It also takes issue several times with higher rankings given to VeriSign.
In the same way that Denic was furious that it was wrongly marked down by Telcordia's still-anonymous evaluation team on what is says is false information, CORE++ is equally angry that it was given a "red" ranking and subjected to severe and incorrect criticism within the report. It states that the evaluators must simply have misunderstood what it had told them and goes on to explain why the "entirely inappropriate" red ranking is wrong.
The letter also criticises the process and report for counting "the same underlying criterion... multiple times" to VeriSign's advantage. It also claims that "disproportionate weight" was given to "VeriSign-advertised benchmarks, many of which are irrelevant, while missing out known shortcomings of the registry model created by VeriSign".
In particular, it states the rankings given to VeriSign on the registry model, Whois setup, ICANN compliance and stability are wrong, and gives ample explanation as to why it believes this. It is also angry that it was given only two-and-a-half days to respond to the evaluators' initial scoresheet, despite there being numerous errors.
In conclusion, CORE++ says that "the choice of criteria strongly favours VeriSign in particular, or US government contractors in general" - something is says should "seriously worry ICANN".
And ICANN does appear to be worried. Its lawyer John Jeffrey appeared at the public forum at ICANN's meeting in Argentina at 12.15pm (4.15pm UK time) to read out a statement on the .net report.
In it, he acknowledged the responses and comments on ICANN's public forum set up specifically to discuss the .net report. Incredibly however, he stated that ICANN did not view its own forum as an "appropriate forum" for formal statements regarding the process and the report.
He also warned bidders not to post any future comments on the process on the public forum but to send them in a letter to ICANN. Comments from Afilias and VeriSign - the two bidders not to respond so far to the report - are expected in the next day or so.
ICANN's position is that it spent a long time creating the process by which .net ownership would be decided and it wants to stick with that process, despite the heavy criticism.
That means that the bidders will all submit their comments to Telcordia, and Telcordia will then respond, most likely with a new draft of the report. ICANN then intends to enter into contract discussions with the winner of that report. This will all be done out of the public eye, although ICANN has promised to publish all documents once the process is over.
It is a determined effort to calm tempers but whether Telcordia will actually accept the points put forward and whether it will end up giving ownership of the Internet’s second most-important registry to someone other than VeriSign, only time will tell.
That ICANN is insisting all this is done behind closed doors is, however, not encouraging.