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Anything that doesn’t fit in any other category

ICANN LA to be broken up; begging letters to stop.

Fadi Chehadé’s new broom at ICANN continues to sweep the house, according to reports just in from Singapore.

Apparently  his X-wing fighter has scored a direct hit on the ICANN LA office (affectionately known to some as ‘the Death Star’, after ICANN’s logo) and it is to be broken up. This is in an aim to make ICANN less US-centric.  Fadi Chehade portrait[1]_2

A new term: ‘service hubs’ are to be established in Singapore, Istanbul, and LA. A number of people in LA office will be asked to relocate move to the other hubs. This should prove a real career opportunity for the right people, while, inevitably, I expect this means some familiar faces among the staff will take the opportunity to move on

Not content, with that, ICANN is to cease asking ccTLD registries to contribute to ICANN’s chest — which currently bloated with doubloons and pieces of eight from newTLD application fees.

What effect this will have on ccNSO funding mechanisms or gTLD perceptions is yet unclear but should be interesting to watch.


Wherefore whereas?

Those who know me well know that I have an intense interest of the English language, often annoyingly so.

The Board of ICANN (the non-profit corporation that co-ordinates the internet’s naming system,) like most companies in the English speaking world, records its decisions by way of written Resolutions.

In my own company, we do something similar.  — It’s needed to documents important decisions taken by the ‘corporate mind’. For example: “The Board resolved to open a bank account with the London branch of Bloggs Bank’.

But for some reason, ICANN peppers its Board resolutions with arcane and archaic rehearsals of fact before getting to the meat of the decision recorded.

“WHEREAS it is recognised that blah blah blah”

For all we Brits look to the USA as being modernistic and at the forefront of new things, American English  — which., in the study of linguistics is regarded as a quite separate language to BBC English, Scots or Irish English —  yet has so many archaisms which survive into everyday use and are redolent of pre-Revolutionary 18th century English.

For example, Americans are always surprised that we don’t have felons any more. (This is because European society has evolved and moved on from the view that someone who commits certain criminal offences cannot ever be rehabilitated, and therefore after serving their sentence must continue to be punished in pettifogging ways like being ineligible to vote forever — we think this promotes recidivism).

Other words, like ‘beverage’ are mutually understandable, but seem quaint, and almost never used in England in common speech. So, no one in England would ask: “Would you like a beverage” (except in a deliberately affected manner for humorous effect ( usually when the beverage concerned was alcoholic) in nature.  The word ‘bevvy’ on the other hand, deriving from the same root, WAS a very common dialect word in my home country, and it invariably meant beer. (Clue: my father taught at the school atttended by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Anyway, back to ‘Whereas’.  Really, I don’t see the point. Wherefore the nub, in fact!.

(The word  ‘wherefore‘, contrary to the common misapprehension does not relate to location, but means ‘why?‘. Juliet was not inquiring where her paramour was hiding as is usually believed, but was bemoaning the fact that she was a Hatfield and he was a McCoy).

But always assuming that it is helpful to rehearse factual background before recording Board Decisions decision, Plain English must be preferable, surely?

Kieren McCarthy, CEO of dot-nxt has started a campaign to reform the wording used by ICANN’s boarrd resolutions. It’s a laudable goal, and I support it.

But for myself, I think I’ll suggest replacing it with ‘the Humble Petition of the gNSO sheweth that ..’


Why we will not use UPS in future

Open Letter to D Scott Davis, CEO of UPS

Dear Mr Davis

I have just given instructions that your company be removed from the list of courier companies that we use.

In addition, as far as we are practically able to do so, we shall, henceforth, avoid placing any orders with companies if they propose to use you for delivery.

Why have I taken this Draconian step? The answer is that we do not deal with companies that mislead.

Specifically in your case,  by recording parcels as having been delivered whilst they are still en route.

Please see the extract from the Proof of Delivery shown below.

I have the original screen print of this (as I expect it may change, and you can see for yourself what the current realtime status at including the green bar and “Delivered” tick mark.

Tracking Detail

Updated: 21/01/2013 8:45 Eastern Time
Shipping Information

Delivered On: Monday, 21/01/2013 at 9:24
Shipped By
Request Status Updates »

As you will seen, it clearly showed today that the package concerned, given over to you in England on the 17th, was delivered 09:24 this morning.

But you will note, that instead of a signature, the signature field appears to contain routing information.

Needless to say the package has not been delivered, and now that you are no longer tracking it and seemingly are not able to locate its whereabouts, from past experience, I have no expectation that it will be delivered anytime soon.

In fact, it’s my belief that it will not be delivered before Friday or Monday of next week, despite the timescale you agreed in your contract with our supplier (which calls for delivery by today). I do however, hope to be proved wrong.

But I’m less than concerned about exactly when it gets here. Unlike some shipments, this one is not terribly time critical, although I’d be disappointed if it didn’t turn up before the 24th.

What bothers me is the misleading ‘Delivered’ status on the tracking.
Your colleagues on the phone attempted to persuade me that black was white, and that “Delivered” in a Delivery Report should not be construed as as “Delivered to customer” but sometimes means “delivered to the next delivery stage”

Of course, if that were true, why just not put  “Delivered” on the tracking system as soon as the sender delivers into your custody on despatch? That way you will get a 100% on-time, same-day rating. Job done!

As you can imagine, this is neither the service, nor care and custody we expect from UPS.

I do expect you to track packages at every stage in their journey.

I do not expect that you will always deliver on time.  There might, for example, be adverse weather at Guernsey and/or Alderney airports.

I never expect your company to record something as Delivered (and stop the clock) when it has not yet, in fact been delivered.

Should your office wish to contact us about this issue, I’d be delighted if you (or someone with sufficient nous to understand what it is that has exercised me) should email to discuss further.


Nigel Roberts, CEO Island Networks


How to get around Pirate Bay blocking (part 1)

Over the last few weeks, the largest ISPs in the UK have been required by a court order to block your internet feed in such a way as to prevent you from accessing certain websites – the most well-known one of course, being ‘Pirate Bay’ ostensibly operated from Sweden. (At least it now uses a Swedish domain name, and when I last looked at where IP packets were going to, it was Stockholm, but of course when you read this article it may physically be anywhere in the world.)

The details of how the block is being implemented have emerged, and it seems it is a combination of fiddling with lookups at the DNS level, and imposing the use of transparent proxy servers for every web access. (There are other things the ISPs can do, and maybe either they already are, or may do so in the future.)

It seems to me that the ISPs are simply following the letter of the Court Order. So is there any valid ground for criticism?

I’ve taken the time to read the court judgment, and its interesting.

Unlike other attempts at dealing with unlawful file sharing (particularly the idea of three allegations of copyright infringement and your whole family loses its internet connection) the Court Order appears to me to be compatible with the internet user’s fundamental rights.

The law requires a balance to be drawn between competing interests; the right to free expression on the one hand, and the right to property on the other, and to make sure that any action taken is reasonable in scope.

So don’t beat up the ISPs, as some commentators have. They are just following the law. And it seems that they are doing exactly what they’ve been required to do, and nothing else.

Now there are a number of websites within the UK which have started to offer Pirate Bay access as a service. In a followup article, I’ll explain why it is it may not be a very smart of moves to use them, but how is is almost certainly a very dumb move on their part of the site owners to run them, particularly in the UK

But the UK courts haven’t (yer) ruled that it’s illegal in itself to visit

It has ruled that its unlawful to use it (and, in fact, by analogy any similar site) to enable copyright infringement, and that because that appears to be the site’s principal purpose, it would be proportionate to require the defendants to take steps to prevent user access.

But the odd thing about the Order, however, is that it applies specifically to half a dozen companies, including BT.

This means that any company that was not named in the order (or relies on the services of a company named in the order to deliver web browsing to its users) is not (yet) legally required to block TPB.

s. So of course, they don’t. I’ve read reports of TPB being readily available on certain mobile phone network

So all you need to do to get around the Pirate Bay block, if it affects you, is change ISPs.


How many UK banks will fall foul of this?

I am the attorney for a family member in England. That is to say, I hold an Lasting Power of Attorney explicitly executed by them last year.

The reasons one might give an LPA are explained here.  Setting up an LPA is an extremely sensible thing to do, and I commend it to anyone who is resident in England, Wales, Scotland or N. Ireland. (The law is rather different in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Registration of the LPA gives effect to the powers under it.

I attempted to open a savings account in the UK today for the benefit of the person whose registered LPA I hold.  In fact what happened was I came across a list of Best Buy savings rates and one of them was the Principality Building Society.

But the Society explicitly denied the application to open the ‘E-Saver 5’ account as their terms and conditions exclude people who, unable to operate an account themselves, have given an LPA to a trusted family member of friend. I was told I could open a different account, on a postal application, but that the terms and conditions of the account would be different (and the interest rates would, I expect, not be as good!)

Unfortunately for the Principality Building Society, and any other bank having a similar condition, it appears that this is unlawful. To be precise it seems to me to contravenes the UK’s Equality Act 2010 , since disability is a ‘protected characteristic’. It’s unlawful to offer services on different conditions to disabled people as to able bodied ones.

I telephoned the Society, and the first person I talked to seem to me to be a bit offhand. I then spoke to a manager who was courteous, but confirmed their position and seemed to indicate that it was introduced “because of FSA moneylaundering rules” which I find rather hard to understand.

However, they’ve taken note of my complaint, and are investigating. An update will be posted here.

If anyone else has been affected similarly, please feel free to contact me.


Poachers and Gamekeepers

Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s CEO is today highlighting certain apparent structural issues with the ICANN Board and conflicts of interest.

And you know what, a lot of what he is saying is making sense!

But why has it taken him till the lame-duck phase of his reign for him to speak up?

Back in the early days, ICANN CEO Stuart Lynn similarly criticised the structure of the original ICANN, which led to the abolition of elections and the creation of the Nominating Committee under the banner “ICANN 2.0”.

But he did this early on, and actually achieved the changes to ICANN that produced the current structure. Whether you liked them or not (and the abolition of elections was something that was, perhaps, to be regretted), Lynn had the time to follow through, and implement.

Sadly, Rod’s contribution just sounds like the plaintive cry of an albatross flying off into the distance.


“No proposals met the requirements” – ICANN’s IANA function contract in doubt?

As reported at and .NXT the US Government has scrapped the current IANA contract procurement process, reportedly saying in the process that ICANN’s submission didn’t meet the requirements of the global community.

The effect of this, although ICANN have another six-month stay of execution, has to be to cast medium-to-long-term doubt over ICANN’s role as IANA manager.

It would also might be perceivable by some (whether intended that way or not) as somewhat of a sour note for departing CEO Rod Beckstrom to end his time at ICANN on

Whether any of the criticisms that have been leveled at Mr Beckstrom during his tenure have substance or not, it would appear that one success he should have expected to bank upon would have been ICANN to be awarded  the IANA contract, a job it’s effectively been doing since it was formed.

The apparent message  that ICANN is ‘not fit-for-purpose’ in respect of the IANA contract does not augur well.

It’s also a shame that ICANN’s failure to get a grasp on the global community’s IANA needs may result in demotivating the very staff that I know from personal experience provide dedication above and beyond the call-of-duty.

Whoever Rod’s replacement as CEO may be, she (or he) will have to put “getting a grip” as being the very highest priority on taking post.

After all, gTLDS use IANA equally as ccTLDs. And can ICANN REALLY have the moral or other authority to sign contracts with newTLDs if its future as the  IANA is in this much doubt?


Rush Limbaugh’s “Ratner Moment”

Rush Limbaugh is a widely-listened, right-wing radio personality in the USA.

Wikipedia describes him as “an opinion leader in American conservatism”.

Recently, he took to attacking university student Sandra Fluke for her testimony before Congress on contraception and healthcare. Apparently he characterised her as a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’. Of course, she’s no such thing.

Let’s leave to one aside the difference in the balance of free speech rights between the USA’s First Amendment and Europe’s Article 10. (Although, it seems to me that had a radio DJ in the UK done something similar, I would venture to suggest he might be receiving stiff letters from Messrs Sue Grabbit and Runne without any possibility of responding like Pressdram Limited, and by now Mr Limbaiugh might possibly be  having some mild difficulty in having to explain to a judge exactly why he shouldn’t pay a large libel award to Ms Fluke).

No, what is interesting about this case, is that this seems to be the ‘Gerald Ratner’ moment for Limbaugh, and perhaps the whole ‘right-wing shock-jock culture’ in the USA.

For those who aren’t from the UK, or are too young, Ratners was the most successful High St. jewelers in the British Isles until in an intendedly humorous speech to the prestigious Institute of Directors, its CEO Gerald Ratner jokingly  described his own company’s products as ‘total crap’ which resulted in the complete collapse of the business.

In my opinion, this is probably Limbaugh’s ‘Ratner moment‘.

Apparently, despite an apology (itself a remarkable course of action for Limbaugh) advertisers are deserting the former darling of the Right in droves

Rush, I feel for you. (Not!!).

And some of us do know total crap when we see (or hear it). Apparently the American public is beginning to, as well.






Censorship, fundamental rights and the DNS (part 1)

It seems clear to me that the next field of engagement over fundamental rights is going to involve the Domain Name System. The recent skirmishes over SOPA (the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, recently holed below the waterline by Pres. Obama) seems to confirm this view.

The DNS is the technical system at the heart of what nearly everyone who uses the Internet does.

It enables people and  applications to locate things on the Internet. Things such as website addresses, email servers and many other things. Watch the video at

The DNS is run by a diverse group of people and organisations which evolved from the Internet’s early research within academia. This group includes universities, government agencies and private businesses and is co-ordinated at its apex by a California organisation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

A recently hot topic in the DNS world is something called ‘Notice and Takedown’.

That is to say, “someone” (in the British Isles this is most usually the owner of some intellectual property or an organisation such as the Internet Watch Foundation which monitors the Internet for illegal content such as child abuse images or extreme pornography) will send a Notice to an ISP or domain name registrar to inform them that a domain name (or web address) is being used by what is becoming known in the industry as ‘bad actor’.

The recipient of such a Notice is then expected to take the appropriate action; the expectation being that the domain name concerned is blocked, filtered or ‘taken down’.

Much of the activity, as you might expect, in this regard has come from IP rights-owners as well as anti-phishing & anti-spam organisations.

Now your author’s anti-spam credentials cannot be doubted but it is submitted that there are significant dangers in the understandable wish of  registrars, ISPs and others to ‘do the right thing’. One insufficiently considered action could pose great reputational or even existential risk to the ISP executing takedown. On the other hand, there are equally significant risks to inaction as well.

There is a certain amoun of protection in Europe law for ‘mere conduits’, for example, under the e-commerce Directive.

But what if a registry (rather than a registra) receives a notice drawing its attention to the fact that a domain name is being used for bad purposes?

Such bad behaviour doesn’t have to be illegal (that is to say, criminal) conduct. It can equally well be an infringment of the civil rights of a third party, such as a defamation.

In England, defamation is a very great risk for any person or organisation that can be said to publish or assist publication. Ask any newspaper editor.

The UK libel laws are archaic and arcane. This basically means that it is extremely risky and extremely expensive to be either a Claimant or a Defendant, whether willingly or unwillingly.

Indeed, it’s no surprise that one of the early cases on the principles of notice and takedown are set out early on in an internet  libel case in England .. Godfrey -v- Demon Internet.

The effects of that regime on intermediaries has been ameliorated by subsequent European legislation — the e-commerce Directive but nonetheless, it is clear that not only are there risks to an ISP or registrar or registrar in taking positive action over a domain name that is alleged to be being used for illegal (criminal) or unlawful (civil) purposes, there are risks in NOT taking action.

I predict this debate will continue for several years, and is likely to engage the law enforcement, legislative and judicial authorities in a number of countries at the highest levels.


How does it feel to be a criminal?

My home phone rings.

Not even my relatives call this, as they usually ring me on my mobile phone.

The caller ID shows the call as INTERNATIONAL (no number), and the call has a terrible VOIP quality.

‘Mr Roberts? Mr Neegel Roberts??’

‘Yes, who is this?’ I say.

‘This is Windows IT Support of London calling. Your PC is going to crash in the next half an hour’  comes the response.

At this point it is worth noting that I don’t HAVE a Windows machine.

‘Oh really?

‘Yes. You are going to be losing all your folders and files’.
At this point I say to him:

‘How does it feel to be a criminal?’


‘Your Windows computer is in danger, Mister Neegel!’  (He hasn’t understood what I’ve said’).

‘I mean, I know you guys need any job you can find, down there in Bangalore, or Mumbai or wherever you are calling from … … …  but how does it feel to be a criminal, calling up people with scare stories and trying to get them to give you access to their computer??’

At this point he says to me:


‘How does it feel to be a bastard, Mr Neegel Roberts?, eh you tell me?’

‘I practice’ is my response.


‘F*ck off, f*ck off, F*CK OFF, you bastard!!!!!’ he tells me, eloquently, and disconnects the call.

I guess he wasn’t from Microsoft after all.







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