ICANN Resolutions » Consideration of Reconsideration Request 18-5: DotMusic Limited
Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.
Whereas, DotMusic Limited submitted a community-based application for the .MUSIC generic top-level domain (gTLD), which was placed in a contention set with other .MUSIC applications.
Whereas, DotMusic Limited participated in Community Priority Evaluation (CPE), but did not prevail.
Whereas, DotMusic Limited challenged the results of the CPE in Reconsideration Request 16-5 (Request 16-5).
Whereas, while Request 16-5 was pending, the Board directed ICANN organization to undertake a review of the CPE process (the CPE Process Review). The Board Governance Committee (BGC) determined that the pending Reconsideration Requests regarding the CPE process, including Request 16-5, would be placed on hold until the CPE Process Review was completed.172
Whereas, on 13 December 2017, ICANN org published three reports on the CPE Process Review (CPE Process Review Reports).
Whereas, on 15 March 2018, the Board passed the Resolutions 2018.03.15.08 through 2018.03.15.11, in which the Board acknowledged and accepted the findings set forth in the CPE Process Review Reports; declared that the CPE Process Review was complete; concluded that, as a result of the findings in the CPE Process Review Reports, there would be no overhaul or change to the CPE process for this current round of the New gTLD Program; and directed the Board Accountability Mechanism Committee (BAMC) to move forward with consideration of the remaining Reconsideration Requests relating to the CPE process that were placed on hold pending completion of the CPE Process Review.
Whereas, on 14 April 2018, DotMusic Limited submitted Reconsideration Request 18-5 (Request 18-5), claiming that the CPE Process Review is procedurally and methodologically deficient; that the CPE Process Review failed to perform a substantive analysis of the CPE process; and that the Board's adoption of Resolutions 2018.03.15.08 through 2018.03.15.11 were in violation of ICANN's Bylaws.
Whereas, the BAMC previously determined that Request 18-5 is sufficiently stated and sent the Request to the Ombudsman for review and consideration in accordance with Article 4, Section 4.2(j) and (k) of the ICANN Bylaws.
Whereas, the Ombudsman recused himself from this matter pursuant to Article 4, Section 4.2(l)(iii) of the Bylaws.
Whereas, the BAMC carefully considered the merits of Request 18-5 and all relevant materials and recommended that Request 18-5 be denied because the Board considered all material information when it adopted Resolutions 2018.03.15.08 through 2018.03.15.11, which is consistent with ICANN's Mission, Commitments, Core Values, and established ICANN policy(ies).
Whereas, the Board has carefully considered the BAMC's Recommendation on Request 18-5 and all relevant materials related to Request 18-5, including the Requestor's rebuttal, and the Board agrees with the BAMC's Recommendation and concludes that the rebuttal provides no additional argument or evidence to support reconsideration.
Resolved (2018.07.18.08), the Board adopts the BAMC Recommendation on Request 18-5.
Brief Summary and Recommendation
The full factual background is set forth in the BAMC Recommendation on Request 18-5 (BAMC Recommendation), which the Board has reviewed and considered, and which is incorporated here.
On 14 June 2018, the BAMC evaluated Request 18-5 and all relevant materials and recommended that the Board deny Request 18-5 because the Board considered all material information when it adopted the Resolutions, which is consistent with ICANN's Mission, Commitments, Core Values, and established ICANN policy(ies). Specifically, as noted in Resolutions 2018.03.15.08 through 2018.03.15.11 (the Resolutions), the Board considered the CPE Process Review Reports.173 The CPE Process Review Reports identify the materials considered by FTI.174 Additionally, as noted in the Rationale of the Resolutions, the Board acknowledged receipt of, and took into consideration, the correspondence received after the publication of the CPE Process Review Reports in adopting the Resolutions. (See BAMC Recommendation.)
On 29 June 2018, the Requestor submitted a rebuttal to the BAMC's Recommendation (Rebuttal), pursuant to Article 4, Section 4.2(q) of ICANN's Bylaws. (See Rebuttal.) The Rebuttal claims that: (i) the BAMC "misconstrues Requestor's position regarding the BAMC's invitation to make additional submissions on Reconsideration Request 16-5;" (ii) the Requestor presented "significant evidence that the ICANN Board violated its Bylaws by adopting the Resolutions;" (iii) FTI's methodology for the CPE Process Review is flawed; and (iv) "the CPE Process Review Reports are substantively flawed."175
The Board has carefully considered the BAMC's Recommendation and all relevant materials related to Request 18-5, including the Requestor's Rebuttal, and the Board agrees with the BAMC's Recommendation and concludes that the Rebuttal provides no additional argument or evidence to support reconsideration.
The issue for reconsideration whether the Board's adoption of the Resolutions contradicted ICANN's Mission, Commitments, Core Values and/or established ICANN policy(ies).
These issues are considered under the relevant standards for reconsideration requests, which are set forth in the BAMC Recommendation.
Analysis and Rationale
The Resolutions Are Consistent With ICANN's Mission, Commitments, Core Values and Established ICANN Policy(ies).
The Requestor's claims focus on the transparency, fairness, efficiency, methodology, and scope of the CPE Process Reviews. The BAMC noted, and the Board agrees, the Requestor provides no evidence demonstrating how the Resolutions violate ICANN's commitment to fairness, or that the Board's action is inconsistent with ICANN's commitments to transparency, multistakeholder policy development, promoting well-informed decisions based on expert advice, applying documented policies consistently, neutrally, objectively, and fairly without discrimination, and operating with efficiency and excellence. Rather, it appears that the Requestor simply does not agree with findings of the CPE Process Review Reports and the Board's acceptance of those findings. As demonstrated below, these are not sufficient bases for reconsideration.
The Requestor's Challenges to FTI's Methodology Do Not Warrant Reconsideration.
The Requestor claims that FTI's methodology was flawed because: (1) the CPE Provider did not produce documents in the course of the investigation; (2) FTI did not interview any former employees of the CPE Provider; and (3) FTI did not interview CPE applicants or accept materials from them in the course of its investigation.176
The BAMC determined, and the Board agrees, that, FTI, not the Board or ICANN org, defined the methodology for the CPE Process Review.177 The Board selected FTI because it has "the requisite skills and expertise to undertake" the CPE Process Review, and it relied on FTI to develop an appropriate methodology.178 The Requestor has not identified a policy or procedure (because there is none) requiring the Board or ICANN org to develop a particular methodology for the CPE Process Review. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 9-12.)
With respect to the first concern, the BAMC determined, and the Board agrees, that it is inaccurate to suggest that FTI reviewed no materials from the CPE Provider. The CPE Provider did produce to FTI, and FTI did review, the CPE Provider's working papers, draft reports, notes, and spreadsheets for all CPE Reports.179 FTI also received and reviewed emails (and attachments) produced by ICANN org between relevant CPE Provider personnel and relevant ICANN org personnel related to the CPE process and evaluations.180
As noted in the CPE Process Review Reports, FTI requested additional materials from the CPE Provider such as the internal correspondence between the CPE Provider's personnel and evaluators, but the CPE Provider refused to produce certain categories of documents, claiming that pursuant to its contract with ICANN org, it was only required to produce CPE working papers, and internal and external emails were not "working papers."181 The BAMC concluded, and the Board agrees, that no policy or procedure exists that would require ICANN org to cancel the entire CPE Process Review because the CPE Provider did not produce its internal emails. As such, this argument does not support reconsideration. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 10-11.)
With respect to the second claim, as detailed in the BAMC Recommendation, the Requestor has not identified a policy or procedure requiring FTI to do more because none exists. FTI interviewed the "only two remaining [CPE Provider] personnel," who were both "part of the core team for all 26 evaluations" in the CPE Process Review.182 Other team members were no longer employed by the CPE Provider when FTI conducted its investigation, and were therefore not available for FTI to interview.183 Neither FTI nor the Board were required to search out every former CPE Provider employee who had any role in any CPE evaluation, particularly when FTI already had access to two individuals who were core members of every CPE evaluation team and the working papers of the CPE reports that the entire core team worked on. Accordingly, the BAMC concluded, and the Board agrees, reconsideration is not warranted on this ground. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 9-12.)
The BAMC also determined, and the Board agrees, that the Requestor has not identified a policy or procedure requiring FTI to interview the CPE applicants or accept materials from the applicants in the course of the review. The BAMC further noted that FTI reviewed all relevant materials regarding the CPE process submitted by the applicants through correspondence, reconsideration requests, and Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings.184 As discussed in further detailed in the BAMC Recommendation, the claim does not warrant reconsideration. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 9-12.)
The BAMC also concluded and the Board agrees that the comments of one Board member about FTI's methodology also do not support reconsideration. That Board member, Avri Doria, abstained from voting on the Resolutions due to concerns "about the rigor of the study and some of its conclusions,"185 does not render the vote invalid. Further, and notwithstanding her concerns, Ms. Doria nonetheless "accept[ed] the path forward" that the Board was setting.186
FTI Was Not Required to Agree with Others' Substantive Conclusions and Did Not Fail to Engage in "Substantive Analysis."
The Requestor argues that reconsideration is warranted because, according to the Requestor, "FTI not only performed no substantive review of the CPE process in order to reach its ultimate conclusions on [Scope 1 and Scope 2] but also concluded there are no issues with the CPE despite the significant evidence to the contrary."187 The BAMC determined, and the Board agrees, that the Requestor's argument is both contrary to the facts and completely inconsistent with proper investigative methodology. As detailed in the BAMC Recommendation and incorporated herein by reference, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the anti-fraud organization that has codified the international investigative methodology that FTI followed, required that FTI form an investigative plan, collect all potentially relevant evidence and information, then analyze the relevant evidence and arrive at their conclusion based on that evidence188—not based on the opinions or investigations of prior investigators or commentators. Consistent with this methodology, FTI "carefully considered the claims raised in Reconsideration Requests and [IRP] proceedings related to CPE," specifically allegations that the CPE criteria "were applied inconsistently across the various CPEs as reflected in the CPE reports."189 Based upon the evidence available, FTI concluded that the CPE Provider applied the CPE criteria in a consistent manner, and differences in scoring outcomes "were not the result of inconsistent application of the criteria," but rather of different underlying circumstances.190 The fact that others reached different conclusions than FTI does not invalidate FTI's Reports, nor does it warrant reconsideration of the Board's action in adopting the Resolutions.191 (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 12-16.)
FTI was not directed to conduct an investigation that supported (or contradicted) the third party's opinions that identified concerns with the CPE process.192 Nor was the Board obligated to direct ICANN org to undertake the CPE Process Review. Rather, the Review was "intended to have a positive impact on the community" and "provide greater transparency into the CPE evaluation process."193 Contrary to the Requestor's claim, the Board's decision to initiate the CPE Process Review was not an acknowledgement that the CPE process was flawed, but a directive to consider whether the process had flaws or could otherwise be improved. If FTI conducted its investigation under the assumption that it should or would reach one particular conclusion, there would be no purpose to conducting the review in the first place. The Requestor's arguments do not support reconsideration. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 12-13.)
The BAMC concluded, and the Board agrees, that the Requestor's claim that "FTI simply defended the CPE process without performing substantive analysis,"194 does not support reconsideration. (BAMC Recommendation, Pg. 16.) FTI did not conduct a de novo redetermination of the scores awarded to each applicant. That was not within the scope of the CPE Process Review, and it would have been improper for FTI to do so. Instead, FTI "examined all aspects of the CPE Provider's evaluation process in evaluating whether the CPE Provider consistently applied the CPE criteria throughout each CPE."195 The methodical nine-step process FTI laid out and followed cannot plausibly be described as lacking "substantive analysis." Accordingly, reconsideration is not warranted.
The ICANN Board's Adoption of the Resolutions Complied with the ICANN Bylaws.
The Requestor contends that the adoption of the Resolutions violated ICANN organization's Bylaws in three ways: (1) that the Board's action violated international law and conventions with which the Bylaws require compliance; (2) that the Board's action violated the Commitments and Core Values set out in the Bylaws; and (3) that the Board's action violated the Bylaws' requirement of fairness. The BAMC determined, and the Board agrees, that none of these arguments warrant reconsideration.
With respect to the first claim, the Requestor asserts that the CPE Process Review did not provide due process to the Requestor because "it has been unable to address the evidence supporting the CPE Review because they [sic] have not been made publically available."196 As detailed in the BAMC Recommendation, the Requestor has not demonstrated how the Board's action in adopting the Resolutions violates its commitment to "carrying out its activities in conformity with relevant principles of international law and international conventions and applicable local law."197 Rather, the Requestor is attempting to reassert the claims it presented in Request 18-1, challenging ICANN organization's response to its 2018 DIDP Request seeking documents related to the CPE Process Review. However, for the reasons set forth in the BAMC's Recommendation of Request 18-1, which are incorporated herein by reference, ICANN org's response to the Requestor's 2018 DIDP request did not violate any relevant international law or convention; while the Requestor has a right to full consideration of its position, which the BAMC is committed to giving, the Requestor does not have the "right" to due process or other "constitutional" rights with respect to the DIDP.198 (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 17-18.)
Likewise, the Board was not obligated to institute the CPE Process Review, but did so in its discretion pursuant to its oversight of the New gTLD Program, after considering all the relevant issues.199 As noted by the Panel in the Booking v. ICANN IRP Final Declaration, "the fact that the ICANN Board enjoys . . . discretion and may choose to exercise it at any time does not mean that it is bound to exercise it, let alone at the time and in the manner demanded" by the Requestor.200 Accordingly, the Board was not obligated to direct ICANN org to undertake the CPE Process Review at all, let alone set a particularly wide or narrow scope for it or for the disclosure of supporting materials to the Requestor. The Requestor's conclusory statement that it has been deprived due process because it did not have access to every document underlying the CPE Process Review Reports201 does not support reconsideration. (BAMC Recommendation, Pg. 18.)
With respect to the Requestor's second claim that the Board purportedly violated its Commitments and Core Values set out in the Bylaws, the Requestor bases its claim on its earlier criticisms of the CPE Process Review, which does not warrant reconsideration for many of the reasons outlined above and in further detail in the BAMC Recommendation.202
The Board also finds no basis for reconsideration as to the Requestor's claim that the Board's action violated the Bylaws' requirement of fairness because the CPE Review is purportedly "based on an incomplete and unreliable universe of documents biased in favor of ICANN."203 As discussed above, FTI's choice of investigative methodology provides no reason for reconsideration, and it likewise does not when made again through the lens of this particular Bylaws provision.
The BAMC Will Consider All of the Evidence Submitted by the Requestor as Part of its Consideration of Request 16-5.
The BAMC determined, and the Board agrees, that the Requestor claims that it is "materially affected by the Resolutions, which accept the findings of the CPE Review, because the BAMC intends to rely on the CPE Review to decide Requestor's Reconsideration Request 16-5"204 does not support reconsideration. When the Board acknowledged and accepted the CPE Process Review Reports, it directed the BAMC to consider the Reports along with all of the materials submitted in support of the relevant reconsideration requests.205 The BAMC will consider the CPE Process Review Reports in the course of its evaluation of Request 16-5 (just as the Board will consider all of the materials submitted by the Requestor in connection with Request 16-5), but this does not mean that the BAMC will find the CPE Process Review Reports to be determinative to its Recommendation on Request 16-5. (BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 19-20.)
The Rebuttal Does Not Raise Arguments or Facts That Support Reconsideration.
The Board has carefully considered the Requestor's Rebuttal and finds that the Requestor has not provided any additional arguments or facts supporting reconsideration. The Rebuttal claims that: (i) the BAMC "misconstrues Requestor's position regarding the BAMC's invitation to make additional submissions on Reconsideration Request 16-5;" (ii) the Requestor presented "significant evidence that the ICANN Board violated its Bylaws by adopting the Resolutions;" (iii) FTI's methodology for the CPE Process Review is flawed; and (iv) "the CPE Process Review Reports are substantively flawed."206 These are the same arguments set forth in Request 18-5 and were addressed by the BAMC in its Recommendation.
First, the Requestor asserts that ICANN org "oversimplifies Requestor's response to the BAMC's invitation" to make a telephonic oral presentation to the BAMC in support of Request 16-5.207 The Requestor concedes that it rejected ICANN org's invitation, but asserts that ICANN org did not respond to its demand that ICANN org permit the Requestor a more "meaningful opportunity to make additional submissions to ICANN regarding the CPE Process Review Reports."208 This claim does not support reconsideration. The Requestor does not have a right to dictate the manner in which it is permitted to present to the BAMC. Under the Bylaws in effect when Request 16-5 was filed, the BAMC's decision on the opportunity to be heard is final.209 Indeed, the same invitation was extended to all requestors with pending reconsideration requests; were ICANN org to treat the Requestor differently, that would be unfair to other applicants in contravention of ICANN's commitments in its Bylaws.
Second, the Requestor claims that it "provide[d] ICANN with significant evidence supporting its claims," and thus takes issue with the BAMC's conclusion that "no evidence [exists] demonstrating how the Resolutions violate ICANN's commitment to fairness, or that the Board's action is inconsistent with ICANN's [other] commitments."210 This represents a substantive disagreement with the BAMC's conclusions, and is not a basis for reconsideration. The Requestor otherwise attempts to import arguments it made in connection with Reconsideration Request 18-1, which challenges ICANN org's response to the Requestor's request for documents (DIDP Request) pursuant to ICANN's Documentary Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP), relating to the CPE Process Review. The Board addressed and resolved the Requestor's claims concerning ICANN org's response to the DIDP Request in its determination on Request 18-1, which is incorporated herein, and will not be repeated here, except to say that the Requestor has raised no additional argument that warrants reconsideration based on this assertion.
Third, with respect to the Requestor's claim that FTI's methodology for the CPE Process Review is materially flawed, the Board finds that this argument has been sufficiently addressed by the BAMC. The Requestor has not set forth any new evidence in its Rebuttal supporting reconsideration. Moreover, there is no support for the Requestor's assertion that FTI "simply accepted that the documents and interview statements [from the CPE Provider and ICANN org] were accurate and free of bias" without further investigation or analysis.211 While the Requestor disagrees with the conclusions reached by FTI, that is not evidence that FTI failed to critically and impartially analyze the issues relevant to the CPE Process Review. As the BAMC concluded, and the Board agrees, FTI considered all available evidence, and did so in a fair and impartial manner. (See BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 9-16.)
Fourth, the Requestor repeats its assertion that the CPE Process Review Reports are substantively flawed because they "did not address any of the independent evaluations," and "fail[ed] to consider divergent views on the CPE Process."212 The Board finds that this argument has been sufficiently addressed by the BAMC. (See BAMC Recommendation, Pgs. 19-20.) The Requestor has not set forth any new evidence in its Rebuttal supporting reconsideration.
This action is within ICANN's Mission and is in the public interest as it is important to ensure that, in carrying out its Mission, ICANN is accountable to the community for operating within the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and other established procedures, by having a process in place by which a person or entity materially affected by an action of the ICANN Board or Staff may request reconsideration of that action or inaction by the Board. Adopting the BAMC's Recommendation has no financial impact on ICANN and will not negatively impact the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.
This decision is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment.