Open Letter to ICANN: Reject the .jobs Amendment!

For months, John Zappe has been covering the .jobs saga here on ERE.net, so regular ERE readers will be familiar with much of the background. If you are new to the story, you can catch up here and here.

Today is the final day of ICANN’s open comment period before they consider Employ Media’s .jobs charter amendment. It’s our last chance to be heard.

I’ve emailed ICANN the following letter urging that they reject the proposed amendment, and it is posted alongside hundreds of other comments in the ICANN Archives. Join me in by writing to ICANN today and letting them know what you think.

July 15, 2010

Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman
Members of the Board of Directors
International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601

Dear Chairman Dengate Thrush and Members of the Board,

I am the CEO of ERE Media, Inc., a trade publisher that serves HR and recruiting professionals. My organization has been observing the evolution of the .jobs TLD since its inception, and we have been reporting extensively on the proposed amendment at our web site, http://www.ere.net/.

ERE Media, Inc. would not be directly and adversely affected by this request except in a tangential way, since both HR professionals and job boards are our customers. I write this letter not to advance my own interests or those of my organization, but as a concerned citizen of the Internet.

As I read the letters posted as part of the public comment period, I am struck by how political the process has become, and how transparently the vast majority of the letters on both sides were driven by their respective trade associations.

Lost in this politicization of the .jobs TLD are fundamental problems with the proposed amendment:

  1. The proposed amendment fundamentally changes Employ Media from a domain order processor to a domain kingmaker.

    The discretionary powers that the proposed amendment would give to Employ Media over the use of the .jobs domains are shockingly broad. They turn the company from a domain name order processor into a domain kingmaker, who can pick and choose who develops .jobs domain names entirely at their own discretion. To my knowledge, this would be a unique role for a registrar, and it is a troubling precedent for public policy to have one organization able to unilaterally decide who gets to utilize broad swaths of domains in a TLD.
  2. The proposed amendment is driven by the financial concerns of the registrar, not concern for HR professionals.

    Financially speaking, the .jobs TLD has been a failure. Employ Media sold only around 15,000 domains since 2005, and because of the disappointing sales they are pushing for more creative ways to promote and sell .jobs domains. This is what is driving the proposed amendment, not concern for the profession of HR.

    Employ Media has never disclosed the details of its financial relationship with DirectEmployers, despite repeated inquiries. The SHRM PDP Council minutes of April 9, 2010 state that the council intended to ask Employ Media about the financial impact of the proposed amendment on the company, but never got the opportunity to even ask the question.

  3. The registrar has already violated the .jobs charter.

    Employ Media and DirectEmployers partnered to launch the first of their geographic and occupationally focused websites using the .jobs domain in October 2009. At the time, these sites were a direct violation of the spirit of the existing .jobs charter, which states “.jobs domain registrations are limited to the legal name of an employer and/or a name or abbreviation by which the employer is commonly known.” It was not until March 22, 2010 that Employ Media proposed an amendment to the charter that would allow it to do what it had already attempted.
  4. SHRM has failed in its oversight responsibilities as the sponsor of the .jobs TLD.

    I am a longtime member of SHRM, and believe that they are well-intentioned and a positive force for the HR profession. However, they have clearly failed in their oversight responsibilities. The first PDP Council was managed by Bill Warren, the Founder of DirectEmployers, and the second included Rhonda Stickley, the Association’s President, people with obvious motivation to see the amendment pass. Gary Rubin, the SHRM executive who managed the second PDP Council, was completely unaware of the first public comment period that had been publicized on Policy.jobs until we questioned him about its details, and the second attempt at a “public” comment period was conducted by SHRM in such a way that all of the responses were secret.

    Further, SHRM receives a fixed annual payment of an undisclosed amount from Employ Media for its role as the sponsor of the .jobs TLD, and Employ Media also advertises heavily in SHRM publications. There is a very strong argument to be made here that this has resulted in a situation of “regulatory capture,” where the organization that is supposed to be policing behavior by the registrar, is in fact financially tied to its success.

It is my belief that this amendment is not in the best interests of HR professionals, and it is not in the best interests of users of the Internet. The only ones who benefit here are Employ Media, DirectEmployers, and SHRM. I urge ICANN to not only reject the this amendment, but to reconsider the governance structure of the .jobs TLD.

Sincerely,

David Manaster
CEO
ERE Media, Inc.
http://www.ere.net/

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