Coalition Asks Internet Board to Reconsider Its .Jobs Vote

Aug 31, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

A group calling itself the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition is asking the Internet addressing authority to reconsider its decision to allow the use of almost any name in conjunction with a .jobs extension.

Composed of several high-profile organizations and companies, the Coalition claims the .jobs expansion and the plan for allocating the new names violates the charter from the Internet Association for Assigned Names and Numbers, which spells out some of the terms for issuing a .jobs address.

The charter gives Employ Media, the domain registrar, the right to issue addresses, and gives the Society for Human Resource Management policy authority. It also sets the conditions for issuing addresses with a .jobs extension.

The Coalition says Employ Media’s plan, detailed in its RFP instructions,  to allow third parties to use .jobs addresses for purposes that might including running a job board is inconsistent with the charter and exceeds the approval it won from SHRM in June.

It also argues its members and their businesses — and others globally — will be hurt by the expansion because there are no procedures or rules to protect them against “abusive and infringing registrations.” And because they had no “voice in the policies that will govern their registrations in .JOBS.”

In a brief comment from Ray Fassett, EVP, Employ Media said it was aware of the reconsideration request, adding, “We believe the ICANN Board made the correct decision, and we trust ICANN’s Accountability and Review processes.”

Among the members of the coalition are the world’s two largest job boards — Monster and CareerBuilder — as well as the job board trade group, International Association of Employment Web Sites. The Newspaper Association of America, representing most daily newspapers in the U.S., the American Hospital Association, the American Staffing Association, and Shaker Recruitment Advertising and Communications are also among the listed coalition members.

The 25-page filing says these organizations and others like them were disenfranchised by the process followed by Employ Media and SHRM in considering the changes to the .jobs registration program:

“Members of the Coalition and the businesses they represent will be directly and adversely affected by the fact that, as non-members of the .JOBS Sponsored Community (HR professionals), they must bear the costs of, but will have no meaningful voice in the development of, .JOBS policies and procedure.”

While the filing raises a number of fairly technical issues regarding the protection of tradenames and marks, it also challenges the way ICANN and its staff handled the program changes.

It calls the staff summary of the 274 letters and emails received during ICANN’s public comment period “clearly rushed. It failed to adequately account for either the breadth or depth of comments and boils down complex argument to a form that loses most if not all of its meaning.”

An analysis of the comments and the subsequent staff report by British journalist and Internet domain blogger Kieren McCarthy is pointedly critical of the handling of the comments. “Important questions raised during the comment period were overlooked,” he writes, adding, “Board approval of the proposal was at best premature.”

The ICANN board voted 11-1 with two abstentions on Aug. 5th to approve the Employ Media Phased Allocation Plan. The vote came two months after SHRM’s advisory council endorsed the plan and three weeks after the close of the public comment period.

McCarthy also questions whether Employ Media and SHRM allowed for “meaningful input.” “According to a number of respondents (and external voices) the process used by the dot-jobs sponsoring organization to consider the proposal was purposefully skewed in order to achieve the desired result,” McCarthy writes. Whether or not true, it should have been investigated, he says.

SHRM did not respond to an email regarding McCarthy’s report.

There is no indication when ICANN’s Board Governance committee will decide on the reconsideration request.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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