.Jobs Coalition Says Arbitration Case Is Dormant

Dec 8, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

After almost five months with no sign of progress, a coalition of job boards and business associations is charging that the Internet policing authority is complicit in the “consensual delay” in arbitrating a contract dispute over the so-called Dot Jobs Universe.

“As the arbitration idles in its dormant state, Employ Media and its alliance partner DirectEmployers Association have aggressively expanded the reach of non-compliant Dot Jobs Universe, which was the very basis for the issuance of the breach notice,” charges The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition.

In the letter it sent to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — and distributed publicly — the Coalition says “ICANN’s reluctance to enforce contractual compliance is of grave concern” giving “the impression to the Internet community that ICANN is unable or unwilling to enforce its rules…”

Early in May, after months of negotiation over the creation of thousands of job boards with a .jobs Internet address, Employ Media sought to arbitrate ICANN’s charge it had breached its contract with the organization. ICANN said that by awarding DirectEmployers Association thousands of occupational and geographic names on the .jobs domain, Employ Media and its partner the Society For Human Resource Management “intend to use the .JOBS TLD (top level domain) primarily to compete with other internet job boards.”

(SHRM sponsored the creation of the .jobs domain and provides policy oversight. For a complete history of the .jobs issue, go here.)

ICANN’s response to the arbitration request was filed July 22. The next step is for an arbitrator to be selected to chair the three-person panel. (Each side gets to name one arbitrator, which they have done.) There is no sign that has been done, leading the Coalition to note, “ICANN’s failure to keep the ICANN Community apprised of the status of the arbitration is a regrettable standard practice.”

Besides the arbitration pace, the Coalition’s letter raises two additional issues:

  • It complains that ICANN kept from the public correspondence dating back to 2009, when Employ Media first allowed Direct Employers to use address names on a reserved list. Among that correspondence is a January 20, 2010 email telling Employ Media using those names was a violation of the contract.
  • Why ICANN allowed Employ Media to make, as the Coalition termed it, a “fundamental change” to the database description of the purpose of .jobs. The original wording said the .jobs extension was “reserved for human resource managers.” ICANN approved changing it to “reserved to serve needs of the international human resource community.”

The wording change might seem innocuous, but one of the claims made by ICANN in its notice of breach of contract is that Employ Media is permitting persons other than human resource professionals to obtain .jobs addresses. When the Coalition requested the rationale for approving the change, ICANN sent documents with so much of the text deleted that it was impossible to understand.

Emails were sent to ICANN and Employ Media requesting comment and a status update on the arbitration. No response has been received.

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