Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas

Founder of DNSDecrypt
Joined on April 26, 2016 – United States
Total Post Views: 300,638

About

Greg Thomas is founder of The Viking Group and publisher of DNSDecrypt — Decoding Internet Politics and Policy.  He is a former key strategist and head of external affairs for VeriSign (2009-2010 & 2013-2016) and has held various roles at Microsoft, Symantec, and Cisco.  While at Microsoft, Greg helped redefine the public conversation about Microsoft and open source software which laid the foundation for the company's rapid transformation from "Evil Empire" to respected industry leader in less than a decade.  He is a globally recognized expert on Internet, cybersecurity, and competition-related policy and is the author of How to Save the Internet in Three Simple Steps: The Netizen's Guide to Reboot the Root. He can be reached at [email protected]

Featured Blogs

Anticompetitive and Predatory Misconduct by ICANN and Contracted Parties Must End

On May 26, 2021, I submitted a complaint to ICANN's Complaints Officer, Krista Papac. In a nutshell, my complaint centers on ICANN's blatant violation of its Bylaws, specifically Section 2.2, named Restrictions, which expressly prohibits ICANN from acting as a registrar. However, despite the absence of any exceptions to this unambiguous prohibition, ICANN is acting improperly as a registrar for the purposes of warehousing and cybersquatting on certain domain names in the .com and .net registries. more

Why Is Verisign Ignoring New Revenue?

Last month saw a much-anticipated decision handed down in the Independent Review Panel (IRP) proceeding examining the controversial 2015 auction for the .web generic top-level domain name registry (gTLD). This decision has been covered by others, including Kevin Murphy's DomainIncite, and has been the subject of unsurprisingly incongruous statements by both Verisign and Afilias, who are both contending for the .web concession privilege. more

ICANN's Tax Exemption Requires Updated Review

In September 2015, John Levine asked why ICANN should be considered a tax-exempt organization following the completion of the U.S. government's transition of technical management of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS). The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determined that ICANN was an exempt organization in 2000 and, inarguably, circumstances have evolved materially since then. more

Mistrust of ICANN Is Fully Vindicated

Recently, I have been reporting on a highly questionable auction scheme for a single domain name, o.com, which is currently being improperly warehoused by ICANN along with a number of other .com and .net domain names. This violates ICANN's Bylaws -- but, so what? more

Leaked Documents Reveal Xi Jinping's Communist Chinese Plan to Control the Internet's Root

Yesterday, The Epoch Times reported on leaked internal Chinese government documents revealing that premier Xi Jinping has "personally directed the communist regime to focus its efforts to control the global Internet, displacing the influential role of the United States." Xi's ultimate aim is for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to wield "discourse power" over communications and discussions on the global geopolitical stage by controlling content on the Internet. more

Is NIST's Recent Letter on o.com a Bureaucratic Coup d'Etat?

Verisign recently informed ICANN that it had received a letter from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, regarding the proposed auction of o.com described in the Second Amendment to the .com Registry Agreement agreed to by ICANN and Verisign in March 2019. This letter, which doesn't appear to be on official letterhead, is from a NIST Grants Officer and purports to overturn a letter raising objections to the auction... more

The Multistakeholder Moment of Truth: Will Stakeholders Hold ICANN Accountable?

During the two-year period preceding the IANA transition in 2016, there was a near-superhuman effort put forth by the community of stakeholders to design, debate, and deploy an accountability framework for ICANN that would serve to check and balance the coordinator of the global DNS. One of the overriding concerns that stakeholders sought to address was the possibility of ICANN being captured, and it was argued that the global community of stakeholders would serve as a "backstop" that would hold ICANN accountable. more

The Insult and Injury of the U.S. Government's Failure to Enforce ICANN's Contractual Obligation

Someone recently observed that many stakeholders have fallen victim to a "chilling effect" resulting from fear of retaliation by the rich and powerful bullies currently infecting the multistakeholder community, ICANN, and Internet governance. I related to what I was hearing because I've been personally targeted and libelously attacked and it is deeply dismaying enough having to worry about threats to revenue and reputation along with other harmful effects of such thuggery. more

Why ICANN Rejected ISOC's Billion-Dollar Attempt At Feathering Its Own Nest With .org Sale?

As I've pointed out in recent articles, the promises and obligations of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are merged by direct reference into the InterNIC licensing agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN. This licensing agreement has been extended twice by mutual consent, most recently until January 2025. Therefore, the MOU's promises and obligations remain in effect through the InterNIC licensing agreement despite the fact that the MOU itself terminated in 2009. more

An Anti-Competitive .com Fait Accompli?

In a recent article, Is ICANN Staff Misleading the Board Into Violating Obligations to the U.S. Government, I wrote: The referenced Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the vehicle by which the U.S. government delegates to ICANN the responsibilities for overseeing the technical management of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS)... This is important for many reasons, and much remains to be analyzed for additional context that can help expose the rot at the Internet's root. more

Is ICANN Staff Misleading the Board Into Violating Contractual Obligations to the U.S. Government?

Recently, I had time to reflect on various matters after the alternator in my vehicle decided that the middle of a mountain pass was the appropriate time and place to go to that great big pick-and-pull scrapyard in the sky while leaving me stranded with no cell signal on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Until that point, I had been seriously considering applying to ICANN's Nominating Committee for one of the three open seats on ICANN's Board of Directors. more

ICANN Must Release the Single-Character .com Hostages from the IANA Impostor's Warehouse

Most of the single-character .com labels were initially registered in 1993 by Dr. Jon Postel while performing work pursuant to a contract with, and funded by, the U.S. government and are currently assigned to a "shell registrar" created and controlled by ICANN. This shell - which is the 376th entry on ICANN's list of accredited registrars - is misleadingly identified as the IANA registrar while being engaged in the illicit warehousing of domain names for speculative purposes. more

Is ICANN Running a Racket?

On March 13, 2019, I published an article on CircleID, Portrait of a Single-Character Domain Name, that explored the proposed release and auction of o.com, a single-character .com domain name that was registered in 1993 and assigned to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) by Dr. Jon Postel. Although the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has since raised serious objections... more

Ending U.S. Government Amnesia About Its Legacy Internet Registries is in the Public Interest

On July 2, 2002, Damien Cave published an interview on Salon.com with John Gilmore, "original 'cypherpunk' and all-around Internet supergeek," titled "It's time for ICANN to go." In this wide-ranging interview, Gilmore -- an early employee of Sun Microsystems who also co-founded Cygnus Software (acquired by Red Hat) and was an early supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Society (ISOC) -- offered blunt insight and eye-opening historical detail... more

The Internet Isn't Privatized Until .com Is Put Out for Bid

Previously, this series tackled the terribly awful Amendment 35 to the NTIA-Verisign cooperative agreement and also made the case that the tainted presumptive renewal currently included in registry agreements is inherently anti-competitive. But renewing legitimacy and integrity of Internet governance requires accurately understanding the unique and significant role retained by the U.S. government following the IANA transition. more

The Netizen's Guide to Reboot the Root (Part II)

The first part of this series explained how Amendment 35 to the NTIA-Verisign cooperative agreement is highly offensive to the public interest. But the reasons for saving the Internet are more fundamental to Western interests than a bad deal made under highly questionable circumstances. One of the world's foremost experts on conducting censorship at scale, the Chinese Communist Party's experience with the Great Firewall... more

The Netizen's Guide to Reboot the Root (Part I)

In the world of ICANN and Internet policy, complexity is manufactured to create an illusion that issues are impenetrably technical such that normal and everyday principles can't apply. This causes a pervasive and entrenched phenomenon of eyes that glaze over at the mere mention of the word "ICANN" -- including those of government regulators and other officials that might otherwise take more of an active interest. more

.com Is A Clear and Present Danger to Online Safety

"The Internet is the real world now." This assessment was offered by Protocol, a technology industry news site, following the very real violence on Capitol Hill during the counting of the electoral college votes that officially determines the next president of the United States. The media outlet went on to say that, "[t]he only difference is, you can do more things and reach more people online -- with truth and with lies -- than you can in the real world." more

NTIA Objects to Planned o.com Auction

According to media sources, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) wrote to Verisign last Friday, objecting to the company's plan to auction o.com to the highest bidder. The planned release for o.com - described by the Second Amendment to the .com Registry Agreement and intended as a pilot for the remaining reserved single-character .com names - involved an opaque consideration process that ignored community input and set aside hard-won trademark protections developed by stakeholders in order to maximize dollars earmarked for an unidentified cadre of non-profit organizations. more

The Pay-To-Play Reality of ICANN's Inclusion Illusion

ICANN's chairman says meetings offer special "circumstantial opportunity"; recent estimates peg average annual expense for attending at $30,000 per person. Oops - he's done it again. The latest blog update from ICANN's current board chair needs - no, it demands - a spotlight on what is revealed in plain and unashamed language. Indeed, this communique - along with another recent blog post that I've previously commented on - captures in exquisite relief what has gone terribly, horribly wrong at ICANN. more

Troubling Efforts to Distort and Undermine the Multistakeholder Process

ICANN's request for comment on amending the .com registry agreement to restore Verisign's pre-2012 pricing flexibility ended last Friday and, with 8,998 responses submitted by stakeholders, may have been a multistakeholder version of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Public interest in .com pricing is understandably high but the sheer volume of responses – nearly three times the number of comments submitted this summer on deregulating .org pricing – also suggests a show of force... more

Fadi's .ORG Fracasso

The stakeholder community needs to get with the program and assert itself now – if it still can. The recent attempts by the Internet Society (ISOC) to wrap itself in the halo of Jon Postel's "original intent" for .org is specious and laughable. As I've previously published, Postel also didn't like how big the top-level domains were getting and suggested, in 1993, that top-level domains should be capped at 10,000 names and that further zone growth should happen at the second- and third-levels (similar to how the UK has .uk and then .com.uk, for example). more

.COM Contract Amendment Coming Soon for Public Comment

Last Thursday, during VeriSign's Q3 2019 quarterly earnings call, CEO Jim Bidzos offered statements that seemed to be carefully calibrated to satisfy Wall Street's curiosity about protracted negotiations with ICANN on a Third Amendment to the .com Registry Agreement while also appearing to distance the company from the soon-to-be forthcoming product of that year-long effort. more

Keeping a Free and Open Internet Starts at the Root

​​Dynamics at the Internet's core erode stakeholder legitimacy and aid Sino-Russian efforts for multilateral control. ​​​At the beginning of what became a prolonged process for privatization, the U.S. Government established a framework of fundamental guiding principles for governance of the Internet's root. These principles were designed to work to preserve a free and open nature for a global network that was to be elastic, extensible, and – at more than two decades – enduring. more

A Mexican Standoff in Wonderland

Wikipedia defines a Mexican standoff as "a confrontation in which no strategy exists that allows any party to achieve victory. As a result, all participants need to maintain the strategic tension, which remains unresolved until some outside event makes it possible to resolve it." This would be an apt way to describe what may be possibly occurring presently between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and its largest ratepayer, VeriSign. more

The Ageless Warning of Icarus

It wasn't that long ago that, during a visit home, my brother asked me, "Why are you so stuck on this Internet thing?" His direct question caused me to realize that I had never actually stopped and considered why I was investing so much time – and in such a highly visible manner – into Internet governance when I wasn't being compensated for doing so and, in fact, was – not putting too fine of a point on it – flat broke. more

Responding to "The Case for Regulatory Capture of ICANN"

This past Monday, as ICANN65 was beginning in Marrakesh, the technical review blog Review Signal published a detailed expose, "The Case for Regulatory Capture of ICANN" authored by site founder and "geek-in-charge" Kevin Ohashi. The post was clearly the product of extensive investigative reporting – and what it reveals is deeply disturbing. more

ICANN and Voodoo Economics in Wonderland

The exposed areas needing improvement by ICANN - both the organization as well as its global community of stakeholders - provide a target-rich environment. In the nearly three years since the completion of the transition of the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA), ICANN has persistently sought to drive top-down dictatorial policymaking; to shroud its activities and decision-making from public view; and, to evade accountability -- in some cases even doubling down on its efforts. more

Back to the Future Part IV: The Price-Fixing Paradox of the DNS

GenX-ers may remember spending a summer afternoon at the movie theater and seeing the somewhat corny but beloved antics of Marty McFly and Doc as they used a souped-up Delorean to travel the space-time continuum. In Back to the Future Part II, Doc and Marty travel into the future, where the bullying, boorish Biff causes a time-travel paradox when he steals the Delorean and takes a joyride into the past to give his younger self a sports almanac containing the final scores of decades worth of sporting events. more

The Three-Character Question at the Heart of Single-Character .COMs: W-H-Y?

In the matter relating to O.COM, I've focused on the fact that VeriSign has -- in correspondence to the organization that is counter-party to its .COM and transliterated .COM IDN Registry Agreements, in earnings calls with its investors and financial analysts, and in policy published on its website for every innocent and unsuspecting Tom, Dick, and Harry in the world to be duped by -- stated an unequivocal and unwavering commitment . more

Portrait of a Single-Character Domain Name

Let's take some crayons and draw a picture of the current state of affairs regarding single-character domain names (SCDNs), and specifically O.COM. During the public comment period for the current O.COM RSEP, ICANN's own Intellectual Property and Business constituencies recommended implementation of rights protections mechanisms (RPMs) for intellectual property, including Sunrise and Priority Access periods. It is curious that such hard-won protections are being so easily set aside by Verisign and ICANN. more

"In the Public Interest"

Prior to November 30th of this year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) must decide whether to renew or allow to expire its Cooperative Agreement with Verisign, the private-sector corporation that operationally controls the root of the Internet.. The Cooperative Agreement is unusually obscure, especially considering its central role in the operation of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS). more

The Road Less Traveled: Time Is Running Out for NTIA-Verisign Cooperative Agreement

It is remarkable  -  for all the wrong reasons  -  that only two months remain before the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) must make a fateful decision on how it will address its' long-standing Cooperative Agreement with Verisign  -  the private-sector corporation that edits the authoritative address book of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), maintains two of the DNS root servers, and operates the .com and .net registries of the Internet, undoubtedly one of the most lucrative concessions ever granted. more