Kurt Pritz

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Region: North America
Country: USA
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   Kurt Pritz
ICANNLogo.png Formerly a member
of the ICANN Staff

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Featured in the ICANN 42 - Senegal playing card deck

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Featured in the ICANN 49 - Singapore playing card deck

ICANNLogo.png Currently a member

Kurt Pritz is a licensed attorney, with experience in ICANN and the domain name industry. Kurt is currently a member of the Strategic Planning Board at UK Creative Ideas, operator of the .ART domain registry. In that role, Kurt provided operational and policy guidance during the launch of the .ART registry and teamed with .ART Founder Ulvi Kasimov and other .ART team members in the launch of Art Digital Twin, an innovative domain name product incorporating additional registration data fields dedicated to the identification of art objects, the Getty Trust standard for identifying art objects and elements of a blockchain and Industry 4.0.

Kurt is the former Executive Director of the Domain Name Association (DNA),[1] holding the position from November 2013-October 2015.[2]

Pritz is the former Chief of Strategy at ICANN, working with them for nearly ten years. He was appointed to this role, moving on from his prior role as Senior Vice President, when ICANN's newest CEO, Fadi Chehadé, assumed his position on September 14, 2012. In his prior role, Kurt Pritz oversaw the vitality of the Multistakeholder Model, stakeholder relations, and also the New gTLD Program. These responsibilities seem to have been split up by President Chehadé.[3][4] His high-profile work has included representing ICANN at judicial and congressional hearings in Washington, D.C..[5]

Prior to joining ICANN, Pritz was the Vice President of Production at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he directed the manufacturing and engineering of theme park shows worldwide. He has also worked as Advanced Assembly Facility Manager for the Eaton Corporation, building electronic avionics systems.[6]

He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Physics, an M.B.A. and a J.D., and licensed to practice law in the State of California. [7]

Role within ICANN

Kurt Pritz was appointed as a Vice President of ICANN in September 2003. He was promoted to Senior Vice President for Stakeholder Relations in December, 2006.[8] As VP for Stakeholder Relations, Kurt served as spokesperson for the organization on a variety of issues, perhaps most notably its new gTLD program. He led the coordination of multiple public consultations regarding the program until it was approved and implemented by the ICANN Board. Kurt continues to provide information, presentations, answer questions and discusses issues related to the new gTLD program as they arise in different events such as the .nxt conference, and congressional hearings.[9]

Prior to the opening of the applications for the new gTLD program on January 12, 2012, Kurt announced that ICANN might release a new separate guidebook for the newly developed Applicant Support program to supplement the Applicant Guidebook. He explained that a number of questions and requests for clarifications on some points in the guidebook were received and responded to by ICANN's customer service center. He said, "We will summarize those clarifications in one document – that might be an Advisory or in the form of an updated Guidebook. In either case, the positions of applicants will not be affected as the information will repeat that in previously answered questions."[10]

Prior to his work on the new gTLD program, Kurt solidified ICANN's finances by renegotiating agreements with ICANN's accredited registrars and several of the large registry operators. He also led the delivery of several milestones listed in successive MoUs between the US Dept. of Commerce and ICANN, paving the way for ICANN's eventual independence from the USG.

He is a member of the RySG and represents North America on the GNSO Council until AGM 2022.

Congressional Hearings on New gTLDs

On December 8, 2011, Kurt Pritz served as one of the witnesses during the U.S. Senate Hearing on ICANN's new gTLD Program. He strongly defended the program against its critics, including the Association of National Advertisers, and its anti-TLD off-shoot, CRIDO. [11] He also attended a similar hearing conducted by the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on December 14.[12]

During the Senate hearing, Kurt provided the members of the Senate committee on Commerce Science and Transportation a detailed testimony regarding the program. He highlighted the fact that it took seven years for the Internet community to develop the program through a careful, transparent and inclusive discussions and debates. He emphasized that ICANN received "2400 public comments from 47 extended comment periods that resulted in over 1,400 pages of comment summary and analysis, formation of ten independent expert working groups, and 59 explanatory memoranda and independent reports." He also pointed out that world-class experts on intellectual property, economics and Internet security were involved in the development process to ensure adequate protection and solutions for trademark holders, which were in turn reviewed and examined by the Internet community and governments. He also pointed out the members of the Senate that ICANN is committed to working closely with law enforcement agencies to protect consumers. He repeated Sec. Larry Stricking's statement regarding the role of the multistakeholder process in developing the new gTLD program;"The multistakeholder process does not guarantee that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. But it is critical to preserving the model of Internet governance that has been so successful to date that all parties respect and work through the process and accept the outcome once a decision is reached."[13]

During the hearing in the House of Representatives, Kurt repeated to the members of the subcommittee on Communications and Technology that the program took seven-years of hard work from the Internet community to develop. He emphasized that the expansion of new TLDs is a measured rolled out with much better trademark protection mechanisms, that will create more jobs and promote competition and innovation. In his testimony, he sent a message to the Congress and to the critics of the program that the Internet governing body had no intention of delaying its implementation which was scheduled for January 12, 2012.[14]

Statement Regarding HostExploit's Accusation Against eNom

In 2010, HostExploit, an anti-malware research group accused eNom, an ICANN accredited registrar, of hosting an unusually large number of malicious websites and called it the preferred registrar for pharmaceutical spammers. The group also accused the company's domain name resellers of violating ICANN rules by allowing registrants to provide inaccurate information in the Whois database. In response to the issue, Kurt informed the research group that ICANN will investigate the issue.[15] [16]

RegisterFly Issue

RegisterFly was a problematic registrar whose accreditation was terminated by ICANN in 2009. The company started its business as a reseller for eNom. In 2004, RegisterFly purchased Top Class Names, Inc., an ICANN accredited registrar. After the acquisition, the new owners of the company assumed the accreditation and role as a registrar and its name was changed to RegisterFly. In 2005, ICANN started receiving complaints of poor service from consumers. The number and substance of complaints escalated from being unresponsive and 30 minutes call hold time to overcharge credit cards, and domain names being deleted and stolen from registrants. In 2007, Kurt issued a Notice of Breach to the company for violating several provisions of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). He instructed RegisterFly to correct all its violations and resolve all customer complaints. He also warned the company that ICANN will terminate its accreditation agreement if it does not with the RAA.[17] He also sent a Notice of Audit to the company that ICANN will require a complete copy of all registration data for inspection. Due to the company's non-compliance, Kurt requested his counsel to send a second Notice of Breach and eventually ICANN filed a lawsuit against the company. On March 28, 2007, Kurt submitted a detailed declaration to the court about RegisterFly's violations of the RAA, which affected thousands of customers.[18] ICANN terminated the company accreditation immediately after a court order. [19]

Interview at ICANN 48

Pritz was interviewed by ICANNWiki at ICANN48.

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