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Comment on "A Plan of Action" - Jan Siren
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  • To: gtld-plan-comments@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comment on "A Plan of Action" - Jan Siren
  • From: Jan Siren <sirenj@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 03 Dec 2002 06:54:54 -0800
  • Cc: atlarge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Organization: The Siren Family

I offer these views as a private citizen and regular user of Internet e-mail 
and the World Wide Web.  The following is a commentary on Stuart Lynn's "A 
Plan of Action Regarding New gTLDs," (referred to below as "the Lynn Plan") 
dated 18 October 2002.  That document drew principally on the 
ICANN-promulgated document "Final Report of the New TLD Evaluation Process 
Planning Task Force," (referred to below as "the NTEPPTF Report") dated 31 
July 2002.  The views expressed are my own and not those of any organization 
to which I belong.

The Lynn Plan acknowledges the debt it owes to the NTEPPTF Report in 
discussing the Proof of Concept (for extending the namespace) but departs 
from it particularly in recommending that the DNSO, or its successor 
organization, also consider whether at the same time to "rationalize" the 
namespace according to a different taxonomy.  The Lynn Plan does not regard 
extending the namespace by up to three gTLDs as incompatible with 
simultaneous, concrete steps toward revising the namespace taxonomy (the 
rationale behind the particular number three is not, however, provided).  
Since a radically revised namespace taxonomy may be incompatible with the 
existing gTLD structure, including as it will the newest gTLDs, it is 
difficult for me to see how the two processes can go forward at once without 
profound, mutual interference.

The Lynn Plan correctly states that the NTEPPTF Report was overly optimistic 
in its proposed schedule for establishing the gTLD evaluation end monitoring 
processes.  In my view, the delay is symptomatic of ICANN's chronic lack of 
sufficient staff and financial resources to properly carry out its assigned 
responsibilities, let alone initiatives such as those proposed in the NTEPPTF 
Report.

The most important flaw in the Lynn Plan is systemic: like the NTEPPTF 
Report, it fails to adequately allow for user-public input into the processes 
of proposing, evaluating, implementing and monitoring the introduction of new 
gTLDs.  The NTEPPTF Report mentions user-public input only cursorily.  The 
Lynn Plan does not mention it at all.  Providing more and better user-public 
oversight regarding Internet namespace governance in general, and ICANN 
internal activities particularly, is a very large subject of long standing.  
Suffice it to say that the user-public are the reason the Internet exists at 
all, and the shaping of the namespace has profound implications for their 
daily lives, whether or not they are aware of the technicalities lying below 
the surface that make it possible.

A trivial hypothetical example:  Suppose a new gTLD ".dogs" were to be 
created.  A disgruntled owner of a pet puppy might encounter significantly 
more "intellectual property" obstacles to his establishing an 
"Alpo-harms-puppies.dogs" website had the ".dogs" gTLD been sponsored by an 
industry group of dog food manufacturers, than if the ".dogs" gTLD had been 
sponsored instead by a consortium of dog breeders.  The profit motive driving 
the gTLD痴 sponsor in such a case could overweigh an individual's desire to 
express a legitimate grievance, in the most appropriate way, via the World 
Wide Web.

My point here is that any process for establishing new gTLDs - whether 
sponsored or unsponsored, a distinction the Lynn Report regards as important 
- if undemocratic in the largest sense, in other words not inclusive of the 
full population of Internet users, can be subverted by an unrepresentative 
group preferring its own goals to those of fairness and inclusiveness.  The 
Lynn Plan should be revised to provide for an appropriate level of 
user-public input to the evaluation and monitoring process proposed in the 
NTEPPTF Report.

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