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gTLD Open Application
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  • To: <gtld-plan-comments@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: gTLD Open Application
  • From: "Ray Fassett" <ray@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 13:31:36 -0500 (EST)
  • Reply-to: ray@xxxxxxxxxxx

This message may be posted for public review:

After careful consideration, my opinion is that a process that allows the
acceptance of infinite applications for a finite number of "winners" is not
a sound method for ICANN to proceed with new gTLD licenses at this time.
Whereas I am, personally, a very strong advocate for the increase of the
top level spectrum and understand fairly well the compromises such action
can cause, I think a level of fairness is required above all else.

We saw in November 2000 the effect of limiting the number of awarded gTLD's
in an environment that produced a greater number of applicants deemed as
qualified.  It led to community opinion of subjectivity and overall
unfairness of the ICANN selection process.  This, in turn, had adverse
effects upon community perception of the ICANN entity in general.  Again,
after careful consideration, and as much as I personally advocate the
expansion of the gTLD spectrum for reasons I believe to be of benefit to
the community, I cannot support a method or process that allows procedures
that will in all likelihood lead to the same adverse community perception
that took place as part of the November 2000 process. Notably, subjectivity
of selection.

I believe that the selection process for the recent .ORG re-delegation
where third parties such as the Gartner Group were brought in as "experts"
in the evaluation of the applications was a positive step vs. November 2000
processes.  But even these type of improvements to the methods or processes
of evaluation led, in the end, to a bitter accusation of subjectivity from
the community and press that hurt the perception of ICANN even though all
of the applicants knew upfront there would be but one "winner".

I think it is very important for the longer term success of ICANN to take
steps that win support of the community - including the opinion of
business - in a way that removes subjectivity as much as reasonably can
be.  To open up a new application process where the number of winners is
fixed and the number of qualified applicants is likely to exceed this fixed
stated amount is a process that does not remove subjectivity as much as
possibly can be.

If indeed the expansion of new gTLD's must be limited to 3 AND is an
extension of the November 2000 process, then I believe the proper course of
action would be to re-visit, in full public view, those sponsored-
restricted applicants from November 2000 that are qualified to gain entry
(I have no association with any of these applicants).  I think this
approach adds credibility to ICANN processes.   In other words, perform
this action first.  Then, if not all 3 gTLD's are awarded, move to a
process that, as a last resort, is not able to remove all forms of
evaluation subjectivity for reasons of stability (or whatever the reason is
the process is being fixed at 3).  Personally, I would not even advocate
this latter course of action as I believe a process that allows any amount
of evaluation subjectivity - that can allow a qualified applicant to be
turned down - to be improper (even if ICANN today had a stellar
reputation).  I would advocate reviewing those sponsored-restricted
applicants from the first round and if none are able and willing today, or
deemed qualified, then ICANN should not move forward at all until the DNSO
has completed its recommendation as requested by Stuart Lynn for it to do.
Allowing methods or procedures that compromise integrity of the entity that
authorizes them should be avoided at all costs, even if this means no
further TLD expansion in the near term.

Another option to consider would be to state upfront that all sponsored-
restricted applicants that file as part of this "Round of 3" and, in the
end, deemed qualified by the evaluation process, will receive a level
of "standing" with ICANN for the gTLD string it applied for and will
receive re-consideration in some form when - or if - in the future it is
deemed appropriate for further gTLD expansion.  The key here, though, is
that this must be stated upfront and not become some new "procedure" added
later.

The fact that the outcome is likely that there will be applicants willing
and qualified that are not awarded as part of this "round of 3" makes it
negligent should a level of standing later be deemed as "achieved" but
where this action is not announced until after the completion of the
evaluation process.  For example, it can be stated by ICANN today that the
first round .TRAVEL and .HEALTH groups have to re-file just like anyone
else but, should these 2 applicants be awarded, the public percepton is
likely to be worse than what occurred in November 2000.  Many are already
predicting the this very outcome.  But, the recommendation is inferring
upfront a process where all applicants as part of this Roound of 3 will be
evaluated equally.

I believe part of this expansion process should be about inviting qualified
applicants to formally partake in ICANN processes.  This is the message the
recommendation is inferring.  Given the trade-off inherent with limiting
the "winners" to 3 and where more than 3 qualified applicants is a likely
outcome, it will add credibility if ICANN states *upfront* that some sort
of level of "standing" will be achieved by those qualified applicants that
have formally chosen to partake in these ICANN processes.  This way, if
the .TRAVEL and .HEALTH groups are indeed chosen as many are predicting
will be, then ICANN will at least be able to save some face that the
remaining qualified applicants have achieved something - call it "standing"
or whatever (but should be properly defined, upfront).

The complete removal of public perception that subjectivity is a result of
the evaluation process is almost impossible to remove under conditions that
fix the number of winners but invite infinite number of applicants.  But,
if this must indeed exist, then awarding a level of "standing" is a
reasonable part of this overall trade-off and encourages interested parties
to participate with ICANN processes rather than a process that merely
produces results that adversely affect ICANN credibility and integrity in
the eyes of the community.  This latter result needs to be avoided by
reasonable people defining reasonable processes where trafe-off's are being
stated must exist.

In my opinion, this is not the time for ICANN to be implementing actions
that adversely affect its integrity.  I believe that stating a fixed amount
of winners where a likely outcome is an undetermined number of qualified
applicants being completely turned away is not in the best interests of
ICANN nor the community at this time (as much as I personally advocate gTLD
expansion).  I have offered, as part of this writing, a few reasonable
options that limit the adverse affect upon ICANN's integrity as this
pertains to the recommendation to the Board of the 3 new gTLD's.  The
community does not benefit by processes designed by ICANN that do not
reasonably look to limit its very own integrity.  For this reason, I would
advocate no expansion at this time (until the DNSO has performed its task)
rather than advocate processes that clearly impact ICANN integrity in a
negative way and a likely outcome.  There are some reasonable ways to limit
this and move forward with a fixed number of 3 as I have outlined within
this document.  Absent of such reasonable measures, I personally do not
support the recommendation - as it is written - for gTLD expansion at this
time.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ray Fassett

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