More rounds, smaller rounds: unlimited scope is the enemy of timeliness
At the Carthage ICANN meeting in October 2003, the ICANN Board announced the development of a long-term process for new gTLDs, to be ready no later than December 31, 2004. In the current best-case scenario, we are now looking at 6 years of delays.
The main cause of the delays was the ambition to "objectively" address all and any concern for all and any imaginable gTLD.
ICANN’s multi-stakeholder, bottom-up process loses all credibility if delays continue. ICANN’s promises of accountability and transparency are vain if ICANN’s processes come to no conclusion. Eternally delayed promises to "objectively" assess proposals do not offer any benefits of objectivity. An eternally delayed process to assess "all" proposals does not assess a single one.
It is time to concede that the gTLD process has been overloaded. It cannot handle all the TLD proposed kinds of TLDs at once and must focus on the ones that can be handled now. It cannot handle al the possible future concerns and must focus on the concerns that need handling now.
That inevitably means that it must be redesigned in a way to constrain (a) the range of issues to be dealt with in the application documents (b) the range of gTLD applications accepted in the coming round.Both constraints can be applied by specifying a simple set of guiding principles, rather than scoring systems or lists of names and codes. The ICANN board (or a panel appointed by it) must make a determination as and when the issue arises and the application documents must explicitly empower it to do so. Here are examples of principles that might be used: 1) ICANN must maintain an environment conducive to the beneficial development of the Internet 2) ICANN may deny the delegation of gTLDs or kinds of gTLDs whose likely negative externalities (external costs) outweigh their benefits for the development of the Internet in the public interest.
Werner Staub CORE Internet Council of Registrars