Serious failings of both process and design which need to be remedied prior to implementation
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the latest version of the Applicant Guide Book. The Internet is *the* phenomenon of our age. The reason why it is so successful is because it is so inclusive i.e. open to all while providing huge benefits over more traditional non–Internet models. A lot of the thinking behind the latest version of the DAG doesn’t continue this inclusive approach rather it seems to have allowed certain parties to quietly advantage themselves over all others. If one looks at the success or otherwise of more traditional economies, there are several recurring ideals that make certain economies more successful than others. Fairness and trust are often overlooked but are both massively important and need to be ingrained in to any new system at every level. There will always be highly innovative people looking to play at the edge of any system therefore it is important, from the beginning, when building a framework to design a system which doesn’t have fundamental inequities and flaws running through it. If these flaws are ignored because they impact certain involved parties interests then inevitably at some later stage someone else will have to try and redress these failings. After the event remedial actions to try and stem abuses and inequities are so much harder because the concerned parties have often built up rights. This leads to a situation where the issues are decided on the details of a contract rather than the best solution for the wider public interest. Further there shouldn’t be an environment which enables people who were central to implementing these bad decisions to be retained and rewarded to sort out the ensuing problems. Introducing additions to a very successful system in an equitable way is not a simple notion and is not helped by the fact that many of the parties looking to shape the policy only see the “problem” from their point of view and therefore appear extremely self serving. This is why in a multi stakeholder, bottom up, consensus driven organization like ICANN “Process” is so important. The impacts of new gTLDs and their global nature mean any failure of design brought about through failure of process will reverberate around the world for years. It takes time to distill all the competing interests into a workable solution. The failure of process in the last few months means several fundamental issues have come to a head in the final days before the board seeks to pass a motion to approve the DAG into a Final version. In a complex organization such as ICANN this is totally unacceptable and will inevitably polarize positions further, while allowing fundamental flaws in the detail of the whole new gTLD process to pass through almost unnoticed. The seriousness of these issues can not be understated and ideally need supporting examples, the extreme time constraints combined with the significant changes which have occurred in recent months makes it almost impossible to be sure all of the impacts can be identified. We therefore provide only cursory examples of these failings. *Examples of failings in the 4th over arching issue - Economic Impacts* The lack of both comment analysis and community discussion on the Economic Studies is very concerning and as a result there are still significant serious concerns buried in the detail. One quick example to show the depth and seriousness of these issues What happens if Microsoft secures .search? How does Google or any startup search provider for that matter feel about it? Microsoft may be happy to allow Google to register google.search if they can point video.search and news.search to Bing. If there is a wholesale migration to the right of the dot then yes this matters because once users come to perceive entities to the right of the dot as superior we have managed to create a series of private monopolies in perpetuity in every vertical in the world. This allows a contracted party to use the implicit branding of the DNS to compete against all others in their market who are forced to compete from the second level. Trademark law doesn’t allow such advantage nor should ICANN We really fail to see how granting the most economically advantaged private corporations such implicit DNS branding advantage can ever be in the pubic interest? We can see the [would be] contracted parties interest and we can see ICANN’s interest; but where is the public interest required under the AOC? Throw in the recent Vertical Integration / Vertical separation 180 degree switch in ICANN’s position on the organization of the relationship between groups of contracted parties at this late stage makes working out all the impacts and consequences very difficult if not impossible in the time available. VI / VS is a complex issue and failure to publish the Boards thinking behind the recent change of position isn’t helpful. At this point it is worth noting that a layered open market place often provides greater consumer benefit than silo’d positions often advocated by the contracted parties themselves. *Examples of failings of process * We believe the summary of the comments of the DAG 4 were held back so that staff could update the comments after the Trondheim Board resolutions. What may have been better would have been to get the summaries out earlier and then issue a separate summary document after Trondheim giving only the impacted comments and the update rational. There are massive potential externalities hidden in the detail of the new gTLD process, this hasn’t been helped by the plan to allow the economists to summarize and analyze the comments at some point in the future while presenting a draft final guide book! These comments on the 4th overarching issue have never been summarized since 2009! The comments contain a lot of valuable suggestions some of which could have been used to get a much less worrying DAG and get the community to discuss these issues.