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Closed generic TLDs should not be approved

  • To: comments-closed-generic-05feb13@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Closed generic TLDs should not be approved
  • From: Varun Asher <varun827@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2013 18:52:47 +0530

*Why ‘Closed Generics’ should not be approved*


I would like to thank the ICANN board, management and staff for opening up
this issue for Public Comment. Through this comment, I’d like to express my
concern regarding the approval of closed generic TLDs. In other words, I
believe that enabling exclusive, permanent ownership and control of large
chunks of *generic* Internet space for private use would be a mistake.

It is obvious that closed generic TLD applicants intend to circumvent
ICANN’s Code of Conduct and New Registry Agreement by attempting to use
exceptions that were never intended for this purpose. Furthermore, if these
applicants are successful, the ensuing situation would be one that would
threaten the openness and freedom of the internet as we know it today, and
have damaging repercussions for internet users globally. Last but not the
least; these closed generic TLDs would certainly serve to thwart the very
competition that ICANN seeks to promote.



*Inconsistent with ICANN’s Core Values*

*
*

(See: http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/governance/code-of-conduct)


Applicants are expected to comply with ICANN’s Code of Conduct. More
specifically, Section 1 of the Code of Conduct stipulates that Registries
must not register domain names in their own right. Additionally, Section
2.9 of the Registry Agreement requires all registries to provide
non-discriminatory access to Registry Services to all ICANN accredited
registrars. Given that applicants for closed generic TLDs do not intend to
comply with the above, they require an exemption from the Code of Conduct
under Section 6:

*
“Registry Operator may request an exemption to this Code of Conduct, and
such exemption may*

*be granted by ICANN in ICANN’s reasonable discretion, if Registry Operator
demonstrates to*

*ICANN’s reasonable satisfaction that …. application of this Code of
Conduct to the TLD is*

*not necessary to protect the public interest.”*


To begin with, ICANN must use its reasonable discretion to assess whether
the application of this Code of Conduct is necessary to protect public
interest. That being said, I believe this is the exact situation which
requires the application of the Code of Conduct to protect public interest.
Evidently, Section 6 above was drafted with the intention of allowing
Brands to exclusively control their .Brand TLD, while disallowing other
exclusive generic TLD control which could harm public interest.


Additionally, it is imperative for ICANN to note that granting such an
exemption would be inconsistent with ICANN’s guiding principles of
“non-discrimination” and “equal access”, while simultaneously undermining
the goals and core values of the new gTLD Program, i.e. promoting
competition and consumer choice.





*Threatens the openness and freedom of the Internet*

*
*

One of the key reasons for the success of the Internet today is the fact
that it is open. Users worldwide can register domain names in almost any
gTLD or ccTLD. It allows consumers of the internet to surpass physical
boundaries and share and access information globally.


If generic strings such as .blog, .cloud, .music, .movie, etc. are
delegated to be used as closed gTLDs, it will cause the Internet to become
a “Restricted Area” where users would have no option but to access
information about one single brand / product / service while they search
for more choice. Evidently this does not benefit users of the internet;
instead it is harmful to them.




*Thwarts the very competition that ICANN seeks to promote through the new
gTLD Program*


ICANN must acknowledge the fact that one of the primary goals of the new
gTLD Program is to promote competition. That being said, it is a widely
accepted fact that if closed generic TLDs are approved, the same
competition will suffer.


Any organization that has the authority to control and use an entire gTLD
(specifically related to the industry it belongs to), is at an obvious
unfair advantage. It limits the ability of any other competitor
organizations to acquire domain names in the namespace, while
simultaneously restricting users from accessing the information they seek.
It deprives competing organization off the opportunity to connect with
potential customers, thereby causing commercial damage. Furthermore, it
acts as a barrier to entry for any new organization aiming to enter the
specific industry. Consequently approving these closed generic TLDs would
create an uneven playing field for competitors within industries.




*Conclusion*


It is ICANN’s duty to act responsibly and in accordance with its own core
values. Based on the above comment, ICANN must NOT approve closed generic
TLDs as they are. Applicants must be given the opportunity to change their
applications or withdraw them in accordance with the new gTLD program rules.

-- 
Varun Asher


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