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Personal comments of Eric Brunner-Williams

  • To: ctld-petition@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Personal comments of Eric Brunner-Williams
  • From: Eric Brunner-Williams <brunner@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2009 17:02:46 -0500

As a preamble to my comments on the City TLD Constituency Petition and Charter, I wish to point out that I participate in the Operations Work Team (OWT), within the Operations Steering Committee (OSC), on behalf of the City TLD group, which seeks standing as a Constituency, at the invitation of Rob Hoggarth, ICANN staff, arising from action item #3 of the 27 March 2009 meeting of the Constituency Operations Team, chaired by NomCom appointee Olga Cavalli.

The prevailing assumption I've encountered is that entites which seek standing as a GNSO Constituency obtain membership in an existing Constituency. I think this assumes that no entity with interests, or material conditions unlike any of the entities which applied for standing as a Constituency under Section 5(4) of Article X (originally a DNSO Constituency under the 29 October 1999 bylaws, Article VI-B(3)(b)(1-7)), will ever apply for such standing.

I make no such assumption. I don't know that the present applicants seeking standing are sufficiently similar to existing entities having standing, to refuse the request brought under Section 5(4) of Article X of the current bylaws.

This prevailing assumption has been applied to the City TLD group in particular, with the reasoning offered that entities composed of parties to registry contracts with ICANN are generic registries, and there already exists an entity, originally composed solely of VGRS, now with additional members and observers.

Another assumption also exists with regard to the idea of City TLDs, arising from the expanded scope of names which the GAC has expressed a reservation interest in, is that City TLDs obtain membership in an supporting organization other than the Generic Names Supporting Organization. An example is the comment from the ccNSO on new gtlds from Chris Disspain, Chair - ccNSO council. Emphasis added.

   "The ccTLDs serve the local internet communities (including the
   local government) in the different countries or territories, as
   defined in ISO 3166-1. They therefore derive their policies from the
   local community and the GAC ccTLD delegation principles, especially
   the principle of subsidiarity, apply to them. *There might be
   similar considerations for local or regional names*, but these are
   not addressed in this paper."

Again, I make no such assumption.

As a side note, delegations of iso3166 code points occurred before national governments became interested in DNS policy. The attempt to explain the capture of iso3166 delegations by private for-profit operators, and the generally successful defense of public assets by private interests, something not envisioned when mutually consensual redelegation was the IANA process model, by appeal to the principle of subsidiarity, is counter-factual in several well-known instances.

Those assumptions examined and discarded, I turn to the question of whether City TLDs as a model is sufficiently distinct from the model shared by all the existing members of the Registry Constituency to be relevant to the question of the request by Cities, presently and in the foreseeable future, for standing within the reformed organization which is equal to, and separate from, the standing of the existing registry contracted parties.

Thus far, ICANN has entered into "sponsored" and "unsponsored" registry contracts, and envisions in the current round additional "community" and "non-community" registry contracts. These differ in their contractual forms, but not materially. No existing registry contract has a locality property. The largest and the smallest registries share the property that name to address translation is without restriction, that the underlying resource may be located arbitrarily. By contrast, the City TLD model asserts locality, and without loss of generality, this property of locality may restrict the name to address translation, that the underlying resource may not be located arbitrarily.

Restated, the relationship between a locality defined registry operator and network operators is materially different from the relationship between a locality undefined registry operator and network operators.

Further, the relationship between a locality defined registry operator and its registrants, who share a common property of locality, is materially different from the relationship between a locality undefined registry operator and its registrants, who share no common property of locality.

As the relationship between such entities and the ASO, and between such entities and registrants, is distinguishable from the relationship of the members of the current Registry Constituency, it is conceivable that the Registry Constituency will not be an effective means for City TLDs to constructively engage, through the GNSO, with the ASO, or constructively engage, within the GNSO, on issues of Consensus Policy, on issues where locality is present.

It was not my original purpose, when I accepted the invitation to participate, on behalf of the City TLD group, in the OSC, to come to a particular conclusion on the merits of the request by the representatives of the current applicants, but rather to determine if the "reform" of the GNSO allowed entities other than Constituencies to participate in GNSO administration. However, the difference that locality makes is sufficient to motivate me to observe, for the record, that there may be a sufficient diversity of interest, even within a common ICANN contractual framework, to rebut the "a registry is a registry" assumption.

I am unchanged in my view, which I arrived at in 2005, when Dirk Krischenowski first approached me with the idea of .berlin. Half of humanity now lives in cities, and within two decades, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s people will be urban dwellers. An even higher percentage of domain registrants are urban dwellers. For the domain name system to scale, urban identifiers should be added to the identifiers added in 1994, which allowed the system to scale as growth increased over the past decades. The situation of City TLDs as a group within the GNSO has useful alternatives, and independent of the degree of partial success of the GNSO "reform", constituency status has its uses.

In the interests of full disclosure, I've seen and commented on draft versions of the New Constituency Petition and Charter and related materials, and I'm employed by CORE, which has an interest in one or more applications for City TLDs.

Eric Brunner-Williams
in an individual capacity

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