Comment from the GeoTLDs Applicant Group
This is a joint statement emanating from a majority of applicants for a “Geographical Name Top Level Domain” (GeoTLDs) including .广东, ابوظبي. , ..abudhabi, .africa, .alsace, .amsterdam, aquitaine, .barcelona, .bayern, .berlin, .brussels, .boston, .capetown, .catalonia, .cologne, .dubai, .durban, .frl, .gent, .hamburg, .joburg, .koeln, .london, .madrid, .melbourne, .москва, .moscow, .nrw, .osaka, .quebec, .rio, .paris, .saarland, .sydney, .tirol, .vegas, .vlaanderen, .wien. ICANN has received 63 applications for unique strings from all ICANN regions that declared themselves to be GeoTLDs in their application. 7 GeoTLD applications are IDNs. 11 GeoTLD applications are filed as community-based. All three designations (IDN, Geographical Name, Community-based) have been integrated in the Applicant Guidebook to protect the legitimate interests of the Global Public Interest in strings concerned. Each of the GeoTLD applications has to have the support or non-objection of the respective government(s) or public authorities before approval by ICANN; some GeoTLDs have even been filed by public authorities themselves. The requirement for government support or non-objection is a core element of the GAC Principles Regarding New gTLDs issued in March, 2007. These public policy principles were introduced to safeguard the global public interest! Principle 2.2 says: "ICANN should avoid country, territory or place names, and country, territory or regional language or people descriptions, unless in agreement with relevant governments or public authorities. In this way GeoTLDs complement the provisioning of ccTLDs, we are in the interest of the relevant national and global Internet community on a focused local basis. With this background we are convinced that the GeoTLD applications fulfill the requirements set by ICANN to give a priority to certain categories of TLDs: to promote DNS diversity, make the Internet more accessible, increase avenues of participation and serve the public interest. The above-mentioned arguments have been echoed and strengthened by concerned GAC members during their Toronto meeting and in the GAC communique as well. We have noticed the intention of ICANN to award a prioritization for IDN TLD’s that would allow them to become first in line for the process starting with the initial evaluation and ending with the string being added to the root. We fully understand the arguments that ICANN has invoked for its intention with the IDN TLDs but we would ask the ICANN leadership to consider exactly the same arguments in view of the applications for geographical TLDs. It is our strong belief that global diversity, accessibility and participation, as well as public interest are best met by awarding an equal prioritization to GeoTLD applications. Besides the core values mentioned previously, there are also other arguments in play that would justify a prioritization for GeoTLDs. The prioritization of the remaining 56 GeoTLDs would adjourn the allocation of other generic TLDs only for about 2-3 weeks. We think this is a reasonable time to protect the global public interest. Additionally in terms of public interest there would be much more sense to launch .МОСКВА (IDN version of .MOSCOW) simultaneously with the ASCII version .MOSCOW, not up to 1,5 years ahead as it could happen in case only IDNs are prioritized. The same applies for .ABUDHABI and its Arabic IDN version ابوظبي. Neither does it make sense that .COLOGNE (English translation of the city gTLD .KOELN) and .KOELN should launch months apart from each other depending on the DRAW ticket number. We think that the prioritization of the GeoTLDs along with the IDN gTLDs would better serve the global public interest ICANN represents. The explicit support these applications have from their respective public authorities, the entities entitled at the local level to serve and promote the public interest, should be taken into consideration by ICANN in order to promote an alignment between the local and global public interest spheres. We would like to thank the ICANN leadership and staff for taking our comments into consideration and are looking forward to work with you in getting our GeoTLDs through the various stages of the new gTLD program.