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NetChoice comment on new gTLD draft guidebook, Module 2

  • To: <gtld-evaluation@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: NetChoice comment on new gTLD draft guidebook, Module 2
  • From: Steve DelBianco <sdelbianco@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2008 16:54:11 -0500

(PDF attached and text shown below)

NetChoice Comment regarding Draft Applicant Guidebook for new gTLDs
NetChoice has consistently advocated at ICANN for measures to raise the
integrity of users¹ Internet experience, while at the same time increasing
the Internet¹s availability to the next billion users.   In a hearing before
the U.S. Congress regarding ICANN¹s approach to Internet governance, we
testified about threats to the integrity of the domain name system from
abuses such as fraud and cyber squatting[1] .
In the current draft of its new gTLD plan, we believes that ICANN has
neglected to articulate sufficient processes and criteria to adequately
protect consumers and e-commerce businesses from the risks of abusive
NetChoice supports comments of the ICANN Business Constituency and other
groups raising similar concerns over abusive registrations.   Rather than
repeat those specific concerns here, we offer two suggested improvements to
the draft Evaluation Questions and Criteria that ICANN published as
attachments to Module 2[2].  Namely, Raise the curtain; and Raise the bar.
1. Raise the curtain.  Provide for greater transparency and stakeholder
inquiry of an applicant¹s proposed mechanism to minimize abusive
registrations and other activities that affect the legal rights of others.
As other commenters have noted, there is not yet sufficient detail in the
draft new gTLD process to allow stakeholders to conclude whether the process
satisfies their concerns about abusive registrations.  But even after adding
more detail, ICANN cannot be expected to anticipate every contingency and
situation encountered in actual applications.
This reality makes it all the more essential that ICANN makes its evaluation
process transparent to stakeholders, once live applications enter the
process. ICANN¹s draft process promises ³a process where new gTLD applicants
are required to describe their Rights Protection Mechanism (RPM) within
their applications. These RPMs will be published to the community at the
time applications are also made public.²
However, transparency means more than just publishing the plans included
with an application.  An essential aspect of transparency is to invite
stakeholders to query the applicant about specifics and contingencies
regarding their plan for rights protection.  Moreover, ICANN must require
applicants to provide substantive responses to these queries, and to publish
questions and responses for public review. Only this level of transparency
will enable the stakeholder community to evaluate proposed mechanisms and
compare them to superior mechanisms offered by other applicants.
2. Raise the bar.  Increase the criteria for earning a minimum acceptable
score on proposed policies to minimize abusive registrations.
Question 31 in Evaluation Questions and Criteria for module 2 is among those
Technical & Operational criteria which ³must be scored a 1 or more or the
application will fail the evaluation.² Question 31 would be scored with a
passing grade if the applicant merely ³commits to and describes protection
of rights mechanisms.²
NetChoice strongly encourages ICANN to ?raise the bar¹ in order for an
applicant to earn a passing grade for minimizing abusive registrations and
other activities that affect the legal rights of others.
A passing score of 1 on Question 31 should only be given to applicants whose
proposed mechanism meets registry best practices for minimizing abusive
registrations.  The standard, or ?bar¹ for minimizing abusive registrations
should be set by looking at the best mechanisms employed by existing
registries or proposed by other registry applicants in the new round of
The transparency measures described above will permit stakeholders to
discover and reveal whether the applicant has truly cleared the bar for
minimizing abusive registrations.  Accordingly, the scoring rules applied by
ICANN should not give a passing grade to applicants who demonstrably fail to
meet registry best practices to minimize abuse.

Even before any new gTLDs are introduced, there is clearly a growing problem
with phishing, identity theft, and consumer fraud ­ all of which are enabled
by abusive and obviously fraudulent registrations.
Taken together, the two measures suggested here would help ICANN to
demonstrate that the new gTLD process will at least ?do no harm¹ to the
integrity of users¹ Internet experience.
Steve DelBianco 
Executive Director

[1]  http://www.mcgeorge.edu/documents/centers/global/ICANN Internet
Governance - Is It Working.pdf


Attachment: NetChoice comment on new gTLD.pdf
Description: MS-Word document

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