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Summary - Analysis of Submissions to IDNgTLD Petition and Charter Public Comment Forum

  • To: "idngtld-petition@xxxxxxxxx" <idngtld-petition@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary - Analysis of Submissions to IDNgTLD Petition and Charter Public Comment Forum
  • From: Robert Hoggarth <robert.hoggarth@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2009 23:04:16 -0700

Summary and analysis of public comments for:

IDNgTLD New Constituency Petition and Charter

Comment period ended: 20 May 2009

Summary published: 5 June 2009

Preparation by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


In June 2008, the ICANN Board of Directors endorsed a series of recommendations 
on how to improve the structures and operations of the Generic Names Supporting 
Organization (GNSO). One of the significant drivers of those recommendations 
was the goal to maximize participation in the GNSO and its policy development 
processes. Among the various recommendations endorsed by the Board was that 
ICANN take steps to clarify and promote the option to self-form new 
constituencies as a means to increase participation in GNSO policy development 

The current ICANN Bylaws provide that any group of individuals or entities may 
petition the Board for recognition as a new or separate constituency, in 
accordance with Section 5(4) of Article X. Such a petition must explain (1) why 
"the addition of such a Constituency will improve the ability of the GNSO to 
carry out its policy-development responsibilities" and (2) why "the proposed 
new Constituency would adequately represent, on a global basis, the 
stakeholders it seeks to represent."

The ICANN Board has now received a total of four formal petitions from 
prospective constituencies, including the subject of this forum - the IDNgTLD 
Constituency.  At the direction of the Board, the ICANN Staff developed a 
two-step process for potential new constituencies to follow. The proponent of 
the IDNgTLD Constituency completed the first step of the process on 09 April 
2009 by filing a Notice of Intent to Form a New Constituency 
[PDF, 28K]. The proponent of the IDNgTLD Constituency completed the second step 
of the process - submission of a New Constituency Petition and Charter 
 [PDF, 228K] and Introduction Letter 
 [PDF, 109K] on 18 April 2009.

Community comment on new constituency petitions and charters is an important 
component of the Board's evaluation of these petitions and will be used to 
inform the Board's decisions to approve or, at its option, to recommend any 
alterations or amendments to the various submissions.


At the time this summary was prepared, a total of 58 community submissions were 
posted to the forum.  One comment was unrelated to the topic at hand; thus, 
there were a total of 57 relevant comments.  The contributors, both individuals 
and organizations, are listed below in chronological order by posting date 
(with initials noted in parentheses).  The initials will be used in the 
foregoing narrative to identify specific quoted contributions.

Organizations and Groups:

*     Philip Sheppard, AIM - European Brands Association (AIM)
*     Shahram Soboutipour (SS), Public Interest Registry (PIR)
*     Lana Andreff, IDN Internet Consortium, Inc., Canada (IDNIC)
*     Philip Sheppard, Business Constituency and Internet Service and 
Connectivity Providers Constituency (BC & ISCPC)
*     Alex from Russia, Legato LTD (AR)
*     Mila, Vipdecor.com (V)
*     Sergey Sharikov, Regtime, Ltd (RT)
*     JFC Morfin, Alliance.fra (AF)
*     Marie-France Berny, Chercheur (C)
*     David Fridman, Interdisciplinary Internet Center (IIC)
*     Nebiyu Yoseph, Dot Connect Africa (DCA)
*     Yang Yu, China Organizational Name Administration Center (CONAC)
*     Erez Shani, Amigour (AG)
*     Iliya Bozlyankov, Association Uninet (AU)
*     Alexey Mykhaylov, Ukrnames (U)
*     Alexei Sozorov, Regtime.net (RN)
*     Yoav Keren, DomainTheNet (DTN)
*     Steve Metalitz, Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC)
*     Brian Cute, Afflias (AFLS)
*     David Maher, Registries Constituency (RyC)
*     S. Subbiah, I-DNS.net, Inc. (SSH)
*     James Bladel, GoDaddy.com (GD)
*     Prashanth Suravajhala, CDAC


*     Nick Explorer (NE)  (This comment was off topic)
*     Khaled Koubaa (KK)
*     Mekdes Tekeleslassie (MT)
*     Helen Mekonnen (HM)
*     Sara Mekonnen (SM)
*     Fitsum Taddesse (FT)
*     Solomon Eshetu (SE)
*     Manyazewal Zewdii (MZ)
*     Abnet Gebretsadik (AG)
*     Mesfiu Telila (MT)
*     Marilyn Cade (MC)
*     Milton Mueller, (MM)
*     Vladimir Gevlich (VG)
*     Danlei Jin (DJ)
*     Tim S. (TS)
*     Ivaylo Iliev (II)
*     Alexey Ptashny (AP)
*     Yoshio Takeda (YT)
*     Lugman Hakim (LH)
*     Alexander from Russia (AR)
*     George Zhu (GZ)
*     Itai Galmor (IG)
*     Ren Fan Chen (RFC)
*     Людмила Скобенникова Bulgaria (B)
*     Mark Golan (MG)
*     Ephrem (E)
*     Tan Tin Wee (TTW)
*     M. Asif Khan (MAK)


This document is intended to broadly and comprehensively summarize the comments 
of the various contributors to this forum but not to address every specific 
argument or position stated by any or all contributors.  The Staff recommends 
that readers interested in specific aspects of any of the summarized comments 
or the full context of others refer directly to the specific contributions.

Of the 57 respondents, 49 supported the petition and 8 did not support it.


In order to better understand the comments, summary, and analysis, it may be 
useful to provide some background and links on internationalized domain names 
(IDN) to the extend that these are related to the IDNgTLD petition and charter. 
 Domain names are a key part of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS).  The DNS 
consists of a directory, organized hierarchically, of all the domain names and 
their corresponding computers registered to particular companies and persons 
using the Internet.  (See ICANN FAQs at <http://www.icann.org/en/faq/#dns>.  
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) are domain names represented by local 
language characters. Such domain names could contain letters or characters from 
non-ASCII (non-Latin) scripts (for example, Arabic or Chinese). Many efforts 
are ongoing in the Internet community to make domain names available in 
character sets other than ASCII.  These "internationalized domain name" (IDN) 
efforts were the subject of a 25 September 2000 resolution by the ICANN Board 
of Directors, which recognized "that it is important that the Internet evolve 
to be more accessible to those who do not use the ASCII character set," and 
also stressed that "the internationalization of the Internet's domain name 
system must be accomplished through standards that are open, non-proprietary, 
and fully compatible with the Internet's existing end-to-end model and that 
preserve globally unique naming in a universally resolvable public name space." 
 (See Internationalized Domain Names at: <http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/>.)

For the purpose of this analysis, it also is important to note that the stated 
mission of the IDNgTLD Constituency is to “primarily represent the views and 
interests of those who have been and/or are engaged and/or intend to be 
involved in the advocacy, promotion, provision, implementation, deployment, 
popularization, research and development of non-Latin Internatinalised Top 
Level Domain Names (“IDNgTLD”)…on the Internet.”

Proposal Opponents:

There were two broad arguments proposed by several opponents. In addition, 
there were a few specific concerns voiced by a few of the opponents. Of the 
broad arguments proposed by several opponents, the first is that the formation 
of a new IDNgTLD constituency is not a necessary condition for IDNs to develop 
or the best approach to developing IDN policies.  The second argument is that 
the proposed IDNgTLD Constituency poses fundamental challenges to 1) ICANN’s 
new Stakeholder Group structure; 2) the division within ICANN’s structure of 
representatives from public and private entities; and 3) ICANN policy in that 
the IDNgTLD Constituency focuses only on policymaking as it relates to IDNs.  
Specific concerns are that the IDNgTLD should not be located in the Commercial 
Stakeholder Group (CSG), that the IDNgTLD Constituency should not be seeking 
funding from ICANN, and that it is not ICANN’s role to promote the rights of 
non-English, non-Latin script communities.

1.  Formation of a new IDNgTLD Constituency is Unnecessary

There are four opponents who argue that it is not necessary to form a new 
IDNgTLD Constituency.  In particular, AIM agreed that IDNs were important, but 
argued that an IDN constituency is not a necessary condition for IDNs to 
develop.  In addition, AIM asked whether a new ICANN IDN Advisory Group or 
permanent GNSO IDN Working Group would be a better approach.  MC agreed that 
IDNs are important and that ICANN needs to do more work in this area.  However, 
MC argued that creating a new constituency is a very narrow and restrictive 
approach limited to GNSO activities and could cause confusion about existing 
constituency members who participate in a single-purpose constituency.  In 
addition, MC noted that a constituency in the GNSO cannot achieve breadth or 
scope of work and focus for IDNs and that a cross-ICANN 'forum' approach would 
be better.  Similarly, IPC questioned whether formation of a new constituency 
is the best way to advance the goals of the petitioners.  AFLS took the 
argument further, saying that an IDNgTLD is nothing more than a gTLD and the 
current model already allows for various types of gTLDs to be represented in 
the ICANN community.

2.  IDNgTLD Constituency Poses Fundamental Challenges to ICANN

The argument that the IDNgTLD Constituency poses fundamental challenges was 
first put forward by AIM and subsequently was echoed in the responses from 
BC/ISCPC, AFLS, RyC, and GD.  AIM identified three challenges in its comments: 
structural, public-private, and policy.

2.1 Structural Challenge:

With respect to the structure challenge, AIM argued that the IDNgTLD 
Constituency composition doesn't fit the GNSO’s new stakeholder group 
structure.  Specifically, AIM notes that the IDNgTLD Constituency proposes a 
membership of the following groups: commercial users, non-commercial users, 
registries, registrars, and specialized government agencies.  Because of this 
broad membership, AIM argues that the new constituency does not fit with the 
ICANN Board’s proposed future structure of the GNSO, which divides the GNSO 
into a bicameral (two-house) structure with a Contracted Party House and a 
Non-Contracted Party House.  (See Council Organization > Structure & 
Composition at <http://gnso.icann.org/en/improvements/structure-en.htm>.)  
Similarly, in their joint comments the BC and ISCPC noted that the IDNgTLD 
Constituency conflicts with the new Stakeholder Group structure because its 
membership includes every one of the proposed new Stakeholder Groups.  The IPC 
agreed, adding that the IDNgTLD Constituency’s membership is too broad and 
would fall under all of the four new stakeholder groups.  IPC added that 
contracted versus non-contracted cross-membership also is a problem and that 
the new constituency would set a precedent of a constituency with a membership 
that cuts across stakeholder group structures.  RyC argued that the IDNgTLD 
Constituency’s proposal to include both commercial and non-commercial entities 
in a single constituency is premature because there are not yet ICANN 
procedures to prevent abuses from potential double voting by constituency 
members.  Moreover, GD noted that the charter's broad criteria for membership 
would appear to be in conflict with the charter of the Commercial Stakeholder 
Group, which does not extend eligibility to non-commercial entities, or any 
party under contract with ICANN.  GD added that membership eligibility as 
defined in the petition makes it difficult to identify any specific SG whose 
charter would allow it to form.

2.2 Public-Private Challenge:

With respect to the public-private challenge, AIM argued that because the 
IDNgTLD Constituency may have members that are specialist agencies of 
government or public-private partnerships interested in IDN issues, governments 
(via their agencies) may have a say in the vote for the selection of Board 
members via the GNSO seats.  AIM says this argument stems from the fact that in 
the current ICANN structure and under the new bicameral Stakeholder Group 
structure, government/political entities are excluded from being members of the 
six current constituencies as well as in the proposed Stakeholder Group 
charters under the new structure.  This is because ICANN was established under 
a private sector approach (rather than a treaty-based approach), whereby it 
receives input from governments through the Governmental Advisory Committee 
(GAC).  (See GAC, About Us, at: 
<http://gac.icann.org/modules/About_Us/gac-outreach_English.htm>.)  Thus, AIM 
argued that by allowing specialist agencies of government, the membership of 
the proposed IDNgTLD would allow governments to have influence in ICANN beyond 
that which they would have through the GAC.  Similarly, RyC argued that the 
IDNgTLD Constituency’s proposal to include governmental agencies in its 
membership is inconsistent with the fundamental structure of ICANN in which 
governments participate in an advisory capacity through the GAC. AFLS also 
argued that having an IDNgTLD constituency with governmental members having 
voting representation poses challenges with regard to the role of government in 
ICANN and could result in representational disparities.

2.3 Policy Challenge:

AIM argues that the IDNgTLD Constituency poses a policy challenge because it is 
dedicated to one policy issue of many addressed by the GNSO.  Because of this 
narrow focus, AIM questions how the IDNgTLD Constituency would contribute to 
other GNSO policies such as ASCII TLDs.  In their joint comments, the BC and 
ISCPC also raises the concern that the IDNgTLD Constituency is a single-issue 

3.  Specific Concerns

The joint comments of the BC and ISCPC noted that the IDNgTLD Constituency 
doesn't belong in the CSG because the CSG bars registries and registrars as 
members because of conflicts of interest, and it bars non-commercial 
organizations because of duplication with the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group 
(NCSG).  Similarly, GD argued that the IDNgTLD Constituency charter's broad 
criteria for membership would appear to conflict with the CSG charter, which 
does not extend eligibility to non-commercial entities or any party under 
contract with ICANN.

AFLS posed two additional arguments.  First, that the IDNgTLD Constituency's 
restricted membership rights (not open to anyone from a "Latin TLD), are 
potentially discriminatory.  Second, that ICANN's primary role is in the 
technical coordination of the DNS, not to promote human rights for "non-English 
speaking or non-Latin character writing communities."

IPC argued that the IDNgTLD Constituency should not be seeking funding from 
ICANN.  In particular, it noted that the Constituency's primary objective is to 
obtain funding from ICANN, but other constituencies provide funding to ICANN.  
IPC added that the CSG can't finance a new constituency while existing 
constituencies devote considerable financial and other resources to participate 

Proposal Support:

Proposal support falls into three categories: 1) those who argue that the 
IDNgTLD Constituency supports non-Latin script languages; 2) those who argue 
that an IDNgTLD Constituency is necessary to represent non-Latin script gTLDs 
to develop and define better policies; and 3) those who rebut the opposition 
arguments concerning structural, public-private, and policy challenges, as well 
as specific concerns relating to whether the new constituency belongs in the 
CSG. Closing remarks from SSH, the petitioner for the IDNgTLD Constituency, 
will also be briefly summarized at the end of this section.

1.  Support for Non-Latin Script Languages

There were 16 comments (2 of which were duplicates) in which supporters argued 
that the IDNgTLD Constituency would provide important support for specific 
non-Latin script languages.  Of these, 7 (MT – twice, HM, SM – twice, SE, and 
MZ) said that the new constituency would be “great” for the Ethiopian Amharic 
language and 3 (FT, AG, and MT) said it would be “great” for the Ethiopian 
Tigrigna language.  LH said that the new constituency would, “champion the 
right of communities and languages in the borderless Internet” and specified 
Malay, Indonesia.  Similarly, AR said that the new constituency was necessary 
to solve the problem that “non-English speaking and non-Latin character 
languages can't use their own languages without restrictions.”  GZ said that 
non-English languages would benefit, IG cited the importance of addressing the 
needs of the Jewish/Hebrew community, MAK, cited benefits for the Arabic 
script, and CDAC noted that the constituency would help speakers of Indian 

2.  IDNgTLD Constituency is Necessary

There were 24 comments in which supporters argued that the IDNgTLD Constituency 
is necessary to represent non-Latin script gTLDs to develop and define better 
policies.  While the comments varied in some of their details, it was clear 
that the respondents strongly supported the creation of a new constituency to 
represent the interests of, and develop policies for, non-Latin script gTLDs.  
Some examples include KK, who stated that the IDNgTLD Constituency would 
provide the ability to develop best the policies for specific issues related to 
new IDNgTLDs.  Similarly, SS agreed that ICANN needs a place where IDNs' 
differentiations and conflicting issues can be decided and that IDNs are the 
face of the new Internet, which will not just be English.  Several supporters 
noted that IDNs have not received enough attention in ICANN and many identified 
with the extensive comments provided by MM, who stated that the new 
constituency is necessary because IDN advocates have been disenfranchised in 
ICANN.  He added that there is no place for organizations that intended to 
become registries but weren't in the root as a contracted party, yet GNSO 
policies directly affect entry into the market for domain name registrations.  
DJ also emphasized that the new constituency would boost the status of IDN 
issues at ICANN adding that the new constituency might inject new blood into 
the conventional ICANN model and could shed light on disputes concerning IDN 
issues and act as a lighthouse for countries eagerly expecting IDNgTLDs.  DCA 
agreed and emphasized that approving this constituency will show that ICANN is 
attempting to address and accommodate the view that the real world is made up 
with borders, nations, cultures, and languages.  Two supporters emphasized that 
the new constituency also was necessary to address technical issues relating to 
IDNs.  Specifically, AF noted that there was technical governance urgency for 
an IDNgTLD constituency to deal with natural language and script-related 
issues, and C added that only an IDNgTLD common working group or constituency 
can offer the necessary forum and permit consensus in cases of IDNgTLD 
technical conflicts.

3.  Rebuttal to Opposition Arguments

There were 10 supporters who rebutted opposing comments relating to structural, 
public-private, and policy challenges, as well as whether the new constituency 
belongs in the CSG.

3.1   Structural Challenge:

In their rebuttals all respondents disagreed with the contention made by AIM 
and others that, because of its broad membership, the IDNgTLD Constituency does 
not fit into ICANN’s structure.  MM argued that there are no structural 
challenges except insofar as noncommercial users and these would be welcome in 
the NCSG.  DJ said that mixed membership is not an issue as long as they share 
the same interests and work towards the same goal and might cover issues beyond 
IDNs.  TTW noted that the new constituency fits into the stakeholder group 
structure and is consistent with existing practices of members within the ISPCP 
and BC.  SSH, the petitioner, noted that the Charter strictly limits any member 
from holding high-office if they already survey in similar capacities in 
another constituency.

3.2   Public-Private Challenge:

With respect to the opposition contention that by allowing governmental 
entities as members the IDNgTLD Constituency would allow governments to 
influence the selection of Board members, supporters in their rebuttals 
unanimously contended that this was not an issue because other constituencies 
also had government entities as members.  In particular, MM noted that the 
presence of a few government agencies doesn’t disrupt the ICANN structure 
because many constituencies’ members are affiliated with government agencies, 
such as government-owned ISPs in the GNSO.  CONAC agreed and emphasized that 
ICANN shouldn't block entrance of government or affiliated organizations in a 
constituency because many countries have government-supported agencies involved 
in ICANN policy issues.  Similarly, DTN argued that historically there have not 
been clear divides between government and non-government entities in ICANN.  He 
gave the example that there are many ccTLDs that are either government-run or 
government controlled that belong to the ccTLD/ccNSO side of ICANN whose 
operations are being de facto outsourced and run by large ICANN registries that 
in the past seem to have aligned themselves with government-controlled ccTLDs.  
SSH, the petitioner, emphasized that on the issue of direct government 
participation, the IDNgTLD Constituency’s current founding group does not 
include direct government representation but rather government-related 
agencies, such as CONAC and that the Charter to be revised creatively to 
limiting direct government involvement.

3.3   Policy Challenge:

Similar to the arguments provided to rebut the public-private challenge, some 
respondents argued that single-issue constituencies already exist in ICANN so 
the IDNgTLD Constituency would not be setting a precedent on this issue.  
However, some of the same respondents also argued that the new constituency is 
not focused on a single issue.  For example, MM argued that ICANN has a 
trademark constituency (IPC) despite the fact that trademark protection is only 
one aspect of DNS policy. He added that if trademark owners can look out for 
their special interests across a wide range of DNS issues, so can IDN 
advocates. Nonetheless, MM emphasized that IDN will affect WHOIS, security, and 
trademark issues, as well as new gTLD and registrar policies. AU agreed but 
also noted that one could argue that others are single-issue constituencies, 
such as IP, ISP, and BC.

3.4   Locating the New Constituency in the CSG:

Those who responded to the opposition argument that the new constituency did 
not belong in the CSG disagreed with this argument.  For example, MM argued 
that the CSG is the appropriate place for this constituency because it is 
analogous to ISPs/connectivity providers and service providers, some of whom 
are commercial.  However, he added that there could be room in NCSG for 
academics and non-profit researchers involved in IDNs for cultural, 
educational, and research but that this should note impede acceptance of 
constituency in CSG.  SSH noted that the Charter has addressed the contention 
that the new constituency’s cross-membership prevents it from joining the CSG.  
In particular, he emphasized that while the Charter left membership open in 
general, the IDNgTLD Constituency does not have existing contracted registries 
in the constituency’s present founding membership and are open to restricting 
future membership of contracted registries and registrars. Also, he noted that 
the constituency had already allowed for only limited and transparent 

4.  Closing Remarks of SSH

In his closing remarks, SSH described the difficulties he and his colleagues 
encountered three years ago when they endeavored to join an existing 
constituency in order to participate in a GNSO IDN Working Group.  He explained 
that they were prevented from joining the BC and by the time they joined the 
IDN Working Group as observers most the policymaking was already completed.  
SSH added that he is petitioning for an IDNgTLD Constituency because there is 
no effective voice within the GNSO for the IDN community given his previous 
inability to participate under the existing constituency structure.


The ICANN Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input and move 
forward with guidance regarding all the new constituency submissions as soon as 
practicably possible.  Any decisions with respect to the approval of the new 
constituency charters will likely take place in the context of the GNSO 
Improvements implementation processes.

Attachment: IDNgTLD Public Forum Summary and Analysis (FINAL).doc
Description: IDNgTLD Public Forum Summary and Analysis (FINAL).doc

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