Tucows Response to New gTLD Questions
This response is a summary of a proposal made to the GNSO Council regarding the development of a new gTLD allocation processes. This summary is not exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the larger document which can be found in PDF format attached to this message. The permanent URL for the most current version of this proposal http://gtld.dnspolicy.org. A living version of this proposal in wiki format can be found at this same URL.
Comments concerning this submission should be directed to ross -at- tucows -dot- com.
1. Should new generic top level domain names be introduced? 1. Given the information provided here and any other relevant information available to the GNSO, the GNSO should assess whether there is sufficient support within the Internet community to enable the introduction of new top level domains. If this is the case the following additional terms of reference are applicable.
Response: There is substantial support within the community to launch new gTLDs. ICANN should proceed with implementing a permanent process that allows for ongoing delegation of gTLDs to parties that wish to operate them. In parallel, ICANN needs to engage the GAC to deal with the issues related to the allocation of geographic domain names (i.e. local, city, regional and territorial top-level domain names). The GAC should endeavor to draw upon the collective expertise of ICANNs other supporting organizations and advisory committees in their contemplation of the public policy issues raised by TLDs that would fall into this category.
2. Selection Criteria for New Top Level Domains 1. Taking into account the existing selection criteria from previous top level domain application processes and relevant criteria in registry services re-allocations, develop modified or new criteria which specifically address ICANN's goals of expanding the use and usability of the Internet. In particular, examine ways in which the allocation of new top level domains can meet demands for broader use of the Internet in developing countries. 2. Examine whether preferential selection criteria (e.g. sponsored) could be developed which would encourage new and innovative ways of addressing the needs of Internet users. 3. Examine whether additional criteria need to be developed which address ICANN's goals of ensuring the security and stability of the Internet.
Response: ICANN needs to take this opportunity to normalize and standardize the current experimental processes. Criteria related to judging community support, evaluating business model or method, measures of intent and so on, should not be included in the permanent processes moving forward. ICANN needs to focus on instituting appropriate technical measures to ensure that applicants are capable of operating at the scale they propose, and that they can do so in a manner that is consistent with ICANN goals of ensuring the security and stability of the DNS. Preferential criteria designed to encourage new and innovative ways of addressing user needs, or to meet the demands for broader use of the internet in developing countries should not be specifically addressed as part of the allocation process. Addressing unmet user demand and stimulating innovation, is a desirable effect of a well functioning market. ICANN need be concerned with setting out the minimum rules necessary to foster this market, consistent with its core mission to rely on market mechanisms where appropriate. Further, encouraging use of the internet in developing countries can be better dealt with by ensuring that the process is appropriate for potential delegants and users from these regions - but not by creating exceptions to the process for these regions. Providing financial and administrative support to enter into the allocation process to applicants from these regions is desirable, but should be conducted external to the allocation process.
3. Allocation Methods for New Top Level Domains 1. Using the experience gained in previous rounds, develop allocation methods for selecting new top level domain names. 2. Examine the full range of allocation methods including auctions, ballots, first-come first-served and comparative evaluation to determine the methods of allocation that best enhance user choice while not compromising predictability and stability. 3. Examine how allocation methods could be used to achieve ICANN's goals of fostering competition in domain name registration services and encouraging a diverse range of registry services providers.
Response: The gTLD allocation process should be simple, straightforward, self-funding and permanent. It should not, by itself, discourage potential applicants. Applicants who meet the basic criteria should be put in a position where they can become operational as quickly as the process will allow. Allocation should be undertaken on a "first-come, first-served"Â basis using a sealed bid auction to reconcile contention. This methodology is proposed for its overall fairness, cost-efficiency, inclusiveness, expediency and to minimize rent-seeking behavior by applicants (and ensure an appropriate allocation of rents). The allocation process should be an ongoing process. Applications may be submitted at any time. They will be processed on a first-come, first served basis as allowed by the availability of staff resources (similar to the manner in which Registrar Accreditation Requests are currently processed).
4. Policy to Guide Contractual Conditions for New Top Level Domains 1. Using the experience of previous rounds of top level domain name application processes and the recent amendments to registry services agreements, develop policies to guide the contractual criteria which are publicly available prior to any application rounds. 2. Determine what policies are necessary to provide security and stability of registry services. 3. Determine appropriate policies to guide a contractual compliance programme for registry services.
Response: In making the gTLD allocation processes permanent, ICANN should seek to standardize the processes and contractual conditions to the maximum extent possible. Terms related to measuring and guaranteeing community support, evaluating business models and methods, measuring intent and so on should be entirely removed from the contracts. This includes all provisions related to the notion of "Sponsorship", it being a specific business model, and inappropriate delegation of gTLD policy making responsibility. gTLD applicants should be permitted to specify exclusionary registration practices, historically known as a "charter" to the extent that they are willing to enforce this charter on a permanent basis. Existing sponsored TLDs should be folded into this new structure to the extent possible. Providers of Registry Services should be accredited by ICANN in a manner similar to gTLD Registrars. Those wishing to operate gTLDs should be recognized as "delegants". Sunrise processes should be abandoned as having demonstrably done more harm than good for all involved, including rights-holders and non-abusive registrants. ICANN should concern itself with setting minimum standards that are applicable across all gTLDs - consistent renewal grace periods, communication protocols, WHOIS requirements are all desirable. Specific data escrow and operational continuity provisions must be made mandatory. A single compliance program should be developed to ensure that Registrars, Registry Service Providers and Delegants are each meeting their commitments.