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Terms of Reference ~ city-TLDs

  • To: <Cognso.secretariat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Terms of Reference ~ city-TLDs
  • From: "Thomas Lowenhaupt" <toml@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 00:33:45 -0500

From: Thomas Lowenhaupt

Re: Comments to ICANN / GNSO on gTLDs.

The following comments are provided to help the GNSO evaluate the Terms of 
Reference for issuing new gTLDs.

1. Should new generic top level domain names be introduced?

Large cities are amongst the most ancient, complex, and vital entities created 
by humankind. They efficiently facilitate opportunity, housing, food, 
companionship, recreation, protection, health care, transportation, and 
innumerable other services to more than ½ of the world’s population. Their size 
and influence are growing. The creation of livable cities provide the prime 
opportunity for making this a sustainable planet.

To date, the identity, connectivity, and development needs of these geographic 
entities have not been addressed by the Internet's domain name system. It is 
important to cities, their residents, the Internet, and indeed the planet, that 
this omission be corrected.

By developing TLDs, cities can provide ½ the planet’s residents with:

  a.. Stronger Local Economies - While competition on the global internet 
offers astounding market efficiencies, there are instances where people like to 
touch before buying or look the seller in the eye. City TLDs will enable 
sellers and buyers to find one another to see and touch. And by facilitating 
communication, city-TLDs will enable the efficient use of existing 
  b.. Create a Sense of Community - A local TLD will enable communities to 
create emblematic spaces. A local TLD will help develop local pride and promote 
and enable volunteerism. 
  c.. Improved Safety - Local TLDs will enable residents to locate one another 
and plan for their safe being. Local TLDs can provide more eyes and promote 
  d.. Better Access - Local TLDs can enable more customized design and familiar 
access to internet resources, and make local assets more accessible.  Local 
identity and culture can be reflected in design and signage, facilitating 
  e.. Improved Health - Customized local venues will bring neighbors together 
and diminish isolation and depression. It will enable sharing of local health 
histories, concerns, and remedies. 
  f.. Sociability - A city-TLD will facilitate relatives, friends, and 
neighbors connecting with one another. 
Alongside these benefits one must consider the damage cities have sustained by 
not having TLDs. Some conjecture that the benefits the Internet provides to 
those who use it, it takes from those who don’t. Today's Internet scatters city 
residents, institutions, businesses, dreams, and desires on the global network. 
What a network does not properly identify, it isolates.

With the experience gained from issuing many new TLD, it is time the ICANN 
issue prototype TLDs to cities. To test their efficacy, several large cities 
should be selected. Berlin and New York City have taken steps to prepare for 
the eventuality. These cities have much to learn from the experiences of 
city-like entities that have begun developing their TLDs such as Hong Kong and 
Singapore. In issuing these prototype city-TLDs, the ICANN should team them 
with the operators of .HK and .SG. 

As part of the effort a new constituency should be created to represent the 
needs of cities to the Internet governance structure. 

2. Selection Criteria for New Top Level Domains

  With its extensive experience overseeing the operation and issuance of legacy 
and new TLDs, the ICANN should consider the following in selecting city-TLD 

1.     That there is a clear demonstration of support and acknowledgement by 
the applicant city that the proposed TLD operator represents the interests of 
the city residents, businesses, and institutions. 

2.     That the applicant has the financial and technical expertise to operate 
the TLD.

3.     That in this prototype city-TLD phase, those awarded the city-TLDs agree 
to cooperate with one another and the ICANN in determining the validity and 
utility of city-TLDs.

Local needs will present applicants with different modalities for managing 
city-TLDs. Some will propose operating in a for-profit mode, others as 
not-for-profits. Each will determine the community that qualifies for domain 
names, the rate to charge, a taxonomy, etc. And each applicant should propose 
appropriate methods for evaluating success.

As to the question of city-TLDs & developing countries: perhaps city-TLD 
applicants from developed countries should present joint applications with a 
paired developing city. For example, New York could work with Mexico City.

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