Terms of Reference ~ city-TLDs
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 infrastructure. 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 safety. 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 access. 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 applicants: 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.