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[alac] GNSO gTLDs Committee draft

  • To: Interim ALAC <alac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [alac] GNSO gTLDs Committee draft
  • From: Wendy Seltzer <wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 12:13:49 -0700

Here's what the GNSO is thinking about new gTLDs: <http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20030410.gTLD.committee.conclusions-v3.html> (pasted below).
Milton Mueller has done a redline from the Non-Commercial Constituency at <http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/gTLDS-committee-conclusions-v3-1.2.htm>

The Council has already revised the organization of the document to move up paragraph 7's call for demand-driven bottom up expansion (and de-emphasize "structure" of the namespace).

We, along with the GNSO constituencies, are invited to comment and offer our recommendations by May 12. I'll send my comments in a follow-up.


[From <http://www.dnso.org/dnso/notes/20030410.gTLD.committee.conclusions-v3.html>]

ICANN GNSO Council gTLDS committee v3:


The GNSO council invoked a committee of the whole to address the question asked of it by the ICANN Board (resolution 2.151 see annex 1). The committee met monthly by telephone conference starting February 2003.

Participants had in some measure or other a vision of how the gTLD namespace should look. It was agreed that a future expansion should take place in such a way that was demand-driven and bottom-up and in a way that increased competition while avoiding net user confusion and deception. To the extent that this report has a set of recommendations, it would seem there is support for the idea that the future gTLD namespace should be structured in a number of ways.

Goals of expanding the name space

1. Future expansion should increase the level of competition.

2. Future expansion should avoid names that are confusingly similar so as to avoid confusing net users*.

3. Future names could be in any language, subject to the technical recommendations coming out of the existing work on internationalized domain names (IDN). A significant limiting factor is the stability of the namespace. In respect to IDN gTLDs (ie IDN.IDN) ICANN should ensure that the ASCII translation or transliteration of any new IDN gTLD should not be confusingly similar to an existing generic ASCII gTLD or vice-versa, so as to avoid confusing net users.

4. New names that were IDN translations or transliterations of an existing gTLD or vice-versa, should be obliged to follow the same policies and practices of the original gTLD. In particular, where the sponsoring organization for a sponsored TLD feels that its target community would be well served by new names that are IDN translations or transliterations of the existing sponsored gTLD, these may be permitted with the explicit consent of that sponsoring organization. Any such new domains must, at the least, be obliged to follow the policies of the original sponsored gTLD. (It may be noted that these policies will likely require modification to accommodate their implementation in multiple languages).

5. Future expansion should avoid names that might deceive or defraud net users*.

6. Future names should be both for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

*tests for these will need to be considered.

Drivers of expansion

7. Expansion of the gTLD namespace should be a bottom-up approach with names proposed by the interested parties to ICANN. There is no support for a pre-determined list of new names that putative registries would bid for. Expansion should be demand-driven. It should be sufficient that a viable demand is perceived by the name applicant and no objective test should be required.

8. Registries could operate multiple gTLDs. A single registry need not be linked uniquely with one name. However, in order to meet the goal on competition, this flexibility will need to be limited to the extent that it might lead to market dominance in the supply of registry services. A judgement on dominance needs to be well balanced: ICANN should not needlessly set barriers to entry for new applicants by restricting their choice of business partners, nor needlessly prevent new applicants benefiting from any economies of scale resulting from multiple TLD registries.

9. To the extent that a TLD is sponsored, sponsors would typically sponsor a single gTLD, though it should be possible for a sponsor to sponsor additional names where the nature of the sponsored space is complimentary.

Technical and financial qualification

10. Registries should be required as at present to demonstrate technical and financial competence during the contract-negotiation stage with ICANN. This demonstration should not be a significant barrier to entry. Financial competence will need to be demonstrated in context relevant to the specific business model and proposed size of the gTLD. A performance bond may be an elegant solution for ICANN: it in effect devolves the judgement on financial competence to a third party while providing the required reassurance.

11. The application fee for future applications for names should discourage spurious applicants, but should also not penalize losers beyond the actual administrative costs borne by the ICANN secretariat.

Registry/sponsor failure.

12. The investment made by registrants in their name should be protected from the consequences of registry failure. It may be sufficient that ICANN maintains the ability to itself swiftly transfer the relevant TLD zone file** from the failed registry to another registry.

13. There need to be rules to determine the conditions under which such a transfer would take place.

** A zone file contains data describing a portion of the domain name space. Zone files contain the information needed to resolve domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) numbers.

Segmentation, differentiation and value added

14. There is wide but not universal support for what was termed variously segmentation, differentiation, and value added. It was generally agreed that given the objective of a demand-driven bottom-up space, ICANN need not be in a position to have to judge differentiation beyond the obvious. If a new registry/sponsor proposed a name and promised differentiation, that should be sufficient to award the name. Whether the applicant subsequently succeeded in achieving true differentiation would be a function of the success of its business model.

To sponsor or not to sponsor?

15. To some extent the concept of segmentation and differentiation logically lead to support for sponsored names - a process which self-determines a segment or differentiated space where the sponsor wishes to be. Expansion of the name space of only sponsored gTLDs was supported by the Business Constituency and the Intellectual Property Constituency. The non-commercial constituency supports a model with both sponsored and unsponsored names possible: conflicts over names would be determined by price in an auction process. (There was no support from other constituencies to the auction model.)

Annex  1

Background on establishment of the committee

October 2002, the ICANN CEO's action plan on gTLDs made the recommendation below.


Part III Recommendation: As ICANN proceeds with its new TLD evaluation process - and, if the Board concurs, with an additional round of new sponsored TLDs - this basic question of taxonomic rationalization should be addressed within the ICANN process. Accordingly, it is my recommendation to the ICANN Board that the DNSO and its Names Council be requested to develop and submit its advice and guidance on the issue.

December 2002, the Board agreed with the recommendation and made the three resolutions below.


Whereas, the Board accepted the report of the ICANN New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force (NTEPPTF) at its meeting on 23 August 2002;

Whereas, at that meeting the Board instructed the President to develop a plan for action for approval by the Board;

Whereas, the President presented An Action Plan Regarding New TLDs for discussion at the Public Forum in Shanghai on 30 October 2002, and posted that Action Plan for public comment on 8 November 2002;

Whereas, comments have been received, posted, and evaluated regarding that Action Plan;

Whereas, the Action Plan was again discussed at the Public Forum in Amsterdam on 14 December 2002; and

Whereas, the Action Plan recommends that key recommendations of the NTEPPTF report be implemented; that certain questions regarding the future evolution of the generic top-level namespace be referred for advice to the GNSO described in Article X of the New Bylaws approved in Shanghai on 31 October 2002 and as further refined at this meeting; and that steps be taken towards approval of a limited number of new sponsored gTLDs;

§ Resolved [02.150] that the Board authorizes the President to take all steps necessary to implement those aspects of the NTEPPTF recommendations as specified in the Action Plan;

§ Resolved [02.151] that the Board requests the GNSO to provide a recommendation by such time as shall be mutually agreed by the President and the Chair of the GNSO Names Council on whether to structure the evolution of the generic top level namespace and, if so, how to do so;

§ Resolved [02.152] that the Board directs the President to develop a draft Request for Proposals for the Board's consideration in as timely a manner as is consistent with ICANN staffing and workload for the purpose of soliciting proposals for a limited number of new sponsored gTLDs.

February 2003, ICANN's general counsel has clarified that the Board asked for the GNSO Council to formulate and communicate its views on two separate questions. The questions are:

a. whether to structure the evolution of the generic top level namespace and,

     b.  if there should be structuring, how to do so.

Annex  2

Constituency positions and submissions

The Business Constituency and the Non-commercial constituency submitted papers at the beginning of the committee's discussions which acted as substance for debate at the committee first meeting and the subsequent production of the committee's conclusions version 1 and 2.

The gTLD registries constituency reacted in writing to the committee's version 2 conclusions.

That reaction was commented on by the non-commercial constituency in writing and both reactions used at the basis for discussion at the committee's third meeting and the basis for committee conclusions version 3.

-- -- Wendy Seltzer -- wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx || wendy@xxxxxxx Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/seltzer.html

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