Re: [alac] Comments on the draft request for new TLDs
At 11:43 AM 06/26/2003 +0200, Vittorio Bertola wrote:
I have just read the draft request for proposals for new TLDs: http://www.icann.org/tlds/new-stld-rfp/new-stld-rfp-24jun03.htm
Thanks Vittorio. I agree with lots of these, and agree we should submit comments.
The cynic in me says that the RFP's restrictions have a lot to do with lobbying from a few snubbed 2000 applicants.
- Restricting new TLD proposals to sponsored TLDs goes against common sense and the prevailing consensus in the community; furthermore, it goes against market competition and innovation.
In general, I agree. However, the Lynn proposal in Rio and before was to add a "limited number" of sponsored TLDs to the "testbed" period, before opening for general expansion at some later time. These are theoretically just additions to the testbed. I think that rather than challenging the limitation to sponsored in this case, we should urge ICANN to move quickly beyond "testing" to addition of a full range of new gTLDs.
- Restricting new TLD proposals to year 2000 applicants is an unfair way to stifle competition. Three years on the Internet are a huge amount of time, and I am sure that there are new ideas and new people out there who would like to apply for new TLDs even if they didn't in 2000. Moreover, it is likely that most of the year 2000 applicants, due to the changes in the economical conditions, will not be interested in resubmitting an application, thus making it very easy for the reapplicants to win the domain using this sort of "preferential lane".
Several characteristics of the new TLD program in 2000 make it inappropriate to limit current consideration to a limited subset of the applications for the "proof-of-concept" then:
-Although new TLD applicants were asked to classify their proposals as "sponsored" or "unsponsored," and to submit additional materials if choosing "sponsored," the distinction did not carry nearly so much weight then as it is now being made to bear. Sponsorship was merely one of several characteristics among which applicants could choose. Clearly applicants could not have known that they were foreclosing themselves from later consideration by choosing "unsponsored" in 2000.
-Nothing in the criteria announced in August 2000, prior to submission of applications, indicated that sponsored TLDs would be given any special priority, such that applicants would be encouraged to choose sponsored over unsponsored where either type of operation would fit their needs. " The evaluation of delegation of policy-formulation functions for special-purpose TLDs to appropriate organizations" was only the seventh of nine criteria for evaluation. <http://www.icann.org/tlds/tld-criteria-15aug00.htm>
-Further, ICANN's evaluation of the 2000 new TLD proposals did not distinguish between sponsored and unsponsored as a major category in its report, instead looking at general/specific purpose, restricted/unrestricted use, and new services. The report suggests that even after reviewing all applications submitted in 2000, the evaluators did not believe the distinction was significant. <http://www.icann.org/tlds/report/>
Finally, nothing in the lead-up to the 2003 process has ever indicated that preference would be given to past applicants for sponsored TLDs. This decision frustrates those who expected to be able to apply for future TLDs even if they had not previously applied or planned to change the nature of a previous application based on interim experience. ICANN is presumably continuing the "proof-of-concept" because it believes it is learning something from the testbed process, yet limiting applications to a narrow selection of those unsuccessful three years ago deprives the Internet community of a meaningful chance to make use of the experience of those years. Moreover, at the slow pace of ICANN's new TLD roll-out, missing the opportunity to apply in the continuing "proof-of-concept" phase imposes a significant hardship on would-be sponsors. If ICANN is committed to making the testbed a representative evaluation of new TLD policies, it must open the application process to all who fit its substantive criteria.
- For ICANN, being unable to start a regular service of examination and approval of new TLD proposals, after 5 years from its start, is a proof of a huge failure. By this, ICANN is effectively hampering innovation and evolution over the Internet. Approving a few new sponsored TLDs chosen from a list of ICANN-selected applicants is only a fig leaf that does not hide ICANN's complete failure in establishing a quick, effective and uncontroversial process for the creation of any kind and number of new TLDs - and its lack of will of doing so!