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Re: [alac] Comments on the draft request for new TLDs

  • To: Wendy Seltzer <wendy@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [alac] Comments on the draft request for new TLDs
  • From: Esther Dyson <edyson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 13:11:15 -0400

Personally, I *like* sponsored TLDs, but I think they need to earn their place in a competitive market, competing against unsponsored ones. Let the users choose - users being both registrants, and people who visit the sites...

But restricting the new TLDs in such a way does indeed smack of unfairness. But Wendy's probably right: Let's be practical and press for a quick move forward. It's not clear what ICANN may think it is learning, because it hasn't done its own promised Evaluation Process.

FWIW, I don't expect us to be the only voices ICANN listens to, but I think we (will) have company on many of these comments below.


At 12:06 PM 6/28/2003, Wendy Seltzer wrote:
At 11:43 AM 06/26/2003 +0200, Vittorio Bertola wrote:
I have just read the draft request for proposals for new TLDs:

What can I say... being a well mannered person, I will not use the terms
that came to my mind while reading it, but there are a few of the points I'd
like to make:

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".

- Furthermore, the list of year 2000 applicants is almost entirely composed
by US companies. In practice, ICANN is preventing non-US entities from
getting new TLDs.

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!

- Asking for 25'000$ to re-examine slightly reviewed versions of
applications for which the applicants already paid 50'000$ is unreasonable.

- Our proposal about lower fees for non-profit applicants, as well as the
proposal of 2-step fees (one for applying, one for winning), have been
completely ignored. This fee policy effectively prevents any kind of
non-commercial or bottom-up new TLD from being created, and makes the losers
pay the negotiation and implementation costs of the winners.

- Apparently, ICANN is completely ignoring the ALAC statements on the
matter, and doing the exact opposite. It is true that we are not the GAC and
do not have a right to explanations recognized by the Bylaws... and yet I
would like to understand whether it makes any sense for us to spend all this
time in advising the organization about the needs of the general public, if
ICANN chooses to do the exact opposite of what we advise. I do not think
that we own the ultimate truth or that all we say must be accepted by the
Board, but at least I would like to get an explanation from Board members on
the rationale underlying their choice.

I would like to get other opinions on this document. Perhaps you do not
share my views, but I think that we absolutely have to submit comments and
to ask explanations about why we are being ignored.
vb.               [Vittorio Bertola - v.bertola [a] bertola.eu.org]<------
--------> http://bertola.eu.org/ - Archivio FAQ e molto altro... <--------

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

Esther Dyson Always make new mistakes! chairman, EDventure Holdings writer, Release 3.0 (on Website below) edyson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 1 (212) 924-8800 -- fax 1 (212) 924-0240 104 Fifth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets; 20th floor) New York, NY 10011 USA http://www.edventure.com

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