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McKnight Comments
  • To: <stld-rfp-comments@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: McKnight Comments
  • From: "Lee McKnight" <LMcKnigh@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 13:01:38 -0500
  • Cc: "Lee McKnight" <LMcKnigh@xxxxxxx>, "Milton Mueller" <Mueller@xxxxxxx>

Rio de Janeiro, March 26, 2003

Re: Proposed "Criteria to Be Used in the Selection of New Sponsored gTLDs"
Comments of: 
Professor Lee W. McKnight
Syracuse University 
School of Information Studies

ICANN's current CEO Lynn is to be congratulated on the timely release of proposed procedures for gTLD additions.

ICANN's next CEO Twomey as well as the broader ICANN and Internet communities should view the publication of the proposed procedures as a positive step towards a routinized and objective process for gTLD additions.

As this proposal is considered, the ICANN board, the broader ICANN community, and the still broader Internet community, would do well to measure the Lynn proposal by several criteria:

		1)	Is the proposal, if enacted unchanged, likely to be seen as regular and objective?
		a.	If not, why not?
		2)	Does the proposal advance ICANN further in its objective of institutionalizing and routinizing processes which heretofore have been ad hoc and discretionary?
		a.	If not, why should this be adopted
		3)	Finally, does the process meet the needs of ICANN and the Internet community?
		a.	If not, what is to be done?

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly at this early stage, the Lynn sTLD addition process as published is incomplete, and falls short on all counts. Therefore, if enacted without change, the process is likely to fail in the short and long run. 

The white paper authored by myself and Milton Mueller, "The Post-.Com Internet," a current draft of which is available at www.digital-convergence.info <http://www.digital-convergence.info>, proposes a 5 step process through which gTLDs can be added which would meet the three criteria outlined above.  We commend our paper to the board and the ICANN community as a discussion item for the development of a regular an objective process for gTLD additions.

Further, we expect that our procedure would serve the needs of the broader international community eager to begin the process of the addition of international domain names to serve the needs of the world's various languages and cultures. 

Admittedly the addition of a limited number of gTLDs is well overdue. Therefore, for the sake of expediency ICANN's board may wish to adopt a streamlined variant of the Lynn procedures for immediate action on a 'limited' number of Top Level Domains.  Beyond this Lynn round, if I may be permitted to memorialize ICANN's current CEO in that manner, a more thorough review and a far more streamlined process is required for the Twomey era. 

In conclusion, the proposed Lynn sTLD procedures fail on all counts. The proposed procedures, while well-meaning and a step forward in some aspects, are not objective, are not regular, and are not institutionalized. Adoption of these procedures for the long run would leave the ICANN board open to the possibility that under U.S. law they could be found personally legally liable for results of this process that do not meet U.S. legal standards. ICANN's role in regulating prices cannot be viewed as legitimate in the long run, as just one specific fatal flaw of the proposed Lynn procedures.   In other words, we are concerned that lawsuits charging ICANN with arbitrary and capricious actions, which could be personally costly to ICANN board members, could meet with a sympathetic ear from U.S. courts. Is that really a step forward, or a step backward, for the ICANN community?

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