Friday, February 20, 2009 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

ICANN's Revised gTLD Proposal Still Comes Up Short

ICANN has just released a second draft of its Applicant Guidebook, which would guide the creation of new generic topmore generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .BLOG, .NYC or .BMW. As ICANN itself declared (PDF), "New gTLDs will bring about the biggest change in the Internet since its inception nearly 40 years ago." PFF Adjunct Fellow Michael Palage and former ICANN Board member addressed the key problems with ICANN's original proposal in his paper ICANN's "Go/ No-Go" Decision Concerning New gTLDs (PDF & embedded below), released earlier this week.

ICANN deserves credit for its detailed analysis of the many comments on the original draft which Mike summarized back in December. ICANN also deserved credit for addressing two strong concerns of the global Internet community in response to the first draft:

These concerns are part of a broader debate: Will ICANN abide by its mandate to justify its fees based on recovering the costs of services associated with those fees, or will ICANN be free to continue "leveraging its monopoly over an essential facility of the Internet (i.e., recommending additions to the Internet's Root A Server) to charge whatever fees it wants?" If, as Mike has discussed, ICANN walks away from its existing contractual relationship with the Department of Commerce and claims "fee simple absolute" ownership of the domain name system, who will enforce such a cost-recovery mandate?

But ICANN simply "kicked the can down the road on the biggest concern": how to minimize abusive domain name registrations (e.g., cybersquatting, typosquatting, phishing, etc.) and reduce their impact on consumers.

ICANN seems only to have made a vague promise to engage in additional outreach and consultation on this problem. But Mike has proposed a number of potential solutions that are narrowly tailored to protect brand holders while respecting the fair use rights of other, including: 

 Washington Internet Daily (subscription-only) reports that:
ICANN is also rethinking its timeline for launching the gTLD application process, it said. There will be a third draft guidebook, making it unlikely applications will be accepted before December, it said. The new draft leaves provisions on four major issues - security and stability, malicious misconduct, trademark protection and demand/economic analysis of the need for new gTLDs - unchanged pending further discussion, ICANN said. Comments are due April 13.

PFF wil continue to respond to ICANN's call for comment to promote responsible expansion of the domain name space. Here's Mike's paper (click on the rectangle-in-rectangle button at the top right to maximize the iPaper viewer):

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posted by Berin Szoka @ 11:45 AM | IP , Internet Governance