Posts Tagged ‘GAC’

First insights from the GAC Early Warnings on new Top-Level Domains

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Today, the national governments that constitute ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for the first time publicly voiced their concerns over specific new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applications in the form of Early Warnings.

More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings.

By far the most prolific government to issue GAC Early Warnings was the Australian government with 129. This was followed by Germany with 20 and France 19.

As expected, a large number of the 240 Early Warnings related to closed generic string TLD applications (100 Early Warnings). It appears a number of governments are concerned about brands or entrepreneurs owning a specific generic word and closing the door on public registrations in these namespaces.

Early Warnings were also issued for strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors.

The continent with the most Early Warnings was Asia Pacific (154), followed by Europe (51) and Africa (30). This is in stark contrast to the distribution of new TLD applications across the globe which saw more than 80% of applicants come from North America and Europe.

Other interesting insights include:

• Amazon (an applicant for 76 new TLDs) has received 27 GAC Early Warnings
• Google (an applicant for 98 new TLDs) has received only 5 GAC Early Warnings
• 19 IDN new TLD applications received a GAC Early Warning
• DotConnectAfrica’s application for .africa received 17 Early Warnings. UniForum SA’s application for .africa received no Early Warnings.
• Despite being very vocal regarding their objections to certain strings, Saudi Arabia cannot participate in the Early Warning process as they are not a member of the GAC.

Below is an image which provides an overview of the distribution of GAC Early Warnings.

A GAC Early Warning is a mechanism by which the national government representatives who comprise the GAC can signal their potential concerns with specific new TLD applications that are controversial or sensitive. Receipt of a GAC Early Warning allows an applicant to be eligible to receive an 80% refund of their application fee.

Many Early Warnings offer remediation steps to be taken by the applicant which may appease any concerns the governments have. However, applicants are not obliged to take any action.

GAC Early Warnings are a pathway to formal GAC Advice to the ICANN Board in April 2013 following ICANN Beijing. GAC Advice requires consensus of the GAC and may indicate that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN. The biggest question moving forward will be how exactly consensus will be reached.  Watch this space!

While many applicants were nervously anticipating the announcement of today’s Early Warnings, the majority of applicants will be pleased with the results. Next hurdle: GAC Advice in April 2013.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services

NOTE: Every effort has been made to accurately report the statistics in this blog. However, some statistics may need to be updated with further analysis

The Internet community says thank you to ICANN for new TLDs

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

By Krista Papac

After more than six years of consultation and negotiation regarding the New Top-Level Domain Program, the ICANN Board this week approved the program to the pleasure of many within the Internet community.

For this, we say thank you to ICANN on a job well done!

The New Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program has been controversial at times and has fuelled many passionate debates within the Internet community. However, it is important to remember that the implementation of new TLDs is written into ICANN’s founding mandate. It is also important to appreciate the level of research, planning, consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into getting to this point.

The ICANN community needs to understand that a change as big as new TLDs requires some degree of ‘a leap of faith’. Nothing can ever be 100 per cent guaranteed and I can’t promise you that the new Top-Level Domain program is perfect. But what we can be comforted by is the fact that the years of consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into this process means the leap is more a small step – a carefully calculated step.

What I can guarantee is that ICANN will continue to work extremely hard to listen to any concerns and take all appropriate feedback from now until the launch of the program, and after. This is based on the phenomenal amount of work ICANN has put into getting to this point.

A learning of this entire process has been the fundamental necessity of ‘not pleasing all of the people, all of the time’. The multi-stakeholder model, by definition, is just that. The only possible result with multiple stakeholders, who have a multitude of viewpoints and concerns, is ‘not pleasing all of the people, all of the time’. The focus must be on achieving a quality result with the understanding that you can never make everyone happy.

What cannot be denied is the extraordinary level of work the ICANN Community, Board, staff and the GAC has put into trying to achieve the best possible outcome. All these stakeholders have done a tremendous job and deserve due recognition.

Thank you ICANN

ICANN successfully tiptoes through political minefield with new TLD Applicant Guidebook

Friday, May 13th, 2011

By Krista Papac

ICANN released its sixth version of the draft Applicant Guidebook for the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program in April following three years of debate surrounding the rules and procedures that will outline how potential applicants will apply to own their own piece of Internet real estate.

 

Overall, the response has been positive.

 

ICANN has achieved what many in the Internet community doubted was possible – achieving a delicate balance amongst a diverse set of stakeholders while still progressing towards the rollout of the new Top-Level Domain program according to its proposed timeline released in March. This is no mean feat – ICANN has literally tiptoed through a political minefield in developing a set of rules and policies which address everyone’s concerns in a secure, pragmatic, and mostly workable fashion. 

 

By now you would have had a chance to skim over the surface of the new Applicant Guidebook and supplementary documentation. However, buried deep within the 422 pages of text and amongst the myriad of redlines, there are some important decisions that affect those tied to the new TLD program.

 

Below I outline my opinion and commentary on the major changes made and what they mean for those involved in the new TLD program.

 

What do these important changes actually mean?

 

ICANN have clearly listened to the various stakeholders, are diligently checking off open items and have thoughtfully addressed remaining issues. As such, the recent concerns of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) feature heavily.

 

ICANN has addressed the majority of the GAC concerns being discussed over the past few months. The top GAC issues addressed include:

 

·         String Evaluation – GAC Early Warning

·         Government Objections Process and GAC Fees

·         Root Zone Scaling

·         Rights Protection – Trademark Clearinghouse

·         Rights Protection – Uniform Rapid Suspension

·         Consumer Protections

·         Community based string issues

·         Market and economic impact requests

·         Post Delegation Disputes

·         Further Requirements for Geographic Names

·         Law Enforcement Recommendations

 

This is the result of a lot of hard work by ICANN, the GAC and the Community and goes a long way to helping ICANN achieve its June deadline for approving the Applicant Guidebook.

 

While the GAC got a lot of love, there is a little something for just about everyone in version six. For example:

 

·         At Large Advisory Committee – The latest draft says ICANN will allocate funds to the ALAC to pay for some Objection Fees

·         Intellectual Property Rights Holders – Rights Holders now get both a Sunrise & Trademark Claims Service and a “loser pays” mechanism has been included in the Uniform Rapid Suspension process

·         Registries – Existing gTLD Registries suggested edits to the Registry Agreement, most of which are included in version 6

·         Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group – The Independent Objector must now have at least one public comment in order to lodge an Objection

 

What are the outstanding issues?

 

While the end, or the beginning, appears to be in sight – there are still a few remaining items. In my eyes, these items can be addressed in time for ICANN to meet its 30 May, 2011 Final Guidebook and 20 June, 2011 Board Consideration deadlines.

 

·         Rights Protection Mechanisms

o   ICANN and the GAC still disagree on:

§  the ‘standard of proof,’

§  the ‘bad faith’ requirement,

§  including trademarks beyond ‘exact match’,

§  and the ‘use requirement’ during Sunrise and for the URS and PDDRP

·         Registry/Registrar Separation

o   The GAC are still not satisfied with ICANN’s decision on vertical integration nor with their documented rationale

·         Support for Needy Applicants

o   ICANN is awaiting guidance from the Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group who submitted their report directly to the Board over this past weekend. It’s not clear why the GNSO was circumvented from the process, or how that will be addressed by the Board. While the ICANN Community all seem to agree there needs to be a mechanism for providing support to needy applicants, a workable solution needs to be found. I’ve not read the full report yet, but am hopeful.

·         And finally – the all important Communications Timeline

o   ICANN have committed to a four-month global communications plan, however we are all anxiously waiting to hear when that will begin.

 

What it all boils down to

 

The mere fact that (from my own observations) this version of the Applicant Guidebook has had virtually no public outcry in the blogs like previous versions have is surely an indicator of progress. This, combined with the fact that ICANN has largely addressed the outstanding issues and has committed to a timeline for approving the Applicant Guidebook in June, provides more evidence that new TLDs are coming and they are coming fast!

 

Based on the positive outcomes seen in version six, I have confidence that ICANN can resolve the remaining outstanding issues and finalize the Applicant Guidebook for public comment on 30 May.

 

The overall message to take away is: The extraordinary level of consultation and negotiation that has gone into producing the current version of the Applicant Guidebook is evidence that the model works, that ICANN is successfully making its way towards approving the Applicant Guidebook in June, and that we will be kicking off the new TLD program later this year.

 

At some point in time the ICANN community needs to understand that we have to take a leap of faith. That is how innovation happens. In doing so we can be comforted that with the years of consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into this process, the leap is more a small step – a carefully calculated step.

 

Who is wagging who? Same dog, new tale.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Today, my company AusRegistry International signed an open letter to the United States House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet as a show of support for ICANN and its new Top-Level Domain program. I’m disappointed by the nature of the oversight hearing the Subcommittee has called and I believe it will only be a distraction.

Let’s not kid ourselves; the reason for this hearing is to beat up ICANN over the new TLD program. I think this is unfair and unjustified.

ICANN’s new TLD program has undergone extraordinarily thorough and inclusive discussions going back to ICANN’s incarnation in 1998, and in earnest since 2005. It is without question that rights holders be afforded reasonable protections. However, it must be fairly pointed out that since initiation of this discussion nearly six years ago, ICANN staff and participants (including rights holders, trademark representatives, and delegates of the US government), at significant expense, have accommodated the needs and demands of the IP community to prevent intellectual property theft or needless cost to IP owners.

This is why I’m at a loss for why this hearing has been called at such a late stage in the process, when we are so close to approving the program.

It frightens me that ICANN must jump when the US government calls a hearing on new TLDs. There is something fundamentally wrong with this situation; the global organisation dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable should not feel such an imbalanced sense of accountability to one government – the US government.

ICANN’s acclaimed multi-stakeholder model means it’s accountable to numerous stakeholders, which include Internet users, Regional Internet Registries, Country Code Registries, several committees and councils, and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to name a few.  It’s important to remember that the US government forms just one part of the GAC, which is one stakeholder in the vast ecosystem that comprises ICANN.

It makes me think, if any other Government was to call a meeting would the ICANN Community feel as intimidated to participate. What gives them such sway and power and how does the rest of the GAC membership feel about this?

Furthermore, in the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), ICANN committed to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability and transparency so as to ensure that the outcomes of its decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to all stakeholders. The AOC and the completion of the original agreement signalled a globalisation of the Internet and its governance. Yet, we still find ourselves at the mercy of the US government as demonstrated by  this House Subcommittee oversight hearing.

What is more intriguing is why the US Government is seemingly opposed to the implementation of the new TLD program and its associated benefits. It’s contradictory for the US Government to be speaking about the importance of stimulating the economy and job creation on one hand, and then to be also involved in stifling the new TLD program, which has the potential to drive innovation, create jobs, and boost the digital economy.

At ICANN’s recent meeting in San Francisco, former US President Bill Clinton said the technology sector should play a pivotal role in driving economic recovery. He recognised the importance of online innovation for a strong and sustainable economic climate and said information technology was a key driver of the American economy during his eight years in office. He said IT jobs represented 30 percent of the United States’ job growth and 35 percent of its income growth. It is my belief that new Top-Level Domain names are the most compelling opportunity for innovation the Internet has seen since its creation.

ICANN is in the final stages of executing a well developed plan that will see new TLDs and all the benefits associated with them approved later this year. To ICANN’s credit, they have worn the body blows from various sectors of the Community throughout this long, careful and calculated process. They have battled on working towards a solution that provides for the benefit of ALL stakeholders – an incredibly hard task. I understand that the US Government may have questions – however, ultimately they are one voice and not the only voice providing input into the process. The ICANN Community, including the GAC need to remember that.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO, AusRegistry International

New TLDs are coming, and they are coming fast

Friday, February 11th, 2011

By Krista Papac

Despite what you may have read about possible delays to the rollout of the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program, all the available evidence points to ICANN approving the applicant guidebook shortly after its San Francisco conference in March.

My feelings about the timing of the new TLD program were further buoyed by Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s Senior Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, who gave a presentation at the .nxt conference I attended in San Francisco this week. Mr Pritz said the applicant guidebook is currently in a “proposed final” version and should be approved after ICANN’s San Francisco conference in March.

However, there are still some significant hurdles to overcome.

A recent comment by ICANN Board Chair, Peter Dengate-Thrush, indicated ICANN may not be able to approve the applicant guidebook in March, and reports about the GAC’s veto power-play, have created more uncertainty in the final timelines associated with the approval of the applicant guidebook.

The GAC has made a number of recommendations to ICANN about the implementation of the new TLD program and there are currently12 remaining points of contention to be discussed later this month at a special inter-sessional meeting of the GAC and the ICANN Board. In addition, the US Government wants the GAC to have a level of control over what TLDs can be applied for. If the US Government had its way, all new TLD applications would require GAC approval.

However, under its constitutional bylaws, ICANN must hear and consider GAC advice but it does not have to accept the GAC’s recommendations, no matter how strongly they are worded.

My interpretation is that ICANN are finally doing what they need to do, both politically and operationally, to properly execute the new TLD program. By invoking the bylaws, ICANN is demonstrating its determination to see the new TLD program implemented without any further delays, while also appreciating the importance of solid consultation with the GAC and ICANN community.

The January board resolutions show ICANN will be working closely with the GAC in an attempt to quickly resolve any outstanding disagreements. Following the inter-sessional meeting, ICANN will hold a consultation meeting with the GAC on 17 March and I expect them to announce a final decision shortly after.

This means ICANN’s San Francisco conference (13 – 18 March) is looming as a very important milestone on the path towards the realisation of the new TLD program. Although the applicant guidebook will most likely not be signed off in San Francisco, it should be the last time ICANN meets without it being finalised.

In all of my experience within the domain industry, I strongly believe we will see the guidebook signed off very soon. In fact, my response when asked over the past two years about when I thought new TLDs would be approved has always been, “I don’t know”, or “your guess is as good as mine”.

Now, I’m more inclined to say “soon, very soon” with a lot of confidence and certainty. In fact, I’m going to make my first ever TLD prediction – I believe the new TLD application window will open in August 2011. So don’t be discouraged. Be excited. New TLDs are coming and they are coming fast!

Krista Papac is based in California at AusRegistry International’s US office. She provides advice on all domain name industry policy matters as AusRegistry International’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Is the New gTLD Program Approval Even a Chance for This Year?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

As I noted in my recent comments, the recent resolutions from the Special Meeting of the ICANN Board held in Norway in late September left a few important new gTLD issues up in the air and created a little uncertainty in the marketplace.

In particular, the decision not to provide direct comment on the Board’s thoughts regarding the highly controversial topic of Vertical Integration, and the apparent need for the Board to appease the concerns of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), has been interpreted by many as a sign that the upcoming ICANN Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, is unlikely to result in an acceptance of the Applicant Guidebook this year.

And perhaps this is justified—given the continual delays in finalising this program, it is natural for many to assume that these less than inspiring Board resolutions may result in yet another major delay.

However, whilst sign-off on the program is still not guaranteed to occur in December, a recent interesting post on the GNSO mailing list from ICANN’s Senior Vice President of Services, Kurt Pritz, suggests that the Special Meeting of the Board on 28th October may have outputs that will be of interest for those involved in the new gTLD program.

In his post, Pritz writes that there is an agenda item for new gTLDs to be discussed at the special meeting and that, within a week of that event, work on the next version of the Guidebook will be complete. He also comments that:

‘Those two events will indicate both a Board and staff intent on whether to propose the Guidebook version as final’

Pritz, who has admirably been ICANN Staff’s public face of the new gTLD program under enormous public pressure and scrutiny, doesn’t make comments flippantly. So what does this mean?

In my view, a decision by the Board to accept the next Staff version of the Applicant Guidebook as the ‘final’ version holds enormous importance for those that eagerly await the new gTLD program.

As noted earlier in the thread by Pritz, a relevant example could be the process by which ICANN Staff provide their budgets as ‘Proposed Final Budgets’ to the community and Board for discussion. These budgets are then either;

a) approved by the Board as submitted;

b) adjusted slightly and approved based upon public or Board comment or, if necessary;

c) sent back to ICANN staff for additional work and subsequent resubmission.

The distinction between a ‘draft budget’ and a ‘proposed final budget’ in this example is significant and noteworthy.

By submitting a ‘proposed final budget’, ICANN staff make their thoughts clear about the direction and likely acceptance of their proposal and suggest that the expectation is that it will be signed off pending any major alterations. Submission of a draft version clearly refers to a situation where at least one more version will be required.

Similarly, a decision to release the next version of the Applicant Guidebook to the public as the ‘Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook’ (and notably it is not called the Draft Applicant Guidebook Version 5 in the minutes from the Norway Board meeting)—will rightly be seen by many as a huge step towards finally getting this program up and running.

ICANN’s new gTLD Program makes some progress (…sort of)

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

True to form, the outcomes of the ICANN Board’s new gTLD Retreat in Norway late last week haven’t exactly provided the community with huge amounts of confidence in the fact that the new gTLD program will be finalised this year. But when you read between the lines, we may be able to provide supporters of the program with a little hope…

Firstly, I am personally of the opinion that the Board genuinely wants this program to get moving and credit should be given to them in balancing such a complex range of viewpoints and interests. Clearly, dedicating their time during this retreat to this topic indicates a willingness to work through the challenges that have been presented thus far.

Furthermore, given that the focus of this latest meeting was almost solely on the remaining key new gTLD issues it is promising that although we didn’t receive the answers we had hoped for, we did receive some clarification and for the first time in some time – no new questions!

In the resolutions, the Board stated that progress had been made and additional papers as well as a modified applicant guidebook had been requested for public review. These documents are scheduled to be released prior to the 39th ICANN International public meeting in Cartagena this December.

Disappointingly, the major issue of Vertical Integration was presented to the board and little progress was made in this area. It is common knowledge across the industry that the Vertical Integration Working Group, despite their best efforts, is unlikely to provide a consensus position and for the Board to ask the GNSO for a letter stating this clearly seems to be more procedural rather than common sense. The Board noted in the minutes today, that if such a letter is not received then the Board will interpret this as a lack of consensus and make the final decision regarding VI itself. (I think there were a few people expecting that from this meeting!)

One may be critical of the Board’s decision to not provide financial support for applicants from less fortunate locations in their decision to stick with a one size fits all approach for gTLD application pricing. However, given the cost of actually running a gTLD Registry, I have long considered that providing discounted application pricing in most cases was not really the best path forward and support the Board’s decision to provide assistance around education and encouragement for eligible applicants rather than financial assistance.

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) has again weighed into the discussion at the last minute with last week’s letter (delivered aptly the day before the Board’s meeting) providing a few key considerations which have apparently worked into the Board’s thinking.

When looking at the logistics of root zone scaling (i.e. the number of new TLDs that can be added to the Root Zone in a year) the Board requested ICANN staff to create a model and a rationale to cover the maximum rate of applications that can be processed over the next few years (expected to be 1000 per year) along with a clear model for prioritising applications where the number of applications received by ICANN is above this limit. This goes a long way towards addressing the GACs position on prioritising certain types of applications in a ‘fast track’ type approach and also provides mechanisms to ensure that the program allows new TLDs into the root in a structured format.

Under some pressure from the GAC and also the IP lobby, the Board also provided direction and input into the issue of trademark protection. In particular, many will not be surprised to hear that the Board has requested clear description of the “substantive evaluation” as it relates to the Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) mechanism which was shortened from 21 to 14 days as a sign of consideration with trademark holders who have long fought for tighter protection mechanisms through this program.

Finally, Morality and Public Order (MOPO) and the issues surrounding this were also touched on by the Board. They will accept any recommendations which are not inconsistent with the current process and will continue to work on ironing out issues for recommendations that are inconsistent with the current process.

The next Board meeting has been set for the 28th October and we can hope that this sees the release of the Applicant Guide book with enough time for public comment and any potential changes prior to Cartagena in December.

I think it’s fair to say that progress is continually being made on this very difficult and arduous process and we are still on track to see applications for new gTLDs open in the first half of 2011.

City TLDs: First things first

Friday, February 12th, 2010

By Maggie Whitnall

More and more geographic locations or cities are seeing merit in new gTLDs – and it’s not just the leading cities of the world who are applying. So far, a combination of 34 continents (Africa -.africa), regions (Venetia – .vtn), countries (Scotland – .sco), territories (Yorkshire- .yks), provinces (Leon – .lli), states (Bavaria – .bayern) and cities (London – .london) have announced their intention to bid when ICANN opens its applications. And why wouldn’t they given their unique position of being able to apply for a stake in internet history and an opportunity to invest in the future of its people, its culture and the prospect of developing a true global presence  – and let’s not forget the potential to generate a significant revenue stream if they so desire.

Many applicants are putting up websites trying to create a sense of pride and community support.
However, recently we’ve noticed a trend emerging with regard to City TLDs where prospective applicants are spending time and money setting up businesses and marketing the City TLD to gather support, whilst neglecting to previously obtain the necessary approval from the relevant government authority. A giant oversight one would assume given this approval is a strict ICANN requirement.

Significant amounts of money are being spent to market these new City TLDs, so, boldly publicising your intentions in the hopes that other prospective applicants will be scared off or that governments have no alternative but to back your application is a brave move indeed.

ICANN have invested substantial effort into ensuring the comments of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) are reflected into the application process for new gTLDs and without the support or approval from the relevant government authority, the application will not pass through the evaluation procedures.

This week the Greenspun Corporation of Las Vegas, who own and operate the website vegas.com, found themselves dealing with this situation (article), having found out only two weeks ago that another entity, Dot Vegas Inc had been in discussions with the Las Vegas City Council for the past six months regarding support for the dotVegas TLD. To add insult to injury, the matter was voted on at its most recent council meeting and whilst the Greenspun Corporation protested that the council should have sought outside bids, Las Vegas City Council went ahead and voted in favour of Dot Vegas Inc, providing them with support for their bid to ICANN. (Something about an early bird and a worm comes to mind here).

Meanwhile, the heavily publicised City TLD applicant and long-time new TLD proponent, dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG, are still none the wiser as to whether the City of Berlin will support their bid. With another recent applicant, Unite Berlin, competing for the same Government approval, this must also be a worrying time for both companies who have already invested a substantial amount of time and money into their campaigns.

So, some timely words of advice for potential applicants from AusRegistry International who have spent the last year or so working with a variety of Governments around the world.

Draw up a strong business case for your City TLD then present it to the relevant government authorities ASAP. It’s important that Governments are given ample time to consider a proposal and allowed to follow their correct procedures and protocols. Whatever the case, time is the most important consideration, so don’t get caught up in the detail as much as taking direct and positive action with the stakeholders and getting that all important stamp of approval.

See the details of our geoTLD program here.