Applicant Guidebook update

by Kieren McCarthy on January 12, 2009

The following response to the Applicant Guidebook is also posted on the front page of the ICANN website.

The first public comment period on the Draft Applicant Guidebook for new gTLDs has closed. The period opened on 24 October 2008, and was 76 days long after it closed 7 January to account for later publication of the Guidebook in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. ICANN continued to receive and accept English comments received until the January 7 deadline considering the end of year holidays.

The comment period received over 300 comments from participants from 24 different countries. Among the many participants were individuals and organizations representing intellectual property interests, brand owners, business owners, ICANN supporting organizations, domain name industry players, and governments.

“This level of interest and feedback to the Draft Guidebook shows that the comment process is working. All the comments and concerns will be considered and a response will be provided,” said Paul Levins, Executive Officer and Vice President Corporate Affairs.

Some of the key concerns raised by the community that are immediately obvious are:

* Brand protection issues and the impact on brands and trademark owners
* Financial considerations, including evaluation fees, ongoing registry fees, and refund procedures
* Various issues surrounding the proposed registry agreement, particularly, price controls, registry/registrar separation, the management of future agreement amendments, equitable treatment, and others
* General comments and concerns related to expanding the top level and its impact on the global marketplace, specific industries and Domain Name System stability.

“There is no doubt that we need to address these and other legitimate concerns before proceeding to open the application process” said Mr Levins.

Respondents had the option to comment on the Guidebook as a whole or on one of its six modules. Just over half (55 percent), chose to comment on the Guidebook; the rest commented on specific modules or topics. The fifth module, covering the base agreement between new registries and ICANN, received the most comments (around 30 percent).

The responses are now being summarized and evaluated. A comprehensive analysis of the comments will be released in early February.

“We will also be holding conferences in different global locations to further explain the Guidebook, the changes envisaged and to have further dialogue. Alongside the feedback received from these and other outreach events, the summary and analysis will inform ICANN staff through the next program development phase, which will mean amending the current guidebook” Mr Levins said.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those that contributed their responses to the first public comment period. ICANN looks forward to continuing a productive dialogue on this that will result in amendments to the application process” Levins said.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

M. Menius 01.19.09 at 8:08 pm

Kieren – “This level of interest and feedback to the Draft Guidebook shows that the comment process is working”

The importance of the comment process must be upheld, because without it, ICANN’s decisions would be sometimes skewed in the wrong direction. As a domain name investor and developer, my greatest fear is that ICANN will act unilaterally in such a way that my investment and years of labor will be diminished through a single bad decision.

I appreciate that ICANN have a multitude of interests to consider and that many of their decisions have levels of complexity that are not easy to untangle.

As long as ICANN are responsive to logical arguments and remain receptive to constructive criticism, then I believe they will be effective at managing the DNS and will receive substantial support from the internet community.

In reading the posts and requests of various registries (in the Applicant Guidebook), I am convinced and certain that some registries would eagerly advance their own status and gains at the collective expense of individual domain registrants. ICANN are the exclusive body entrusted to keep these potential abuses from seeing the light of day. Such as gTLD registries aiming to have price caps removed from their existing registry agreements.

Respectfully, the internet community often defer to ICANN’s best judgement and integrity in sorting through matters of extreme importance. However, the multiple gTLD proposal, as was designed, raised serious questions about ICANN’s reasoning. When the general community can raise such clear and legitimate concerns about this proposal, it leaves one wondering why ICANN cannot identify these potential problems on their own.

It is these types of glaring omissions that denigrate ICANN’s support and reputation. For me personally, I begin to question underlying financial motives and backdoor ICANN allegiances that would contradict ICANN’s onus of objectivity and fair representation of all constituents and internet stakeholders.

In other words, please take the time to consider the negative implications of far reaching decisions & proposals. In the absence of this ability, then keep public commentary as an essential element in the ICANN process.

Thanks.

Kieren McCarthy 01.20.09 at 5:54 pm

Thanks for this M. Menius.

You are right when you say that ICANN has a multitude of interests to consider and you are also right when you point to the best solution for ensuring that ICANN’s decisions do not stray off in any particular favoured direction as being “responsive to logical arguments and receptive to constructive criticism”.

I hope that the staff are able to demonstrate effectively that that is what we try to achieve day-in and day-out. In the case of the Applicant Guidebook, I can assure you that all the feedback is taken seriously and that it is being used as the basis for changes to the guidebook and for the next round of discussion and review by the community itself.

A great deal of consideration is being given to the feedback provided so far – including the “the negative implications of far reaching decisions & proposals” as you put it. Not to mention the huge amount of collective thought has gone into getting where we are now, having been through two extensions of the domain name system previously.

There is a lot work being done as we speak on making sure this process goes forward with the full confidence of the community and you will be in a position to judge whether that is up-to-par in the documents, explanatory memoranda and public meetings that are soon to follow.

Most importantly though if you want to help ensure that the balance of influence is maintained throughout ICANN’s processes, you need to get personally involved. If you send in a comment, it is read and considered and balanced against other views and approaches. If you don’t send in a comment, it is not there to be a part of the balance.

A second public comment period will open on the materials provided to the community prior to the Mexico City meeting on 1-6 March. And there will be a large discussion through Mexico City about the Applicant Guidebook (as well as other subjects). I encourage to come if you can, or if not to follow events and interact and participate online on at http://mex.icann.org/.

If you have any questions or queries about participating, just ask, anytime.

Thanks again for your comment.

Kieren

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