ICANN new gTLD program: Exploring impact and future direction

7 Dec 2016 11:15h - 12:45h

Event report

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This Workshop session explored the current discussions and analysis to date on the impact of the expansion of the Internet’s namespace through ICANN’s New gTLD Program.

The session was moderated by Mr Cherine Chalaby, ICANN Board member and chair of the gTLD program committee.

Mr Akram Atallah, ICANN staff, started the discussion by giving an overview of the status and progress on the consumer trust and choice review current taking place in preparation for the next round of ICANN’s gTLD programme through a brief presentation. He mentioned that following the call for public comments , the team is finalising a report to be submitted to the board for approval for the next round. From his estimation, he does not see the reviews as well as the policy development processes (PDP) being completed before the 2017-2018 time-window.

Mr Jonathan Zuck, President of ACT: The App Association and ICANN Working Group Chair, delved more into the analysis of the data through a presentation. He mentioned that they focused on studying to find whether there was an increase in competition, and whether there was enhanced consumer trust and choice. He also highlighted areas like competition and its drivers for the new gTLDs as well as the impact of intellectual property rights in analysing the data. According to him, they aim to present an interim report by 23 December, 2016, but called on all to feel free to look at the data for the analysis, and challenge them or provide new inputs.

Mr Olivier M.J. Crépin-Leblond, ICANN Europe At-Large Association, mentioned that the At-Large community within ICANN represents the ordinary user of the Internet and they therefore speak on the user’s behalf. On the introduction of the new gTLDs, some end users are happy and others are not because of the varied nature of the user community from all over the world. In his view there is a potential for end user confusion and malicious use of the domain names for Spam, Phishing, etc.  He however also acknowledged the positive sides that the new gTLDs will give more choice for registering domain names without falling into the hands of extortionists who squat on specific domains. He mentioned that the At-Large community looks forward to the result of the review and would continue to be active in providing any useful input to ensure that the new gTLDs benefits the end users.

Ms Megan Richards, from the European Commission, ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) member and member of the CCT review team, mentioned that the review process must be robust, guided by policies enshrined as part of ICANN’s by-laws.  According to her, one aspect that is important in particular for GAC was the effectiveness of the application and the evaluation procedure. She admitted that the information gathered so far does not point to a robust review and that is something to look further into.

Ms Olga Cavalli, Chair of the GAC Working Group at ICANN, explained that the value GAC brings to the PDP is to ensure that uncertainties are lowered for applicants of gTLDs. She mentioned that their work will lower conflicts by preventing the use of names relevant to specific communities, regions and countries during the next round of new gTLDs. According to Cavalli, the GAC has been able to come up with a guideline for their own review by soliciting views through a call for public comment, and this would enhance their work.

Mr Nigel Hickson, VP IGO Engagement, ICANN, summarised the session after the question and answers. He encouraged everybody to get involved in the review process for the new gTLDs rounds by dedicating some amount of time to make inputs into the process.

by Jacob Odame, Internet Society Ghana