GAC session on new gTLD policies

10 Jul 2017 02:00h

Event report

The session facilitator, Mr Thomas Schneider (GAC Chair), invited Mr Tom Dale (GAC Secretariat member) to kick-start the discussions. Dale highlighted a number of issues discussed in the New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group (WG), that are of relevance to the GAC.

These include the questions of whether accepting new gTLD applications should be done in the framework of a new round, or whether they should be accepted on an on-going basis, and whether gTLD applications should be dealt with in different categories (something he said the GAC had previously considered in its Nairobi communiqué). He added that the predictability framework and community engagement in the PDP process, safeguards and the term ‘global public interest’, community-based applications, underserved regions, and geographic names were other issues of concern to the GAC. Dale noted that these issues are dealt with in track 4 of the PDP WG, and that the engagement of GAC members in these WG processes varies. In terms of modalities for a more effective GAC engagement in the PDP process, suggestions included reviewing the current GAC topic leads approach, to make sure that emerging issues are tackled, and finding a way for GAC members to engage with the PDP WG in face-to-face meetings, which usually clash with GAC sessions.

Schneider then invited the GAC member country representatives to comment.

Iran thanked Dale or the briefing, saying that it was useful for those that had no time to attend or read about the four tracks of discussions in the PDP WG.
There are several important issues for the GAC to review, such as the option of having rounds of new gTLD applications versus the first come first served approach for allocating new gTLDs. Iran noted that it would be useful for the GAC to develop a view on the advantages and disadvantages of a first come first served approach. It is up to the GAC members to decide how the GAC could most effectively participate in the PDP WG, but such participation should be encouraged.

The UK noted that there is a challenge for GAC members to engage in the large amount of work carried out in the PDP WG framework. The representative sought to know whether there was a forward looking timetable outlining specific issues cropping up in the PDP WG’s work.

Such a mapping of issues discussed in the PDP WG and a related timetable, would help identify who in the GAC would be the most capable of engaging in that respective track of work and reporting back to the GAC. This could contribute to enhancing the GAC’s involvement in the PDP WG’s work.

In his response to the UK’s question, Mr Jeff Neuman (GNSO Council Vice Chair) affirmed that there was a calendar that the PDP WG maintained.
He said that this calendar helped the community map topics under discussion, and at what time they were being discussed. Neuman said that it would be useful if the WG were to share this calendar with the GAC community.

Neuman also touched on the issue of Community-Based Applications (CBAs), and said that there have been discussions on the topic in the WG, and that one area where the GAC could provide useful input is in relation to the value of having CBAs. He noted that it would be important to remind everyone why there was value initially placed on CBAs and on making sure that communities have an opportunity to have a TLD that is right for them. He suggested that the GAC could compile all its previous input on the value of CBAs in a document that could then be shared with the WG.

The UK followed up on the CBAs discussion, saying that he could work on a paper outlining the criticalities of the issue and the conceptual rationale, as well as previous GAC positions.

Switzerland expressed its view on the issue of how the GAC could organise itself better to be able to more effectively participate in the WG saying that it would make sense to try to build something on the current approach of having GAC topic leads. This, however, would require co-ordination from the GAC leadership to keep the idea going .Switzerland noted that it would be useful if the WG members or staff were to engage pro-actively with the GAC. For example, GAC members have contributed to community comments processes, but cannot constantly follow what has happened with those comments. So it would be useful to have feedback from the PDP WG on the input submitted by GAC members.  Also, when the WG discusses questions affecting the GAC, it would be useful to have short and clear communications from the WG asking for GAC feedback on specific questions. This would allow GAC members to prepare compilations with feedback on those questions, or even consensus positions.

South Africa echoed Switzerland’s sentiments regarding the challenges faced by GAC representatives. It also pointed out that in some countries, there are communities which are well aware of Internet related issues, but that this is not always the case when it comes to developing countries, especially in the global south. The representative raised the question of whether the WG is considering a broad based outreach strategy that would ensure there was no biasness towards a particular region when it comes to providing input into the PDP.

Indonesia urged that not only global public interests, but also country interests, be taken into consideration by the community in the PDP. For example, global interests and country interests should both be taken into account when addressing issues such as the use of two-letter country codes and geographic names in the domain name system.

On the issue of geographic names, Switzerland noted that it would be useful to look at the 2012 new gTLD Applicant Guidebook provisions and evaluate what has worked, what has not, and where there is room for improvement. Only after knowing the implementation details will the community be able to enter into a discussion on what the solutions for resolving the remaining issues could be.

The Netherlands said that they believe that providing an updated GAC position on geographic names (having the previously adopted GAC principles updated with advice governments have provided over the past few years) – that the GNSO could relate to when making proposals – could help reduce some of the conflicts in the PDP.