ICA Legal Counsel Says New Agreement Between ICANN and the U.S. Government Could Speed Up IDNs But Delay New gTLDs
Internet Commerce Associated Legal Counsel Phil Corwin has posted a letter on the ICA website detailing how he thinks yesterday's new Agreement of Commitments (AOC) between ICANN and the U.S. Government will affect several key issues of interest to the domain industry.
One of Corwin's section headers said "New gTLDs Will Take a Back Seat to IDNs." On that topic he wrote, "The AOC conspicuously endorses the introduction of non-Latin character International Domain Names (IDNs) at country code TLDs (text in Italics is taken directly from the AOC): DOC…endorses the rapid introduction of internationalized country code top level domain names (ccTLDs), provided related security, stability and resiliency issues are first addressed.
Simultaneously, it gives tepid non-endorsement to new gTLDs, first stating: Nothing in this document is an expression of support by DOC of any specific plan or proposal for the implementation of new generic top level domain names (gTLDs) or is an expression by DOC of a view that the potential consumer benefits of new gTLDs outweigh the potential costs. And it later adds this requirement: ICANN will ensure that as it contemplates expanding the top-level domain space, the various issues that are involved (including competition, consumer protection, security, stability and resiliency, malicious abuse issues, sovereignty concerns, and rights protection) will be Adequately addressed prior to implementation...
Corwin went on to say "The very use of the word “contemplates” (and every word is carefully negotiated in a document such as this) indicates a stage of the new gTLD process far earlier than an imminent opening of the application window in the first quarter of 2010, as “contemplates” is generally synonymous with “thinks about”. And the additional verbiage indicates a belief that the introduction of new gTLDs is not a foregone conclusion and that the Draft Applicant Guidebook has not yet adequately addressed these matters of concern."
Corwin added, "Given the recent GAC (ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee) call for many additional studies prior to the introduction of new gTLDs, and its resistance to allowing for unlimited applications (see http://www.internetcommerce.org/GAC_to_ICANN_gTLDs
), it hardly seems likely that the newly empowered GAC will give a green light to near-term opening of the new gTLD application window."
The prioritization of ccTLD IDNs was buttressed by ICANN’s simultaneous September 30th announcement (http://www.icann.org/en/announcement...ep09-en.htm)of
a proposed Final Implementation Plan for the ccTLD IDN Fast Track Process, to be voted upon by the ICANN Board at its Seoul meeting in late October -- and with a proposed launch date of November 16, 2009. This imminent opening up of ccTLD IDNs will probably incent existing gTLD registries to bring pressure for permitting gTLD IDNs to proceed as well, rather than continuing to hold them hostage to the introduction of new gTLDs
; a severance of that linkage could leave new gTLDs stranded on their own. Finally, given the recent GAC call for many additional studies prior to the introduction of new gTLDs, and its resistance to allowing for unlimited applications (see http://www.internetcommerce.org/GAC_to_ICANN_gTLDs
), it hardly seems likely that the newly empowered GAC will give a green light to near-term opening of the new gTLD application window.