July 2, 2008

ICANN’s New gTLD Process: Hype and Reality

Filed under: ICANN, Internet, code, markets — wseltzer @ 3:29 pm

Domainopoly At its 32d International Junket Meeting last week, ICANN’s Board approved the GNSO Council’s recommendations for the eventual addition to the root of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This means that eventually, when the staff drafts, community comments upon, and Board approves implementation processes, those with deep pockets will have the opportunity to bid for new TLD strings.

In the meantime, though, the hype-machine was in full swing, with ICANN calling the move the “Biggest Expansion to Internet in Forty Years” in a newsletter mailing, since corrected. The BBC picked it up as “internet overhaul“; while CNN sent a crawler scrolling. New gTLDs may have value to Internet users, who will get a larger field in which to find memorable stable identifiers, but they’re hardly an “expansion” on the level of broadband rollout or protocol interoperability. Luckily, ICANN doesn’t have much to do with those actual innovations, so it can’t get in their way.

Before we get new generic TLDs, one of the initial purposes behind ICANN’s creation ten years ago, we still have to wait for ICANN’s staff to iron out the application process, including processes for resolving contention between multiple applications for the same string, and objections based on “legal rights of others,” the illusory “generally accepted legal norms relating to morality and public order that are recognized under international principles of law,” or “substantial opposition to it from a significant portion of the community to which the string may be explicitly or implicitly targeted.” (The At-Large Advisory Committee, from which I am non-voting liaison to the ICANN Board, had these comments. I speak only for myself in this blog.)

Then too, we have yet to see the application fees that will be levied upon applicants who wish to run this gauntlet. Even ICANN’s FAQ suggests we won’t be seeing the roll-out until mid 2009. So those of you holding your breath for .blog or .sex might want to relax and check back in a few months.

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