New gTLDs: How Did We Get Here?

To date, ICANN has now received more than 175 comments on the Draft Applicant Guidebook for the introduction of new gTLDs. Large multi-national corporations, trade organizations, law firms, and governmental and regulatory agencies were among those responding, with many of the businesses and intellectual property owners voicing harsh criticism.

The bigger question is how DID we get to this point?

After years of thought and discussion, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Óone of the groups responsible for coordinating global Internet policy at ICANN Ócompleted its policy development work on new gTLDs and approved a set of recommendations. In June of 2008, the ICANN Board of Directors adopted this policy.

So now the question becomes, who comprises the ICANN Board of Directors and how were they appointed?

Two of the ICANN Board seats were appointed by the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization) which is designed to serve interests of Businesses, Registries, ISPs, Non-Commercial Interests, Registrars, and Intellectual Property Owners.

Two of the ICANN Board seats were appointed by the CCNSO (Country Code Names Supporting Organization). The purpose of the CCNSO is to engage and provide leadership in activities relevant to country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

Two of the ICANN Board seats were appointed by the ASO (Address Supporting Names Organization). The ASO advises the ICANN Board of Directors on policy issues relating to the allocation and management of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses

Eight of the ICANN Board seats were appointed by a nominating committee. This nominating committee is comprised of the following:

  • Five voting delegates selected by the At-Large Advisory Committee
  • Two voting delegates, one representing small business users and one representing large business users, selected by the Business Users Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the gTLD Registry Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the gTLD Registrars Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the Council of the CCNSO
  • One voting delegate from the Internet Service Providers Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the Intellectual Property Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the Council of the ASO
  • One voting delegate from an entity designated by the Board to represent academic and similar organizations
  • One voting delegate from a consumer and civil society groups, selected by the Non-commercial Users Constituency of the GNSO
  • One voting delegate from the Internet Engineering Task Force
  • One voting delegate from the ICANN Technical Liaison Group

Additionally, six seats (1 per committee) were appointed by the following:

  • Technical Liaison Group
  • Internet Engineering Task Force
  • Root Server System Advisory Committee
  • Security and Stability Advisory Committee
  • Governmental Advisory Committee
  • At-Large

Finally, one seat is allocated for the President / CEO.

Based on the division of voting rights, It would appear that the rights of Businesses and Intellectual Property Owners, which are supposed to be represented by the GNSO (which is also designed to serve ISPs, Registries, and Registrars) are somewhat marginalized.

That said, the ICANN Board has recently approved a comprehensive plan for organizational reviews of ICANN’s structures, as well as of the Board.

The following reviews are currently underway:

In the future, hopefully the rights of Businesses and Intellectual Property Owners will be better represented on the ICANN Board so that policies like the Introduction of New gTLDs can be reviewed more critically.