Full Steam Ahead For New gTLDS

ICANN has no intention to delay or limit its rollout of the programme to introduce new generic Top Level Domains, the ICANN Chair Steve Crocker told .NXT recently.ICANN is due to begin taking applications on 12 January for a three month period and has been under a sustained but belated attack from a consortium of marketers and advertisers, largely US-based, along with a number of US politicians, all echoing the same complaints mostly revolving around trademark and brand protection issues.According to the .NXT report, Crocker admitted ICANN’s board will hold a special meeting in the “first week of January and that the meeting’s focus will be the launch of the new gTLD programme the following week. But that meeting will not consider either a delay or a limited rollout, he stated.”Support to continue the plan to begin accepting TLD applications also came from regular ICANN critic Milton Mueller who wrote on the Internet Governance blog that “this long overdue implementation is the result of an open process that began in 2006. It would, in fact, be more realistic to say that the decision has been in the works 15 years; i.e., since early 1997. That is when demand for new top-level domain names, and the need for other policy decisions regarding the coordination of the domain name system, made it clear that a new institutional framework had to be created.”Mueller believes the “result has been far from perfect, but human institutions never are.” He continues “Over the past 15 years, every stakeholder with a serious interest in the issue of top level domains has had multiple opportunities to make their voice heard and to shape the policy. The resulting new gTLD policy reflects that diversity and complexity. From our point of view, it is too regulatory, too costly, and makes too many concessions to content regulators and trademark holders. But delay is only going to make it worse. Stopping now disrupts the compromises that came out of the process which enabled movement forward after a long period of stagnation and artificial scarcity.”Commenting on those who have belatedly come to the party demanding the new TLD programme be stopped or delayed, Mueller writes “Now there is a cynical, illegitimate last-second push by a few corporate interests in the United States to derail that process. The arguments put forward by these interests are not new; they are the same anti-new TLD arguments that have been made since 1997, and the concerns expressed are all addressed in one way or another by the policies ICANN has developed. What is new is that U.S. corporate trademark interests are openly admitting that their participation in the ICANN process has been in bad faith all along. Despite the multiple concessions and numerous re-dos that these interests managed to extract over the past 6 years, they are now demanding that everything grind to a halt because they didn’t get exactly what they demanded, as if no other interests and concerns mattered and no other stakeholders exist. What they wanted, in fact, was simply to freeze the status quo of 1996 into place forever, so that there would be no new competition, no new entrepreneurial opportunities, no linguistic diversification, nothing that would have the potential to cause them any problems.””That group’s demands must be rebuffed, unambiguously and finally. ICANN must start implementing the new TLD program on January 12 as scheduled. It must keep its promise to those who participated in its processes in good faith.”Mueller credits the US Commerce Department for not caving “in to the cynical corporate obstructionism.””If ICANN blinks, if it deviates from or delays its agreed and hard-fought policy in the slightest way, the coup d’etat succeeds. Everyone in the world then concludes that a few corporate interests in the United States hold veto power over the policies of the Internet’s domain name system. Imagine the centrifugal forces that are unleashed as a result. Imagine the impact in Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, and even the EU, when they are told in no uncertain terms that ICANN’s policy making is hostage to the whims of a few well-placed, narrowly focused U.S. business interests; that they can invest thousands of person-hours and resources to working in that framework only to see the rug pulled out from under them by a campaign by the ANA and an editorial by the New York Times. The entire institutional infrastructure we have spent 15 years trying to build will be drained of its life.”