ICANN’s Digital Archery Way Off Target

ICANN’s proposed method for choosing the order in which applications for new generic Top Level Domains would be processed, called digital archery, has been suspended due to unexpected results.In a news conference on Monday at the ICANN meeting being held in Prague this week, ICANN’s outgoing CEO and President Rod Beckstrom said the future of digital archery is to be determined, although many insiders suggest it is a goner. Beckstrom said ICANN will listen to community feedback in determining its future, but it is expected the time will be used to design another method of processing the 1930 applications for 1409 gTLD strings.ICANN’s options were limited when their Governmental Advisory Committee sent them a letter on 17 June expressing the GAC’s “concerns about ICANN’s approach to processing new gTLD applications … with regard to ICANN’s digital archery and batching processes. These processes appear to significantly impact the timeframes for assessing and delegating new gTLDs.”Akram Atallah, ICANN’s Chief Operating Officer, and as of next week the interim CEO for three months conceded it is possible all applications would be processed together but it means all applications would be finalised at the same time. For now though he said ICANN will listen to the community and see what the outcome will be.ICANN will undertake a review of the processes to better learn what it could have done better, and this review will be done publically.Some of the blame has been sheeted to New gTLD Programme Director Michael Salazar who ICANN fired last week, passing on responsibility for the new gTLD programme to the already overwhelmed Kurt Pritz. To help him cope with the added responsibility, Atallah said Pritz would be given additional resources to help him with both pre-existing responsibilities and the gTLD programme. Recruiting a permanent replacement for Salazar though could take three to six months.Looking to the future and learning from the past, Atallah said ICANN could place more rigour and testing on future products and while in hindsight ICANN could have done better, he thinks the team did a great job.In an earlier statement, ICANN said “the primary reason [the digital archery process was suspended] is that applicants have reported that the timestamp system returns unexpected results depending on circumstances. Independent analysis also confirmed the variances, some as a result of network latency, others as a result of how the timestamp system responds under differing circumstances.””The timestamp window was due to close on 28 June. As of 23 June, approximately 20 percent of applications had a registered timestamp.”Given public comment regarding the timestamp process and that many applicants had yet to register a timestamp, the decision was taken to suspend the system now, pending further analysis of the process.”Now though a 60 day comment period that began upon the Big Reveal on 13 June is underway with anyone able to comment on any of the applied for gTLDs.Beckstrom said anyone in the world is encouraged to comment on the new gTLD applications and independent panels will adjudicate on any complaints with all parties commenting having an equal say.”The size of the party filing the objection won’t be a factor,” said Beckstrom.Currently there are 169 comments on applications both supporting and opposing applications.