Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

ICANN Launches Broad Strategic Initiative for New Generic Top-Level Domains

31 October 2003

Carthage, Tunisia ICANN announced it will launch a broad strategic initiative to enable new generic top level domains (gTLDs). The strategic initiative will include a two-stage approach to move to the full globalization of the market for top-level domains. ICANN concluded its week long meeting today which was held in Tunisia, with ICANN’s Board making this historic announcement.

ICANN’s review process calls for the following as part of a comprehensive evaluation:

  • a full assessment of technical standards to support multilingual TLD’s by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
  • an assessment of the introduction of competition into the TLD market and other similar markets, allocation mechanisms and possible appropriate business models for the TLD manager-ICANN relationship to be provided by an international economics organization
  • a review and report on intellectual property issues involved in the introduction of a new TLD shall be requested from the World Intellectual Property Organization
  • reports regarding the technical stability issues related to the introduction of new TLDs including contingency planning to ensure continuity of registry services from the IAB and ICANN’s Security and Stability Committee (SECSAC)
  • an independent review of consumer protection issues from a consumer protection body will be requested

ICANN’s CEO and President, Dr. Paul Twomey has committed ICANN’s resources to this critical issue facing the world Internet community. “ICANN has now moved forward with a program to introduce further competition and choice in the top-level domain markets.” Today’s Board announcement came after a long process of consultation among ICANN and the Internet community, in cooperation with the business communities, technical communities, intellectual property communities and governments.

ICANN simultaneously announced an expedited process for a round of new sponsored generic top level domains (sTLDs), which will result in new sTLD’s in 2004. sTLD serve specific communities. Examples of current sTLDs (include .museum, .coop, and .aero) “ICANN is working hard to listen and be responsive to the Internet community’s needs and they have asked for us to address the issues regarding new sTLDs” stated Dr. Twomey, who introduced the resolutions to the Board.

Twomey further indicated that “We will engage in this directive in order to develop a streamlined process for the introduction of gTLDS. We will be using the early sTLD round to help us engage the community in the process and to further evaluate the best manner to achieve the appropriate balance between corporate/sponsor control of TLD’s and ICANN’s role of ‘management on behalf of the Internet community’.”

Progress was made on substantive issues and many inroads were made in achieving a balanced outcome for ensuing policy. As a point of interest, Tunisia was one of the first Arab and African countries to be connected to the Internet. The rate of connection for universities and secondary schools within Tunisia is 100%. To increase awareness further in Tunisia and foster participation, ICANN’s At Large Advisory Committee held a workshop for the Arabic and African participants to provide information as to the benefits of attending the ICANN meetings.

“This was a very successful meeting thanks to the Tunisian Host committee and the outstanding participation from the community,” stated CEO/President Paul Twomey.

Earlier this week, ICANN named Paul Verhoef, Vice President Supporting Organizations and Committee Support. He will be opening a bureau in Brussels. ICANN’s senior management now draws from North America, Asia/Pacific, and Europe. Verhoef has a long history with ICANN, having participated in various processes leading to its founding. The Dutch telecom policymaker started his career at the ITU, then worked for Eutelsat and ESA. He then became responsible for mobile, satellite and frequency policy in the EU and was a personal adviser to EU Commissioner Martin Bangemann. He is fluent in several EU languages.

ICANN also sponsored a Whois Workshop in Carthage to build upon the workshop held at ICANN's meeting in Montreal and the discussion that has occurred within the ICANN community on Whois and related privacy and other issues. As noted by Twomey, “The future path for WHOIS service requires the resolution of numerous important issues, some of which fall within ICANN’s purview, but many of which may arise from statutory or regulatory provisions of national law that have no direct relationship with ICANN’s technical coordination mission, but that may have implications for ICANN policies.”

The WHOIS workshop focused on identifying the priority WHOIS issues addressed by ICANN and discussed applicable best practices. The workshop further refined priority issues such as privacy, display of access and bulk access. ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), which is made up of representatives from across the various constituencies involved in ICANN generic name policy issues, created three separate task forces to explore policy issues related to Whois. The task forces will look at data mining, privacy and bulk access issues.

Masanobu Katoh, an important ICANN Board member concluded his term. Mr. Katoh has served as an ICANN director since November 2000, having been chosen to represent the Asia-Pacific region in the At-Large voting process conducted in October 2000. The ICANN Board expressed its extreme gratitude to Mr. Katoh in a resolution for his leadership in the area of ICANN's IDN work, beginning with the Internal Working Group, the IDN Committee and the President's IDN Registry Implementation Committee.

At the conclusion of the 2003 Annual meeting, Dr. Hagen Hultzsch (Germany -Europe) a Nominating Committee Selectee began his term, which will run through ICANN's annual meeting of 2006. Hagen Hultzsch has more than 35 years experience in technology management. He was previously a member of the Management Board of Deutsche Telekom, Dr. Hultzsch held various executive positions at Volkswagen AG, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and GSI, a German Research organization. Dr. Hultzsch currently serves as a board member for some 20 commercial and academic organizations in the United States and Europe.

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