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A second draft of an Applicant Guidebook that details the process of applying for new generic top level domains was released today along with a detailed analysis of comments received so far [PDF, 588K].
A vital part of ICANN's decision-making process is the feedback that the community provides. The first draft Applicant Guidebook saw hundreds of comments submitted.
"The amount of feedback and its quality is really pleasing" said Dr Paul Twomey, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We've listened carefully to what was said and that has produced many changes in this version of the Guidebook. It's also clear that further discussion on some key areas is needed and we will start work on those immediately."
In recognition of the response, ICANN's staff has prepared a series of analyses, totaling 155 pages, and divided up according to specific topics so that that those making comments are able to see how their points were taken into account. The responses have directly influenced changes to the guidebook. In a further attempt to make the changes clear and accessible the draft Guidebook is in "red-line" format.
The second draft of the Guidebook has been released simultaneously with the analysis so that it is possible to see the direct relationship between the comments and the changes made.
There have been a number of overarching issues raised in the comment process that require further work and so remain unchanged in this draft. Those issues are:
- Trademark protection
- Security and stability
- Malicious conduct
- Demand and economic analysis
"It is very important to take the time to resolve these overarching issues. DNS stability, user protection, and trademark rights must not be undermined by the introduction of new gTLDS. As a consequence it is unlikely that the application round will open before December 2009" Dr Twomey said.
This is the first time this depth of analysis has occurred. Whilst ICANN relies heavily on public comment (over 50 comment periods were held in 2008) many have suggested that it is often difficult to understand how comments have shaped outcomes. This analysis is an attempt to address that concern.
The ICANN model remains one of coordination, not control, and the resilience of its decision-making has always stemmed from the process of bringing together different viewpoints.
"We are looking forward to meeting with the intellectual property community, the security community and all others that have an interest to work through specific suggestions for addressing their concerns in the next 6-8 weeks" Dr Twomey said.
Executive Officer and Vice President
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International: Andrew Robertson
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Selected Changes to Each Module of the Guidebook
Module 1: Intro to Application Process
- Timeline: Clarified that the objection filing period closes after Independent Evaluation results are posted
- Public comments: Included language on role of public comments in the evaluation process
- Community-Based applications: Added clarification on community vs. open and why these terms are used; added language on intent of community-based category and under what circumstances community claims are evaluated
- IDN: Updated sections on compatibility problems, IDN tables, and phonetic representation item
- Fees: Essentially eliminated comparative evaluation fee – it is now structured as a deposit and returned if criteria are met; added credit for qualified 2000 round applicants: added refund structure; reduced annual registry fees and simplified fee structure
Module 2: Evaluation Procedures
- String confusion: In order to better describe protections against user confusion - added more language to distinguish when different similarity checks are made (visual, aural, meaning); clarified relationship between string confusion objections and contention between similar strings; described improvements to the algorithm for testing visual similarity.
- String requirements: Added more detail on prohibition of hexadecimal and octal strings; updated ongoing revision process of IDNA protocol
- Geographical names: Clarified that country and territory names in all languages would be considered and augmented documentation requirements for government approval
Attachment to Module 2 – Evaluation Questions & Criteria
- Tech/ops: Supplemented "preventing abusive registrations" question by calling for takedown procedures and measures to reduce opportunities for phishing/pharming: updated RFC revisions and added RFCs for DNSSEC; proposed changing scoring to encourage applicants to escrow thick data
- Financial: Reorganised questions to make scoring more clear.
- Overall: Clearly marked questions where responses will be kept confidential, or where responses are optional; revised scoring slightly
Module 3: Dispute Resolution Procedures
- Legal status: Included language on objector rights and participation in dispute resolution process; clarified that legal rights objections are for registered and unregistered trademarks
- Standing: Inserted standing section for morality & public order objection to reflect current considerations; clarified that community objector must be related to community in application
- Procedures: published new set of revised, detailed procedures, added option for more than one panelist at parties' option for legal rights objections
- Standards: Inserted standards for morality and public order disputes
- Other: Included a proposal for an Independent Objector role in limited circumstances
Module 4: String Contention Procedures
- Contention resolution: Included auctions as mechanism of last resort (including rules and procedures); described how a foundation would be employed to distribute funds accruing from an auction; supplemented section on how applicants may self-resolve contention
- Comparative evaluation: revised scoring for more granularity and specificity, added comparative evaluation steps for when more than one applicant passes comparative evaluation (instead of auction)
Module 5: Transition to Delegation: Registry Agreement
- Modified process for amending agreements
- Modified registry fees section: lowering fees and simplifying structure
- Reinstated transparency and equivalent treatment clauses
- Included proposed registry-registrar model: lifting separation requirements in a limited way
- Included requirement for advance notice on price changes
- Added new language requiring community-based TLDs to comply with self-imposed registration restrictions