A message from the JAS WG:
The Milestone Report [PDF, 1.2 MB] and accompanying Addenda [PDF, 1.07 MB] published for public comment today deals with a very important issue: how can ICANN assist applicants from developing economies to increase their participation in the new generic Top-Level Domain (New gTLD) Program?
A Working Group (WG) formed by ICANN stakeholders has been working since April 2010 to address this issue. This followed a Resolution from ICANN Board of Directors in Nairobi, on March 2010 that asked ICANN’s stakeholder community
"...to develop a sustainable approach to providing support to applicants
requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLDs."
Here are some basic aspects of this important work.
- What is this all about? What is a Milestone Report?
The Milestone Report is a document produced by this Working Group that offers recommendations on how ICANN should develop a sustainable approach to providing support to applicants from developing economies requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLDs Registries. The Report proposes initial criteria for qualification as well as several other types of support to be considered, for example, technical, informational.
Although this work presents the foundation for ICANN to establish a Support Development Program dedicated to this issue, the work is not final yet. This report is going to be considered by the Board, staff and ICANN’s supporting chartering organizations.
This initiative is related to the New gTLD Program, which in the near future will allow entities from around the world to apply for a generic top-level domain. The applicants passing the evaluation process, will sign a contract with ICANN and run a Registry.
- Who is being considered to receive support? Who benefits from this?
The Working Group is proposing the following group to be eligible for support once the "need" criterion is met:
- Community-based applications such as cultural, linguistic and ethnic;
- Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), civil society and not-for-profit organizations;
- Applicants geographically located in emerging markets/developing countries;
- Applications in languages whose presence on the web is limited;
- Entrepreneurs wanting to serve a developing market that might not be sustainable under the current cost structure.
At this phase, the Working Group has not adopted any specific classification for developing economies and recommends using a classification that is internationally agreed upon, for example, G-77 or United Nations or World Bank classifications.
We all benefit from this initiative. The Internet belongs to all as well as the responsibility to look into effective ways to reduce the Digital Divide, in this particular case, by delivering a sustainable and critical support for applicants from developing economies and looking for a solution not only at the application phase but also through to the initial years of these new Registry operators.
- Why is it important?
It is important because the Internet is a virtual real estate that belongs to everyone. Entities from around the world should be able to increase their participation in the top-level expansion. The Working Group also stresses it is important not only to increase participation from developing economies, but also to increase the likelihood of success by these new participants that will be delivering Domain Name Services (DNS).
The current New gTLD Program, as design, has an evaluation (and several other fees) that are considered high for a significant number of potential participants from around the world. Besides the issue of high fees, the program is in English only and has an evaluation process with criteria and requirements that are quite complex to navigate.
- What are the highlights of this report?
This report approached the issue of accessibility from several angles. First, there are recommendations to lower the fees for applicants the meet the criteria recommended by this group. The initial focus is on a relatively limited and identifiable set of potential applicants that is often considered not controversial to support. The main criterion for eligibility is "need". The detailed definition of financial need and the method for determining the needs of an application will be part of a continued work.
- Who is part of this Working Group?
This Working Group, also called Joint SO/AC WG on New gTLD Applicant Support or simply "JAS WG", is comprised of highly respected and experienced volunteers from the Supporting Organization and the Advisory Committee. This all-volunteer group teleconferences twice each week, and works through a wiki and mailing lists. These active contributors are located in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and North America.
- What happens next?
Few things will happen in the upcoming months:
- The general public is strongly encouraged to participate in the public forum that can be found here: http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-201012-en.htm#jas-milestone-report
- The Board, staff, supporting organizations will review the Milestone Report and public comments received.
- The Supporting organizations and Board will allow for the continuation of this initiative, which means that this or a new Working Group will carry this work to a next phase.
- Staff might initiate working on the Support Development Program, depending on the Board’s direction.
- How can one get involved?
One way to get involved is to provide a feedback using ICANN’s public comment forum. This is one of the ways ICANN listens to the global Internet community. You can find the link to this forum here: http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-201012-en.htm#jas-milestone-report. The public forum will close on
15 December 201010 January 2011.
If you feel strongly about this (and other Internet related issues) attend ICANN Meetings – in person or remotely. The next one is in Cartagena beginning of December).
- Where to find more information?
Information about the New gTLD Program: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-program.htm
Archive regarding the WG activities: