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Update from Two-Day Competition, Consumer Trust & Consumer Choice Review Team Meeting in Washington

15 June 2016
By Jonathan Zuck

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The Competition, Consumer Trust & Consumer Choice Review Team (CCT-RT) has just concluded its third face-to-face meeting in Washington, DC.

Sixteen CCT-RT members convened on 6-7 June to begin teasing out findings from the extensive data it has at hand and advance the team’s work plan. 

  • Click here to watch me and CCT-RT Sub-team Chairs, Laureen Kapin and Jordyn Buchanan, share our perspectives on the accomplishments and highlights of this third in-person meeting.

Assembled last December, the CCT-RT is reviewing how the introduction and expansion of new gTLDs has promoted competition, consumer trust, and consumer choiceThe global team is responsible for assessing the effectiveness of the application and evaluation process and evaluating the safeguards put in place by ICANN to mitigate issues involved in the new gTLD program.

The CCT-RT meeting began with a detailed presentation of global consumer survey results collected by Nielsen to assess the current gTLD landscape and measure factors like consumer awareness, experience and trust. The Nielsen study included some interesting trends on Internet users’ familiarity with top-level domains. The study will be published in the coming weeks and will inform the review team’s work.

The CCT-RT received visits from U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling and Dr. Steve Crocker. Strickling provided background information of the Affirmation of Commitments[1] language that called for the review of new gTLDs, and highlighted the importance of the work ahead for the CCT-RT.

This meeting also provided an opportunity for the review team to break into sub-team discussions focused on Competition & Consumer Choice and Safeguards & Consumer Trust. The sub-teams examined the data available and identified additional data sources to support their work.

Led by Laureen Kapin, the Safeguards & Consumer Trust Sub-team identified several topics of immediate focus: 

  • DNS abuse
  • The impact of safeguards and public interest commitments
  • Consumer and end-user behavior
  • Effectiveness of processes to enforce safeguards

Led by Jordyn Buchanan, the Competition & Consumer Choice Sub-team intends to determine the effectiveness of the new gTLD program in: 

  • Promoting price competition and non-price competition between TLD operators
  • Encouraging competition among registrars and resellers

It is also attempting to identify specific market segments from which to test the competitive impact of new gTLDs.

In the weeks ahead, the sub-teams will gather fact-based discussion papers for discussion by the review team, and will be used to support findings and possible recommendations for ICANN to consider before revamping the application processes for future gTLDs.

In addition to the sub-team work, the CCT-RT is also analyzing the application and evaluation process used by ICANN for new gTLDs. In its early brainstorming sessions, the review team identified several topics to explore, including:

  • How the application process was used by underserved areas and markets
  • Whether there was an equal opportunity for participation in the Program
  • Whether the Program adequately prevented delegation of confusing or harmful new gTLDs

The review team is also closely examining how the application process has addressed public policy advice received by ICANN in the past, and additional issues, such as IDNs, string contention and application rounds, will be further examined as part of the review team’s work. 

The CCT-RT's proceedings are open to observers. If you are interested in following the progress of this review, please consider attending the review team's calls. The review team’s calendar, as well as information on how to join the team’s calls, can be found on the CCT-RT’s public wiki along with a number of useful and important resources.

The review team aims to have a set of draft recommendations for community consideration by the end of 2016. Community feedback is essential to the success of this process. 

Do you have input you would like to share with the CCT-RT on any of these topics? The review team will consider any input sent by email to input-to-cctrt@icann.org (publicly archived).

[1] Signed with Department of Commerce in 2009. See https://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/aoc/affirmation-of-commitments-30sep09-en.htm


Jonathan Zuck