On 8 September 2018, the Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review Team submitted its Final Report and Recommendations to the ICANN Board of Directors.
The report is now issued for public comment to inform Board action on the CCT's final recommendations.
Per the Bylaws, within six months of receipt of the Final Report [PDF, 4.89 MB] and Recommendations [PDF, 562 KB], the ICANN Board shall consider the report and public comments to determine whether to approve the recommendations. The Board will then direct implementation of the recommendations that were approved and provide written rationale for the decision if any recommendations are not approved.
Section I: Description and Explanation
The Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review Team submitted its Final Report and Recommendations to the ICANN Board of Directors. Informed by multiple studies, research, and data gathering initiatives, as well as input from the ICANN community and ICANN Board, the review team produced a final report that examines the extent to which the introduction of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has promoted competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice in the domain name system. The review team report also assesses the effectiveness of the safeguards ICANN has implemented to mitigate issues related to the introduction of new gTLDs, and the New gTLD Program's application and evaluation process. The report contains 35 recommendations, covering requests for more and better data collection, policy issues to be addressed by the community, and suggested reforms relating to transparency and data collection within ICANN Contractual Compliance. The recommendations were adopted with full consensus from the Review Team.
The following topics are covered in the Final Report:
- New gTLD Program history
- Competition in the DNS Marketplace
- Consumer Choice
- Consumer Trust
- DNS Abuse
- DNS Security Abuse
- Public Interest Commitments
- Rights Protection Mechanisms
- Application and Evaluation
Per the ICANN Bylaws, "each final report of a review team shall be published for public comment in advance of the Board's consideration. Within six months of receipt of a final report, the Board shall consider such final report and the public comments on the final report, and determine whether to approve the recommendations in the final report. If the Board does not approve any or all of the recommendations, the written rationale supporting the Board's decision shall include an explanation for the decision on each recommendation that was not approved. The Board shall promptly direct implementation of the recommendations that were approved."
For ease of reference and to facilitate Board consideration, ICANN organization requests that commenters clearly indicate the relevant sections of the Final Report, or numbered recommendations, within their comments.
Section II: Background
Launched under the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), the Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review Team was formed in January 2016 to assess the New Generic Top-Level Domain (New gTLD) Program in three areas: competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice. The review also assesses the effectiveness of safeguards put in place to mitigate issues arising from the introduction of new gTLDs and the New gTLD Program's application and evaluation process. The review, now contemplated under ICANN Bylaws section 4.6, examines the degree to which the process of implementing the New gTLD Program was successful in producing desired results and achieving the stated objectives. The CCT analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data to produce recommendations for the ICANN Board to consider and adopt.
The ICANN Bylaws call for the CCT to indicate whether the recommendations, if accepted by the Board, must be implemented before opening subsequent rounds of new generic top-level domain application periods. The recommendations contained within the final report identify those that should be prerequisites to future application periods for new gTLDs.
Producing recommendations that are data and fact-driven was a fundamental priority of the review team. The Review Team assembled its final report to illustrate how their recommendations are derived from findings supported by data gathered throughout the review process and with consideration of input from the community, the Board and ICANN organization.
ICANN commissioned two major research initiatives from Nielsen in 2015 in anticipation of the Review Team's work: a global consumer end-user and registrant survey and an economic study of the New gTLD Program's competitive effects. These surveys were repeated in 2016 to measure updates as more new gTLDs came into operation, and took into consideration, where applicable, additional questions and requirements raised by the CCT Review Team. Moreover, ICANN commissioned the Statistical Analysis of DNS Abuse in gTLDs (SADAG) report by researchers from SIDN Labs and Delft University of Technology, to address the CCT Review Team's request for a comprehensive DNS abuse study and measure the effectiveness of a number of technical safeguards developed for the New gTLD Program in mitigating various forms of DNS abuse.
The review team, comprised of 15 community representatives and volunteer subject matter experts, divided the evaluation of the New gTLD Program into four subteams:
Competition and Consumer Choice: This subteam examined the effects of the entry of new gTLDs on price and non-price competition in the expanded domain name marketplace, as well as whether consumer choice in the marketplace was effectively enhanced with the introduction of new gTLDs.
Consumer Trust and Safeguards: This subteam focused on the extent to which the expansion of new gTLDs has promoted consumer trust and the impact of the safeguards that had been adopted to mitigate any problems that might have arose as a result of the New gTLD Program.
Application and Evaluation Process: This subteam explored issues related to the effectiveness of the application process, with a particular focus on the applicant experience, the paucity of applications from underserved regions, and the objection processes.
INTA Survey: To better understand the impact of the New gTLD Program on rights holders, the CCT worked with International Trademark Association (INTA), which commissioned a survey of its members. This subteam considered the results of this survey as it made recommendations on rights protection mechanisms that were incorporated into the New gTLD Program.
The review team previously submitted for public comment a draft report on 7 March 2017, and new sections on 27 November 2017 with new findings and recommendations, pertaining to DNS abuse, costs to trademark holders, parking and consumer choice related sections. The previous draft reports and translations can be found here and here for full reference.
Section III: Relevant Resources
Section IV: Additional Information
- ICANN Bylaws - Specific Reviews: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/governance/bylaws-en#article4.6
- Specific Reviews Process: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/specific-reviews-process-flowchart-31aug17-en.pdf [PDF, 209 KB]
- First Public Comment on CCT Draft Report: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/cct-rt-draft-report-2017-03-07-en
- Second Public Comment on CCT Draft Report: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/cct-recs-2017-11-27-en