This Public Comment period aims at gathering community input on a proposed amendment to the .NEUSTAR Registry Agreement, to implement a request submitted through the Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP) process to allow the registration of all country and territory names currently required to be reserved by Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement.
Section I: Description and Explanation
Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement addresses the required reservation of country and territory names. Registry Operators are required to reserve the country and territory names, but may propose their release, subject to review by the Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN. Specifically, the Registry Agreement provides as follows:
The country and territory names (including their IDN variants, where applicable) contained in the following internationally recognized lists shall be withheld from registration or allocated to Registry Operator at All Levels:
4.1. the short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO 3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union <http://www.iso.org/iso/support/country_codes/iso_3166_code_lists/iso-3166-1_decoding_table.htm>;
4.2. the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World; and
4.3. the list of United Nations member states in 6 official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names;
provided, that the reservation of specific country and territory names (including their IDN variants according to the registry operator IDN registration policy, where applicable) may be released to the extent that Registry Operator reaches agreement with the applicable government(s). Registry Operator must not activate such names in the DNS; provided, that Registry Operator may propose the release of these reservations, subject to review by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN. Upon conclusion of Registry Operator's designation as operator of the registry for the TLD, all such names that remain withheld from registration or allocated to Registry Operator shall be transferred as specified by ICANN. Registry Operator may self-allocate and renew such names without use of an ICANN accredited registrar, which will not be considered Transactions for purposes of Section 6.1 of the Agreement.
On 18 August 2014, NeuStar, Inc., the Registry Operator of the .NEUSTAR top-level domain (TLD), submitted a Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP) request to allow the release of country and territory names defined in Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement at all levels of the .NEUSTAR TLD. The request is available for public information at: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/neustar-country-territory-neustar-request-21aug14-en.pdf [PDF, 18 KB].
As provided by the Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP), ICANN has undertaken a preliminary determination on whether the proposal might raise significant Competition, Security or Stability issues. ICANN's preliminary review (based on the information provided) did not identify any such issues for this request.
The implementation of the RSEP proposal would constitute a material change to the .NEUSTAR Registry Agreement, which requires an amendment to Exhibit A, Approved Services. In addition, as required per Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement, the proposal is also subject to a review by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).
Section II: Background
The proposed amendment to the .NEUSTAR Registry Agreement to implement the registry services as described in the RSEP proposal would be the first of its kind in the new gTLD space. The current language in Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement regarding the required reservation of country and territory names was included in response to advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) during the development of the New gTLD Program (see this exchange of letters between the ICANN President and the GAC dated 17 March 2009 [PDF, 245 KB] and 24 April 2009 [PDF, 95 KB].
Furthermore, the GAC commented on this topic in the Singapore Communiqué [PDF, 449 KB] published on 27 March 2014. The GAC noted that it "discussed the Brand Registry Group proposal for a streamlined process under an addendum to the Registry Agreement for the approval of country names and 2-letter and character codes at the second level." The GAC stated that it "has no major concerns about brand owners seeking approval for such names," but that the approval should be "done directly with the countries concerned rather than through a GAC-level operational process." The GAC noted that "individual GAC members could assist with proposals relevant to their particular country if requested," and further suggested that "consideration be given to establishing a register of countries that do not require individual requests to be made".
Subsequent to the GAC's Singapore Communiqué, on 8 August 2014, the Chair of the GAC submitted a letter to the Chairman of the ICANN Board noting that some GAC members have raised concerns regarding the RSEP requests to release two-character labels, and as a result the GAC "intends to consider the matter at its next meeting during ICANN 51." The GAC requested that the Board take this timing into account as it considers the RSEP requests, and to continue to keep the GAC apprised of similar requests. In subsequent correspondence, the Board requested [PDF, 562 KB], and the GAC confirmed its intent to review the proposal for the release of country and territory names as well (see the reply sent by the Chair of the GAC to the Chairman of the ICANN Board).
Section III: Relevant Resources
- Registry Agreement for .NEUSTAR: https://www.icann.org/resources/agreement/neustar-2013-12-05-en
- RSEP Request for the release of Country and Territory Name in .NEUSTAR : https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/neustar-country-territory-neustar-request-21aug14-en.pdf [PDF, 18 KB]
- RSEP Webpage: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/rsep-2014-02-19-en
- RSEP Policy: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/policy-bd-2012-02-25-en
- GAC Singapore Communiqué: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/gac-to-board-27mar14-en.pdf [PDF, 449 KB]
- Letter from the GAC regarding requests for release of two-character labels as second level domains in New gTLDs (8 August 2014) : https://www.icann.org/resources/correspondence/dryden-to-crocker-2014-08-08-en
- Letter from the Chairman of the ICANN Board to the Chair of the GAC requesting consideration of the release of Country & Territory Names by the GAC during ICANN 51 (2 September 2014) : http://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/crocker-to-dryden-2-02sep14-en.pdf [PDF, 562 KB]
- Letter from the Chair of the GAC to the Chairman of the ICANN Board confirming the GAC's intention to review the proposal: https://www.icann.org/resources/correspondence/dryden-to-crocker-2014-09-10-en
Section IV: Additional Information
- .NEUSTAR Proposed Amendment [PDF, 58 KB]