Purpose: This Public Comment proceeding seeks community input prior to ICANN Board action on the final Affirmations, Recommendations, and Implementation Guidance (collectively referred to as "Outputs") that were determined to have received either Full Consensus or Consensus designations by the New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group. The Outputs that the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council elected to vote on were approved by a supermajority margin.
Current Status: The GNSO Council approved the final Outputs of this PDP during its meeting on 18 February 2021.
Next Steps: Following this Public Comment proceeding and operational assessment, the ICANN Board is expected to take action on the approved policy recommendations.
Section I: Description and Explanation
At its meeting on 18 February 2021, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council voted to approve by a supermajority all final Affirmations, Recommendations, and Implementation Guidance (collectively referred to as "Outputs") that were determined to have received either Full Consensus or Consensus designations by the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group. The GNSO's adopted Outputs have been sent to the ICANN Board for its review. In line with the ICANN Bylaws, this Public Comment forum is being opened so that the community has a reasonable opportunity to comment on the adopted Outputs prior to Board action.
The GNSO New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group was chartered by the GNSO Council to conduct a PDP to determine what, if any, changes may need to be made to the existing Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains policy recommendations from 8 August 2007, as well as the final Applicant Guidebook dated June 2012. The working group's Final Report is divided into forty-one (41) topics, each of which contains a series of Outputs, all of which are intended to be considered as a package.
Annex C of the Final Report provides the consensus designations for the Outputs. In summary, all but 1 of the topics received a designation of either Full Consensus or Consensus. More specifically, 25 topics received Full Consensus, 16 received Consensus and 1 received a designation of Strong Support but Significant Opposition. Within the Topic designated as Strong Support but Significant Opposition (Topic 35: Auctions: Mechanisms of Last Resort / Private Resolution of Contention Sets), three of the five Outputs obtained a Consensus designation, and two of the five Outputs, Recommendations 35.2 and 35.4, obtained the designation Strong Support but Significant Opposition. The Output under Topic 23: Closed Generics was categorized as No Agreement in the Final Report, which did achieve Full Consensus. While nearly all of the 300+ Outputs in the Final Report were approved by the GNSO Council, there are three exceptions that were NOT approved:
- The single Output under Topic 23: Closed Generics was classified in the Final Report as Output category No Agreement. While the Working Group agreed by Full Consensus that there was No Agreement on this topic, the GNSO Council believes No Agreement is functionally equivalent to the designation of Divergence as detailed in the GNSO Working Group Guidelines, meaning that the Working Group was unable to reach Consensus in recommending an alternate course of action.
- Two of the Outputs under Topic 35: Auctions: Mechanisms of Last Resort / Private Resolution of Contention Sets, Recommendations 35.2 and 35.4, obtained the designation Strong Support but Significant Opposition and were not approved by the GNSO Council.
Therefore, this Public Comment period is intended to focus on all Outputs approved by the GNSO Council, rather than the Outputs that were not approved (i.e., Topic 23 in its entirety and recommendations 35.2 and 35.4 from Topic 35).
While the adopted Outputs are primarily concerned with the rules ICANN should use to administer the New gTLD Program, if approved by the Board, some of the Outputs require implementation via contractual obligations. These obligations would become binding on applicants who successfully satisfy the requirements to become a registry operator for a new gTLD. Under the ICANN Bylaws Section 11.3(i)(x), the GNSO Council's supermajority support for these recommendations obligates the Board to adopt the recommendations unless, by a vote of more than two-thirds, the Board determines that its adoption is not in the best interests of the ICANN community or ICANN.
Section II: Background
In June of 2014, the GNSO Council created the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Discussion Group, which was focused on reflecting upon the experiences gained from the 2012 New gTLD round and identifying a recommended set of subjects that should be further analyzed in an Issue Report. At the ICANN53 meeting, the GNSO Council approved a motion to request that an Issue Report be drafted by ICANN staff, basing the report on the set of deliverables developed by the Discussion Group, to further analyze issues identified and help determine if changes or adjustments are needed for subsequent new gTLD procedures. The Final Issue Report was submitted to the GNSO Council for its consideration on 4 December 2015 and a PDP on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures was initiated on 17 December 2015. The PDP working group met on a regular basis beginning in February 2016.
The Affirmations, Recommendations, and Implementation Guidance included in the Final Report are the culmination of years of Working Group deliberations and community consultations that take into account input received through a number of Public Comment periods, including a survey of existing Stakeholder Group / Constituency / Advisory Committee statements from the 2012 round of new gTLDs, a set of initial questions aimed at getting input on the processes and results of the 2012 new gTLD round, as well as comments on the Working Group's Initial Report, Supplemental Initial Report, additional Supplemental Initial Report on Geographic Names at the Top Level (produced by a Working Group sub-team known as Work Track 5, which focused exclusively on this topic), and draft Final Report. The Working Group finalized its recommendations and submitted its Final Report to the GNSO Council on 18 January 2021.