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Minutes | Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee

Note: On 10 April 2012, the Board established the New gTLD Program Committee, comprised of all voting members of the Board that are not conflicted with respect to the New gTLD Program. The Committee was granted all of the powers of the Board (subject to the limitations set forth by law, the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws or ICANN's Conflicts of Interest Policy) to exercise Board-level authority for any and all issues that may arise relating to the New gTLD Program. The full scope of the Committee's authority is set forth in its charter at http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/new-gTLD.

A Regular Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held in Los Angeles, CA on 28 September 2015 at 15:45 local time.

Committee Chairman Cherine Chalaby promptly called the meeting to order.

In addition to the Chair the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Fadi Chehadé (President and CEO, ICANN), Steve Crocker (Board Chairman), Chris Disspain, Asha Hemrajani, Markus Kummer, Bruno Lanvin, Gonzalo Navarro, Ray Plzak, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, and Kuo-Wei Wu.

Thomas Schneider (GAC Liaison) was in attendance as a non-voting liaison to the Committee.

Erika Mann sent apologies.

Board Member Elect: Ron da Silva (observing).

Secretary: John Jeffrey (General Counsel and Secretary).

ICANN Executives and Staff in attendance for all or part of the meeting: Akram Atallah (President, Global Domains Division); Susanna Bennett (Chief Operating Officer); Megan Bishop (Board Support Coordinator); Xavier Calvez (Chief Financial Officer); David Conrad (Chief Technology Officer); Allen Grogan (Chief Contract Compliance Officer); Dan Halloran (Deputy General Counsel); Jamie Hedlund (Vice President, Strategic Programs – Global Domains Division); Margie Milam (Sr. Director, Strategic Initiatives); Cyrus Namazi (Vice President, DNS Industry Engagement); Erika Randall (Senior Counsel); Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel); Theresa Swinehart (Sr. Advisor To The President On Strategy); Shawn White (Associate General Counsel); and Christine Willett (Vice President, Operations – Global Domains Division).

These are the Minutes of the Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee, which took place on 28 September 2015.

  1. Consent Agenda:
    1. Approval of Minutes
  2. Main Agenda:
    1. Reconsideration Request 15-13: Commercial Connect, LLC
    2. Discussion of possible dissolution of the New gTLD Program Committee
    3. Review GDD efforts on Trust Marks and Public Interest Commitments (PIC) Repository

 

  1. Consent Agenda:

    1. Approval of Minutes

      The Chair introduced for approval the minutes of the 21 August 2015 meeting. The Committee took the following action by acclamation:

      Resolved (2015.09.28.NG01), the Board New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) approves the minutes of its 21 August 2015 meeting.

      All members of the Committee present voted in favor of Resolution 2015.09.28.NG01. Erika Mann was unavailable to vote on the Resolution. The Resolution carried.

  2. Main Agenda:

    1. Reconsideration Request 15-13: Commercial Connect, LLC

      Amy Stathos presented the Committee with an overview of background information concerning Reconsideration Request 15-13. Amy explained that the Board Governance Committee (BGC) could not take a final action on the request because the Bylaws require Board-level action if a reconsideration request challenges an action taken by the Board (or the Committee acting with the authority of the Board). She reported that the requester was seeking reconsideration of the Community Priority Evaluation ("CPE") panel's report, and ICANN's acceptance of that report, finding that the requester did not prevail in CPE for the .SHOP string.

      Amy reported that the BGC recommended that Reconsideration Request 15-13 be denied, citing that the issues raised by the requester were time-barred, and the requester did not demonstrate that the CPE Panel acted in violation of any established policy or procedure.

      The Committee considered the BGC's recommendation and rationale that the Reconsideration Request be denied because the requester failed to state the proper grounds for reconsideration.

      Mike Silber moved, and Ray Plzak seconded the proposed resolution. The Committee took the following action:

      Whereas, Commercial Connect, LLC ("Requester") filed Reconsideration Request 15-13 seeking reconsideration of the Community Priority Evaluation ("CPE") panel's report, and ICANN's acceptance of that report, finding that the Requester did not prevail in CPE for the .SHOP string ("CPE Report"), and also challenging various procedures governing the New gTLD Program, as well as the String Similarity Review process and the adjudication of various string confusion objections, which ultimately resulted in the contention set for the Requester's application.

      Whereas, the Board Governance Committee ("BGC") thoroughly considered the issues raised in Reconsideration Request 15-13 and all related materials.

      Whereas, the BGC recommended that Reconsideration Request 15-13 be denied because the Requester has not stated proper grounds for reconsideration, and the New gTLD Program Committee ("NGPC") agrees.

      Resolved (2015.09.28.NG02), the NGPC adopts the BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13, which can be found at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/determination-15-13-commercial-connect-24aug15-en.pdf [PDF, 241 KB].

      All members of the Committee present voted in favor of Resolution 2015.09.28.NG02. Erika Mann was unavailable to vote on the Resolution. The Resolution carried.

      Rationale for Resolution 2015.09.28.NG02

      1. Brief Summary

        The Requester submitted a community-based application for the .SHOP gTLD ("Application"). The Requester's Application was placed into a contention set with eight other applications for .SHOP, two applications for .SHOPPING, and one application for .通販 (Japanese for "online shopping") (".SHOP/SHOPPING Contention Set"). Since the Requester's Application is community-based, the Requester was invited to, and did, participate in CPE. The Application did not prevail in CPE. As a result, the Application was placed back into the contention set.

        The Requester claims that the CPE panel considering its Application ("CPE Panel"): (i) violated established policy or procedure in its consideration of the expressions of support for and opposition to the Requester's Application; and (ii) improperly applied the CPE criteria. The Requester also challenges various procedures governing the New gTLD Program including, among other things, the String Similarity Review process and the adjudication of various string confusion objections, which ultimately resulted in the composition of the .SHOP/.SHOPPING Contention Set.

        The Requester's claims are unsupported. First, all of the issues raised by the Requester are time-barred. Second, as to the Requester's challenge to the CPE Report, the Requester has not demonstrated that the CPE Panel acted in contravention of any established policy or procedure in rendering the CPE Report. The CPE Panel evaluated and applied the CPE criteria in accordance with all applicable policies and procedures, including but not limited to its consideration of the expressions of support for and opposition to the Requester's Application. The Requester presents only its substantive disagreement with the CPE Report, which is not a basis for reconsideration. Similarly, the Requester has not demonstrated a basis for reconsideration with respect to the other issues it raises regarding: (a) the procedures set forth in the Guidebook; (b) the outcome of the String Similarity Review; and (c) the outcome of its string confusion objections. The BGC therefore recommends that Request 15-13 be denied.

      2. Facts

        The BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13, which sets forth in detail the facts relevant to this matter, is hereby incorporated by reference and shall be deemed a part of this Rationale. The BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13 is available at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/determination-15-13-commercial-connect-24aug15-en.pdf [PDF, 241 KB], and is attached as Exhibit B to the Reference Materials.

      3. Issues

        In view of the claims set forth in Request 15-13, the issues for reconsideration seem to be: (1) whether the CPE Panel violated established policy or procedure by failing to properly apply the CPE criteria in evaluating the Requester's Application; (2) whether the Board failed to consider material information or relied on false or inaccurate material information before approving the New gTLD Program and the Guidebook, specifically the application review procedures set forth in the Guidebook; and (3) whether the third-party experts that ruled on the Requester's 21 string confusion objections violated any established policy or procedure in rendering their determinations.

      4. The Relevant Standards for Evaluating Reconsideration Requests

        The BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13, which sets forth the relevant standards for evaluating reconsideration requests and CPE, is hereby incorporated by reference and shall be deemed a part of this Rationale. The BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13 is available at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/determination-15-13-commercial-connect-24aug15-en.pdf [PDF, 241 KB], and is attached as Exhibit B to the Reference Materials.

      5. Analysis and Rationale

        The Requester challenges the "correctness" of the CPE Report, as well as various procedures governing the New gTLD Program, the String Similarity Review process and the adjudication of various string confusion objections, which ultimately resulted in the contention set for the Requester's Application. As the BGC explains in detail in its Recommendation, all of the issues raised by the Requester are time-barred. Further, insofar as the Requester is challenging the CPE Report, the Requester has not demonstrated any misapplication of any policy or procedure by the CPE Panel in rendering the CPE Report. The Requester instead only presents its substantive disagreement with the scoring and analysis in the CPE Report, which is not a basis for reconsideration.

        Similarly, the Requester has not demonstrated a basis for reconsideration with respect to the other issues it raises regarding the procedures set forth in the Guidebook or the processing of its Application. The Requester argues, among other things, that: (a) CPE should not be required at all; (b) the Guidebook improperly fails to provide an appeals mechanism for CPE panel determinations; and (c) the Guidebook does not conform to the recommendations of ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization ("GNSO"). As discussed above, any challenge to the procedures set forth in the Guidebook are time-barred. Furthermore, in challenging the approval of the Guidebook, the Requester seeks reconsideration of Board action but does not demonstrate, as it must, that the Board either failed to consider material information or relied on false or inaccurate material information before approving the New gTLD Program and the Guidebook.

        The Requester also asks that the Board "[r]eview and fix the issue with name similarity especially with any and all similar and confusing eCommerce strings." The Requester appears to claim that applications for various strings other than .SHOP should be included in the Requester's contention set because, in the Requester's view, "issuing multiple random and similar gTLDs will only yield very small registrations [on each gTLD] which in turn would make sustainability unfeasible." Although Request 15-13 is unclear, the Requester seems to make two different challenges in this respect. First, the Requester appears to challenge the Board's adoption of the String Similarity Review and string confusion objections procedures. Second, the Requester appears to challenge the actions of third-party evaluators and the Board with respect to: (1) the String Similarity Review performed for the Requester's .SHOP Application; and (2) the adjudication of the Requester's string confusion objections. Neither challenge warrants reconsideration. With respect to the Requester's first argument—not only is it long since time-barred, but the Requester has not identified any material information the Board failed to consider, or any false or inaccurate material information that the Board relied upon, in adopting the procedures governing String Similarity Review or string confusion objections. With respect to the Requester's second argument—not only is it also long since time-barred, but the Requester does not identify any policy or process violation in the String Similarity Review Panel's determination, nor has the Requester identified any violation of established policy or procedure by the third-party experts who ruled on the Requester's myriad string confusion objections.

        The full BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13, which sets forth the analysis and rationale in detail and with which the NGPC agrees, is hereby incorporated by reference and shall be deemed a part of this Rationale. The BGC Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13 is available at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/determination-15-13-commercial-connect-24aug15-en.pdf [PDF, 241 KB], and is attached as Exhibit B to the Reference Materials.

      6. Decision

        The NGPC had the opportunity to consider all of the materials submitted by or on behalf of the Requester or that otherwise relate to Reconsideration Request 15-13. Following consideration of all relevant information provided, the NGPC reviewed and has adopted the BGC's Recommendation on Reconsideration Request 15-13 (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/determination-15-13-commercial-connect-24aug15-en.pdf [PDF, 241 KB]), which shall be deemed a part of this Rationale and is attached as Exhibit B to the Reference Materials to the NGPC Paper on this matter.

        Adopting the BGC's recommendation has no direct financial impact on ICANN and will not impact the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.

        This decision is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment.

    2. Review GDD efforts on Trust Marks and Public Interest Commitments (PIC) Repository

      Cyrus Namazi made a report to the Committee about various industry-led efforts currently underway to establish a set of initiatives and best practices regarding registry standards of behavior in online operations. Cyrus noted that these industry-led initiatives have focused on using a form of "trust mark" that signals to end-users that the website they are engaging with has been vetted by impartial, independent third-party evaluators.

      The Chair made note of previous discussions related to the industry-led efforts. These discussions were held during the 2015 ICANN Meeting in Singapore. He mentioned that the initiative is part of on-going discussions in the community about implementing the GAC's safeguard advice. Jamie Hedlund commented that the GAC also raised this matter in its most recent Buenos Aires Communiqué. The GAC recommended that the Committee "[c]reate a list of commended public interest commitment (PIC) examples related to verification and validation of credentials for domains in highly regulated sectors to serve as a model."

      George Sadowsky asked whether the composition of the industry group that has taken up the initiative was broadly representative of the various viewpoints in the community about safeguards, and staff noted that they would look into this question.

      Rinalia Abdul Rahim asked whether it was possible to make it more apparent to the community as to which of the TLDs associated with "highly-regulated" industries have registration restrictions requiring verification and/or validation of a potential registrants' credentials. Akarm Atallah noted that registry operators are able to change their registration restrictions, but staff would look at the possibility of making it easier for the community to search the Public Interest Commitments in the registry agreements of the string associated with "highly-regulated" industries.

      Thomas Schneider noted that the GAC continues to have concerns about the implementation of the GAC's safeguard advice, and has attempted to make these concerns clear in several of its Communiqués.

    3. Discussion of possible dissolution of the New gTLD Program Committee

      The Committee continued its discussions about the possibility of dissolving the New gTLD Program Committee. The Chair noted that reasons for creating the Committee, as presented in the Board resolution establishing the Committee, seem to no longer exist. He reported that to dissolve the Committee, the matter would need to be taken up by the Board Governance Committee (BGC) and eventually by the full Board for action. The Chair noted that the BGC and Board intend to consider this matter at their meetings in Dublin.

      Jamie Hedlund made note of the remaining open items under consideration by the Committee that would be considered by the full Board if the Committee were dissolved.

      Akram Atallah commented that all of the all New gTLD Program processes have been exercised, and the Program is in its final phases of implementation. Steve Crocker suggested that the upcoming reviews and reports associated with the New gTLD Program should include an analysis of all of these Program processes. Akram reported that staff recently published for public comment a report that provides staff observations from the operational experience of administering the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program. The report is intended to capture staff's experiences and lessons learned.

      Rinalia Abdul Rahim mentioned that the Organizational Effectiveness Committee intends to share the lessons learned from conducting reviews in general. She suggested that this information may be useful to consider by those who are undertaking reviews of the New gTLD Program.

      The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 19 October 2015

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."