Preliminary Report | 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.
Formal Minutes are still to be approved by the New gTLD Program Committee. This has not been approved by the New gTLD Program Committee and does not constitute minutes but does provide a preliminary attempt setting forth the unapproved reporting of the resolutions from that meeting. Details on voting and abstentions will be provided in the Minutes, when approved at a future meeting.
NOTE ON ADDITIONAL INFORMATION INCLUDED WITHIN PRELIMINARY REPORT – ON RATIONALES -- Where available, a draft Rationale for each of the New gTLD Program Committee's actions is presented under the associated Resolution. A draft Rationale is not final until approved with the minutes of the New gTLD Program Committee meeting.
A Regular Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held telephonically on 1 April 2015 at 22:00 UTC.
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, Gonzalo Navarro, George Sadowsky, and Mike Silber.
Bruno Lanvin, Erika Mann, Ray Plzak, and Kuo-Wei Wu and sent apologies.
Thomas Schneider (GAC Liaison) was in attendance as a non-voting liaison to the Committee.
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); Megan Bishop (Board Support Coordinator); Allen Grogan (Chief Contract Compliance Officer); Jamie Hedlund (Vice President, Strategic Programs – Global Domains Division); Kevin Kreuser (Senior Counsel); Serena Lai (Paralegal); Cyrus Namazi (Vice President, DNS Industry Engagement); Erika Randall (Senior Counsel); Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel); and Christine Willett (Vice President, Operations – Global Domains Division).
This is a Preliminary Report of the Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee, which took place on 1 April 2015.
- Main Agenda:
GAC Category 2 Safeguard Advice - Exclusive Access
The Committee continued its discussion of advice issued by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to the Board concerning safeguards for New gTLD applicants who proposed to provide exclusive registry access for generic strings. Staff presented an update on the number of applicants who maintain that their applied-for TLD would be operated as an exclusive access registry. Staff also noted that some of the applications are in a contention set with other applications, and resolution of the GAC's advice is holding up the resolution of the contention sets.
The Committee considered several options as a path forward to addressing the GAC's advice, including prohibiting exclusive registry access for generic strings, or accepting the GAC's advice and requiring applicants to submit pubic interest commitments to be included as binding contractual commitments in the Registry Agreement. The Committee engaged in a discussion to explore the relative merits and complexities of each option.
The Committee noted that the GAC's advice centers on how to evaluate whether an applicant's proposed exclusive registry access for a generic term serves a public interest goal, and they considered how such goals could be evaluated and by whom. Some of the options proposed by Committee members included using a balancing test to evaluate the public interest goals, or analyzing the goals from the perspective of consumer harm.
The Committee discussed how public interest goals would be enforced if the goals are included in the Registry Agreements for the TLDs at issue. The Committee also considered whether the GAC advice raised policy questions that may require policy advice.
The Committee decided to discuss the matter further at its next meeting in April.
GAC Category 2 Safeguard Advice – Non-Discrimination
The Committee began discussions about the GAC's advice in the Singapore Communiqué (February 2015) wherein the GAC urged the Committee to provide greater clarity as to the mechanisms for redress in the event registrants believe they have been unduly discriminated against. Staff provided the Committee with a historic overview of related GAC advice initially delivered in the Beijing Communiqué (April 2013), and the steps the Committee has taken over time to work with the GAC to address the advice.
The Committee examined the applicable provisions in the New gTLD Registry Agreement regarding non-discrimination, and engaged with staff to consider whether the existing provisions in the Registry Agreement provide a path for redress in the event a registrant believes they have been unduly discriminated against. As part of its discussion, the Committee considered whether the Public Interest Commitments Dispute Resolution Procedure would provide redress for such complaints, and if so, the mechanics for a registrant to file such a complaint.
The Committee asked staff to prepare additional briefing materials on this matter for further discussion at its next meeting.
Update on Public Interest Commitments
The Chair provided a status update on discussions in Singapore between members of the Committee and various members of advisory committees and stakeholder groups regarding safeguards for the Category 1 strings associated with highly regulated industries. He reported on the agreed upon action items from the discussion, and informed the Committee that a follow-up meeting had been scheduled for April 7. Staff provided a status update on the various work streams agreed upon during the discussions in Singapore.
Any Other Business
At the Committee's request, staff provided an overview of the points raised in a 27 March 2015 letter from the Intellectual Property Constituency concerning the .SUCKS TLD. The letter requested that ICANN halt the rollout of the .SUCKS Trademark Clearinghouse Sunrise Period to allow time for the community to examine the validity of the registry operator's plans for the TLD.
Staff clarified the purpose of the "registry access fee" and "registry administration fee" included the .SUCKS Registry Agreement, and noted in the IPC letter. Staff reported that some affiliates of Momentous, the majority owners of the .SUCKS Registry Operator, had previously defaulted on substantial payments to ICANN. Given this previous experience, the registry access fee and registry administration fee contract provisions were negotiated into the Registry Agreement to provide additional financial assurances.
Committee members expressed various views about the claims made in the IPC letter, and staff noted that it was evaluating the claims, and exploring possible alternatives to address the noted issues. The Committee asked to receive updates on this matter going forward.
The Chair called the meeting to a close.
Published on 10 April 2015