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Minutes | Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee 5 June 2015

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 telephonically on 5 June 2015 at 13:00 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.

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

Bruce Tonkin was in attendance as an invited observer for Item #1 on the Main Agenda.

Bruno Lanvin, Erika Mann, Ray Plzak, and Kuo-Wei Wu and sent apologies.

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); Julia Charvolen (GAC Services Coordinator); Allen Grogan (Chief Contract Compliance Officer); Jamie Hedlund (Vice President, Strategic Programs – Global Domains Division); Vinciane Koenigsfeld (Board Support Content Manager); Cyrus Namazi (Vice President, DNS Industry Engagement); Olof Nordling (Senior Director, GAC Relations); Erika Randall (Senior Counsel); Amy Stathos (Deputy 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 5 June 2015.

  1. Main Agenda:
    1. Implementation of GAC Advice Regarding .DOCTOR
    2. GAC Category 2.1 Safeguard Advice – Non-discrimination
    3. GAC Category 2.2 Safeguard Advice – Exclusive Generic TLDs
    4. Any Other Business


  1. Main Agenda:

    1. Implementation of GAC Advice Regarding .DOCTOR

      The Committee considered the recommendation of the Board Governance Committee (BGC) that "the NGPC again review the proposed implementation of a public interest commitment for the .DOCTOR TLD, and to re-evaluate the NGPC's 12 February 2015 determination." The BGC's recommendation was in response to Reconsideration Request 15-3 filed by Brice Trail, LLC (an entity related to Donuts Inc.) – one of the contending applicants for the .DOCTOR TLD.

      Chris Disspain presented the background history of the GAC's advice in the Buenos Aires Communiqué (November 2013) and how the Committee addressed the advice. At the request of the Committee, Bruce Tonkin provided an overview of GNSO policies and principles related to restrictions on top-level and second-level domains. Bruce noted that as general principle, GNSO policy does not define or restrict the use of domain names, and companies operating TLDs are free to create their own rules. Bruce noted that he did not think there was a policy basis for imposing rules on a particular TLD and what it could be used for, and he suggested that the Committee take into consideration these general principles when considering the .DOCTOR TLD.

      Bruce highlighted the processes included in the Applicant Guidebook for objections, and stated that he was not aware of any objection process that was successful against the applications for the .DOCTOR TLD.

      The Committee engaged in a discussion about potential options to respond to the BGC's recommendation. Some of the options included: requiring that the Registry Agreement for the .DOCTOR TLD exclude the proposed Public Interest Commitment (PIC) drafted to ensure that domains in the TLD are ascribed exclusively to legitimate medical practitioners; and adopting the solution suggested in Brice Trail's Reconsideration Request to require a registrant to demonstrate "legitimate medical practitioner" status only if the registrant holds itself out as a medical practitioner. Asha Hemrajani inquired about the differences between the version of the PIC proposed in Brice Trail's Reconsideration Request and the original version of the proposed PIC. It was noted that the PIC proposed in Brice Trail's Reconsideration Request left open the possibility that non-medical practitioners could register names in the .DOCTOR TLD.

      George Sadowsky commented that there may be tension between the general policy and principles concerning second-level domains and GAC's call for additional restrictions for consumer protection in the .DOCTOR TLD. George suggested that a compromise position might be to allow all registrations in the .DOCTOR TLD, but also to require ex-post validation of credentials for those registrants claiming to be medical practitioners.

      After discussion, the Committee decided to further consider this matter at its next meeting.

      Bruce Tonkin excused himself from the remainder of the meeting.

    2. GAC Category 2.1 Safeguard Advice – Non-discrimination

      Erika Randall provided an overview of a proposed response to address a request from the GAC in the Singapore Communiqué (February 2015) requesting greater clarity as to the mechanisms for redress in the event registrants believe they have been unduly discriminated against. Asha Hemrajani asked for additional clarification about the GAC's advice on this topic, and Chris Disspain provided some background on the advice. The Committee discussed the proposed response to the GAC, and after discussion decided to send the proposed response to the GAC.

    3. GAC Category 2.2 Safeguard Advice – Exclusive Generic TLDs

      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. Based on feedback from its previous meeting, Akram Atallah presented two options to the Committee as potential paths forward to address the GAC's advice.

      The Committee engaged in a discussion to explore the relative merits and complexities of each option, which included a discussion about whether to prohibit exclusive generic TLDs in this round of the New gTLD Program and consult with the GNSO about developing consensus policy for future rounds; or whether a community process should be initiated to develop criteria to be used to evaluate whether an exclusive generic applicant's proposed exclusive registry access serves a public interest goal.

      Akarm gave an overview about how auctions, unresolved objection proceedings, and contracting would be impacted if a particular option were selected by the Committee.

      Chris Disspain suggested that the Committee consider moving forward by giving exclusive generic applicants a choice of either waiting for the GNSO to develop policy on the matter, or revising their current application to no longer operate on an exclusive basis.

      Rinalia Abdul Rahim commented that it would be appropriate to go to the GNSO for guidance since the GNSO is the policy development body. She asked what specific question would be put to the GNSO for policy development, and commented that broad consultation with the other stakeholders and advisory committees should be duly taken into account in any policy development work undertaken.

      George Sadowsky suggested that whatever option was selected, the criteria developed to evaluate whether an exclusive generic TLD serves a public interest goal should set a very high bar.

      The Committee decided to further discuss this matter at its next meeting.

    4. Any Other Business

      Allen Grogan provided a status update on matters concerning the .SUCKS TLD, which included an update on the response received from the United States Federal Trade Commission.

      Amy Stathos provided the Committee with a status update on the DCA Trust v. ICANN Independent Review Proceeding concerning the .AFRICA TLD. Amy noted that as required by the Bylaws, the Board would consider the final Declaration of the IRP Panel once it was issued.

      The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 24 August 2015