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Minutes | New gTLD Program Committee 11 April 2013

A Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held in Beijing, China on 11 April 2013 at 6:00 pm local time. A transcript of the meeting is publicly posted at http://beijing46.icann.org/node/37481.

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: Fadi Chehadé (President and CEO), Chris Disspain, Bill Graham, Olga Madruga-Forti, Erika Mann, Gonzalo Navarro Ray Plzak George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, Judith Vazquez, and Kuo-Wei Wu.

Thomas Narten, IETF Liaison and Francisco da Silva, TLG Liaison, were in attendance as non-voting liaisons to the committee.

Heather Dryden, GAC Liaison, was in attendance as an invited observer.

This is a preliminary report the Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee, which took place on 11 April 2013.

  1. Main Agenda
    1. Approval of NCPC Meeting Minutes
    2. New gTLD Program Readiness
    3. IGO Protection Issues
    4. Closed Generics
    5. New gTLD Agreements


  1. Main Agenda

    The Chair opened the meeting and briefly reviewed the agenda.

    1. Approval of NGPC Meeting Minutes

      Ray Plzak moved and George Sadowsky seconded the following resolution:

      Resolved (2013.04.11.01), the NGPC approves the minutes of the 1 February 2013 and 2 February 2013 NGPC Meetings.

      All members of the New gTLD Program Committee approved of Resolution 2013.04.11.01. The Resolution carried.

    2. New gTLD Program Readiness

      The Chair read a brief statement into the record regarding the readiness of the New gTLD Program:

      The New gTLD Program Committee performs oversight of the readiness of the New gTLD Program. In that regard, the cCmmittee met twice in Beijing with the ICANN CEO and his management team.

      The Committee is satisfied with progress to date and is fully supportive of the CEO and his management team.

      The Committee and the CEO agreed upon the following five points:

      First: whilst the New gTLD Program Committee understands the importance of certainty, it has agreed with the CEO that there should be no artificially fixed deadlines. Therefore, progress will continue without undue delays. But the timing and the rate of each step in the program will proceed in a controlled and measured manner.

      Second: The security, stability, and resilience of the root server system is paramount and will not be jeopardized.

      Third: The known risks to the program have been and will continue to be mitigated.

      Fourth: ICANN staff is and will continue to be prepared to act swiftly if or when anticipated problems occur.

      Fifth: The ICANN community will be given time to comment on the RAA and the RA agreements consistent with ICANN's multistakeholder model and commitment to accountability and transparency. Thank you.

    3. IGO Protection Issues

      Chris Disspain read a statement into the record similar to the comment that he made at the GAC/Board meeting earlier in the week:

      There are some misunderstandings flying around, the first one is a misunderstanding the Board has protected the acronym "IOC." That is not correct. The Board has not protected that. There's also a misunderstanding that the resolution of the IGOs we made on the 26th of November already says that we will protect names and acronyms. That is not correct. And I read the relevant part of the resolution to the GAC.

      In respect to the GAC's advice, the advice in respect to names is problematic because of the square brackets around the number of languages the protection would be given in and the lack of any information as to a review process.

      In respect to the advice on acronyms, this is extremely problematic. There are a number of reasons set out in our letter to the GAC which followed their advice. There has been discussion about reserving the acronyms but allowing the relevant IGO to give consent to a registration in a TLD.

      From a principled point of view, this would mean, as an example, that the Church of England would require the approval of the Council of Europe to register COE.church.

      I think the other examples I used were that the Canadian government would require the consent of the Andean community to register CAN dot something. The international standards organization, an organization with which ICANN has a fairly close understanding, would require the consent of the International Sugar Organization in order to register ISO dot something.

      Even if, in principle, this is what the GAC intended by their advice, from an implementation point of view, this is extremely problematic. Questions include: who at each IGO would give consent? How long would an IGO have to give consent? Would no reply equal consent? What criteria would be used for consent? Who would draft those criteria? Would the criteria for consent be the same for each IGO, or would consent be given at the whim of each IGO?

      The Board believes that all of these issues may make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accept the GAC's advice as-is. Rather than reject the advice, we seek acknowledgment from the GAC in its Communiqué that there are issues that need to be worked through and an agreement that the GAC, board, and staff will work through those issues with a deadline for formal resolution in Durban.

      Now, the GAC's Communiqué arrived a couple hours ago. There is wording in there about the IGOs. And my first reading of it seems to say that there is acknowledgment and that they will work with us. So that's good. I guess we'll consider the advice over the next little while and then respond to that and decide what the next steps are. So that's where we are with that.

    4. Closed Generics

      Olga Madruga-Forti read a statement into the record regarding the issue of exclusive use, or "closed generic" top level domains:

      Given community expressions of concern on the topic of exclusive use N gTLDs, for as some refer to them, closed generics, on February 2nd, 2013, the Committee passed a resolution requesting the CEO and staff to open a public comment forum on exclusive use N gTLD applications. In the course of those deliberations, the Committee noted that the expressions of concern from members of the community raised such issues as exclusive use gTLDs should be reserved only for those strings in which the applicant possesses established intellectual property rights. Generic words belong to all people.

      Closed generic or exclusive use strings could cause significant consumer and Internet user confusion. Exclusive use N gTLDs could have significant impact on competition, consumer choice, and the public interest.

      On February 5th, 2013, ICANN opened a 30-day public comment period on this topic. Over 260 comments were received. The majority of the comments largely echoed the expressions of concern.

      The Committee also sought GNSO guidance on the issue. And on March 7th, 2013, the GNSO Council responded noting that, given the relatively short time frame, it was not possible to provide guidance on the issue with due consideration. Nevertheless, the Council encouraged the GNSO members to share their views through their relevant public comment forum.

      The Committee is now actively considering the public comments received and staff analysis. Today, as Bruce Tonkin referenced earlier, the GAC has published important advice to the board on this topic. The Committee will analyze in detail and take into consideration this advice. The Committee understands that the advice may raise public policy implications and appreciates very much the GAC work on the matter.

      The Committee anticipates concluding its deliberations on exclusive use N gTLDs before the end of April. However, should a decision still be pending at that time, we will inform and communicate of an indicative timeline. The Committee realizes and recognizes the importance of understanding all views and potential ramifications relating to exclusive use N gTLDs.

    5. New gTLD Agreements

      The President and CEO provided an update on the status of the New gTLD Registry Agreement and the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement, noting that both are to be posted for public comment as soon as they are available, which should be in the coming weeks. Once the agreements are posted, they will follow the regular 21-day comment/21-day reply period.

      In addition, work is already underway to determine how the operational side can be sped up, such as allowing registry applicants to proceed to predelegation testing prior to contract signing. The President and CEO stated his commitment to this issue and having the program remain agile. On the registrar side, just as registrars will have to add operational processes to meet the new requirements, so will ICANN, and this work will proceed. We will keep doing this work in parallel as we can.

      It is necessary to take the time to review these agreements and allow community voices to be heard in this process.

      The Chair then opened the floor for additional comment.

      Erika Mann requested that that the Committee work with staff on timetables for resolution of the multiple issues before the Committee.

      The Chair confirmed that the Committee will be meeting within the next two weeks to start considering the GAC advice issues, and then a timeline will proceed from that.

      Erika also requested an analysis of the GAC advice received, topic by topic, to give some groundwork for the Committee.

      The Chair then called the meeting to a close.

      The Committee then had a brief discussion regarding planning and timelines prior to the ICANN meeting in Durban, South Africa, including addressing the GAC advice released during the Beijing meeting.

      The Chair then called the meeting to a close.

Published on 20 May 2013