[At-Large] gTLD Review Group decisions regarding the comments by IT for Change, India

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Sep 27 17:22:46 UTC 2012

On 27 September 2012 11:57, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:

> You say that it is within the scope of the WG to give advice on the
> private gTLD issue. You have pointed to me to the page where the listed
> issues for the WG can be seen. Here I see that on the issue of private
> gTLDs the token holder (not exactly sure what it means though) is Evan
> Leibovitch.

Actually, I'm not sure what the term "token holder" means either. I know I
have had an interest in the issue, done significant research, and
participated in many relevant ICANN working groups to date. But, then, so
have many others here.

> However, in an email on 25th Sept, on the newspaper article that I did
> on private gtlds, Evan had the following to say....
>     " This would have been an extremely useful intervention ... three
> years ago.   In its current form it's merely an act of hindsight, and as
> such its value is severely diminished."
> In response to my input to the Dev's WG, which he was kind enough to post
> on the ICANN website, Evan posted a response which claims that
>     "While I share the concerns and have expressed many myself, the
> ability to affect gTLD expansion policy in this direction is also long
> passed."

Indeed, and I stand by that.

> If the token holder of the issue of private tlds so firmly believes that
> this issue is not something that anything can be done about at present, I
> wonder what is the discussion about.

The ALAC has the bylaw-mandated remit to advise ICANN on any component of
its operation, at any time. And its gTLD working group has the ability to
advance any issue to the wider ALAC for consideration as formal Advice to
the ICANN Board.

In the current application process the ALAC has been given a further
capabilty to launch specific objections against specific applications for
one of two very specific reasons:

   1. The string being applied for is overly offensive of obscene
   2. An applicant for a community TLD is not properly representing the
   claimed community

Your objections do not fall under one of the above categories, so they are
beyond ALAC's capacity to object using its explicitly granted authority in
this regard. As such, it becomes just another general policy issue, and I
am suggesting that this particular issue is long past its due date.

Your core issue -- the private ownership of public words -- was long ago
settled by consensus, a consensus in which At-Large participated (and with
which some of us -- myself included -- had severe reservations). The
embodiment of that consensus is the gTLD Applicant Guidebook, the subject
of years of debate and side-debates that is now used as a contractual
document. ALAC has the formal freedom to demand the issue be re-opened --
against the desires of every other stakeholder and our own participation in
the consensus -- but I believe that to so do would be utterly pointless and

So let's be clear. There was no ALAC "discussion" on the issue before your
(and some domain-industry) comments were brought to our attention. The core
issue you advanced -- whether or not it had merit -- is now moot. Companies
have filed legitimate good-faith applications, and given ICANN monetary
deposits, under published guidelines that allow private ownership of TLD
strings. So even should I agree with you on your core issue, advancing it
at this time (which we are *technically* entitled to do) would either get
us ignored or get ICANN sued.

Had you raised them when the applicant guidebook was under intense debate,
you may have indeed sparked very useful debate, and perhaps affected
opinions and the ALAC's attitudes at a time when we could have had
influence on the final expansion policy. But your voice and this PoV was
non-existent then. In fact, the real time to make such a case was even
longer ago, when precedents were set by the private allocation of TLDs for
common words such as .name and .museum.

Lest there be any doubt, I have long held the position -- that most in
At-Large can verify -- that the gTLD expansion process as a whole is (with
a very few exceptions) an utter waste of resources and, on the balance,
harmful to the public interest. As such I have great understanding and and
empathy for your position. But I (and other expansion cynics) could have
used your support long ago, when the debate might have produced actual
policy results.

Right now, though, aggressively stating this case simply comes across as
bitter hindsight. And even that hindsight may be misplaced, IMO  -- but
that's a different topic for, perhaps, a different discussion. Suffice to
say for now that it's interesting that the only comments I have seen
opposing private ownership of public strings -- besides yours -- come from
the domain speculation industry.

Just my opinions.

- Evan

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