[At-Large] A message from the bottom on city TLD governance

Thomas Lowenhaupt toml at communisphere.com
Mon May 4 19:02:10 UTC 2015

Fellow At-Large Members:

With multistakeholder governance a bottom-up process, I thought the 
At-Large would be interested in the experiences we've had here in New 
York City with the .nyc TLD. While it's still under a year since our TLD 
was activated, some experience might aide those shaping the global 
governance structure. Our recent post "Toward Effective Governance Of 
The .nyc TLD" is available at http://wp.me/pBzzv-A6 and reprinted below. 
Also, we did a 6 month review of the TLD available here 

The above activities largely reflect our traditional advocacy role. As 
an At-Large Structure we're exploring the local role we will play. Any 
experiences from At-Large Structures in other newly TLD'd cities would 
be greatly appreciated.


Tom Lowenhaupt

Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founder & Chair
Connecting.nyc Inc.
(former) Member, .NYC Community Advisory Board
TomL at connectingnyc.org <mailto:toml at communisphere.com>
Connectingnyc.org <http://Connectingnyc.org>

Jackson Hts., NYC
718 639 4222

Toward Effective Governance Of The .nyc TLD (from http://wp.me/pBzzv-A6):

    Toward Effective Governance Of The .nyc TLD

Posted by: Editor <http://www.connectingnyc.org/author/editor/>

city hall question 
Hts., New York, April 29, 2015 – While there are no published governance 
documents for the .nyc TLD, it’s our understanding that oversight is 
shared by representatives from the Department of Information and Telecom 
Technology, the Economic Development Corporation, the Office of 
Innovation and Technology, with the Department of Law advising. It’s a 
fluid process outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with the 
contractor implementing consensus decisions. But who does what and the 
existence (or not) of channels for public engagement remains unclear.

Having emerged from the city’s democratic governance structure, we 
acknowledge the MOU as legitimate by traditional standards. However, 
considering the plethora of roles our city’s TLD will play, we believe 
additional channels for public engagement are essential – especially in 
these early days of .nyc’s development. Before offering our suggestions 
on an improved governance structure, we’d like to present some thoughts 
on the context in which .nyc exists.

  * Our City Charter was approved in 1987, before the Internet as we
    know it existed. It provides little guidance for oversight of .nyc
    or other Net resources.
  * New York City is among the first to develop a city specific-TLD and
    is ploughing virgin pastures with no experience among other global
    cities to draw upon.
  * Experience and expertise for operating city TLDs is emerging on a
    daily basis here and in the 30 other global cities developing their
    own TLDs.
  * The Internet will become an increasingly vital part of our city’s
    social and economic health in the coming years. Internet access,
    training, and our domain names must be managed with utmost care.
  * This is the Internet, it’s 2015, and people – especially our younger
    population – expect oversight to be open, transparent, and accountable.
  * There is some resistance to the development of Internet resources
    such as TLDs being managed in the public interest.


With minimal experience to draw upon, the scope and scale of issues 
requiring oversight remains an unknown. User experiences will set the 
oversight agenda over the next few years, however, questions such as the 
following will certainly need attention.


  * How much should it cost to buy a .nyc domain name?
  * Should prices be uniform for businesses, nonprofits, individuals,
    etc., or should there be a pricing structure that encourages
    not-for-profit activity in this area?
  * Is the .nyc TLD infrastructure worthy of investment?
  * Must the .nyc TLD be self sufficient?

ownership rights

  * Should some of the 3,000 premium names (.news.nyc, hotels.nyc,
    pizza.nyc, etc) be set aside for distribution by a means other than
    a high bid auction?
  * Should the encouragement of innovative proposals be given preference
    in making premium domain name allocation decisions?
  * Which premium names should have public interest commitments attached
    to their development rights?
  * What are these public interest requirements?
  * Who sets and approves them?
  * What should be the compliance mechanisms?


  * Does the city stand behind its TLD?
  * Where does one go to make a complaint about a service or product
    sold by a site using a .nyc domain name?
  * Who assures that complaints are addressed?
  * What monitoring of user registration (nexus) and activation is in
    place and planned?
  * Should the requirements of INTRO. 683-2015
    setting accessibility standards for city government operated
    websites, be required for all .nyc sites?

the public commons

  * How are civicly important domain names to be identified?
  * What usage level constitutes effective use of a civicly important
    domain name?
  * How can the city promote effective use of civicly important domain
  * What process should be followed to reclaim impotent civicly
    important domain names?
  * Should the city invest in templates to facilitate developing
    websites for categories of domain names, for example, the


  * What are the linkages between the city’s universal broadband policy,
    education, the public access channels, and domain names?
  * How can mom and pop businesses be encouraged to utilize .nyc domain
    names (and the Internet)?
  * Should individual domain name registrants be able to keep their home
    addresses private through some type of proxy service?
  * What pricing, training, and allocation policies will facilitate the
    equitable distribution of .nyc domain names?


  * What programs should be used to educate New Yorkers about the
    utility and structure of the .nyc TLD?
  * What awareness and training programs can encourage civil society to
    better utilize the web?
  * How can we encourage a culture that proudly presents and protects
    our city’s internet resources?


  * Would effective privacy and security features entice more New
    Yorkers to use our city’s TLD?
  * Should we explore “digital city” relations with other TLD cities?
  * Should the city support a “green” policy that encourages .nyc
    websites to use power efficient systems?
  * Should access to .nyc sites be sped up by requiring that DNS servers
    be housed in the city?
  * What levels of transparency access should there be to DNS usage data?

It’s worth reiterating that the .nyc domain was only activated in late 
2014, and the range of issues a city TLD will face is only emerging. 
It’s reasonable to assume that the experiences of city dwellers here, 
and in 30 other cities just activating their TLDs, will help answer 
these questions and bring up others for resolution.

But today there are no direct or dedicated channels for communicating 
with city government about our TLD. Today’s communications options are 
limited, with an email to the mayor or a council member being perhaps 
the most effective.


City-TLD governance is a complex process requiring a framework, 
operating model, and infrastructure to enable effective oversight and 
relationships between management and users.

With 75,000 domain names sold and new websites being activated every 
day, we need engagement efforts and communication channels that 
facilitate sharing between residents and oversight entities. We need 
these here in the city and we need channels to share issues and best 
practices with the 30 other cities developing their TLDs.

The experts on our city’s TLD are the 8,200,000 residents who are 
purchasing the domain names, making websites, and accessing them. It’s 
time we empower them to shape our city’s TLD. To do so City Hall should 
initiate short and long term governance efforts.

*Long Term *– Looking back to 2001 and the Internet Empowerment 
Resolution that first called for our city to acquire .nyc, Queens 
Community Board 3’s recommendation was that the Commission on Public 
information and Communication 
(COPIC) be .nyc’s oversight entity. That still sounds like a reasonable 

But COPIC needs funding, staffing, and a legislative fix. The Public 
Advocate, Trish James, has applied for funding, and staffing will follow.

The legislative fix should create a more comprehensive purview of the 
digital city, taking into account the need for universal access, 
processes and programs to facilitate the Internet’s effective use, the 
role (cable’s) public access channels should play in the Internet world, 
as well as the oversight of domain names. Additional public members 
should be placed on COPIC, selected by individual owners of .nyc domain 

The digital revolution’s impact on all aspect of city government’s 
operation should be reflected in .nyc’s planning and development. With 
the similarities of domain names to real estate, we see value in the 
City Planning Commission participating in COPIC reviews. Lessons from 
its ULURP and other public participation processes would aide in 
exploring appropriate uses for our city’s digital land. Additionally, 
CUNY and our other universities should have a say in the review processes.

*Short Term* – The .NYC Community Advisory Board should be 
reconstituted. This interim body was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and 
strengthened by Mayor de Blasio. But it’s charter ended last December 31 
and nothing has emerged to replacement it.

  * The .nyc Advisory Board had a knowledgeable and active core
    membership that should be reappointed.
  * It should be supported with staff and resources to facilitate broad
    public engagement.
  * The Board’s operation should be open and transparent with channels
    enabling contributions by the public, small businesses, and civil
  * Channels should be established with other TLD cities experiencing
    the same challenging birth to identify common issues and best practices.

To a far greater degree than the global Internet, New York’s Internet is 
a tangible resource, with its impact seen and felt as we move through 
the city. Let’s assure that tools to enable our residents to effectively 
govern this new force are made available now and for the long term.

In a future post we’ll take a look at the technology and relationships 
that enable the Internet’s global reach and see where and how the city 
might interact there.


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