[At-Large] A message from the bottom on city TLD governance
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.
Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founder & Chair
(former) Member, .NYC Community Advisory Board
TomL at connectingnyc.org <mailto:toml at communisphere.com>
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
* 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?
* 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
* 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
* 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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