(No.122) New gTLDs: Implications and Potential for Community Engagement, advocacy and Development

Go to Report
Workshop Theme: 
Internet Governance for Development [IG4D]
Theme Question: 

Question 2 of IG4D Thematic Cluster 1 "Pending Expansion of the Top Level Domain Space"

Concise Description of Workshop: 

Workshop Description:
The ICANN’s new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) programme is a big topic within the Internet industry, but appears to have received little community interest with only 4% of new gTLD applications marked as being community-related.  Few measures have been taken to facilitate the participation and engagement of communities, particularly those from the developing world.  Keeping in mind that the Internet should remain open and diverse, the new gTLD process should also reflect this principle and support the participation of communities and NGOs in addition to that of businesses.  This workshop will consider the implications and potential of new gTLDs for community engagement, advocacy and development.  It aims to uncover the difficulties encountered by some communities in participating in the new gTLD process and to identify the type of support needed for effective engagement. 
Aspects to be covered by the workshop include:
1. Potential of New gTLDs in Community Engagement, Development and Advocacy
(a) Can new gTLDs support community engagement, development and advocacy?  If so, how, and are there examples where learning can be drawn?  (b) What impact would ownership of gTLD registry have on this potential (i.e., does it make a difference if a community gTLD Registry is operated by the community itself or by a business entity?)
2. Boundaries of Developing World Communities
Entities from the developing world are usually given priority in development programmes.  However, there are many minorities or under-served communities that are transnational and cannot be clearly defined as from the developing world. The “kids” community is one such example.  Other examples may include the African diaspora beyond the African continent.  How can the engagement of such communities be encouraged and on what basis can prioritization of new gTLD applications from such communities be argued?
3. Funding Support and Sustainable Business Models
NGOs and communities may have a low economic capability given their not-for-profit nature.  For example, it is common for them to encounter difficulties in securing commercial funding.  (a) In cases where communities would like to “own” their new gTLD registries, what kind of funding support should be accorded to them and what kind of business models can they adopt to ensure sustainability?  (b) What kind of partnerships with business entities would be supportive of community ownership?
4. Awareness Raising and Capacity Building
Many NGOs or communities are still unfamiliar with the Internet, let alone gTLDs.
(a) What are effective ways of facilitating their understanding of domain names and gTLDs in particular?  (b) What kind of support would be needed from industry players to help communities navigate the complex and expertise-based requirements of the new gTLD application and implementation process?

Organiser(s) Name: 

Asia, Australasia and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organization of ICANN (APRALO) and DotKids Foundation, Asia Pacific

Previous Workshop(s): 


Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Rinalia Abdul Rahim, ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Asia, Australasia and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organization of ICANN (APRALO) (Confirmed)
·       Fouad Bajwa, Internet Policy Research Group at Oi2, Pakistan (Confirmed)
·       Olga Cavali, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina (Confirmed)
·       Edmon Chung, DotAsia Organisation, Asia Pacific (Confirmed) 
·       Scott Seitz, DotGay, America (Confirmed)
·       Koffi Fabrice Djossou, DotAfrica, Africa (Confirmed)
·       Andrei Kolesnikov, Coordination Centre for TLD RU, Russia (Confirmed)
·       Cheryl Langdon-Orr, .au Domain Administration Ltd, Australia (Confirmed)
·       Yannis Li, DotKids Foundation, Asia (Confirmed)
Remote Moderator: Ms. Bianco Ho, NetMission Ambassador, Asia Pacific (Confirmed)
Feeder Workshop Rapporteur to Main Session:  Rinalia Abdul Rahim, ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Asia, Australasia and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organization of ICANN (APRALO) (Confirmed)

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Ms. Bianca Ho, NetMission Ambassador, Asia Pacific (Confirmed)
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
Reported by: 
Yannis Li
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

In the pending expansion of the Top Level Domain Space, ICANN has received close to 2000 new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) applications.  Of note is the low number of applications categorized as “community”-related (i.e., 84 community applications representing 4% of total applications).  Various contributing factors have been discussed to explain the phenomenon such as the problem of general awareness attributed to insufficient outreach efforts.  For communities, especially those from the developing world, few measures have been taken to facilitate their participation and engagement.
There is still a lack of awareness and understanding about the value of new gTLDs for communities and there are also specific challenges and barriers that serve to limit community adoption.
The workshop explored the following questions towards identifying the opportunities and challenges presented by new gTLDs for communities:
1.     What is the value proposition of new TLDs for communities (i.e., the opportunities)?
2.     What are the challenges in the uptake and sustainability of new TLDs for communities?
3.     What type of support is needed to increase uptake and ensure sustainability?
4.     What are the unique issues that apply for cross-border communities?

Conclusions and further comments: 

The workshop discussion involved approximately 30 people and featured perspectives from representatives of communities that have applied for new gTLDs as well as views from regions around the world.  Highlights and main points are as follows:
*Opportunities/Value Proposition of new GTLDs for Communities*
  - Raises awareness about the community (i.e., makes communities visible with the identity that they choose);
  - Builds the community (i.e., allows the community to connect and to be found by others who share the same or similar identity, which enhances community ties and network);
  - Supports community advocacy (i.e., raises awareness about the community’s interests, issues and concerns), which has implications for mobilization of support/resources;
  - Supports the safety needs of vulnerable communities (e.g., children and the gay community);
  - Allows for the development and provision of services specifically for the community and in particular those with special needs; and
 - Surplus revenue can be channeled to support community-development via Foundations.
*Adoption/Uptake Challenges for Communities*
  - Complicated application process with high start-up cost (technical, marketing, advertising, community consultations, etc.);
  - Application process requires community endorsement, which is difficult to obtain without substantial prior engagement, consultation and mobilization of support;
  - Information about financial assistance was not widely circulated and financial support requirement is premised on demonstration of financial stability, which defeats the purpose of financial assistance;
  - Community-names taken up by companies, which requires dispute resolution; and
  - Availability of Second Level Domain Name opportunities.
*Support Needed for Sustainability*
  - Availability of local registrars/partners to distribute names
  - vertical integration as a solution for this appears to be controversial;
  - Strategies for dealing with abuse of community domains; and
  - Partnerships that bring in critical components needed for successful application and implementation (technical expertise, financial support, outreach support, sustainable business models, etc), before, during and post delegation of TLDs.
*Unique Issues for Cross-Border Communities*
 - Difficulty in identifying the boundary of cross-border communities that are global; and
  - Difficulty in obtaining financial support for community applications that are trying to serve a global community of people that reside in both developed and developing countries
*Recommendations for a new gTLD Remedial Round Targeted at Developing
Countries and Under-Served Communities*
  - Initiate an experimental fast track round with approximately 25 new gTLDs;
  - Revise the application process and guidebook based on weaknesses already identified by the community;
 - Provide for a sunset policy and process where new gTLDs can fail gracefully;
  - Adjust the requirement for financial stability in evaluating the need for financial support; and
  - Ensure that the community evaluation process allows for community consultation and mobilization to happen after the application has been approved.