(No.150) The Multi-Stakeholder Model and the Evolving gTLD Space

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Workshop Theme: 
Internet Governance for Development [IG4D]
Theme Question: 

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

Concise Description of Workshop: 

  This workshop will provide a review of present developments in ICANN’s work in the gTLD namespace, as well as a discussion of emerging issues and how the multi-stakeholder model can respond to meet these in the future.  The New gTLD Program is a major initiative that reflects the intensive participation of many stakeholder groups and individuals.  In working out the details of the program, the multi-stakeholder collaborative process proved to be a rich source of expertise and a reliable methodology for resolution of complex and far-reaching global issues. The opening of the gTLD space presents a number of opportunities:  potential for innovation, increased diversity of scripts, languages, regional and community representation in the DNS, and increased competition and consumer choice.  It also creates additional opportunities for the multi-stakeholder model to be strengthened with increased participation and capacity to build on existing provisions for the namespace, in keeping with ICANN’s responsibility to serve the global public interest. The workshop will include a description of the current status of the New gTLD Program, including an update on the evaluation process for the applications received during the January – April 2012 submission period. The workshop will also highlight the potential opportunities of the New gTLD Program in introducing top-level domains in multiple languages and scripts, and discuss how Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) could contribute effectively to the development of a more inclusive, and multi-lingual Internet. In addition, a set of panelists representing the perspectives of multiple sectors and regions will discuss areas of work that are anticipated to be presented to the multi-stakeholder community, including increasing IDN capabilities, broadening participation in developing countries, strides in accountability and transparency, and other topics..  The interactive elements in the workshop will allow in-depth consideration of these questions, particularly in identifying any issues on which greater clarification and mutual understanding would be helpful.  The workshop is targeted toward those with an interest in the Internet’s namespace and the multi-stakeholder model.
·       A general introductory question on the new gTLD program as a multi-stakeholder process.
·       Update on the program, where things are and way forward.
·       Role of governments in the process from policy development to implementation.
·       Internet multilingualism contributes to the development of the Internet, particularly in non-English speaking societies. How does UNESCO perceive the potential impact of IDN TLDs on the Internet?
·       With nearly half of the Internet population coming from Asia, what is the potential impact of new gTLDs, including IDN gTLDs on the end user?
·       Many expect new gTLDs to drive more innovation. What is the outlook of the domain name industry in Africa and what business opportunities new gTLDs can bring to Africa?
·       Impact of new gTLDs on security and stability of DNS.

Backgroung Paper: 
Organiser(s) Name: 


Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Moderator: * Chris Disspain, auDA Panelists: * Akram Atallah, Chief Operating Officer, ICANN * Bill Woodcock, Founder and Research Director, Packet Clearing House (PCH) * Professor Dr. Hong Xue, Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law (IIPL), Beijing Normal University * Janis Karklins, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO * Maria Häll, Deputy Director - Division for Information Technology Policy , Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Sweden * Mouhamet Diop, CEO, Kheweul.com
All panelists are confirmed. 

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Baher Esmat
Reported by: 
Baher Esmat
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

·      Chris Disspain, auDA
·      Akram Atallah, Chief Operating Officer, ICANN
·      Bill Woodcock, Founder and Research Director, Packet Clearing House (PCH)
·      Professor Dr. Hong Xue, Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law (IIPL), Beijing Normal University
·      Janis Karklins, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO
·      Maria Häll, Deputy Director - Division for Information Technology Policy, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Sweden
·      Mouhamet Diop, CEO, Kheweul.com
Summary of main topics:
·      Update on the new gTLD program
·      Role of governments in the process
·      Potential impact of IDN TLDs on the Internet
·      DNS industry in Asia and Africa: key developments, challenges and opportunities
·      Technical aspects in relation to critical Internet resources, and security and stability of the DNS
Main points:
·      ICANN is currently in the middle of the initial evaluation process, aiming to complete it by end of June next year; all of the comments have been gathered; objections are ongoing; almost all applications will require some clarifications; clarifying questions to come out by the end of November; draw event will take place in mid‑December to prioritize applications; many details are still in the work, e.g. how to ensure that ‘community strings’ applicants fulfill their business plans and commit to what they presented in their applications.
·      ICANN multistakeholder model works; there is room for improvements, and best way for preserving the model is by improving it; GAC has been part of the new gTLD process, the ‘scorecard’ was a very good piece of work, it flagged public policy aspects related to new gTLDs (e.g. consumer rights, economic perspectives, technical infrastructure perspectives, etc); dialogue between ICANN Board and GAC has become much more better; Both governments (GAC) and ICANN need to mutually understand how each party woks; GAC and all stakeholders are involved as part of multi-equal- stakeholder model;  The new gTLD program has lifted the profile of the GAC; operating in a multi-stakeholder model is a challenge, not only for governments but also for all stakeholders; a lot has been done over years, and IGF for example has been valuable in helping stakeholders understand one another;
·      There is a general perception that IDNs will help bring more people online, particularly those who do not recognize the Latin script; UNESCO-EURid study shows that there are challenges facing the uptake of IDNs; two main reasons for that: one is technical and the other one is organizational; the technical is in relation to services available for IDN TLDs, they are by far less than those available for ASCII TLDs, further work is needed to make browsers better support IDNs, and to introduce IDN e‑mail capability, as well as major services like social networks, etc; the organizational aspects are those related to registration policies within countries, the study proved that where policy of registration is liberal, the uptake is faster, and vice versa; IDNs drive content growth and very soon English is unlikely to be the top language used online; those technical/ service issues need to be resolved otherwise the uptake of IDN gTLDs may be as slow as IDN ccTLDs; introduction of new gTLDs may put positive pressure on the technical community to resolve those issues; the Universal Acceptance project is key in that regard.
·      New gTLDs should address users needs and should respect users experience, for example confusing similarity should be decided upon by people who use IDN scripts; there is more than 300 new gTLD applicants from Asia Pacific; regional organizations are working on legal frameworks and trade agreements, a lot of development going on in areas like intellectual property rights, privacy, data flow, etc. all this will have an impact on both ccTLDs and gtLDs; where is this from ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model? ICANN stakeholder engagement team should reach out to those stakeholders; current trademark protection model will be effective only for the developed economy, but it will be too costly for small enterprises and local brads in Asia to use; IDN gTLDs are likely to be vibrant in China.
·      There could be a conflict between a trademark and some name that belongs to one community or culture; short answer to this is independent objector because it is the independent objector's job to make those moral decisions.
·      Only 17 new gTLD applications from Africa; domain name industry in Africa is far from being similar to the developed world in terms of investments, policies, etc; it is not just price although the price needs to come down, it is not just the new gTLD program whether this round or the next one, it is about establishing an industry in Africa around existing gTLDs and ccTLDs so that there is a market for startups and entrepreneurs; only few registrars operate in the local market today but there are many people who sell domains in Africa and they have no legal relationship with ICANN; consumer choice, and consumer protection are core values of the multi-stakeholder model; it is our duty as community and as ICANN to help get proper and better industries serving end users in Africa.
Three main challenges in relation to technical infrastructures: 1) ICANN have trusted relationship with the existing 300 TLDs, that have to be known to ICANN staff; that is a very human process, and obviously one that doesn't scale well; this is a much bigger issue than how many zones can be added to the root; 2) the mandatory DNSSEC requirement with new gTLDs is an excellent thing, but the problem is that DNSSEC implementation is still difficult and often comes with glitches; 3) Lack of IPv4 blocks that TLD operators need to get a for each name server, though there might be solutions to this problem (e.g. convince ISPs to accept smaller blocks), implementing such solutions take time; this is a question of whether new market entrants will be supported in the same way that TLD operators have been up until today; one could argue though that there is no necessity of that as TLD operators could easily outsource 

Conclusions and further comments: 

·      The new gTLD program opened up the membership of the multistakeholder; ICANN has been hearing only from IP attorneys, now we are starting to see the marketing folks and the business development folks from the brands, etc.
·      Though some may still argue that it is hard for governments to accept the multi-stakeholder process; many have recognized that GAC role within ICANN multi-stakeholder model has been improved.
·      ICANN community has a responsibility for meeting the expectations and the needs of the Internet community in Africa and the developing world.