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Some gTLD applicants welcome ICANN’s clash plan

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, 09:43:06 (UTC), Domain Registries

Some new gTLD applicants, including two of the bigger portfolio applicants, have grudgingly accepted ICANN’s latest name collisions remediation plan as a generally positive development.

ICANN this week scrapped its three-tier categorization of applications, implicitly accepting that it was based on a flawed risk analysis, and instead said new gTLDs can be delegated without delay if the registries promise to block every potentially impacted second-level domain.

You may recall that yesterday dotShabaka Registry said on DI that the plan was a “dog’s breakfast” and criticized ICANN for not taking more account of applicants’ comments.

But others are more positive, if not exactly upbeat, welcoming the opportunity to avoid the six-month delays ICANN’s earlier mitigation plan would have imposed on many strings.

Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling congratulated ICANN for reframing the debate, in light of Verisign’s ongoing campaign to persuade everyone that name collisions will be hugely risky. He told DI:

There has been a great deal of FUD surrounding name collisions from incumbent registry operators who are trying to negatively shape the utility of the new gTLDs they will be competing against.

I think it was important for ICANN to take control of the conversation in the name of common sense. These types of collisions are ultimately minor in the grand scheme and they occur each and every day in existing namespaces like .com, without the internet melting down.

I think anything that shapes conversation in a way that accelerates the process and sides with common sense is good, I have not yet thought of how this latest change can be gamed to the downside of new G’s.

Uniregistry has 51 remaining new gTLD applications, 20 of which were categorized as “uncalculated risk” and faced considerable delays under ICANN’s original plan.

Schilling’s take was not unique among applicants we talked on and off the record.

Top Level Domain Holdings is involved with 77 current applications as back-end provider — and as applicant in most of them — and also faced “uncalculated” delay on many.

CEO Antony Van Couvering welcomed ICANN’s plan less than warmly and raised questions about the future studies it plans to conduct, criticizing ICANN’s apparent lack of trust in its community:

Basically the move is positive. I characterize it as getting out of jail in exchange for some community service — definitely a trade I’ll make.

On the other hand, the decision betrays ICANN’s basic lack of confidence in its own staff and in the ICANN community. You can see this in the vagueness of the study parameters, because it’s not at all clear what the consultant will be studying or what criteria will be used to make any recommendations — or indeed if anything can be said beyond mere data collection.

But more important, they are hiring an outside consultant when the world’s experts on the subject are all here already, many willing to work for free. ICANN either doesn’t think it can trust its community and/or doesn’t know how to engage them. So they punt on the issue and hire a consultant. It’s a behavior you can see in poorly-run companies anywhere, and it’s discouraging for ICANN’s future.

Similar questions were posed and answered by ICANN’s former new gTLD program supremo Kurt Pritz, in a comment on DI last night. Pritz is now an independent consultant working with new gTLD applicants and others.

He speculated that ICANN’s main concern is not appeasing Verisign and its new allies in the Association of National Advertisers, but rather attempting to head off future governmental interference.

Apparently speaking on his own behalf, Pritz wrote:

The greatest concern is the big loss: some well-spoken individual going to the US Congress or the European Commission and saying, “those lunatics are about to delegate dangerous TLDs, there will be c-o-l-l-i-s-i-o-n-s!!!” All the self-interested parties (acting rationally self-interested) will echo that complaint.

And someone in a governmental role will listen, and the program might be at jeopardy.

So ICANN is taking away all the excuses of those claiming technical risk. By temporarily blocking ALL of the SLDs seen in the day-in-the-life data and by putting into place a process to address new SLD queries that might raise a risk of harm, ICANN is delegating TLDs that are several orders of magnitude safer on this issue than all of the hundreds of TLDs that have already been delegated.

Are you a new gTLD applicant? What do you think? Is ICANN’s plan good news for you?

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Comments (11)

  1. We see this new proposal positive for .CLUB. Our original submission suggested that we block the top 50 SLD’s which would have resulted in 60% of the collisions being blocked. Moving that to 100% doesn’t seem logical but if it is temporary we can live with it.

    It is a shame they are talking about every single collision. Not only is .CLUB 1/1000th of .home, but even if we blocked 96% which are two occurrences or higher we’d still only have to block 8557 names leaving about 4000 names with single occurrences. ICANN has thrown out the concept of materiality buying into the flawed concepts floated by interested parties “that even 1 single collision can be dangerous”.

  2. Andrew says:

    Remind me again how many days worth of data were collected in the DITL dataset?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It was 48 hours iirc.

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        For the newer datasets like 2012 and 2013, 48h. Originally it was 24h, so when combining all 8 datasets, some will be a day, some two days.

      • Andrew says:

        Let me guess…Verisign’s next argument will be that it needs to be for data collected over a longer period of time.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          The problem with that, as many applicants pointed out, is that now we all know the DITL data is the primary source for this stuff, it can be gamed. Just pay a botnet owner to spam DNS queries for the TLDs you don’t like.

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          Actually it was GE’s point in the public comments, and ICANN answer to that was to expand the collection for all 8 years of DITLs.

  3. Rubens Kuhl says:

    For us is not good news, and I don’t see it being for almost any ASCII gTLDs. It’s good news for the IDNs that are not currently used in alternate roots, and it’s good news for any user of alternate roots.

    For our and clients TLDs:
    “A total of 305149 records were considered representative
    and they are 73.870% of the gTLD dump”
    “A total of 2695 records were considered representative
    and they are 27.444% of the gTLD dump”
    “A total of 68993 records were considered representative
    and they are 83.509% of the gTLD dump”
    “A total of 31185 records were considered representative
    and they are 75.695% of the gTLD dump”
    “A total of 63662 records were considered representative
    and they are 74.293% of the gTLD dump”

    So by expanding the criteria to be all occurrences (100% of the dump) and all 8 DITLs (not only 2012-2013) it’s possible the blocking list could reach a million names.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Do you have any indication of how many of those would be invalid (eg, with underscores) or Google Chrome aberrations?

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        Of those listed, Google Chrome aberrations are not a big part, as JAS filtered out most single/low occurrence strings. Counting slddiv for one of the TLDs above showed about half being random or invalids.

  4. Donuts Inc. says:

    It’s positive that some TLDs appear to be near delegation, albeit almost a year behind schedule.

    The collision assessment still requires more definition — it’s unclear how the SLD concern list will be derived and how names will be removed from it. The removal process also needs to be protected against gaming by those who are incented to create the appearance of collisions by easily generating false queries.

    The ICANN Board has the ability to invoke temporary policies to address security and stability issues. If the Board is truly concerned about a security and stability issue regarding name collisions, how come it hasn’t exercised its ability to address the issue with existing registries and not just with new registries?

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