ICANN has launched a review of its internationalized domain name fast-track process, revealing a number of criticisms its country-code domain applicants have apparently had.
The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process is a way for ccTLD operators to quickly start selling fully non-Latin domains in their own local script.
It’s so far been successfully used to delegate IDN ccTLDs in Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts, among others.
ICANN now wants to know if it should make any improvements to the process and has opened a 60-day public comment period to solicit suggestions.
Because quite a lot of the Fast Track takes place behind closed doors, ICANN has also offered up a fairly revealing list of possible discussion topics.
It appears that the process has created new pressure points between ICANN and international governments, which are often formally affiliated with their ccTLDs.
For example, some governments dislike the fact that Fast Track requires the applicant to show support for its chosen string from its local community. ICANN reported:
Some [applicants] do not find it necessary to demonstrate community support for the string nor the manager. The reason being that such decisions can be made by government entities, and the need for support undermines the authority of the government in the country or territory.
There also appears to have been a bit of push-back from governments on the issue of “meaningfulness”, where applicants have to show their requested string adequately represents their territory’s name.
Some requesters have stated that this requirement is not necessary in cases where the strings requested are agreed to by the government and otherwise seem obviously meaningful.
In a concession to governments with sovereignty or financial concerns, ICANN does not charge an up-front fee for handling IDN ccTLD requests under the Fast Track.
Instead, it “recommends” a processing fee of $26,000 per string, which it invoices toward the end of the process, plus an ongoing 1-3% of IDN registration revenue.
So far, it has received $106,000 (covering presumably four strings, accounting for exchange rates), indicating that there are 11 IDN ccTLDs currently in the root that have not yet been paid for.
It will be interesting to see how many ccTLDs ultimately choose to pay up, and how many are happy for ICANN’s costs to be covered by fees paid by gTLD registrants like me and you.
The Fast Track review may also cover the topic of disputes and appeals. Currently, there is no dedicated mechanism by which a ccTLD that has had its requested string rejected can ask for reconsideration.
ICANN asks whether this should be changed.
The ICANN public comment period, with the full list of suggested discussion topics, can be found here.