The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse wants ICANN to name the date for its second new top-level domains application round, and suggested that it could come as early as one year from now.
President Josh Bourne told DI that the lobbyist, a long-time opponent of new gTLDs, has “switched gears”, taking a more pragmatic position since the program was approved in June.
“It’s not just about big companies at this point,” he said. “We’ve got hundreds of entrepreneurs and governments planning to apply for a range of gTLDs, – .wales, .london, .paris, .health, .green, .eco…”
“It’s not just about brands, so to cancel the policy now, that’s just never going to happen,” he said.
Bourne said that CADNA’s policy shift created a vacuum of opposition that was quickly filled by groups such as the Association of National Advertisers, which is now loudly demanding that the program be killed off or delayed indefinitely.
CADNA is not aligned with the ANA. Instead, it intends to write to ICANN soon to ask it to start planning for the second round already, saying this would help relieve the pressure on businesses.
“The best thing they could do for businesses and other applicants like entrepreneurs is to say ‘We’ve got the first round planned for January 12 to April 12, we’re going to tell the world right now that we’re going to have a vote in Costa Rica in March to approve a plan to have the second round in the fall of 2012’,” Bourne said.
He admitted that he doesn’t know if late 2012 is feasible – ICANN expects to still be early in the evaluation process for the first round at that time – but suggested that the windfall from first-round fees will be sufficient to ramp up bandwidth.
The lack of a second-round date is forcing companies to act quickly on new gTLDs with no idea whether they really want or need them. No company wants to be left behind for years or perhaps forever if their competitors are successfully exploiting their new gTLDs.
“People in businesses thinking of applying mainly do so not because they have a grand scheme, it’s because they’re scared,” he said.
“For the most part they’re getting accustomed to the notion that they’re buying an option, the right to use it in 2013 if other companies are using them,” he added.
The reason ICANN has not yet said when a second round will be offered is its commitment to review the impact of the first round before accepting any more applications.
The Applicant Guidebook currently states:
ICANN has committed to reviewing the effects of the New gTLD Program on the operations of the root zone system after the first application round, and will defer the delegations in a second application round until it is determined that the delegations resulting from the first round did not jeopardize root zone system security or stability.
That paragraph was added in April, following consultations between ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee, which based its demands on ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments.
The AoC, which was based in part on feedback from businesses and IP interests, also calls for a more substantial review of the program, taking into account consumer choice and abuse.