In what is likely to turn out to be a storm in a teacup, ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee is set to vote on a resolution calling for a delay to the new generic top-level domains program.
The ALAC, ICANN’s policy-making body tasked with representing individual end users, has been discussing a possible update to its position on new gTLDs for the last few days.
A first-draft motion, proposed by vice-chair Evan Leibovitch, said the program “would be harmful to the public interest” and requested that its January 12 launch be “suspended”.
It’s since been watered down twice, and may well be watered down further before (and if) the ALAC considers it at its January 24 monthly meeting.
The resolution currently talks about a “a deep concern about the possible harmful effect on Internet end-users of a single massive expansion of gTLDs”.
It adds that ICANN should “phase-in” the introduction of new gTLDs, “releasing no more than 25 every three months” with about a third coming from poor or community-based applicants.
It appears to be a reaction to ICANN’s newly developed applicant support program, which was weaker than many proponents of the cheaper gTLDs for worthy applicants had hoped.
Even in its current form, the resolution is attracting much more opposition than support from members of the At-Large, so it seems unlikely that it will go anywhere.
To advocate for a phased approach to new gTLDs, or to recommend a delay, would represent a huge U-turn from the ALAC’s existing position.
In 2009, the group said supported “the expedient introduction of new gTLDs” and that it did not believe a “trial run” with a limited number of applications was appropriate.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with changing one’s mind as new evidence comes to light, of course.