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Details of new gTLD batching process revealed

Kevin Murphy, February 17, 2012, Domain Policy

Some details about how ICANN will prioritize new generic top-level domain applications into batches have emerged.

The Applicant Guidebook states that gTLD applications will be processed in batches of 500, but all it says about the batching process is that it will not be random. Rather, some form of “secondary timestamp” is proposed.

The batching process is important mainly to commercial, open registries, which stand to make much more money by hitting the market early, before new gTLD fatigue sets in.

Some tantalizing hints about how batches will be created can be found in the minutes of the ICANN board of directors December 8 meeting, which were recently published.

From the minutes we learn the following:

  • Applicants are not going to find out how batching will work until after April 12, when all the applications have already been received.
  • The timestamp could be created by an email sent by the applicant to a specific address at a specific time, or some function within the TLD Application System.
  • The system will not be biased towards specific geographic regions – ICANN will cycle through the fastest responses from each region when it creates the batches.
  • There will be an opt-out for applicants for whom time is not a factor.
  • Contested gTLDs will be batched with the fastest applicant.

The minutes represent ICANN’s staff’s thinking two months ago – and the conversation confused several directors – so the batching method finally selected could obviously differ.

However, if time-to-market is important for your gTLD, it might be a good idea to think about renting a server as few hops from ICANN as possible.

This is what the minutes say:

The third, and remaining option, is a secondary timestamp. This would occur after the time of the application window closing in order to provide privacy. Applicants will not be advised of the exact method until after the applications are received, which will ensure further fairness. It could be an email response to a mailbox, or the re-registration of an application, or another method. The method used will be decentralized, so that the region rom which the secondary timestamp is submitted is irrelevant. The timestamp will cycle through the regions of the world, awarding a batching preference to the top-rated application from one region, then the succeeding four regions, and continue the cycle again. In the case of contending applications, the applications will be grouped in the earliest batch where any of the contending applications are placed. There will also be an opt-out mechanism, included at the community’s request. Applicants may request to be evaluated at the end, if they prefer to be evaluated and delegated later.

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Seven ICANN directors have new gTLD conflicts

Kevin Murphy, February 17, 2012, Domain Policy

Seven members of ICANN’s board of directors have self-identified conflicts of interest when it comes to the new generic top-level domains program, according to a report from its last meeting.

Chair Steve Crocker, CEO of the consulting firm Shinkuro, appears to be newly conflicted.

He was among the directors to excuse themselves before the board discussed a resolution on new gTLDs last week, but he did vote on a new gTLD resolution at its December meeting.

Crocker has previously revealed that new gTLD applicant and registry services provider Afilias has an investment in Shinkuro.

Vice-chair Bruce Tonkin is chief strategy officer at Melbourne IT, which is a registrar as well as a new gTLD consultancy, and he also excused himself.

Ram Mohan and Suzanne Woolf, both non-voting directors, excused themselves because they work for registry service providers (Afilias and Internet Systems Consortium respectively).

Non-voting liaison Thomas Narten also declared a conflict, which is a heavy hint that his employer, IBM, is poised to apply for a dot-brand gTLD.

The other conflicted directors were Sébastien Bachollet, CEO of BBS International Consulting, and Bertrand de La Chapelle of the International Diplomatic Academy.

Two directors appear to be newly unconflicted.

Kuo-Wei Wu and Thomas Roessler declared new gTLD program conflicts at the board’s December meeting but did not excuse themselves last week.

Erika Mann of Facebook missed the meeting (she also missed the December meeting) so it’s not clear whether there’s a “.facebook” conflict of interest yet.

The board of directors has 16 voting members. Nine need to be present for its meetings to be quorate.

ICANN introduced new conflict rules after former chair Peter Dengate Thrush took a job with new gTLD applicant/consultant Minds + Machines shortly after voting to approve the program last June.

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ICANN won’t say who rejected Bulgarian IDN

Kevin Murphy, February 17, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has declined to name the people responsible for rejecting .бг, the proposed Cyrllic country-code domain for Bulgaria.

Security consultant George Todoroff filed a Documentary Information Disclosure Policy request with ICANN a month ago, asking for the names of the six people on the DNS Stability Panel.

That’s the panel, managed by Interisle Consulting Group, that decided .бг looks too much like Brazil’s .br to be safely introduced to the internet.

But Todoroff found out today that his DIDP request was declined. ICANN said that it does not have records of the panelists’ names and that even if it did, it would not release them.

The information could contain trade secrets or commercially sensitive information and could compromise decision-making, ICANN said. These are all reasons to reject DIDP requests.

It’s pretty clear the Bulgarians are not going to quit pressing for .бг any time soon, despite being advised to give up by ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom recently.

The application for .бг was made under ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program, which has approved a couple dozen non-Latin ccTLDs, and rejected one other.

Todoroff wrote an article for CircleID in November 2010 explaining why he thinks .бг is not dangerous.

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Thick .com Whois policy delayed

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN’s GNSO Council has deferred a decision on whether Verisign should have to thicken up the Whois database for .com and its other gTLDs.

A motion to begin an official Policy Development Process on thick Whois was kicked down the road by councilors this afternoon at the request of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency.

It will now be discussed at the Council’s face-to-face meeting in Costa Rica in March. But there were also calls from registries to delay a decision for up to a year, calling the PDP a “distraction”.

Verisign’s .com registry contract and the standard Registrar Accreditation Agreement are currently being renegotiated by ICANN, both of which could address Whois in some way.

Today, all contracted gTLD registries have to operate a thick Whois, except Verisign with its .com, .net, .jobs, etc, where the registrars manage the bulk of the Whois data.

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Twitter typosquatters fined £100,000

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2012, Domain Policy

Two typosquatters have been fined £100,000 ($156,000) by the UK premium rate phone services regulator.

PhonepayPlus said today that the owners of the typos and, both Dutch companies, were issued the fines for violating its Code of Practice.

R&D Media Europe and Unavalley use the now depressingly commonplace practice of tricking visitors with the promise of iPad prizes into signing up for bogus SMS services at ridiculous fees.

They’ve both been ordered to refund disgruntled customers’ fees.

PhonepayPlus has no powers to take away domain names, of course, so both typos are still active, albeit not no longer mimicking the Wikipedia or Twitter look-and-feel.

The regulator did however issue clear guidance that typosquatting is against its rules, stating:

This guidance reminds PRS [premium rate service] providers that they are responsible for all their digital promotions and, if they use marketing firms that mislead consumers through typosquatting, they will be in breach of the Code of Practice.

A Facebook attorney said last year that typos of high-traffic sites, such as, could expect to get 250 million visits a year.

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