Internet governance expert Wolfgang Kleinwächter has joined ICANN’s board of directors with immediate effect.
Kleinwächter is the emergency replacement for Judith Vazquez, who quit with no explanation last month. He’ll carry out Vazquez’s duties until her term was due to end, a year from now.
He’s a rare insider appointment from the Nominating Committee, which regularly looks outside of ICANN for its board expertise.
He has been involved with ICANN since almost the beginning, and currently sits on the GNSO Council (a term due to expire this week) as a representative of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency.
He’s a German national and currently employed by the University of Aarhus, Denmark, where he teaches on the subjection of internet policy and regulation.
He also has experience in UN-related policy projects such as the World Summit on the Information Society and the Internet Governance Forum.
The third batch of new gTLDs have gone live.
Uniregistry’s .sexy and .tattoo are currently in the DNS root zone, the first two of its portfolio to become active.
The TLDs .bike, .construction, .contractors, .estate, .gallery, .graphics, .land, .plumbing, and .technology from Donuts have also gone live today.
Donuts already had 10 new gTLDs in the root from the first two batches.
There are now 24 live new gTLDs.
The first second-level domains to become available will be nic.tld in each, per the ICANN contract they’ve all signed.
You’ll notice that they’re all ASCII strings, despite the fact that IDNs get priority treatment in the new gTLD program.
JAS Global Advisors, the consultancy hired by ICANN to provide the final analysis on the risks posed by name collisions in new gTLDs, is to exclusively guest-blog its work here on DI.
ICANN picked JAS to provide a “Name Collision Occurrence Management Framework” earlier this week.
Its job is to basically figure out how new gTLD registries — some of which have been told to block many thousands of potential collisions from their zones — can identify and mitigate the risks, if any, posed by these names.
The framework will help registries reduce the size of their block-lists, in other words.
JAS expects to provide a short series of guest posts over the next few months, explaining the state of the project as it progresses. Reader comments will be read, I’m assured.
JAS CEO Jeff Schmidt said: “The macro intent is to shorten the feedback cycle so folks can see where we are incrementally and comment along the way.”
I’m hoping that the guest posts will provide DI readers with insight into the issue that is as disinterested as DI’s usual coverage, but better informed on the nitty-gritty of the affected technologies.
JAS is a regular consultant for ICANN. It was one of the independent evaluators for the new gTLD program itself.
I’m told that JAS doesn’t have financial relationships with either any new gTLD applicants, which generally think the collision risks have been overstated, or with Verisign, which say they could cause real damage.
JAS isn’t getting paid for the posts; nor is DI getting paid to carry them.
The first post in the series will appear soon, probably Friday.
The registrar 1&1 Internet has started selling pre-registrations in the first four Donuts new gTLDs for between $50 and $80 a year.
Three gTLDs — .singles, .bike and .clothing — carry a $49.99 price tag at the company’s US site. In the UK, they’re priced at £29.99. A fourth gTLD, .holdings, costs $79.99/£49.99.
Customers are only billed if 1&1 manages to grab the domain when the relevant gTLD launches.
The annual renewal fees appear to be the same as the pre-registration fees, but it’s not yet clear whether they’re the same as the standard reg fee when these gTLDs go to general availability next year.
As we’ve seen already via Go Daddy, some new gTLD registries are choosing to charge higher fees for pre-registered names, due to the more relaxed pricing regulations imposed by ICANN.
1&1 has been widely advertising new gTLDs on TV in the US and Europe for weeks — rumor has it the campaign’s budget is around $80 million — and has amassed four million non-binding pre-registrations to date.
Meanwhile, ICANN today warned internet users about the risks of pre-registering domains.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has condemned applications for .islam and .halal gTLDs filed by a Turkish company, despite the applicant recently fighting off an OIC-backed objection.
Claiming to represent the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the OIC expressed in a November 4 letter to ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee:
official opposition of the Member States of the OIC towards probable authorization by the GAC allowing use of these new gTLDs .Islam and .Halal by any entity not representing the collective voice of the Muslim people.
The letter seems to have been sent in response to the GAC’s current stalemate on these two TLDs, which were applied for, uncontested, by Istanbul-based Asia Green IT System.
At the ICANN meeting in Beijing six months ago, the GAC was unable to reach a consensus to object to .islam and .halal, instead merely noting:
Some GAC members have raised sensitivities on the applications that relate to Islamic terms, specifically .islam and .halal. The GAC members concerned have noted that the applications for .islam and .halal lack community involvement and support. It is the view of these GAC members that these applications should not proceed.
As a non-consensus objection, there’s no presumption that the ICANN board of directors should reject the applications.
And it seems that the New gTLD Program Committee, which carries board powers, has been deliberately ignoring the controversy pending the resolution of two formal Community Objections.
The objections were filed by the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the UAE’s ccTLD registry operator, with backing (it claimed) from the OIC.
But the TRA lost both objections, partly because the wishy-washy government-speak OIC letter it submitted in evidence failed to convince International Chamber of Commerce adjudicator Bernardo Cremades that it really did have that OIC support.
Whether the OIC really does object to Asia Green’s bids now seems beyond dispute.
In fact, the organization says it intends to pass a formal resolution containing its position on Islamic gTLDs during its Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in early December.
ICANN chair Steve Crocker has now asked the GAC to provide further guidance before it decides whether to accept or reject the two bids.
Given that a single governmental hold-out in the GAC would be enough to kill any chance of consensus, the OIC may be right to presuppose that the GAC will not fully object.
That would leave ICANN in the tricky position, for the first time in this application round, of having to decide the fate of a gTLD without the cover of a uniform international objection.
Would it reject .islam, opening the door for other gTLDs to be killed off by minority government concerns? Or would it approve the controversial strings, potentially pissing off the Muslim world?
I expect there’s at least one NGPC member — Lebanese-born Christian ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade — who would certainly not relish having to cast a vote on such a resolution.