Six months after acquiring RegistryPro, Afilias wants approval to extend its existing anti-abuse policy into the .pro gTLD.
The company has filed a Registry Services Evaluation Process request with ICANN for its Anti-Abuse Policy, which is apparently much the same as the one in place at .info for the last four years.
The policy would formally allow Afilias to take down .pro sites in cases of phishing, malware and other types of broadly condemned network abuse. It doesn’t appear to cover wedge issues such as cybersquatting.
Earlier this year, a DI PRO survey found that .pro was, by a large margin, the gTLD with the most instances of apparent cybersquatting among the world’s top 100 brands.
However, .pro has never been particularly known as a haven for other types of abusive practice, possibly due to the verification loops registrants need to jump through to get their domains resolving.
I understand that cleaning up and reinvigorating .pro’s image has been put firmly on the Afilias agenda in recent months. It’s a great string, and I reckon it could do well with the proper marketing.
BRS Media, one of the four applicants for the .radio generic top-level domain, claims ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has a “direct conflict of interest” over the gTLD.
As DI reported two weeks ago, the European Broadcasting Union, another .radio applicant (the others are Afilias and Donuts), joined the GAC during ICANN’s public meeting in Prague.
While the EBU only has Observer status, and may not vote, it’s still able to participate in discussions. Whether these include discussions about GAC objections to new gTLDs is unclear.
BRS Media, which already runs the radio-themed .fm and .am ccTLDs, is not taking any chances, however. In a letter to GAC chair Heather Dryden, company CEO George Bundy wrote (pdf):
We believe these activities to be a direct Conflict of Interest, by the European Broadcasting Union within the New TLD Application process.
Optimistically, to say the least, BRS requests that the EBU “recuse itself from the New TLD process by withdrawing its applications immediately”.
While I can’t see that happening, it seems to me that the GAC does have to formally address the conflicts issue if it wants to avoid looking like a bunch of hypocrites.
The GAC does not appear to have a formal conflicts of interest policy, even though it pushed hard for similar provisions in the ICANN board.
Now that it has its hard-fought veto rights over new gTLD applications, some sort of safeguards seem appropriate.
The European Broadcasting Union, which is one of four applicants for the .radio top-level domain, has asked to join ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee as an observer.
It is believed that its request is likely to be accepted.
The move, which comes just a couple of weeks after ICANN revealed its list of new gTLD applications, could raise conflict of interest questions.
While several GAC governments and observers are backing new gTLD bids – the UK supports .london, for example – they’re generally geographic in nature and generally not contested.
But .radio has been applied for by Afilias, BRS Media and Donuts in addition to the EBU.
While any organization can file objections against applications, under the rules of the new gTLD program the GAC has the additional right to issue special “GAC Advice on New gTLDs”.
Consensus GAC advice is expected to be enough to kill an application.
Since it’s not entirely clear how the GAC will create its formal Advice, it’s not yet clear whether the EBU will have any input into the process.
According to the GAC’s governing principles, observers do not have voting rights, but they can “participate fully in the GAC and its Committees and Working Groups”.
The EBU’s .radio gTLD would be open to all potential registrants, but it would be subject to post-registration content restrictions: web sites would have to be radio-oriented, according to the application.
It’s also the only Community-designated bid in the contention set, meaning it could attempt a Community Priority Evaluation to resolve the dispute.
The EBU has also applied for .eurovision, the name of its annual singing competition, as an uncontested dot-brand.
Afilias is involved in 305 new gTLD applications, the company has just announced.
Thirty-one of the bids are being filed in Afilias’ own name, the rest are for clients. This two-pronged strategy is probably going to set the company apart from its main competitors; we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.
Afilias said in a press release:
The applications span a range of new TLD ideas, and include 18 Internationalized TLDs (for example, Chinese and Cyrillic), four community domains, four geographic domains and more than 170 “dot Brand” names.
Added to Neustar’s 358 and Verisign’s 220 applications, Afilias brings the total number of wannabe gTLDs signed up to incumbent gTLD registry service providers to 883, or about 45% of the new gTLD market.
Crossovers from the ccTLD world to disclose so far include ARI Registry Services (161), Nominet (seven), Nic.at (11) and Afnic (16).
New entrants include Minds + Machines (92, including 68 of its own), Demand Media (at least 307 with Donuts and 26 more of its own) and Internet Systems Consortium (at least 54 with Uniregistry).
Forty-four percent of major consumer brands plan to apply for dot-brand top-level domains, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Afilias.
The research, carried out in the UK and US by Vanson Bourne, found that only 82% companies were aware of their ability to participate in the the new gTLD program.
That’s a high number, but it still suggests that almost one in five companies are still completely oblivious about the program, despite months of media coverage and ICANN outreach.
Of those companies stating that they are aware of the program, 54% plan to apply and 40% are still thinking about it.
The survey covered 200 consumer-facing businesses with 3,000-10,000+ employees and was carried out in February.