Domain Forum, the Bulgarian new gTLDs conference, will run for a third time on November 1 in Sofia.
The one-day event, which will be free to attend and conducted in English, will have a focus this year on Cyrillic internationalized domain names, according to organizers.
Much of the agenda has yet to be finalized but confirmed speakers include consultant Stephane Van Gelder, Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon and Afilias business development director Francesco Cetraro.
Organizer UNINET also hopes to have an ICANN VP keynoting.
Domain Forum will take place at the National Palace of Culture in central Sofia.
The new Domain Name Association, which hopes to represent the interests of the domain name industry as a whole, has opened its doors to new members.
Membership prices range from $1,000 to $50,000, with the make-up of the final board (estimated to be fewer than 20 directors) determined by which companies pay for the more expensive membership tiers.
Paying $50,000 will guarantee you a seat on the board, for example, while paying $5,000 makes your company eligible for, but not guaranteed, one of two reserved seats.
Speaking at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in London two weeks ago, interim DNA chair Adrian Kinderis made no bones about the fact that the DNA is pay-to-play; it’s “not a democracy”.
It’s a trade group in the usual sense, in other words, borrowing nothing from ICANN’s multistakeholder model.
That said, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade encouraged its creation and ICANN seems to generally support its goal.
That goal is to represent the entire domain name industry — registrars, registries, resellers, etc. Its mission statement is pretty succinct:
Promote the interest of the domain name industry by advocating the use, adoption, and expansion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the Internet.
Promoting new gTLDs is its first priority.
Some new gTLD applicants, including two of the bigger portfolio applicants, have grudgingly accepted ICANN’s latest name collisions remediation plan as a generally positive development.
ICANN this week scrapped its three-tier categorization of applications, implicitly accepting that it was based on a flawed risk analysis, and instead said new gTLDs can be delegated without delay if the registries promise to block every potentially impacted second-level domain.
You may recall that yesterday dotShabaka Registry said on DI that the plan was a “dog’s breakfast” and criticized ICANN for not taking more account of applicants’ comments.
But others are more positive, if not exactly upbeat, welcoming the opportunity to avoid the six-month delays ICANN’s earlier mitigation plan would have imposed on many strings.
Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling congratulated ICANN for reframing the debate, in light of Verisign’s ongoing campaign to persuade everyone that name collisions will be hugely risky. He told DI:
There has been a great deal of FUD surrounding name collisions from incumbent registry operators who are trying to negatively shape the utility of the new gTLDs they will be competing against.
I think it was important for ICANN to take control of the conversation in the name of common sense. These types of collisions are ultimately minor in the grand scheme and they occur each and every day in existing namespaces like .com, without the internet melting down.
I think anything that shapes conversation in a way that accelerates the process and sides with common sense is good, I have not yet thought of how this latest change can be gamed to the downside of new G’s.
Uniregistry has 51 remaining new gTLD applications, 20 of which were categorized as “uncalculated risk” and faced considerable delays under ICANN’s original plan.
Schilling’s take was not unique among applicants we talked on and off the record.
Top Level Domain Holdings is involved with 77 current applications as back-end provider — and as applicant in most of them — and also faced “uncalculated” delay on many.
CEO Antony Van Couvering welcomed ICANN’s plan less than warmly and raised questions about the future studies it plans to conduct, criticizing ICANN’s apparent lack of trust in its community:
Basically the move is positive. I characterize it as getting out of jail in exchange for some community service — definitely a trade I’ll make.
On the other hand, the decision betrays ICANN’s basic lack of confidence in its own staff and in the ICANN community. You can see this in the vagueness of the study parameters, because it’s not at all clear what the consultant will be studying or what criteria will be used to make any recommendations — or indeed if anything can be said beyond mere data collection.
But more important, they are hiring an outside consultant when the world’s experts on the subject are all here already, many willing to work for free. ICANN either doesn’t think it can trust its community and/or doesn’t know how to engage them. So they punt on the issue and hire a consultant. It’s a behavior you can see in poorly-run companies anywhere, and it’s discouraging for ICANN’s future.
Similar questions were posed and answered by ICANN’s former new gTLD program supremo Kurt Pritz, in a comment on DI last night. Pritz is now an independent consultant working with new gTLD applicants and others.
He speculated that ICANN’s main concern is not appeasing Verisign and its new allies in the Association of National Advertisers, but rather attempting to head off future governmental interference.
Apparently speaking on his own behalf, Pritz wrote:
The greatest concern is the big loss: some well-spoken individual going to the US Congress or the European Commission and saying, “those lunatics are about to delegate dangerous TLDs, there will be c-o-l-l-i-s-i-o-n-s!!!” All the self-interested parties (acting rationally self-interested) will echo that complaint.
And someone in a governmental role will listen, and the program might be at jeopardy.
So ICANN is taking away all the excuses of those claiming technical risk. By temporarily blocking ALL of the SLDs seen in the day-in-the-life data and by putting into place a process to address new SLD queries that might raise a risk of harm, ICANN is delegating TLDs that are several orders of magnitude safer on this issue than all of the hundreds of TLDs that have already been delegated.
Are you a new gTLD applicant? What do you think? Is ICANN’s plan good news for you?
The seventeenth installment of dotShabaka Registry’s journal, charting its progress towards becoming one of the first new gTLDs to go live, written by general manager Yasmin Omer.
Thursday 10 October 2013
As regular readers of this journal will know, we have been frustrated by the lack of certainty surrounding the new gTLD program.
Other industries would have picketed the building of the regulator with suitably angry placards being waved and a catchy song. Unfortunately in the domain name industry, angry blogs serve as a replacement to chaining ourselves to Fadi’s swivel chair.
So as a compromise, I ask readers to hum their favourite protest tune while reading our latest tale of woe.
Flippant commentary aside, the document ICANN released on name collisions yesterday (New gTLD Collision Occurrence Management) is a perfect example of what many applicants find challenging about ICANN staff’s use of the public comment process.
Despite the many detailed studies undertaken by a number of applicants and reported through the public comment process, it would appear that many of the recommendations or proposed solutions have been ignored by ICANN staff and the NGPC in favour of something that resembles a ‘dog’s breakfast’.
You’ll recall that ICANN made some suggestions to mitigate the risk of name collisions. There were three categories: High (dead men walking), Uncategorised (deer in headlights) and Low (phew ).
There was going to be a study about something at sometime that would decide stuff and the aforementioned deer would roam free. There was going to be a TLD tasting period during which time registries got to play spammer to unsuspecting ISPs (I wonder if I can get a refund like domain tasters used to, if I don’t get enough traffic?).
A comment period was had and people duly commented. Neither the original suggestions nor the comments seem to have any connection with what appeared in the document we read yesterday. The actions and processes discussed in the document are completely new. Oh, and the Board approved them.
A thought for those in the industry: are we so inured to this kind of procedural disdain that one more example simply doesn’t make us angry anymore?
So what of the document? Is it good for us and the industry? Well there is no low or uncategorised risk grouping anymore. Everyone is in the same bucket of riskiness. Depending on who you are, that might be good for you.
The TLD tasting period, where a TLD was delegated and emails were sent to every poor soul who made the mistake of looking up a non-existing TLD, is gone. That is definitely good. An outreach program with network operators and ISPs seems like an eminently sensible idea. A spam campaign chasing random DNS queries seems like a mad idea.
Now to the grim news – there will be another study (isn’t there always) and another process (if it’s implementation can we just… oh never mind).
The study will tell us which strings from the DITL data set (and other unnamed sets) are risky and why and what we should do with them. Such risk will be contextual to the TLD in question. There’s no detail on how many strings we are talking about. There’s no criteria for the string’s presence in the list (number of queries, type of queries, known risks etc). That sounds like a large chunk of work. No matter how it is automated.
The process to be determined is how the strings and suggested mitigations are delivered to and managed by registries. There’s potentially a lot of future system development and labour costs on the horizon for TLD operators.
Many TLDs will not need to wait for this completed work to delegate. However they must accept from ICANN a list of names they can’t delegate until the process/study and their personalised list of names is completed.
Firstly ICANN has to decide if you can take this option up. How will they do that you ask? I would point you to the very clear decision tree located within the document, only it appears to have been left out. Coming soon.
Second, ICANN has to create and send you the standby extra cautious list. Now we are getting nervous. Just how many names will be on this list? Will there be any filtering or common sense applied? Is the extra cautious list subject to comment? Does it exist already?
There’s also a new process that allows someone who suffers harm from the delegation of a second level domain to have it blocked for a period of up to 2 years. When one thinks through such a process it seems most likely that this harm is only determined after the delegation, not prior. Therefore Registries may be in a position where they need to un-delegate a domain already in use by a registrant.
That could be a rude shock to some innocent registrants. The principle of doing this bothers us. The practical and legal implication of doing this bothers us. And the lack of any detail around how this process is managed, most definitely bothers us.
Whenever I hear process and study I also hear delay. In fact the modus operandi of those opposing the gTLD program has not been to fight it, but to suggest one more study and another process, knowing the effect such activities will have.
So here we are, certain in our uncertainty that one day – soon or not so soon – we will be delegated.
We can’t be the only ones who have internal jokes about the randomness of ICANN policy development. They help us make light of the otherwise business crippling proclamations we receive with no warning.
Don’t you wish, just for once, those jokes weren’t so true?
Read previous and future diary entries here.
ICANN has given blessed relief to many new gTLD applicants by wiping potentially months off their path to delegation.
Its New gTLD Program Committee this week adopted a new “New gTLD Collision Occurrence Management Plan” which aims to tackle the problem of clashes between new gTLDs and names used on private networks.
The good news is that the previous categorization of strings according to risk, which would have delayed “uncalculated risk” gTLDs by months pending further study, has been scrapped.
The two “high risk” strings — .home and .corp — don’t catch a break, however. ICANN says it will continue to refuse to delegate them “indefinitely”.
For everyone else, ICANN said it will conduct additional studies into the risk of name collisions, above and beyond what Interisle Consulting already produced.
The study will take into account not only the frequency that new gTLDs currently generate NXDOMAIN traffic in the DNS root, but also the number of second-level domains queried, the diversity of requesting sources, and other factors.
Any new gTLD applicant that does not wish to wait for this study will be able to proceed to delegation without delay, but only if they block huge numbers of second-level domains at launch.
The registries will have to block every SLD that was queried in their gTLD according to the Day in the Life of the Internet data that Interisle used in its study.
This list will vary by TLD, but in the most severe cases is likely to extend to tens of thousands of names. In many cases, it’s likely to be a few thousand names.
Fortunately, studies conducted by the likes of Donuts and Neustar indicate that many of these SLDs — maybe even the majority — are likely to be invalid strings, such as those with an underscore or other non-DNS character, or randomly generated 10-character strings of gibberish generated by Google Chrome.
In other words, the actual number of potentially salable domains that registries will have to block may turn out to be much lower than it appears at first glance.
Each SLD will have to be blocked in such a way that it continues to return NXDOMAIN responses, as they all do today.
Because the DITL data represented a 48-hour snapshot in May 2013, and may not include every potentially affected string, ICANN is also proposing to give organizations a way to:
report and request the blocking of a domain name (SLD) that causes demonstrably severe harm as a consequence of name collision occurrences.
The process will allow the deactivation (SLD removal from the TLD zone) of the name for a period of up to two (2) years in order to allow the affected party to effect changes to its network to eliminate the DNS request leakage that causes collisions, or mitigate the harmful impact.
One has to wonder if any trademark lawyers reading this will think: “Ooh, free defensive registration!” It will be interesting to see if any of them give it a cheeky shot.
I’ve got a feeling that most new gTLD applicants will want to take ICANN up on its offer. It’s not an ideal solution for them, but it does give them a way to get into the root relatively quickly.
There’s no telling what ICANN’s additional studies will find, but there’s a chance it could be negative for their string(s) — getting delegated at least mitigates the risk of never getting delegated.
The new ICANN proposal may in some cases interfere with their plans to market and use their TLDs, however.
Take a dot-brand such as .cisco, which the networking company has applied for. Its block list is likely to have about 100,000 strings on it, increasing the chances that useful, brandable SLDs are going to be taken out of circulation for a while.
ICANN is also proposing to conduct an awareness-raising campaign, using the media, to let network operators know about the risks that new gTLDs may present to their networks.
Depending on how effective this is, new registries may be able to forget about getting positive column inches for their launch — if a journalist is handed a negative angle for a story on a plate, they’ll take it.