[Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5] proposal for discussion to modify existing geo-category policy of when to require govt letters
alexander at schubert.berlin
Sun Sep 23 21:23:26 UTC 2018
Hi dear WT,
the recently floated proposal by Robin would kind of eliminate any and all “protections” for geo names. Here a simple example of how to formulate the purpose of a to be applied for city name gTLD in order to still be able to market to people in the city – but not needing any letter of support – and not needing to cooperate with the city authorities; e.g. the need to provide them with domains like police.city, fire.city, townhall.city or schools.city:
“The gTLD .shanghai is targeting registrants from all over the world and is not primarily associated with the Chinese city of Shanghai. There is no connection with the authorities of Shanghai”.
Using that description of the gTLD’s purpose would eliminate the need of a letter of support for BOTH: the 2012 AGB version of “protection” as well as Robin’s “proposal”. In other words: either way the city (any non-capital city essentially) is without ANY protection right now! Luckily this wasn’t exploited in 2012 – it will be in the next round: if we do not introduce at least a MINUMUM of accountability. Dozens or rather hundreds of Millions of VC money stand ready to globally raid geo-name DNS land. And their mission is not to advance the city community but rather creating quick ROI for their shareholders. A city name gTLD is a piece of infrastructure – it’s management shouldn’t be guided by (potentially foreign) shareholder values but by the interests of the local community stakeholders.
Let me shortly summarize how the categories that Robin’s proposal targets were treated in the 2012 AGB:
* Capital City names, ISO 3166-2 Country Subdivision names (the AGB called them “sub-national place names”) and “UNESCO Regions” (super small list) require a letter of non-objection from the relevant authority (in the OVERWHELMING number of real life cases NOT the national government).
* Non-capital city name based applications ONLY required such letter of non-objection if the application clearly stated, that “the applicant will use the TLD primarily for purposes associated with the city name….”
That’s the 2012 AGB status quo. The exact wording used in the 2012 AGB:
* An application for a city name will be subject to the geographic names requirements (letter of non-objection) ………. if:
(a) It is clear from applicant statements within the application that the applicant will use the TLD primarily for purposes associated with the city name …..
In summary Robin is now proposing:
* Let’s lump all these categories together:
o Capital City names
o ISO 3166-2 Country Subdivision names (the AGB called them “sub-national place names”)
o “UNESCO Regions”
o Non-capital city names (the BIG elephant in the room: I estimate that way over two thirds of geo-name applications will be in that category)
* Robin is introducing a new “litmus test”: “intention to represent a connection with the authority of a city” (or one of the other categories) for the requirement of a letter of non-objection
Let me analyze what that means in real life:
* In the past that “litmus test” was “intended use of the TLD with the city name”.
* So now someone can apply for “.shanghai” (or any capital city, German Bundesland, etc) – openly declaring that they are intending to market it to the constituents of the city of Shanghai (24 Million people) – and STILL doesn’t need any letter of non-objection!
* Such support letter would per your new proposal ONLY be required if the applicant would “intend to represent a connection to the authority of the city” (or country subdivision etc).
So in reality Robin’s proposal is:
“Let’s do away with all protections” (for these targeted categories).
Robin’s proposal hinges in one elementary point; it is introducing the notion that the primary concern in regard to city name applications would be:
“ ….. the harm to be prevented from a misrepresentation that the TLD speaks for the local authority when it isn’t the case….. “
But I do not think that this notion represents the actual problem. The main problem is: A city (especially a large one) consists of a large number of constituents. They want to utilize city-name based domains. The city Government itself might also need to run a bunch of domains to serve the citizens! Neither of both “needs” is in any way, form or shape tied to the (newly introduced) notion of “ ….. the harm to be prevented from a misrepresentation that the TLD speaks for the local authority when it isn’t the case….. “. Which might exist as well – but is probably of secondary importance compared to the real problem.
So this “proposal” is poised to fight a “problem” that in my eyes is kind of secondary – while it doesn’t address the needs of the city communities.
Btw: The 2012 AGB constantly talked about “Government approval”. In reality I assume that only in a tiny amount of cases actual “national Governments” would have to provide such letter. In most cases it will be just a city or region. Examples being: “.florida”; no way on earth that the Governor of Florida would allow D.C. to weigh in. Just absolutely unthinkable. Even when capital cities apply: there is no requirement for the national Government to approve – just the city!
From: Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5 [mailto:gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5-bounces at icann.org] On Behalf Of Robin Gross
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2018 12:18 AM
To: Icann Gnso Newgtld Wg Wt5 <gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5 at icann.org>
Subject: [Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5] proposal for discussion to modify existing geo-category policy of when to require govt letters
In follow-up to our WT5 meeting discussion earlier this week, I wanted to provide a more precise proposal for an amendment to policy requiring a govt. letter of support / non-objection from applicants of TLDs that are geo-words other than capital city names.
The goal here is to target the harm to be prevented from a misrepresentation that the TLD speaks for the local authority when it isn’t the case, while also allowing for other legitimate uses of a geo-word TLD to go forward. So it is an attempt to balance two legitimate interests in a way that can find room for preventing the bad acts, but allowing lawful TLD uses to go forward. It is a proposal for compromise to find middle ground.
In short: applicants who intend to represent a connection to the authority of a non-capital city or other geo-category from the guidebook will need to provide a letter of support/non-objection as a means of verifying that connection.
However, if the applicant does not intend to represent a connection to the authority of the non-capital city or the other geo-categories from the guidebook, protections will be enhanced by inserting contractual requirements into the Registry Agreement that prevent the applicant from misrepresenting their connection or association to the geo-word.
Putting aside capital cities, we will leave them as the policy currently exists, we would ONLY require the govt. letter for the other geo-words IF the use represents a connection to the authority. So that would apply to non-capital city names and sub-national, unesco, etc. categories where govt. letters are currently at issue.
More precisely worded proposal:
Applicants who intend to represent a connection the the authority of a city, sub-national place, unesco region, or appearing on the “Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings” list will need to provide a letter of support/non-objection.
However, if the applicant does not intend to represent a connection to the authority of the geographic terms listed above, protections will instead be achieved by inserting contractual requirements into the Registry Agreement that prevent the applicant from misrepresenting their connection or association to the geographic term.
I do invite comments, questions, and suggestions about this proposed amendment to the existing policy for geo-categories. I don’t claim this is a perfect proposal, but discussion could possibly help lead us to a better policy that attempts to balance differing legitimate interests in a more nuanced way than what we’ve got now.
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