[GTLD-WG] [CPWG] End user interest - Was: Re: [registration-issues-wg] New gTLD Applicant Support - improve it, or scrap it?

Roberto Gaetano roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 7 14:58:24 UTC 2019


Hi all.
Once upon a time, in the early days of ALAC - actually, this discussion started even earlier, at the times of the General Assembly of the DNSO - most of us who were aiming at representing the instances of the end users believed that their interest about new TLDs was around the following lines:

  *   new TLDs would introduce competition, bringing prices down and eventually allowing users to establish their presence on the internet owning a domain name;
  *   new TLDs in a competitive market would favour innovation, therefore facilitating the introduction of new business models and new services that could be beneficial to users (including those who do not care about owning a domain name, that are the vast majority);
  *   opening the market would make it easier to have registries and registrars operating in geopolitical areas that do not have (yet) enough presence, possibly addressing better the needs of the local user community.

I don’t know whether there are other reasons, please feel free to add to this list.

About the points above, I believe that the first one is nowadays moot.
The introduction of competition at the TLD level has been “too little, too late” to affect the dominant position of one company, and in particular about the predominance of one TLD. Moreover, the introduction in later years of new forms of presence on the internet, like social media platforms, has greatly reduced the interest of owning a domain name for the purpose of establishing a presence in the net.
In simple words, I do not believe that the proliferation of new TLD will be in itself of any help to the end users.

Coming to innovation and new services, I fail to see great progress. Indeed, something has happened, I don’t want to belittle achievements, but by and large the result has not matched the expectations. Nevertheless, it is an area in which there is, potentially, an interest from the end users. Just to make an example, we can consider TLDs where the registrants are certified to be a legitimate business - like in .bank - therefore providing some protection against scams. Is this something worth investing ALAC’s time and resources? I am sure that we have different opinions on that.

Let’s go to TLDs that are addressing specific needs of a local community, often but not always belonging to underserved regions. I personally consider IDNs in this category - maybe with a bit of a stretch. I would argue that in this case the end users have a real benefit, because we are talking by definition of availability of domain names that can be used by communities who would not have an alternative in the existing market. In the case of IDNs this is striking, as this is often also the vehicle for supporting local content. Some would argue that geo names would fall in this category - I have mixed feelings about this. My personal impression is that it all depends on how the geo TLD is used, what is its governance model, what is the role of the local community it claims to serve, and so on. That puts a serious difficulty for ALAC, because in order to support the initiatives we need to get into the details of the business model - and this is something that we should stay away from.

I would welcome comments on this contribution, in particular from people whose opinions differ. BTW, from the above you can understand why, while I have generally speaking lost interest in the introduction of new TLDs affaire, I am concentrating my scarce time and resources to IDNs, Universal Acceptance, local content, and similar topics.

Cheers,
Roberto



On 07.08.2019, at 07:48, Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org<mailto:evan at telly.org>> wrote:

In my many years of being involved in ICANN, I have rarely seen my point of view so mischaracterised. The very subject line of this thread indicates IMO a significant lack of grasp of my core point and indeed a substantial mis-framing of the debate I had hoped to initiate.

Let me be clear: I am neither for improvement of nor scrapping Applicant Support.

My challenge is whether a non-registrant end-user interest exists in this either way, and whether ALAC has credibility to pass judgement on the program at all as part  of its bylaw mandate. IMO, this is an issue of interest to other ICANN constituencies but the end-user constituency has no stake in how it is resolved. My response to "improve or scrap?" is "it doesn't matter".

That is the point I was making on last week's call, not that we change our opinion but that we simply withdraw and assert no opinion. The question at hand is not "is Applicant support worthwhile" but "do end users care if there is applicant support or not". Never once in the recent debate have I advocated that AS was inherently wrong. I just question our continued focus on a question that -- given the new facts and evidence at hand since the rollout of that gTLD round -- has demonstrated no positive or negative consequences for end users.
My advocacy here is for ALAC to be selective in addressing only issues in which end-users have a genuine stake in the outcomes. I assert that this issue (Applicant support) is only the first identified ALAC issue in which end users have no justification to claim interest. I have commented elsewhere on a second issue of this type, geoname TLDs, as chapter 2 of the theme of "not my circus, not my monkeys". They're not our fights, and we demean our credibility elsewhere when we assert otherwise.

Cheers,

- Evan

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