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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    New gTLDs The Registry double standard
    posted by tbyfield on Sunday May 25 2008, @09:16PM

    Anonymous writes: "ICANN is maintaining two standards, one for its customers and one for itself. First off, we will clarify the two types of TLDS that exist, those with specific use constraints and those that are generic. In the first category, we find TLDs like; .GOV, .EDU, .SB, .BR, .ARPA, .INT and others. These TLDS have specific rules; e.g. only treaty organizations, only infrastructure, only institutions approved by GAO, EDUCAUSE, etc. The second category of TLDS are the generics, such as .COM, .ORG, and others, where the rule is essentially, you pay your money and you get your domain.

    In this second category, there was serious concern about market capture and dominant position where the registry had direct business relationships with the registrants. The USG forced ICANN to develop a method to decouple the monopoly position of the registry by creating the construct of a registrar to act as the intermediary between the registrant and the registry. This was hailed as a solution to fostering growth and competition in the domain marketplace. Indeed ICANN insists that this “thick” registry model be adopted for generic TLDS and includes such stipulations in the contracts the registry operator must sign before being approved to run the delegation.

    So in what category does one place the root zone?

    Is it a zone that has specific rules regarding entries, such as .GOV, or .ARPA, or is it a generic? Historically, the root zone was considered in the first camp, where specific constraints were placed on entry into the zone. Indeed, for the first decade of ICANN’s existence, the Board grappled with how to evaluate new TLD requests. Recent events, mostly from the gTLD constituents, have argued that ICANN should relax their TLD evaluation process and fundamentally change the nature of the root zone, from one that had constraints on entry to a generic model. The gNSO estimates that once the rules are relaxed, that thousands of TLD’s will be injected into the root zone – if you pay your money, you can have a TLD.

    To date, ICANN argues that the root is “special” and therefore even when it changes into a generic delegation, ICANN will maintain direct relationships with the root zone registrants. This is at odds with the rules under which all other generic delegations are maintained. Once standard for ICANN, one for everyone else.

    Monetizing the Stewardship

    ICANN has a contractual obligation to encourage competition, while maintaining security and stability. The gNSO proposal changes the root zone into a generic delegation and thus changes the stewardship role ICANN played. To fully support competition, it seems reasonable to insist on the adoption of the registry/registrar model for the root in its new status as a generic. If that premise is adopted, ICANN should have to choose which role it wishes to play, either the root registry –OR- one of many root registrars. To do otherwise places the whole registry/registrar model in question. If competition is good for other generic delegations, why is it not good here?

    In the absence of competition, ICANN can and does dictate pricing. If the gNSO numbers are to be believed and the TLD non-refundable application fees apply, ICANN could see an increase in revenue in the tens of millions per year. One might argue that ICANN is abandoning rigor and discipline over root zone management as a means to ensure stability in favor of a “get rich quick” scheme. Monetization of the root zone should NOT accrue only to the benefit of ICANN. The principles of market and competition should apply here as well."

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