A quick report of some of the most important developments coming out of ICANN’s meeting Sydney:
Despite concerns over the way in which ICANN is moving forward with the new TLD launch, it appears that ICANN is poised to start accepting applications for new TLDs in February 2010. If an application is accepted, it is predicted that it will take about 7.5 months before the TLD can be used.
At the meeting, there has been talk of applications for new TLDs such as .MUSIC, .BERLIN, .WEB, .LOVE, .RADIO, .NYC, .BASKETBALL, .ECO, and .FOOD. Wolfgang Puck was even flown out here to promote .FOOD, which was covered by National Journal: Celebs Endorse ICANN Domain Plan. Even Sydney’s mayor announced that he is looking to get .SYDNEY. Seeing that there is some interest in new TLDs, it is discouraging that ICANN is not slowing down to make sure that if TLDs are introduced, they are done so in a way that does not jeopardize the safety and stability of the Internet. The TLDs should also add value to the space.
There are still questions hanging over the TLD launch process that should be addressed before any applications are accepted. For example ICANN’s new TLD policy stated that a TLD must be a least three characters. How will they implement this guideline with IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names)? “Characters” function differently when using non-ASCII characters. Does the guideline need adaptation? Furthermore, while IRT discussions are very active here in Sydney, the board canceled their IRT briefing meeting. Since the IRT report concerned itself with protection mechanisms, questions remain as to how they will adapt the report to recommendations offered by the Internet community.
While new TLDs remain the hot topic at the ICANN meeting, other serious policies are also being discussed. ICANN has publicly shown that it is committed to ending the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) that exists between it and the US Government, which is set to expire September 30, 2009.
The meeting has also touched upon the idea of vertical integration, which would allow registrars to become registries and could have major consequences on Internet users and on market performance as competing registrars may resist offering TLDs sponsored by their competitors.
Overall, the policies being discussed at ICANN all address complex issues that require thoughtful and thorough consideration. However, as Steve DeBianco wrote in his own blog entry, “ICANN often deems that meeting its own deadlines is more important than achieving real consensus on serious issues.”
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