Work in progress in Internet governance: a proposed study on ICANN’s opening for new gTLDs

  • Abba L
  • Trumpy S
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CNR was involved in Internet critical resources matters since the ARPAnet times. While the authors are coming from a technological background, they are the promoters, within CNR, of a new multi-disciplinary research project on Internet governance to study questions connected to legal and regulatory matters, public policy and societal issues. The authors intend here to report about a recent relevant ICANN initiative. Last June 2008 ICANN announced a process to add a non-limited number of new gTLDs to the existing ones. Two versions of the “Applicant guidebook” have been already presented and discussed. The process is expected to lead to a first call for applications in the first quarter of the next year. It is interesting to observe that, as the process goes on, the complexity of the discussed issues is increasing. ICANN has to provide an answer but should not delay any more the implementation of the process; otherwise ICANN risks to loose credibility on a major commitment recommended in occasion of the WSIS in 2005. Some of the problems at stage are:  the lack of a refined study on the market of domain names, as outlined by a note of the US government;  the high cost that the applicants have to incur for the application and, if accepted, for running costs;  how to protect trademarks and geographical names;  how to discriminate strings that are against morality and public order;  how to enlarge the actors in the market while assuring protection for the registrants;  how to address the user community request to categorize new gTLDs in order to differentiate policies and fees;  how to activate new Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) gTLDs. If we look at this series of issues, we outline the big challenges that ICANN has to face in the coming future:  to enter in the typical content issues concerning the semantics of the proposed strings;  to elaborate an evolutionary market analysis as the process goes on, in order to adjust the policies approach, while doing;  to contemplate the potential conflicts between registrants protection against possible registry failures and the expectations of the services providers worldwide;  to accomodate the business model difference between the registries conceived for pure domain names market with the registries conceived for societal or cultural scopes;  concerning IDN registries, to monitor the standards evolution in order to assure that the uniqueness of the address system is maintained. The authors are supporting the fact that there should be an in-depth multi disciplinary study not influenced by the strict timetable of the ICANN’s decisions making process. The results of the study we are presenting will be precious in order to evaluate the intermediate steps during the implementation phase and will contribute to better define the overall picture; it is intention of the authors also to promote an elaboration of the rights/duties that are connected with this important innovation.




Abba, L., & Trumpy, S. (2009). Work in progress in Internet governance: a proposed study on ICANN’s opening for new gTLDs. In 2nd International Giganet Workshop.

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