Discussions in DC – The Future of ICANN

An Information Technology and Innovation Foundation panel held in Washington D.C. began to plumb the complexities of the planned U.S. relinquishment of the Internet address system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Entitled Bully or Bodyguard? Assessing the Proper Role of the United States in Internet Governance, the panel discussion underscored just how delicate the transfer will be.

Whether bully, bodyguard – or, according to one panelist, a beleaguered, imperfect overseer – the main quest will be to ensure that ICANN is empowered rather than overrun by other governments, including governments hostile to democracy and free speech.

Panelists noted that, for whatever its flaws, ICANN and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) were, together, strong advocates of free markets and freedom of speech online.

So how can the NTIA ensure that ICANN will be ready and able to handle all that will come its way?

Steve Del Bianco, Netchoice, advocated putting ICANN through stress tests to guage its readiness to take on oversight of the Domain Name System. What would ICANN do in the event of the loss of technological or monetary capability to run the root, for example? An ICANN prepared with answers for various scenarios will be an ICANN prepared for the future, Del Bianco said.

Phil Corwin, Virtualaw, and Eli Dourado, George Mason University, both noted that Congress can play a helpful role by asking the right questions as it started doing at a hearing this week. Congress must also be prepared to pressure the NTIA should the transition plan take a wrong turn, so long as it is mindful of the international perception of such involvement.

One thing is clear: The multistakeholder community must come together and make sure that this transition considers all relevant voices.



State of the Net for the Week of March 24

ICANN’s 49th public meeting is underway in Singapore with attention focused on the future of ICANN oversight and new generic top-level domains. FairWinds’ team is on the ground participating in these discussions and reporting back what they hear. Stay informed through this and our other blogs, and our Twitter handle @fairwinds, for Singapore coverage.

Already, it appears that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s move to relinquish the control of ICANN is eclipsing other important topics of conversation in Singapore. At least that was the message from the opening ceremony, particularly in the remarks of ICANN President Fadi Chehadé. Just as FairWinds predicted in a preview last week, ICANN is pivoting toward the broader topic of globalized Internet Governance and away from specifics related to the New gTLD Program.

While some reports of Commerce’s move suggest the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations are responsible, others note the surveillance has nothing to do with U.S. oversight of ICANN. However, the revelations have required serious efforts on the part of the U.S. government and U.S. businesses to allay fears abroad, and this latest move by Commerce may be a part of that reaction.

Amid the flurry of analysis, Commerce has issued additional statements emphasizing the need for a “solid proposal” before the U.S. relinquishes control. In Singapore, Commerce Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling reminded the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) that ICANN has been tasked with working with the community to propose a new oversight mechanism. If an acceptable proposal is not put forth by the time the Commerce Department’s contract expires on September 30, 2015, Strickling said the contract may be renewed. Specifically, he informed the GAC that the date was not a “cliff” but rather more of a “target” to aim for.

Businesses in particular are keeping a close eye on developments, to see if an ICANN free of U.S. oversight impacts their bottom line. The NSA revelations have already resulted in economic impact elsewhere.

“Even as Washington grapples with the diplomatic and political fallout of Mr. Snowden’s leaks,” reports The New York Times, “the more urgent issue, companies and analysts say, is economic.” Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, predicted that the United States cloud computing industry could lose $35 billion by 2016.

For Your Radar

  • March 23-27: ICANN 49 Singapore
  • March 31: Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions Comment Period Closes
  • April 21: Reply Period on Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions Closes
  • April 23-24: Global Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance
  • June: First ICANN Auction (Expected)
  • June 22 – 26:  ICANN 50 London
  • October 12 – 16: ICANN 51 Los Angeles
  • October 29: Nine-Month Contracting Deadline for Applicants with CIRs
  • July 29, 2015: 18-Month Contracting Deadline for Applicants with CIRs that Request and are Granted the 9-month extension

Public Comment Periods to Consider:

March 31: Comment period closes on ICANN’s commissioned study on Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions

Be sure to stay posted to this site and follow us on Twitter for the latest in the domain name space.




Social Media

Linguistic Analysis of Facebook Could Contain Clues About New gTLD Popularity

According to Business Insider, University of Pennsylvania researchers analyzed the Facebook status updates of over 70,000 volunteers and found interesting linguistic patterns that align with certain personality traits. According to Business Insider:

Drawing from more than 700 million words, phrases, and topics, the researchers built computer models that predicted the individuals’ age, gender, and their responses on the personality questionnaires with surprising accuracy… Basically, it’s big data meets psychology.

Sounds like some useful information if you’re in the business of ecommerce – like Amazon – or search – like Google.  If we look at the word clouds produced by the researches, we can begin to get a sense for who might flock to which new Top Level Domains (TLDs). For example:

  • .BOOK, for which Amazon applied along with several other companies, should be popular with introverts who use Facebook, according to the introvert word map.
  • Not surprisingly, .BABY – for which Johnson & Johnson and Google applied along with a handful of others – should do well with female Facebook users, if the “female” thought cloud is accurate.
  • It looks like .GROCERY (Walmart and Safeway both applied to run this string), .HOME (many, including Google, applied for this string), and .WINE (which has three applications in) will do well with the 19-26 year old Facebook users.

FairWinds VP of Consulting Services Samantha Demetriou, who happens to hold an M.A. in Linguistics from Georgetown University, notes, “People use language to construct their identities and convey their personalities to their peers every day. Social media sites like Facebook give them a platform to take that to the next level, since they offer a public forum for users to put their personas on display to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The personalities we put on display often map closely onto the things we choose to purchase, since so much of what we buy is meant to communicate our personalities and identities to others.”

Facebook users may not reflect the world’s population perfectly, but with over a billion people in the world on the social media site, it’s not a bad sample group, either.  Only question left now is – why didn’t Facebook apply for .FACEBOOK?


State of the Net for the Week of August 19


A follow up on the security studies we discussed  last week:

 Dotless Domains

ICANN has issued a resolution prohibiting the  use of “dotless domains”. Practically speaking, that means that there will be no navigating to http://search, for example – domain names, which separate the root and extension with dots (example.com), will continue to be the norm.

Domain Collisions

The New TLD Applicant Group (NTAG)in ICANN’s Registry Stakeholder group has submitted a letter to the ICANN board outlining concerns with the results of the domain collision study. In the letter, the NTAG notes the following:

  • similar concerns were raised during past ccTLD launches  and that those launches  ultimately did not result in name collision.
  • ICANN should proceed with IDNs without requiring the 120-day waiting period and without requiring the 30-day, ICANN-recommended mediation period.
  • ICANN should lift the additional delay imposed on the 20 percent of strings where risk is considered unknown.
  • ICANN and members should consider partnering with Certificate Authorities to address the issue and encourages independent investigation by ICANN.

For Your Radar

The Internet Telecommunications Union and the Government of Uruguay are hosting the 2014 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC 2014) Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Americas (RPM AMS) from Tuesday, August 20 to Thursday, August 22 in Montevideo, Uruguay. RPM AMS will be preceded by the Regional Development Forum (RDF) for the Americas on 19 August.

The Internet Trademark Association will host a roundtable discussion, “Trademark Dilution in Canada: A Rose by Any Other Name”, in Toronto, ON on Thursday, August 22. The event will focus on how Canadian counsel can develop and implement concepts like unfair advantage, dilution, free riding, blurring and tarnishing of trademarks in Canada and abroad.

ICANN’s Public Comment Periods

  • August 23: Comment period closes on recommendations for locking a domain name subject to UDRP proceedings.
  • August 27: Comment period closes on ICANN’s proposal to mitigate name collision risks.
  • August 28: Comment period closes on the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Structures Charter Amendment Process.

Be sure to stay posted to this site and follow us on Twitter for the latest in the domain name space.


Here is .NYC: How The Big Apple Can Use Its New TLD To Entice Tourists – And Why Its Economy May Depend On It

The Mayor of New York City recently announced that .NYC had been approved as a new, geographic top-level domain (TLD) by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). As Mayor Bloomberg explained in a press release, “Having our own unique, top-level domain – .NYC – puts New York City at the front of the digital landscape and creates new opportunities for our small businesses.”

Consulting firm NYC & Company subsequently released a report on the economic significance of the tourism industry in New York City. As Newsday reported, “George Fertitta, NYC & Company’s CEO, said his team created the report not only to show the candidates how important tourism is for the city’s economy — it got a boost of $55.3 billion last year from the industry — but also to cultivate ideas for how to expand it.”

Good timing? I think so.

As a hotbed of creativity and productivity, the setting of countless novels, plays, and movies, home to the United Nations, not to mention the world’s financial, publishing, art, dance, theater, and fashion centers, New York City is more than a city – it’s a brand (as the I ♥ NY campaign by Milton Glaser has both proved and solidified). Or, as E.B. White puts it in his classic 1949 essay “Here is New York”, the Big Apple is “nothing like Paris; it is nothing like London; and its not Spokane multiplied by sixty, or Detroit multiplied by four.  It is by all odds the loftiest of cities.”


.NYC is coming!

New York City is famous for its Chinatown, but also boasts communities of immigrants from all over the world.  Now a range of communities and ethnic groups – from Jamaicans in Brooklyn to Greeks in Queens to Orthodox Jews in the Bronx – can establish space within the cyber melting pot of .NYC. In terms of the impact on tourism, according to Newsday’s article, “The largest increase in tourists came from international visitors, with 11 million non-Americans coming into the city last year versus 7.26 million in 2006.”  Within .NYC, the city has endless opportunities to tailor websites to specific nationalities of both residents and visitors.

Then, of course, there are the various districts and streets of Manhattan, each associated with its own industry:


And, finally, there are the institutions, from the United Nations to New York University, the 92nd Street Y to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For .NYC, the possibilities for innovative communication, promotion, and community engagement are endless. Perhaps best of all, though, with the open frontier of .NYC comes extra assurance that Internet users will reach legitimate New York City-related content.


In order to receive a .NYC domain name, organizations and businesses will need to have a New York City address and individuals must be residents; in addition, .NYC has trademark and cybersquatting safeguards in place. The Mets, Yankees, and Knicks could redirect their existing .COM domains to .NYC, where fans could be sure that they’re reaching legitimate content and purchasing original gear (and anyone who’s walked around near Canal Street knows that consumers in the city could use some extra protection when it comes to trademarks).

Again, E.B. White summed up the city best: “New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant.” The .NYC TLD has the potential to – and very likely will – become the cyber concentrate of White’s New York City.

Interested in learning more? Visit mydotnyc.com.  Have questions about new gTLDs and registering your business’ websites within one? Contact us and a consultant will get back to you within 24 hours.