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Popular Topic at ICANN 58 “Two-Character Domain Names in the New gTLD Namespace”

Posted on the 20 March 2017 by Worldwide @thedomains

Centr.org published their report on ICANN 58 for the most part it was a lot of technical things that our readers might not be highly interested in.

The one topic that might be of interest centered around the release of LL domain names that correlate to matching cctlds.

Relevance to ccTLDs
These discussions are highly relevant for ccTLDs,
for which the release of the corresponding
country codes is currently subject to a notification
requirement (i.e. to their government and the
ccTLD manager) and/or where governments have
already submitted comments highlighting a risk
for confusion. For ccTLDs, the process under a
new gTLD round would change significantly, as
all country codes at the second level would be
released.

High interest topic: Geographic names,
focus on 2-letters at second level
Announcement: A cross-community session on
geographic names and names of public interest will
be held at ICANN59, Johannesburg. A Prep Webinar
will take place on 25 April 2017.
The GAC were thunderstruck by the ICANN Board
Resolution on “Two-Character Domain Names in
the New gTLD Namespace” (2016.11.08.15), which
allows the release of all previously reserved 2-letter
codes in new gTLD rounds (blanket authorisation).
The 60-day comment period will be scrapped. At the
same time, a standard set of registry requirements to
avoid confusion will be put in place. Throughout the
process, the GAC were not able to provide consensus
advice that would have called for a ban on the release
of 2-letter codes, as some countries already allow the
use of “their” country code as second-level domains
(SLDs).

Background: Under the current round, if a gTLD
registry wants to release 2-letter country codes (ISO-
3166) at the second level, it can a) propose it directly
to the related government and ccTLD manager,
or b) seek approval by ICANN, which requires,
however, that measures to avoid confusion with
the corresponding country code are in place. The
corresponding governments are then notified of such
requests, if they wish to be (not all of them do and opt
out), and then have 60 days to comment (providing
details on the risk of confusion). Registries then have
60 days to propose mitigation measures addressing
the concerns, which are then evaluated by ICANN’s
Global Domains Division (GDD).

Discussions: The GAC uttered their overall
unhappiness with the Board Resolution and them
being confronted with a quasi “fait accompli” on
various occasions, including the GAC-GNSO, GACccNSO
and GAC-ICANN Board meetings. They strongly
feel their previous GAC Advice was not considered
(despite the Board’s justification in the resolution).
Brazil wondered why the resolution was passed
at this point in time and why the delicate balance
between generic and country code names was put
at risk.

The European Commission was surprised at
the substantive change to existing processes, given
that so far, “only a handful of countries asked for
prior notification”. Singapore raised the issue of cost
if a government decided to “defensively register”
“its” country code under (new) gTLDs, and called
for safeguards. The Board (Chris Disspain) replied
that countries “do not own 2-letters”; suggesting
that the release of these codes “requiring countries
to buy them because they are the representation of
that country is simply not correct”. The European
Commission was concerned “about the potential for
consumer confusion” acknowledging however, that
these were “not problems for everyone”. The Board
replied that arrangements to avoid confusion had
been put in place, e.g. if .au.bentley was related to
Bentleys in Australia, this was not confusing. Rwanda
called for the Board to open a new PDP for 3-letter
country codes and “engage until full consensus is
reached”. China stated that “the Board does not have
the right or mandate to decide whether GAC members
have the right over 2-character domain names”.
The Netherlands stressed that they do not see “any
sovereignty issues or ownership issues or confusing
issues with 2-letter codes”. However, it was not happy
about the process’ lack of transparency that led to
the resolution. Chris Disspain closed the discussion by
underlining that he would be happy to sit down with
the GAC to discuss advice, “but I don’t want to suggest
we are in a situation of negotiating the Board’s
decision”.


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