The last ICANN meeting in Copenhagen in early March, this issue was the center of attention.
While no date has yet been set by ICANN, speculation is rife: 2020? 2025? What obstacles are likely to delay this deadline? The evaluation of the first round is not yet finished.
As a reminder, nearly 2,000 applications for a first level extension (gTLD) were submitted to ICANN in 2012. At the end of this process, more than 1,000 new extensions were created, including. marks (. Leclerc, .mma ) but also geographic ( .paris , .bzh ) or generic extensions .
There will be no second round of creating new extensions until the lessons of the first have been learned. And it is the task force “New gTLDs Subsequent Procedures” that has been entrusted with the delicate task of carrying out these evaluations.
All eyes are therefore now turned to this group because the stakes are high.
In Copenhagen, he took care to present the progress of his work to inform the whole impatient community as precisely as possible. And for those who did not participate in the discussions, the working group presented its monthly newsletter allowing more regular follow-up of the assessments in progress.
The evaluations of the working group relate to various subjects: the application fees, the possible accreditation of technical registry operators, the clarity and stability of the rules for granting extensions or even the registry contract.
And now or never is the time to give your opinion because ICANN invites, until May 1st, all those interested in commenting on the group’s questionnaire on all of these subjects.
However, other themes are added to the discussions of the working group, which could further delay this evaluation. This is the case with the protection of geographical names, a particularly sensitive subject which divides the community.
What protection for geographical names?
It is the representatives of governments within the GAC (Governemental Advisory Committee) who initiated the debates: how to ensure the protection of geographical names during the next round? The GAC is looking for a solution to avoid new conflicts such as those related to the applications of. amazon or. patagonia in 2012.
At that time, several states including Brazil and Peru had alerted ICANN of a risk linked to granting the Amazon company an exclusive right to the. amazon extension. From the point of view of the GAC, this would have had the effect of preventing any other use of this extension for purposes of general interest such as for example that of the protection of the Amazon rainforest.
The conflict continues today and the GAC is considering a mechanism that would require the prior approval of the authorities concerned before assigning a geographic name as an extension. One idea gained ground while raising other questions: proposing an exhaustive list of geographical names opposable to candidates.
But which geographical names would be targeted by this device? What seems obvious at first glance is not necessarily so when you dig the question: a country, a region or a city are simple to list but what about a mountain, a river or from any other place not indexed in an official list? Furthermore, how can we ensure that the proposed list is exhaustive? Should ICANN be responsible for keeping it up to date?
Several voices are already raising against the establishment of such a mechanism which would tend to complicate the creation of new extensions. Everyone has in mind the mixed experience of TMCH and the idea of a new validation step is far from unanimous.
The impact of European regulations on the protection of personal data
Finally, it is the famous RGDP (European Regulation of Personal Data) which was invited in the discussions with its impact on the activities of registers in Europe.
New gTLDs have also placed it at the top of their concerns in their discussions with ICANN staff (during the round-the-table session open to all registers).
European registers rightly point out that, as it stands, certain provisions of the registry contract could be in contradiction with future European regulations.
For example, the publication of the personal data of the holder of a domain name in the WHOIS will require the express collection of his consent under penalty of being imposed a severe fine by the local authorities for the protection of personal data.
ICANN has not yet responded to these concerns. We bet that the discussions that will take place in Johannesburg in June of this year will help to clarify these points.
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