.wtf

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Status: Delegated
Registry: Donuts
Registry Backend: Donuts
Type: Generic
Category: Technology
PIC Submitted: Download Here
Priority #: 1274 - Donuts (Hidden Way, LLC)
nTLDStats
Registrations: 11,969
Parked Domains: 6,746
Parked Domain %: 56.36 %
Important Dates
Delegation: 23 April 2014
General Availability: 06 August 2014

More Information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.wtf is a gTLD that was proposed in ICANN's New gTLD Program. The applicant and now Registry Operator is Donuts (Hidden Way, LLC).[1] Their application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 23 April 2014.[2]

"WTF" is a largely understood acronym in English that stands for "What the fuck?", it became popular related to chatting, texting, and other ICT networking formats. The applicant does not actually define the acronym in its application.[3]

Background

Objection

Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed an objection against the TLD.[4]

The application was subject to a GAC Early Warning from the representative of Australia and GAC Chair, Heather Dryden. The warning system is noted as a strong recommendation on behalf of national governments to the ICANN Board that a given TLD application should be denied. The warning states the the .wtf string has an overtly critical nature and that the applicant had not sufficiently adresses how it would prevent massive Defensive Registrations in its application.[5]

Independent Objector

The Independent Objector is responsible for determining if a new gTLD application is in the best interest of the Internet community. If not, he or she will file formal objections against a new gTLD application. Alain Pellet, a law professor from the University of Paris and a former member of the United Nations International Law Commission and International Court of Justice, was chosen by ICANN to serve as the sole independent objector for the New gTLD Program in May, 2012. [6] The position was created by ICANN in accordance with the implementation of the New gTLD Program. As defined, the IO may be an individual or organization and must not be affiliated with any applicant and must carry out their responsibility without bias.[7]

In December 2012 Mr. Pellet released his first correspondence on actual TLDs, commenting on so-called "Controversial strings". Those strings include: .adult, .sex, .porn, .sexy, .hot, .gay, .lgbt, .persiangulf, .vodka, and .wtf. A string seemed to have been deemed "controversial" by Mr. Pellet if it received a substantial amount of objections during the public comment period. He addresses each TLD separately and at length, noting the objection, and turning to International law and precedent to determine whether an objection from his point of view, of defending the public interest, is warranted. In each case he concludes that the objections are not supported by international law and that regional, cultural, and personal issues influence the objections rather than broadly accepted treaties, laws, or international cultural trends. He has reserved the right to later object to the strings, but at that time it was deemed that the "controversial strings" are in fact not offensive to the greater public interest and Internet users.[8]

With regards to .wtf, the IO notes that the objections hinge on the fact that the term, and its operative word, are considered vulgar or obscene by many people and societies. Mr. Pellet goes on to note the International protection of free speech, specifically "Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, and a large list of other documents and treaties. Given that International law does not have a uniform code of morality with regards to the content of speech, the IO defers to freedom of speech and does not make objection with the string.[9]

Application Details

The following is excerpted from the applicant's response to question #18:

"ABOUT DONUTS Donuts Inc. is the parent applicant for this and multiple other TLDs. The company intends to increase competition and consumer choice at the top level. It will operate these carefully selected TLDs safely and securely in a shared resources business model. To achieve its objectives, Donuts has recruited seasoned executive management with proven track records of excellence in the industry. In addition to this business and operational experience, the Donuts team also has contributed broadly to industry policymaking and regulation, successfully launched TLDs, built industry-leading companies from the ground up, and brought innovation, value and choice to the domain name marketplace.

ABOUT DONUTS’ RESOURCES Donuts’ has raised more than US$100 million from a number of capital sources for TLDs. Our well-resourced, capable and skilled organization will operate these TLDs and benefit Internet users by:

1. Providing the operational and financial stability necessary for TLDs of all sizes, but particularly for those with smaller volume (which are more likely to succeed within a shared resources model); 2. Competing more powerfully against incumbent gTLDs; and 3. More thoroughly and uniformly executing consumer and rights holder protections.

THE .WTF TLD This TLD is attractive and useful to end-users as it better facilitates search, self-expression, information sharing and the provision of legitimate goods and services. Along with the other TLDs in the Donuts family, this TLD will provide Internet users with opportunities for online identities and expression that do not currently exist. In doing so, the TLD will introduce significant consumer choice and competition to the Internet namespace – the very purpose of ICANN’s new TLD program.

This TLD is a generic term and its second level names will be attractive to a variety of Internet users. Making this TLD available to a broad audience of registrants is consistent with the competition goals of the New TLD expansion program, and consistent with ICANN’s objective of maximizing Internet participation. Donuts believes in an open Internet and, accordingly, we will encourage inclusiveness in the registration policies for this TLD. In order to avoid harm to legitimate registrants, Donuts will not artificially deny access, on the basis of identity alone (without legal cause), to a TLD that represents a generic form of activity and expression.

WTF is a pop-culture term that is attractive to registrants seeking new avenues for expression on the Internet, and who are perhaps interested in demonstrations of irony, skepticism, humor, and critique. Individuals and groups will register names in .WTF when interested in editorializing, providing input, interacting with other communities, and publishing commentary. The TLD also is an acronym for various other terms and references, and could be broadly applied in several languages. We would operate this TLD in a secure, stable manner and in the best interest of global registrants.

DONUTS’ APPROACH TO PROTECTIONS No entity, or group of entities, has exclusive rights to own or register second level names in this TLD. There are superior ways to minimize the potential abuse of second level names, and in this application Donuts will describe and commit to an extensive array of protections against abuse, including protections against the abuse of trademark rights.

We recognize some applicants seek to address harms by constraining access to the registration of second level names. However, we believe attempts to limit abuse by limiting registrant eligibility is unnecessarily restrictive and harms users by denying access to many legitimate registrants. Restrictions on second level domain eligibility would prevent law-abiding individuals and organizations from participating in a space to which they are legitimately connected, and would inhibit the sort of positive innovation we intend to see in this TLD. As detailed throughout this application, we have struck the correct balance between consumer and business safety, and open access to second level names.

By applying our array of protection mechanisms, Donuts will make this TLD a place for Internet users that is far safer than existing TLDs. Donuts will strive to operate this TLD with fewer incidences of fraud and abuse than occur in incumbent TLDs. In addition, Donuts commits to work toward a downward trend in such incidents."[10]

Contract Signed

On 6 March 2014 Donuts received a Registry Agreement signed by ICANN for .wtf after passing all the required processes needed to become a Registry Operator for the string.[11]

Delegation and Availability

.wtf was delegated to the Root Zone of the DNS on 23 April, 2014, completing the successful application for the string.[2]

References