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ICANN's Answers to the Senate Committee

On Janury 25, 2012, Pritz answered the questions sent by members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation regarding the new gTLD expansion program. The questions were asked by Senators Barbara Boxer, Maria Cantwell, Claire McCaskill, Olympia Snowe and Mark Warner on January 8. The questions of the legislators were centered on the following issues:[1]

  • Intellectual Property Rights- In order to avoid consumer confusion and or violations of intellectual property rights, Pritz explained that the new gTLD program has mandatory intellectual property rights protection mechanisms for both first and second level domain names. He also added that strict reviews will be implemented and it will reject the applications of entities with a history of cybersquatting. In addition, the public and the various constituencies of ICANN will have the opportunity to review and raise their concerns regarding the proposed new gTLD strings. Pritz also enumerated the four available objection processes, which include:
  1. String Confusion Objection- the proposed new gTLD is confusingly similar to an existing or to another applied for gTLD string.
  2. Legal Rights Objection- the gTLD string being applied for infringes the existing legal rights of the objector.
  3. Limited Public Interest Objection- the proposed new gTLD string contradicts the generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognized under the principles of international law.
  4. Community Objection- a significant number of the target community is opposed to the new gTLD string being applied for.

Any objections should be filed to one of the three independent dispute resolution providers approved by ICANN, including the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (string confusion objections), WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (legal rights objections), and the International Chamber of Commerce-International Center of Expertise (limited public interest and community objections). Moreover, Pritz also emphasized the appointment of an Independent Objector, whose responsibility will be to review applications on behalf of the public interest and to file an objection if necessary.

  • Sunrise Period- Pritz informed the members of the committee that a Sunrise Period is mandated for all approved new gTLDs. The Trademark Clearinghouse will serve as a central repository of trademark rights information to be authenticated, stored and disseminated. All trademark holders will have the chance to record all their nationally and multi-nationally registered word marks from all jurisdictions. All the authenticated trademark rights data in the Trademark Clearinghouse will be used to protect those related domains during the pre-launch of the Sunrise Period and the Trademark claims services.
  • DNS Security (DNSSEC)- Pritz confirmed that all new gTLD applicants are required to implement DNSSEC. He also informed them that 82% of existing TLD registries have already deployed DNSSEC to ensure the security and stability of the DNS.
  • Crackdown on Rogue Websites- The new gTLD program is designed to prevent illegal activities and to easily remove malicious conduct through increased accessibility of information by law enforcement agencies. A Thick Whois data system will be implemented to allow faster search capabilities and to efficiently combat rogue websites. ICANN will also implement background checks on applicants and will review their history of bad faith or reckless disregard of anti-cybersquatting law.
  • Estimated Number of New gTLDs to be Created- Pritz explained that based on the Root Server Stability experts advise, ICANN is committed and limited to add 1,000 new gTLD to the root zone in one year.
  • Plans on Excess Revenue from new gTLDs- ICANN is committed to using any excess funds to promote its non-profit missions for the benefit of the Internet community, such as the creation of a registry continuity fund for the protection of registrants, or establishment of a security fund to expand the use of secure protocols, support standards development organizations and other projects in accordance with the internet governing body's security and stability mission. Prits also emphasized that ICANN's budget is utilized in a transparent manner. The use of excess funds are subject to community discussions and consultations.
  • Concerns Raised by ANA and other parties- Pritz explained that the new gTLD program was developed for more than six years with input from 10 or more experts and community working groups under the multistakeholder process. He pointed out that significant protection mechanisms were created to ensure protections for intellectual property rights, registry failures, etc. He also pointed out that all concerns raised by ANA and other parties were accepted, considered and responded to. He also reiterated that in the multistakeholder process not everyone will be satisfied with the result. He quoted NTIA Assitant Secretary Larry Strickling's statement that "it is critical to respect the process and the outcome reached".
  • Harm of Delaying the new gTLD program Implementation- According to Pritz, if the new gTLD program implementation were to be delayed it will upset the multistakeholder process, which was designed by the United States government to ensure the openness of the internet.
  • FCC Concern on Rapid Exponential Expansion of new gTLDs- According to Pritz, the approved new gTLDs will be introduced in a measured and limited manner. No new gTLD will be operational before 2013 and the introduction will be distributed over time.
  • Recommendations of Law Enforcement Agencies- Pritz emphasized that ICANN is actively working to address the 12 recommendations of law enforcement agencies. ICANN is negotiating with registrars to amend an strengthen the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to meet the recommendations before 2013.
  • Registry Failure- One of the safeguards implemented by ICANN for the new gTLD program is the availability of an Emergency Back End Registry Provider in case of registry failure.
  • United Nations Model on Internet Governance and its Impact- Pritz emphasized that the ICANN multistakeholder model is not perfect but "it has shown to be a powerful, dynamic model that is capable of reaching consensus positions on extremely difficult issues. A UN model will push the stakeholders outside the government to an inconsequential role." He also reiterated the statements of Sec. Strickling and Ambassador David Gross that abandoning the multistakeholder model will cause negative impact to the Internet and its governance, and he said that an "internet constrained by an international treaty will stifle the innovators and entrepreneurs who are responsible for its awesome growth."
  • Internet Growth and DNS Expansion- Pritz affirmed that the internet and the DNS will continue to grow. ICANN is committed to carrying out its mandates- to promote competition in the DNS while protecting vital information as well as business and consumer interests.
  • Status of IPv6 Migration- Pritz explained that the IPv4 and IPv6 protocols will be running side by side for years to come. Over 7,500 IPv6 had been allocated to network operators around the globe by the end of September 2011.
  1. Pritz to Boxer. Published 2012 January 25.