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Status: Proposed
Registry Provider: Demand Media
Registry: Donuts
Registry Backend: Rightside
Type: Generic
Category: Health
PIC Submitted: Download Here
Priority #: 580 - Donuts (Ruby Pike, LLC)

.hospital is a proposed TLD in ICANN's New gTLD Program. The applicant is Donuts (Ruby Pike, LLC).[1]

IO Objection

ICANN's Independent Objector (IO) filed both a Community Objection and a Limited Public Interest objection against the .hospital string. The IO is an appointed authority on international law whose role is to object to strings on the grounds of Community harm and Limited Public Interest were detailed in the applicant guidebook. His objections are official objections and are funded by ICANN, though his office is otherwise independent. Reasons for the specific case against .hospital were not initially given, but the community objection generally argues that the TLD faces opposition or is contrary to a significant portion of a community which it purportedly aims to serve. The IO must determine: That the community is a clearly delineated community; that there is a strong association between the community and the string applied for; there is a strong association between the segment of the community on whose half we objects and the string itself; and he must determine that the TLD would produce a significant material detriment to this sizable portion of the community.[2] In the case of Limited Public Interest, "the applied-for gTLD string must be contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognized under fundamental principles of international law. The expert panel appointed by the ICC will base its decision on the existence of such a contradiction." The applied for string must threaten an incitement to violence of lawless action, discrimination, child pornography, or "be contrary to specific principles of international law as reflected in relevant international instruments of law."[3] [ The majority of the IO's objections are to health related TLD applications.[4] Among them, the one over .hospital is the only objection which has been upheld on the ground of Limited Public Interest [5]. The majority of the panellists held that “the sensitivity of .Hospital has a different dimension than gTLDs connected with banking or legal services since human life and health require greater care than pure commercial activity”[6] . According to them, as “a need for a hospital often occurs in the event of an emergency – unreliable information about healthcare providers can cause serious harm to vulnerable people and to society at large since there is usually no time for a critical consideration of health related information obtained from the Internet in such circumstances”[7].The panel also held that the market-oriented approach of the Applicant “greatly increases” the risk that misuse of the word “hospital” may cause significant harm to society, since “morality and public order require a “social approach”[8]. The expert determination further acknowledged the need to balance “[f]reedom of expression and the development of services in the Internet” with “the right to health and even the right to life” and concluded that “there is no doubt that human health and its safety tips the scale in finding the Objection to be justified”[9].

This expert determination has been welcomed by an international law scholar as offering an important contribution in international human rights discourse, walking the tightrope between freedom of expression and the right to health.[10] According to the same author, it is “balanced and appreciable in [its] reference to international law standards [and] consolidate[s] an emerging trend in human rights law, emphasizing the crucial role of the right to health as a ‘fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights’”[11].

The Respondent sought reconsideration of the expert determination upholding the IO’s Limited Public Interest Objection. In a decision dated 5 February 2014, ICANN’s BGC had decided not to reverse it, finding that “there is no evidence that the Panel deviated from the standards set forth in Articles 3.5 or 3.5.3 of the Applicant Guidebook”[12] . Nevertheless, on 3 February 2016 the ICANN Board has decided to have the case reheard by a new three-person panel, on grounds that the “.HOSPITAL Expert Determination is seemingly inconsistent with the Expert Determinations resulting from all other health related LPI objections” and is not “in the best interest of the New gTLD Program and the Internet community.” [13]

Community Objection

The American Hospital Association and the IO filed a community objection against this application, both of which have been terminated prior to expert determination.[14]

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 .HOSPITAL 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.

The .HOSPITAL TLD will be attractive to registrants with a connection to hospitals and medical treatment centers around the world. This is a broad and diverse group, and could include health care institutions, teaching hospitals, universities, charitable organizations, medical practitioners, administrators, insurance providers, animal hospitals, and others. The TLD could usefully serve as a place for hospital support efforts, including fundraising and donation; it also can provide a forum for expression regarding hospitals and medical treatment. This widely inclusive TLD would be operated in a secure and legitimate manner.

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."[15]